Category Archives: music

99 Problems

Hats off to Dr. Boyce Watkins for his commentary on Jay-Z banning b$tch from his linguistic repertoire. The decision came after the birth of Jay and Beyonce’s daughter Blue Ivy. The rapper has received well-deserved criticism regarding his decision and he should. However, virtually nothing was said a few years ago when Hov rapped “when the Jena 6 don’t exist…thats when I’ll stop sayin’ bitch…BITCH!!!” (from “Say Hello” on American Gangsta). Hov takes an aggressively masculine tone, separating gender from racial oppression. His view of race is decidedly masculine with little, if any, investment in black women. I don’t like that it took one of my favorite rappers this long to get his act together. Nor do I like that it took his daughter being born for him to make the decision. At the end of the day, though, I’m glad that Blue Ivy inspired Jay to change. For any parents reading this, I’m sure that the birth of your little one(s) made you think twice about your values too, right?

What concerns me more than Jay’s actions are the millions of fans that buy (or download) his music while blindly accepting the warped gender dynamics reinforced in his songs. These are the people who, on a daily basis, are presented with opportunities to shift the power dynamics that Daddy Hov fears his daughter will have to confront.

Facebookers (myself included) are “liking” Prof. Watkins’ post as if doing so delivers a death blow to gender oppression. Newsflash!!! It doesn’t. And that means we have work to do. Gender oppression extends far beyond saying b&%@! As I climb off my soapbox, please indulge me by educating yourself on gender oppression and gender equality. Here are a few websites and videos to get you started:

Stop Street Harassment

Men Can Stop Rape

Stop Sexist Remarks

Miss Representation (2011)

Then put this newly-acquired knowledge into practice! Look for groups/organizations in your area that fight gender oppression. If one doesn’t exist, start one. There are also online initiatives that you can get involved in. You can contribute to a blog and spread awareness online. You can create art that educates us on this issue. You can create an app that supports gender justice. The possibilities are endless!

It is easy to sit back and critique Jay-Z without being self-reflexive. However, we perpetuate and/or survive gender oppression every…single…day. Now is the time to change the game. What are you going to do?

D. Carter

Anti-bullying flashmob performs in Vancouver mall

On January 27, over 300 students from two Vancouver schools came together to conduct a flashmob in a local mall. Students from grades 3-12 donned pink shirts with Acceptance printed on the front and danced to Bruno Mars’ Just the Way You Are. They did this in an attempt to raise awareness about bullying and to highlight the upcoming Day of Pink/Pink Shirt Day which occurs on February 23rd.

At the time of this posting, the video had received over 95,000 hits on Youtube.

Grow a pear

Over the summer, I attended a workshop hosted by Men Can Stop Rape where they did an exercise with the audience called Real Man/Strong Man. The exercised revolved around the pressure from society that demands a guy be a “real man” (rich, powerful, competitive, domineering, stoic, etc.) and contrasting it with the “strong man” of how men actually are (kind, compassionate, courageous, assertive, supportive, etc.). The exercise ended with the sentiment that we should acknowledge with the struggle each man and boy goes through everyday;  to be the real man society wants them to be or the strong man they want to be.

I thought that exact same thing when I heard Ke$ha’s new song Grow a Pear. Upfront, I want to say that I am not interested in having a character debate about Ke$ha. I have no problem with Ke$ha. I want to discuss the message in the lyrics of this song. What message does this send men and boys about how they should behave if they want to get a date or have sex?* What message does it send women about the criteria for choosing a guy to date or have sex with? Below are just a few lyrics from the song to get you thinking. Feel free to listen to the song elsewhere and draw your own conclusions.

Click Read More for the lyrics and a brief discussion of relationship dynamics…

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“Take off your clothes or get out of my car” song (Update)

I looked all weekend for something to post on the website and nothing stood out. I scoured my Google alerts and checked out the usual news suspects and could not find a single thing that motivated me enough to write a post. So, this morning I sign into Napster and was informed that country music singer, Toby Keith, recently released a new album called Bullets in the Gun. One of my best kept secrets is that I grew up listening and loving country music. I still have a soft spot for some of the classic singers, songs and sounds from the country music I listened to during my childhood. I stopped listening to country music over a decade ago and have no idea about the current state of country music or country singers.

I never was a huge fan of Toby Keith, but I decided to take a scroll down through the songs on his current album and none of them really jumped out at me.

However, near the end of the playlist, the song Get Out of My Car caught my eye. Toby’s never been accused of having deep or insightful lyrics so my mind immediately went to the literal “put out or get out” scenario. I forced myself to listen to the song, and I can still stand by my claim that I don’t care much for Toby Keith’s music. The song was disgusting and it was exactly what I was afraid it was. The message is Take off your clothes or get out of my car. I won’t attempt to link to the song because it’s not worth listening to, but if you go to the next page you can cringe and shudder at the sleazy lyrics.

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Reggae music and domestic violence

King Tappa, a Dominican born, New Jersey based Reggae artist just released a new song and music video called Domestic Violence. The following is from the press release:

“Reggae artist King Tappa hopes that the message in his song “Domestic Violence” will resonate with listeners and bring greater awareness of the effects of domestic violence on women and children. As Father’s Day approaches, his message that parents’ actions affect their children could not be more timely.

He says he was inspired to write the song not only because of stories shared with him by his friends, but because he too has also witnessed domestic violence first hand. Additionally, co-writing the song with Melissa Casimir allowed for a broader perspective, which led to an in depth discussion of the issues and set in motion the concept for the video which depicts the issue from the point of view of the child.

According to King Tappa, “The video was shot that way because we wanted to let the audience know the effect that violence can have on kids. The main character was surrounded by a lot of violence but she didn’t give up on her education, and despite being sad, she still comforted her mom, who was being abused, and remained a strong figure for her family.”

When it comes to domestic violence, says King Tappa, most people don’t know the signs and those who do won’t address it. “The most important message here is to seek help, speak about it.” He is doing his part with this song which encourages the victims of domestic abuse to find a partner who will treat them like they deserve to be treated.”

Click Read More for the lyrics.

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Fugazi lyrics and violence prevention

Why can’t I walk down a street free of suggestion?
Is my body the only trait in the eyes of men?
I’ve got some skin you want to look in
There lays no reward in what you discover
You spent yourself watching me suffer
Suffer you words, suffer your eyes, suffer your hands
Suffer your interpretation of what it is to be a man
I’ve got some skin you want to look in
She does nothing to deserve it
He only wants to observe it
We sit back like they taught us
We keep quiet like they taught us
He just wants to prove it
She does nothing to remove it
We don’t want anyone to mind us
So we play the roles that they assigned us
She does nothing to conceal it
He touches her ’cause he wants to feel it
We blame her for being there
But we are all guilty

Click Read More for a discussion of the lyrics and their implications...

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