crowd shot of juelz santana

Dear hip-hop, can you hear me?

Every evening I have a ritual. After smoking a joint, I get deliriously high and take a walk around my neighborhood. With my headphones cemented to my ears, I’m always listening to rap. 

Lil' bitch, shut the fuck up

Tell your best friend, shut the fuck up

Tonight’s pick: Baby Keem’s “Orange Soda”. As I nod my head in union to the melodic track, I can’t help but cringe at certain parts. 

I hate a bitch that I can't impress

When you come see the crib, you better die, ho

Either it's the weed or just my mood, but when I get to the mixtape’s tracklist and glance at the title once again, I exhale deeply. Die For My Bitch, how ironic.

To be fair, I have listened to far worse misogynist rap. I experienced Drake’s rise during my high school and college years when hip-hop’s misogyny was so vile, that Drake’s “nice guy” misogyny was some reprieve. “Drake makes songs for girls,” was legitimately a critique hurled at the rapper for a while in hip-hop discussions. 

Pussy good enough, it got him sinning in the walls

And he digging in it like he living in it, make a new religion with it

Man, a nigga 'bout to go against God

One of my favorite collaborations of all time is a track between rappers Lil Wayne and Kendrick Lamar. It wasn’t until several listens that I fully understood the tale of “Mona Lisa”, a complicated and at times a vile misogynist weaving of the transactional relationship between men and women.

She feed him lies with his silverware

She don't want love, she just want her share

In 2023, hip-hop celebrates its 50th anniversary and the culture looks bleak. White supremacy and its pillars such as capitalism and heteropatriarchy have eroded the essence of the cultural movement.

When prominent hip-hop blogger and personality DJ Akademiks inked an exclusive live-streaming deal with Rumble, a far right-wing video hosting service, criticism was dwarfed and forgotten. On Youtube, white men with voyeurism kinks for Black culture, push out hip-hop commentary that centers around violence and the disregard of Black trauma. Look at Instagram, and you’ll find bloggers masquerading as pseudo-journalists. Covering hip-hop culture with misinformation and violent rhetoric.

Even when I switch to female or femme rap, there isn’t much relief. The space is still suffocated by the politics of desirability, a contemporary term properly dissecting “pretty privilege”. Under the umbrella of colorism, lighter complexion rappers are pushed to the front. Girls and women with more Afrocentric features work twice as hard, with half of the reward.

Just because I can scrutinize these systems, doesn’t mean I’m immune. Honestly, the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL) industrial complex hasn’t gotten me yet because I'm a very broke artist.

I can’t even enjoy my favorite discographies without the echoes of other Black feminists preaching “that’s mean girl rap,” haunting my thoughts. The in-house discussions reduced to us versus them mentality, when white supremacy is the enemy.

No one cares about the culture anymore. I’m an endangered fan, nearing extinction. My pleas for help and change going unheard.