Me, Myself, and Hip Hop

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Coming into this class, I knew absolutely nothing about hip-hop. However coming out of this class, I can sincerely say I have learned so much, gained a rich new perspective, and have grown to love hip-hop music from all countries.

In this class I have learned so much, from talking about the roots of hip hop, and how authenticity, the DJ, the Rapper, the MC and the Tricksta are all invaluable parts of hip -hop, and how hip hop dance has evolved to what it is today. In learning about these differing topics, I felt that I gained a deeper understanding of hip - hop and how it came to be. It gave me great insight as to why many of the rap artists of today often talk about women, or the hood. I understand the concept of authenticity and how that has helped to shape hip -hop as it expanded to countries all over the world.

One of my biggest take- aways from this class has been learning about women in hip hop, and how they are subjected to different things than men in order to make it, in the business. Often women have to change their entire look, whether that requires getting plastic surgery, or just getting a new wardrobe. They are also not allowed to use hip -hop to talk about real issues. They must write music that sells. In this aspect hip hop industries are taking away one of their first amendment rights. In watching videos in class I was really able to see how passionate most of the women who don't make it are about making a difference in their communities, and how they have truly found a voice through hip hop. I feel horrible that large companies are more worried about profits versus social change.

Another concept that I enjoyed learning about was the spread of hip- hop throughout the globe. I loved how artists such as Arabian Knights was able to use hip hop to talk about things that other media outlets were not allowed to share the truth about. I loved that they were able to use hip-hop to spread word about the dire conditions in which millions are living in and that they were able to persuade people to take a stand against their government through their music.

Before taking this class, I didn't understand hip-hop, I didn't understand the vulgarity and objectification of women that took place in most American made music videos. After taking this class I have learned that hip -hop is so much more than fast cars, women in bikinis, gold chains, and money. I realize that hip-hop is a means of communication. It allows people to have a voice that normally wouldn't. Hip-hop is a means of change, a means of expression, and a means of social justice. Through hip-hop people can express reality, they can persuade people to do the right thing, or to understand a perspective. Hip- hop is so much more than I ever imagined, and I find it truly astonishing.

Through this class I have learned a lot about other non-American hip hop artists. I have since discovered MIA, and the Arabian Knightz. These artists have all found their places in my ipod, and I have started looking into other hip-hop artists as well. As someone who is quite shy and not really a performer, I believe that my part in the global hip - hop cypher will remain as a consumer. I believe that after taking this class I will expand my horizons and look to artists from other countries, not just those who are hitting it big in America. I believe that hip - hop is a great media to learn about some of the oppression, and worldly problems that are taking place throughout the globe. I am super glad to have taken this course, as it has really allowed to me to grow, and to understand a great art form.

Attatched are some of the songs I have really come to like by MIA, and Arabian Knightz

Arabian Knightz

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There are many issues plaguing the youths of today. In parts of Africa and Eastern Asia, girls between the ages of 4 and 12 are being subjected to genital mutilation to ensure virginity for marriage. The children who are subjected to this (genital mutilation) end up facing devastating consequences later in life, often dying from the complications these procedures present, especially during childbirth. In Egypt we learned that the women are undergoing a revolution for empowerment. There are wars going on in the Middle East in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel, and Jordan where the wars affect people every day. People in these areas in the Middle East are also in what is known as the "Arab Spring." The Arab Spring, talks about the governmental corruption and problems that have given way in many countries in northern Africa and Southern Asia. (I've attached a video link below this paragraph that gives a great explanation of this). In America we have a shortage of jobs, and new people entering the workforce everyday. There are an innumerable amount of pressure, dire situations, and responsibilities thrust upon the youths of today.

