Q: Dear Mr. Man:
Note: This is the second in a two-part series on this mixed bag we call “Hip-Hop”. I’d like for us to discuss the second question raised:
“Can you suggest any ways to protest some of the messages in hip hop while still enjoying it as a type of music?”
Below is the question in its entirety:
“I’ve been a longtime fan of hip hop. But, through the years, I’ve noticed a troubling trend of hip hop lyrics that objectify women to the point of being misogynistic. It seems like some of the songs that are played the most on the radio (”Blame it”, “One More Drink”, and “Crank Dat” come to mind right away) encourage men to see women only as sexual objects. While you see these types of lyrics in other genres, it does seem more extreme and pronounced in hip hop. Do you think that there is any way to change this trend in hip hop? And can you suggest any ways to protest some of the messages in hip hop while still enjoying it as a type of music?”
For hip-hip fans who were around at its inception, the music and the sound has changed dramatically. It has shifted from party and dance music, to violence and the “gansta” lifestyle, to highly sexual and misogynistic. This is difficult for those of us who LOVE the music. We may be raising children now, but, unlike our parents, we are unable to share the genre we love so much with them for fear that it may shape their attitudes toward s violence, drugs and alcohol, and women.
So what are our options? Believe it or not, there are several ways to protest the current state of hip-hop. It’s not a new solution: just don’t buy it. As with anything, money will make or break the cycle negative hip-hop. We have to make it less attractive to the current generation and the generations to come. It starts in your home. With you and your children. Easier said than done. Individually, we can choose not to buy it, but as I mentioned in the Part One of this series hip-hop is a part of our culture.
So how do we change a culture? One child at a time. Sunday afternoon, J.C. and I are on our way home from church when I decided to put on some of Will Smith’s music (current and when he was known as “The Fresh Prince”). Songs like “Summertime” and “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” caught his attention with the smooth rhymes and the party rhythms. So I said, “Do you like this?” He gave me a look and a smile that let me know he was getting his groove on. It warmed me to see the same look in his eyes that I had when I first heard Run DMC twenty years ago. Clean. Fun. Music.
There are artists, some familiar and some not so, that produce an alternative to the mainstream. I read somewhere that Master P and his son, Romeo have started a clean hip-hop label. You may have heard of TobyMac who is pseudo hip-hop, but there are many others.There are numerous artists such as B.B. Jay, KJ-52, Grits, and John Reuben whom you may have never heard of, but are bumping their beats with the best of them. B.B. Jay, my personal favorite of the bunch, sounds like a clean version of the Notorious B.I.G. The beats are funky and the rhymes flow like butter, but women are elevated and there is no profanity or violence.
We can still enjoy hip-hop without all of the garbage that currently comes with it. Hip-hop started as a party anthem. No reason it can’t return to its roots. We need to affect this change in our own homes by continuing to model the behaviors that make the negative aspects of hip-hop (and other types of music) unattractive and distasteful to our kids. Also, don’t make the negativity taboo. Be willing to talk to your children honestly and candidly about “bad” hip-hop and how it has the potential to erode society. The more the next generation knows about the harmful effects, the less likely it will be that they will partake.
You are all adults, I assume. You hopefully can filter out the negative, but our children cannot. This is our protest. Teach the children, protect them, and guide them to the right choices. If every parent does this, this will be our protest. This is how we change the world of hip-hop. It will not be an overnight process, but if we take resonsibility for our children, the rest will fall in place.
What’s on your mind? Holla at The Man with your comments.
Shameless Plug: I’d love to give my take on your questions. Submit questions for Mr. Man to answer in an upcoming post on the “Ask Mr. Man” page in the sidebar.
One more thing…if you are enjoying this blog, please pass the link along to your friends. Thank you.
Q: Dear Mr. Man,
I don’t think my wife finds me attractive anymore. What can I do to be sexier to her?
