Respect rap music, artists

Natalie San Luis

The 2013 reductionism award for rap music goes to the April 8 article “The 2012 cheating award for music goes to rap.” The article, about infidelity and hip-hop music, can be characterized as an imposition of traditional morality at best and offensively insensitive at worst. Although the author insists that her subjective, judgmental assertions — often without a grounding in evidence or reality — constitute “research,” her analysis of hip-hop music is shallow and she cavalierly dismisses any relationship that doesn’t consist of a monogamous man and monogamous woman.

First, let’s clarify what is “cheating.” Infidelity is a non-exclusive relationship between individuals who have agreed to be monogamous. In the author’s “research data,” many of the songs she references as glorifying infidelity are just about sex. Consider Kanye’s explanation in “No Church in the Wild” for a less parochial characterization of sexuality: “No sins as long as there’s permission / And deception is the only felony.” There are many reasons to criticize Tyga’s lyric, “Got my other bitch fuckin’ with my other bitch,” but I seriously doubt that either of these women is unaware of their male partner’s polyamory.

And the women aren’t “victims” either, a word the author uses four times in the article. The assumption that women are “victims” of — rather than participants in or initiators of — sexual relationships that fall outside the narrow scope of traditional morality contributes to the extremely harmful ideology that men are natural sexual aggressors and women are passive objects of desire.

Furthermore, although these songs may mention multiple women, many of them aren’t about infidelity. I’m not sure why Drake’s lyrics, “dealing with a heart that I didn’t break,” imply concurrent, closed relationships rather than a previous relationship. In the spreadsheet “data” attached to the article, the author’s cursory dismissal of some hip-hop songs — “it’s about being an asshole” — demonstrates an inability to analyze the most important music genre of our generation.

Finally, saying that infidelity is a “badge of honor [for] all of the boys of rap” or an important aspect of “the lifestyle of a stereotypical rapper” assumes that rap is a monolith, devoid of cultural complexity or rich history. Show respect, not only to the genre but to men of color, who shouldn’t be referred to as “boys.”

Natalie San Luis is a women’s and gender studies senior at the University of Texas at Austin and a Daily Texan contributor.