In researching the Arab Spring, I came across the song Rebel written by the Arabian Knightz. Rebel describes the different crimes against the people happening because of the Arabian Spring. It talks about the lack of media attention that is being given to the people side of things. They never hear about the deaths taking place, or the kids that are left without parents due to the many killings that occur. The songs also talks about how people are too afraid to speak up, but that for change to happen this is a necessity. The song is able to discuss the differing names that the media uses such as terrorist, and freedom fighter. It talks about how the governmental situations are dividing communities instead of bringing people together. It makes known the amount of poverty, hunger, and murders that are taking place. The song talks about how many of the people don't believe that the situations are as dire as they actually are, and if they do, they are too afraid to speak up due to the fear that the government is instilling in them. The song states that many of the government officials and politicians are corrupt. The Arabian Knights started making music as it was one of the only media outlets that was not controlled by the government, and it was one that was popular enough and had an easy enough access that they could talk about the reality of the situations that they are living in, in an authentic way that would expose the truth.
(Rebel by the Arabian Knightz, the rapping starts at 1:28)

Today there are a lot of problems that plague the minds of this upcoming generation. With many media forms hard to tap into, music provides an easy outlet for people to share their realities. One hip- hop song that has recently topped charts in the United States is Headlights by Eminem, and Nate Ruess. In this song it talks about Eminem's mother who had a drinking problem, and whose father wasn't in the picture. Eminem depicts specific life moments that affected him, and the relationship he has with this mother. Through this media form, Eminem was able to use rap music to tell an authentic story. Though it may be hard to get access and record music, because music is not regulated to the extent that other media forms such as television (the news) or newspaper are, it provides an easy outlet for people to share their truths. I think that this accessibility and the freeness of music has really helped it spread globally.

Professor Green and International Hip Hop

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Not listening to hip hop music much before this class one of the only hip hop artists that I am familiar with that is outside of the US is Professor Green. Professor Green in teaming up with Emeli Sande came out with their hit 'Read All About It' in 2010, and since being featured in a Britain's Got Talent act, has become famous all around the United States.

(This is a clip of the Britain's got talent act that went viral - the clip uses the song 'Read All About It' but is a version that does not include Professor Green's Lyrics)

Here is a video that shows the lyrics, and includes Professor Green's Lyrics

In looking at the lyrics (Professor Green's) in this music video it is clear that some of the basic principles that has made hip hop and rap what is today (especially in America) hold true here. In looking at Professor Green's Lyrics it is clear that authenticity is a major part of hip-hop no matter what region of the globe you come from. In this song he depicts growing up without a present father figure and how that really complicated things, and how he never wants his children to go through that. I think that it is so cool how you can travel to different countries and each country has its own dialect, history, or food, but something like hip hop authenticity can remain the same.

Over this past weekend I had some extra time and was looking through some of the readings that we will be reading next week. In looking I found a short article entitled "The Pink Hijab." I was extremely curious about the title, I know that we have currently been talking about the spread of hip hop, but I never thought that hip hop could be found in Eastern Asia or Africa. In reading the article I soon learned that girls in Egypt are using hip-hop to make a statement. I found this article to be extremely interesting as it tied to what we had just learned in class. That hip-hop has spread to countries all over the globe, and although the artists encounter different situations and live through differing hardships, the concept of authenticity holds true. These artists are all wrapping about situations that they have overcome of lived through, or about the oppression of their people. I think that this is a unique trait of hip-hop, and is clearly an aspect that makes it identifiable among other genres.

In looking at how other genres of music have spread globally and how they have changed based on what country they are in has been really interesting. Growing up doing ballet I have really grown to enjoy classical music. In looking at this genre you get music such as Beethoven or even Tchaikovsky from Europe and Russia respectively and then as you go further east you get classical and traditional Asian music, which differs greatly.
(If you skip to 9:15 in this clip you can hear traditional / classical Chinese music)

In listening to this music and then comparing it to something by Bach or Beethoven, (which can be heard in this clip (Beethoven's famous 5th Symphony)

The differences between these two pieces is immediately apparent, not only in the instruments utilized, but in different core aspects such as the measure length and in the overall tone. They are different pieces almost entirely. In researching the differences between different styles of hip hop music throughout the globe, I have found that though their beats may differ, and the topics may not be exactly the same, every hip hop artist (that I have encountered in my research thus far) articulates situations that are prevalent in their lives that give them authenticity.