A: Friends, if I had a sure-fire answer to that, Mr. Man would be in somewhere in the tropics, having a drink out of a coconut half-shell, and grilling anything I could catch. Alas, what I can say is that I understand that it is very easy to get bogged down with the realities of the career, parenthood, and other obligations. It is important that we never forget the glue that holds all of the pieces together: your wife. Sometime, our inattention makes us less attractive to our spouses. I don’t want this to happen to in my relationship, so I made a commitment to myself that I would work harder at being the sexiest man alive to my woman.
Sexy is not necessariy looking like Denzel or Tyrese . You can look like Homer Simpson on the outside so long you are George Clooney attractive on the inside. Back me up, ladies. Don’t leave me hanging on this one. So here is what you do:
- Just Because. When I broke my ankle last year around the holidays, Adi was the only one who was there all the time. I wanted to do something nice for her, but was unable to leave the house. So I ordered flowers…just because. Just because she was there for me and that was the very LEAST I could do. There needs to be many more “just because ” moments to let her know that she is special. Take her on a weekend trip…just because. Set up a spa day…just because. Take the kids off of her hands for a few hours…just because. The simple fact that you are thinking of her will make you instantly sexier in her eyes.
- Touch Her (Not In That Way). We all need physical contact. There is something about the human touch that connects you in ways large and small to another person’s soul. That’s the way God built us. So it is doubly important that you touch your wife without expectation. I don’t mean grab her booty (although there is a time and place for that. She’ll let you know), but soft caresses, holding her hand, and gentle touches on her neck, face, and hair. Your wife is beautiful and touching her is one of the ways that you let her know that you think so.
- Shut Up and Listen. How often have you come come home to your spouse and laid out the burdens of your day? And once you get it off of your chest, you go off into the man-cave never to be seen again until dinner. I’ve been guilty of this as well. It is important to be mindful of the fact that there are events and concerns that have occurred during the day and she wants to be heard just like you do.
- Don’t Always be the Fixer. One of the most loving things that a man can do is to listen to his wife without trying to solve her problems. This is of the most difficult things for a man to do because our nature is to “fix it”. Resist your instincts. Simply refer to #3.
- Man Up and Be Her Total Man. Protect her when she needs it, but don’t suppress her strong side. Don’t be afraid to take charge, but remember…you’re not the boss of her. Don’t be afriad to discipline your children, but to do it in the spirit of love. It’s alright to let her see you cry every now and again, but not every weekend. Let her take care of you, but remember that she’s not your mama. Man up and let her see the total you.
Hopefully these steps will provide you with the instant sexy you want and she needs.
Q: Dear Mr. Man,
I found you at the Ultimate Blog Party. What kind of fun are you bringing to the party?
A: Thanks for checking in. I think it is very cool to be one of the select few “dad-bloggers” to be invited to this party comprised of mainly mom-bloggers. Since this is a unique kind of party, I thought my contribution would be to take it back in time to the 1970’s. Here is a list of things I love from the ’70’s:
- You didn’t need an excuse to call someone a “Jive Turkey”.
- “Dynomite” wasn’t a terrorist threat.
- All In The Family. Brought the issue of race into my home and how to laugh at its absurdity.
- Afro Picks.
- Being able to call people “Jack” whether that was their name or not (i.e. “What’s happenin’, Jack?”).
- Big Cadillacs and big collars.
- Purple Kool-Aid Kool Cups (frozen grape Kool-Aid in a styrofoam cup).
- Foxy Brown and Shaft (Watch yo’ mouth!)
- Every party needs a Disco Ball.
- I’m bringing the black Michael Jackson (sans Bubbles).
- How about some Jefferson Airplane?
- How about The Jeffersons? “Weezy?”
- Florida Evans and “Damn, Damn, Damn!!!”
- Barbarino, Horshack, Epstein, and Freddy “Boom Boom” Washington are all invited.
- Wolfman Jack can be the D.J.
- Charlie’s Angels
- How about “Mr. Yuk
- Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and Richard Nixon are NOT invited.
- I loved the “Big Wheel” and “The Green Machine”.
- Star Wars is really from the ’70’s.
- The ” ‘Mean’ Joe’ Greene” Coca-Cola commercial.
