Musical Double Standards

A double standard is a rule or principle that is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups. One double standard people do not normally see is the double standard of rap and country music. Rap music has a bad rep around it while country music is seen as a can do no wrong kind of music. So if a rapper and a country artists were to do something extraordinary or given an award, the country artist would get more publicity because country musics culture is not perceived as bad.  

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Blake Shelton, widely known for his country music, in 2017 was deemed by People’s Magazine sexiest man alive. People’s magazine is a well known, very popular magazine. You can find it anywhere like an office, a waiting room, or in your mail if you are subscribed to the magazine. He did a whole lot of nothing and the media blew it up.

blakesheldonSheldon on the cover of People Magazine

 

Chance the rapper puts out music on certain platforms because he does not believe that you should have to pay for music, unlike many other artists. Chance is a very selfless man, and through his selfless actions he donated $1 million dollars to Chicago’s Public Schools. This did not get the attention that it should have. It did indeed catch the attention of some highly known news websites, but that was it. This man donated a ridiculous amount of money and for some reason the media did not blow it up.

Screen Shot 2018-06-27 at 2.59.24 PM.pngChance’s Donation

 

When we think of rap music, the first thing to come to mind usually revolves around the negative stereotypes its lyrics pose. Most people associate themes of sexism and obscenity in its lyrical content. While these stereotypes can be found in actual examples, they are not exclusive to the genre by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, while rap music is seen as threatening by white America, its reinforcement of hegemonic values is present throughout other genres of music, specifically contemporary country.

 

Rap comes from a long lineage of music starting from Jazz in the first half of the 20th century. Much like rap today, Jazz was initially seen as raucous and uncivilized. This was partially due to its raw energy and it’s predominantly ‘black’ origins. With time, jazz turned into blues and rock and roll. Most African American artists were segregated to the “rhythm and blues” charts.  Although the genre’s roots weren’t initially political, the artists soon “…were the philosophers or messengers of the Movement, community leaders who helped to create, shape and direct black protest in concrete ways” (Ward 14). R&B continued to evolve into the soul and funk of the 50’s and 60’s which gave black artists a voice on a national level. The music ultimately continued, morphing into the hip-hop of the 80’s and the rap of the 90’s and today. Throughout history one thing that remained constant was its purpose. As rap is “…deeply political in content and spirit…” it’s important that its “…hidden politics must also be revealed and contested” (T Rose 145).

pfunk-cropParliament Funkadelic

 

While the origins of rap music have always been centered on African American retaliation, Country music has been predominately white. Country and Western combined the working class lyrical content of blues with the natural imagery and folklore of folk music. The result was music abundant with natural imagery, traditional instruments and American roots. These roots reinforce the values of conservatism and patriotism found in country music. billmonroe_wide-2bbe2769a88cb3f3e9aaf41aea77e79918563574-s900-c85Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass

 

As a result, both genres are portrayed very differently by the media. Rap music is seen as threatening whereas country music is innocent. Although these genres are functionally different, these differences are due to systematic racism. Both genres reinforce their ideals to their audiences. In both genres, many aspects of their status quo’s are negative. One example is in the misogynistic nature of their lyrics.

 

Rap is notorious for their culture in demeaning women. (Zhang et al 346) Calling them inappropriate names, doing sexual actions, and praising their physical features. The song Dance(A**) by Big Sean, is all about praising women’s behinds. He exemplifies he is at a strip club because his wallet looks like a bible, and because of this he’s got these girlies half naked. The end result is, she has a booty worthy enough for him to take an interest in her, to then have sex with her. Following this theme, another song called No Hands, by Waka Flocka Flame, is all about praising women for their behinds, and that is all they are good for as seen in the chorus.

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These are just two examples of country music degrading women. The first example is Luke Bryan Country Girl (Shake It For Me). Even though it does not reference strippers, you can infer that this is country stripping, by telling the woman to shake it to anything in the world for the most part. The second example is another Luke Bryan song called Blood Brothers. In this song there is intoxicated nonconsensual sex. But people probably do not take these lyrics a second thought with their up-tempo beat.  

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As we’ve seen through our examples, country music and rap are viewed very differently by mainstream audiences. White country artists receive more publicity for trivial accomplish whereas black rap artists struggle to gain mainstream notoriety even when generously donating. There is also the issue of lyrical content. Both genres have misogynistic lyrics and glorify ideals that perpetuate in each genre.   

Works Cited

Rose, T. (1994). Black noise: Rap music and black culture in contemporary           America (Vol. 6). Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

Dixon, T. L., Zhang, Y., & Conrad, K. (2009). Self-esteem, misogyny and                 afrocentricity: An examination of the relationship between rap music         consumption and African American perceptions. Group Processes &             Intergroup Relations12(3), 345-360.

Ward, B. (2012). Just my soul responding: Rhythm and blues, Black consciousness and race relations. Routledge.

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