One common theme that can be found throughout the world though, is women. Often in hip-hop women is the object of desire. In most hip hop videos the women in them are used or described as sex objects that can be obtained. A great non-American example of this can be seen in the song "Get it Up" by Santigold and Featuring MIA. MIA is a British - Sri Lankan artist.

In this song they talk about a lot of situations that are often referenced in American hip hop. In this song, the initial rapper often refers to himself as a "hood nigga" and talks about all his women. From listening to music from many different artists in the process of writing this blog, I have found that authenticity around the world consists of the two main elements that it does in American hip hop: Women and Life Experiences.

I think that the authenticity of hip-hop is a unique quality that truly helps to define the genre worldwide. Without this main element I believe that the genre would not have such large worldwide audience or variety of music. I believe that these two relatable requirements/ elements of hip-hop have allowed it to expand throughout the globe.


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I thought it was very prevalent and important topic to blog about and feel like I should respond to it and make comments even though I missed the due date by a little. I think it's too difficult to choose just one problem we face as a society and around the world. There are so many issues that are plaguing humanity and I don't know which would be considered the most pressing, but one topic can actually cover a number of issues all wrapped up into one. Social equality is something that needs to looked and thought about on a much deeper level as a whole. So many people around the world are suffering from mistreatment and discrimination for numerous different things, mostly, things they have no control over. Anything from skin color to sexual orientation and gender inequality. There is so much ignorance and hatred that can make people think and act certain ways that are just sickening to me. That said, these opinions and viewpoints are often bestowed upon people in ways they can't help, including where they are from, and how they are raised. This just shows the scope of the problem because it's something that starts at birth. It would be ideal to live in a world where people could grow up with the same opportunities and live in a place where equality was not an issue and everyone can be accepted for who they are no matter what they look like or who they love.
The song I chose to showcase is "Get By" by Talib Kweli
"Get By" is one of Talib Kweli's songs scathing criticism of the inequalities in our country and the constant fear and struggle and an affirmation of the power within each person to
rise above.

Add me to the list...

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...of people who didn't realize what they had signed up for when they registered for this class. Women? Pop culture? Sure, sounds good to me. I had serious misgivings at the end of the first class period, since I didn't feel like I had any relationship with or knowledge of hip hop at all. I suppose I knew more than I thought I did, but still, my exposure is very minimal, and I'm more a fan of musical theater than I even have been or will be of hip hop.

That's not to say that I have no interest in the other topics we covered in this class.

I've long been an advocate of LGBTQ rights; the discussion of black oppression and the New Jim Crow is not new to me; I had temporary neighbors a few years ago who were evacuated from Egypt during the political uprising there. I suppose it was my interest in these topics that led me to stick with the class, but I was also driven by a desire to stretch myself, and see beyond the narrow parameters in which I live my daily life. Even though I consider myself to be fairly open-minded, I don't often intentionally put myself into the realm of people who are much different than myself. Obviously, there are many other students in the class who are just like me, so I guess my desire to be part of the 'Other' still remains somewhat unfulfilled. But I'm glad I stuck it out, because I learned some things.

Will I be a fan of hip hop tomorrow? Probably not. But I don't know that it's necessary to be fan in order to understand and listen for the messages conveyed by the four parts of this genre. I do know that I'm not going to automatically change the station when a rapper starts laying it down, and I will celebrate that there is a culture and genre of music that will help inform those around me of serious world events, and helps provide agency for groups who are still on the Outside.