- The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. I always thought they were a better match than he and Farrah.
- I gotta bring my “X-Ray Glasses” to the party.
I’ve gotta let my kids read this. They know nothin’ about nothin’ when it comes to this. Thanks www.5minutesformom.com for inviting me to the party and thank you for dropping by. I hope you will continue to “get down and have a funky good time, Jack”.
Question: What is your favorite ’70’s expression, show, or memory?
I was watching 60 Minutes this evening and received a very unexpected surprise. There was the facinating story of Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless, schizophrenic, musical prodigy and Steve Lopez, a down and out reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez do not refer to each other by their first names out of deep respect for each other, so I will proffer the same respect in this post.
Although I included the trailer for the upcoming motion picture, The Soloist (starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr.), I am not going to discuss the movie.
What was fascinating to me was the relationship that developed between Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez. Initially, Mr. Lopez was only interested in Mr. Ayers as a human interest story to revive his faltering career. Instead, he discovered a virtuoso. A musical genius who lost his dream to the demons that plagued him. He lost a full scholarship to The Julliard School as he slowly lost his mind. He ended up as one of the 60,000 homeless people that roam the streets of Los Angeles at night. He became one of the forgotten ones.
Mr. Lopez began to discover the magic of this special man over the course of writing columns for his paper about him. The two men developed a mutual respect and admiration for each other. Mr. Lopez would bring Mr. Ayers to his home and to his family simply to provide a sense of normalcy and stability to a man who possessed neither. In the process, Mr. Lopez gained more from this man that a few columns in his paper.
Two men from two different worlds. One would normally step over the other invisible one as he rushes to hail a taxi. One would look normally look at the other with pity, disdain, or contempt. One would clutch his briefcase just a little tighter as he passed. Until he got to know the man and not the stereotype.
What if we move beyond that which is safe and comfortable and got to know someone who is different from us? What if we removed the barriers of race and religion and place in society and truly saw each other as children of the Creator? Many people are one paycheck away from becoming destitute and homeless. Could be your co-worker, your neighbor, or you. Can we truly afford to not to try to walk in Mr. Ayers shoes? There is a chance that we will miss out on the sweet barotones of his cello.
Note: This post is out of the norm for the topics usually discussed on this blog. However, I think today’s subject is sufficient food for thought for us all. Please read. I hope it expands your horizons as it has mine.
A friend of mine asked me to provide feedback to an open letter she wrote on Facebook about animal endangerment and neglect . This was a huge step for her because she admits her insecurity about sharing her personal thoughts with others. Initially, I was looking at the letter with an editor’s eye, but I really began to get into the substance of the letter. Here are some excerpts (with her permission. Thanks, C.W.).
“With the current economic situation there are many people out there that are forced to make difficult decisions; whether to feed their families, pay an electric or water bill or to buy food for their animals. Unfortunately the rescues are starting to see the sad results of these difficult decisions. The past two days I’ve seen two news articles in Texas where horses (and other livestock) were so malnourished that the local law enforcement removed the animals. These two particular instances involved a large number of animals, not just one or two.
To me, it’s personal; to many of my “rescue” friends, it’s personal.
Anyone that has ever held an emaciated animal and made a promise to that animal that they do deserve better and that their life is going to change knows how personal it is.
Anyone that has ever held an animal when it took it’s last breath because there was nothing else that could be done knows how personal it is.
There are many sleepless nights, many tears shed, many thoughts of self doubt…wondering “what if”. It IS personal!”
Adi and I do not personally own any animals, so I admit, this is not a subject that I think about often. However, this letter reminded me that every living thing on earth is a product of the Creator and should be treated as such. If a person makes the choice to own animals for whatever reason, then they also must assume to responsibility to care for those animals. If you cannot care for pets or livestock, it is better to find someone who can than to allow them to suffer from neglect.
C.W. -Thank you for expanding my range of thinking on this subject. Thank you for “manning up”.
Question: Hopefully I made a difference by bringing the subject of preventing animal neglect to this blog. What are some ways that you can make a difference?