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Hip-hop originated in the streets of the Bronx in the late 1970s, more specifically from the economically depressed South Bronx which was predominantly made up of African-Americans. Due to the Bronx being an economically depressed area, many businesses closed down and job opportunities moved toward inner-city areas. The job opportunities that were available required a college degree, which most underprivileged African-Americans could not afford. African-American men began to find other professions as a way to make money. As drug use increased in inner-city areas, men began selling drugs as a means to financially support themselves and their families. As a result, many fathers ended up in state jail or prison. According to the Justice Department, the number of African-American men incarcerated for drug offenses between 1985 and 1995 has risen by 707 percent (Kitwana 53). With fathers behind bars, mothers had to take on the role of being both the mother and father. With mother’s being the primary caregiver, they earned a lot of respect from their sons.
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Through the medium of hip-hop, many of these young boys began to channel their emotions in regards to the struggles they faced because of the environment they were raised in and their outlook on life itself. One of the topics they often rap about is their sexual desires. Often when male rappers talk about females they speak in a very degrading way and view them as sexual objects. However, when speaking of mother’s, hip-hop artists regard them in a highly respected manner and voice a strong love for them, viewing them as angelic or godlike.
The topic of how women, with a focus on mothers, in hip-hop are viewed is important because it is a reflection of the environment these artists grew up. It is also important because it addresses the idea of “masculinity” within society and Hip-Hop culture. An ideal that influences young men across the globe and leads to today’s youth trying to meet these standards of what it means to “be a man”. This ideal and the standards that come with it influence our children, as a society we should care about the stereotypes that influence our children’s view of the world.
In terms of researching for this topic, I plan to utilize the Nichols College Library and search for articles and Ebooks that contain the phrase “mothers in hip-hop”, as well as searching the terms “mothers” and “hip-hop” together. I also plan to search the phrase “masculinity in hip-hip” because it connects to the culture and environment these artists were raised in. Some of the hurdles that I anticipate are finding resources that specifically discuss the role of mothers in hip-hop culture, as well as explaining what I mean when I say that they are viewed as “angelic” or “godlike”. To work around these hurdles I am going to keep my searches broad and look at a wide array of resources and also quote lyrics from hip-hop artists that talk about their mothers. To explain what I mean by “angelic” or “godlike” I will break down the definition and find examples from songs. One of the main questions that will guide my research will be “Why are mothers viewed in a different light than other females?”. This will aid in reflecting the core culture of Hip-hop.
- Kitwana, Bakari. The Hip-Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African-American Culture, Basic Books, 2003. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nichols-ebooks/reader.action?docID=679921.
Bakari Kitwana, a previous editor for The Source, classifies African-Americans born between 1965 and 1984 as the “hip-hop generation”, which is a term he uses interchangeably with black youth culture. Kitwana states that hip-hop is “arguably the single most significant achievement of our generation”. However, he also argues that it is responsible for causing turmoil in black youth culture by both continuing to convey negative stereotypes in regards to the African American community and by displaying unfavorable role models. Kitwana discusses the crises that have been occurring in the last three decades, including a rise in unemployment, single-parent homes, and high rates of imprisonment, among other things.
This book is a good resource for those interested in how the crises mentioned above have impacted both Hip-Hop culture and the relationships between hip-hop artists and their mothers. This book relates to the topic “Mothers in Hip-Hop” because it provides background on the environment the artists grew up in and how it causes them to be primarily raised by their mothers, which has a strong effect on the relationship with their mothers.
- Rose, Tricia The Hip Hop Wars : What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop–and Why It Matters, Basic Books, 2008. ProQuest Ebook Central, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/nichols-ebooks/detail.action?docID=625171.
Hip-hop has been a channel for many artists to make their experiences, often as underprivileged African-Americans, heard. Scholar and cultural critic Tricia Rose argues that hip-hop has become one of the main ways we talk about race in the United States. Rose explores the most critical topics regarding hip-hop: Does hip hop cause violence, or is it simply a reflection of a violent culture? Is emulating street hustling as a way of life a positive influence? Should black fathers leave all parenting responsibilities to black mothers? Rose states that these questions are real problems that are at the iconic core of hip-hop songs. In her book, The Hip Hop Wars, she concludes with a call to action to revolutionize the hip-hop genre by creating songs that more accurately reflect a much more refined range of culture, politics, anger, and sexual desires.
This book relates to the topic “Mothers in Hip-Hop” because it identifies some of the key themes in hip-hop and black youth culture. By artists emulating street husting as a way of life, the youth is exposed to these negative role models and become involved in illegal acts. As they become more comfortable with partaking in these illegal acts, they begin to make a profession out of it to support their families and often times get arrested, leaving black mothers to raise their children alone. With only one parental figure in their lives, they develop a strong sense of respect for the mothers and the sacrifices she makes for them.
- Strong, Edward. “Hip Hop Loves Mom Playlist.” DIME DETROIT, 14 May 2017, https://dime-detroit.com/hip-hop-loves-mom.
Edward Strong argues that although hip-hop often gets a negative reputation for its lyrics towards women, there are numerous songs that uplift, celebrate and honor women collectively. However, it is important to note that all of the songs he provides for examples are of artists honoring their Mothers. This is an appropriate reflection of the hip-hop genre and a product of the environment they grew up in. This webpage connects to the topic “Mother’s in Hip-Hop” because it provides examples of hip-hop artists who have written about the immense love and respect that they have for their mothers. It also helps to paint a picture of how they view their mothers as being angelic or almost godlike.
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