Hip Hop Revelations

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On my first day of class, I distinctly remember thinking that I would enjoy this class because I have been a long time consumer of Hip Hop, but there was still more about the genre that I was blissfully ignorant to. As my first day of the course came to an end, I was overwhelmed with the information and revelations about the high incarceration rates of black males, the classification, isolation, and degradation of African American communities in the "post civil rights" era, as well as the continuous oppression of women, furthermore, women of color in communities across the globe. On the other hand, I was overjoyed, that all of these topics that I was passionate about were in some way or another related to the production and consumption of Hip Hop on a national and global scale.

Through our readings over the past couple of weeks, I've come to see Hip Hop in a new light and understand it from a different perspective. Much of the global Hip Hop that I have been exposed to through the course readings, class sessions, and research done for my last paper, has allowed me to explore a side of Hip Hop that is not often seen in main stream media here in the United States. The global dissemination of Hip Hop has made a genre that has lately been plagued by images of women shaking various body parts and degrading lyrics rapped by predominantly men, into what it was originally created as, an effective mode of personal agency. A way for people to bring about social change and to raise awareness about the stressors that many underrepresented populations face on a daily basis.

From the first articles about authenticity to later articles about using Hip hop to defeat oppressive regimes in the Middle East, this course has taught me the importance that historical context plays in the genre of Hip Hop, given me the vocabulary necessary to speak about Hip Hop from a critical perspective when looking at the impact that is has made on our society and generation, as well as, given me further insight on a genre, community, culture, and topic that I thought I knew a lot about. Even more, through this course and the information that I have obtained relating to the dissemination of Hip Hop as a music genre, culture, community, and social movement, I have come to understand that contrary to popular belief the world of Hip Hop is not restricting, one can be a well dressed male, such as Jay-Z, a feminine womyn, such as Estelle, a hard hitting break dancer, such as the various women in the B-Girl B showcase, or anyone you choose to be. There will always be debate on authenticity, but the great thing about Hip Hop,on a national and global scale is that as long as you are repping your true and genuine self, you are authentic to the core.

Screen shot 2014-05-01 at 3.11.13 PM.png

Where I Stand in the Global Hip Hop Cipher

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As we are drawing near to almost the end of class sessions and course, and as I reflect on what I have learned and how my perspective of looking at hip-hop changed, it's quite interesting.
Before taking this course, if someone presents hip-hop to me, I would think of rap and rebellious music. Even when I was really young and didn't understand English, just by the way the artists spit their words out and especially the way the music video was made, I could judge that the song had a rebellious nature. But, what I didn't get was why all the African Americans would make music videos of themselves in very expensive cars, a huge mansion, and abundance of jewelry around their body parts. They always seemed to rap with those things around them or with voluminous girls. So, with such repetition of same concept, I didn't like watching the music video since I knew what I was going to see. I had no idea why African Americans were so obsessed with such materialistic things.
But, after taking this course, I learned many things about hip-hop and how it's politically, ethnically, culturally, and socially connected. Cars and expensive materialistic things were present in the video because of the notion of white Americans thinking that blacks couldn't afford such expensive things. So, to rebel against them and to show that they are not to be confined to what the whites think of them, excessive jewelry and expensive cars and houses were present in the music video. I wouldn't have known this if I didn't take this class since in Korea, because the country is dominated by almost a single ethnic group, there's no need for the hip-hop artists to rap about how rich they are and come out in music videos with all kinds of expensive stuff.
Also, I learned that hip-hop doesn't only restrict itself to delivering pleasure to ears of listeners, but also can be used politically to make people more aware and stand up against oppressive government such as Tunisia. I became aware of how much power hip-hop music can have on the society.

Blog 4: Women in Hip-hop

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One of the biggest issues still present today is sexual assaults against women. Just recently the White House has put out commercials to raise awareness about sexual violence against women on college campuses, discussing that women are now unsafe while getting their higher education in a setting of partying and little supervision among young people. While being in college I can say that this is definitely a real problem that I hear about from various friends or party every weekend. Friends come to me with horror stories and close calls simply because they are a female and men think that because they are drunk, or wearing a short dress, or dancing at the party with them that these girls want to have sex with them. Hip-hop is not entirely responsible for this huge problem in America, but it is definitely not helping the situation either.

With lyrics like "I know you want this dick" or "murdering the pussy" it's easy to see that sexual violence against women in hip-hop is not uncommon. It can also be said that hip-hop itself is an outlet to let these thoughts and desires out in a healthy and constructive way for the rapper. What can also be said is that privileged white kids hear it and feel they can act in the way that is being rapped about. Sober a guy might not force a women onto a bed to have sex with her while she is unconscious, but with lots of alcohol and every song he listens to telling him girls should be begging to have sex with him, that women are his for the taking, is when rape and sexual violence is a lot more plausible. Because of this I think hip-hop artists need to lay off the sexual violence and try to paint women in a more respectable light, so their main consumers can hopefully follow suit and do the same. It won't fix everything, but it will surely help.

Songs that currently are harmful
You Don't Even Know It- Rick Ross

I Beat the Pussy Up- 50 Cent

Where I Stand in Hip-Hop

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I've always had a large passion for hip-hop, and was happy that in this class we dove into what is considered by many "real hip-hop" and for the most part stayed away from high visibility artists like 2 Chainz and other popular artists. I knew that hip-hop was a major force in anti-oppression movements of all types, but could really only explain the Black movement with hip-hop. After this class I've seen that hip-hop has been a vehicle for so much more social change outside of what is happening domestically in the United States. After watching and reading about what is happening in Palestine and what role this medium takes in political movements I was floored. I knew hip-hop could be used as a form of expression whether it be hate, love, or force, but these songs rapped by the Palestinians were making huge social movements while also leaving the rapper in danger of political punishment and even death. This was a way to band together the oppressed, with a sort of battle cry and list of demands of the government, which is what it was and still is to many oppressed minorities in America today.

What I liked most about this class is that it discussed hip-hop on a global scale. We went deeper than main-stream hip-hop and looked at actual political movements happening because of spoken word, movement of bodies, and increased visibility of the oppressed through these mediums. Because of this I not only have a deeper respect and value put onto hip-hop, but a deeper understanding of cultural appropriation, what can be considered "real", where women are in hip-hop, and so much more. It's cliche to say but hip-hop really encompasses so much more than just rhymes and bangers that are put on the radio, it's a way to collectively share your struggles and break free from whatever is holding you down. It's a creative outlet that has served many people and to this day continues to serve, and I'm just happy I can be here to consume and learn from it. I believe I stand as a knowledgeable consumer and appreciator of hip-hop, but am also an activist to get unknown hip-hop more well known whether it be local Minneapolis artists to world-wide underground stars, they rely on word of mouth and social media to communicate their message, and I will happily carry it along.

My Relationship With Hip Hop

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Like so many in the class, when I signed up I had no idea this was a class about hip hop. I would say in the beginning I had pretty much zero background knowledge about hip hop. It was just a genre of music and I could name a few of the commercial artists, but other than that I was pretty clueless. Since I was only familiar with commercial hip hop I didn't know what it meant to be an underground artist. I didn't know hip hop was popping up all over the world and I didn't know hip hop is more than just the songs I hear on the radio that degrade women, and promote drugs.

A couple of the things I found especially interesting in the course was the topics of authenticity and queerness in hip hop. I had no idea how important authenticity was in hip hop until this class and how difficult it can be to establish it. It seemed to me that no matter what the topic of the reading was, authenticity was discussed or at least mentioned. I was also intrigued by our discussion on queer hip hop. I ended up really liking some of the music and even downloaded some of it.

Overall I have added a lot more hip hop onto my playlists that I listen to daily. I feel like I have a better understanding of the importance of hip hop and how complex it really is. I'm glad I ended up in this class because on my own I would've never picked it, but now I learned more about something I never thought I would

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