Like Chris Rock said: "I love rap music, but I'm tired of defending it."
In his 2004 HBO stand-up special Never Scared, comedian Chris Rock does a great bit about women who love rap music. No matter how misogynistic or depraved the lyrics are, he says, "if the beat's alright, she will dance all night":
As a feminist, I want to disagree with him, take every Lil Jon CD and burn it in a fire while dancing around it singing Joni Mitchell.
But as a dyed in the wool rap music fan, whose favourite songs include some of the most headbangingly misogynistic lyrics of all time, I have to agree with him. And then I just want to put on this song and dance around my living room shouting "YAWWW SKEET SKEET GOD DAMN!"
In all honesty, I probably would dance to "Put A Dick In Her Eye" if it had a fat beat behind it.
As a feminist I realise that this puts me in something of a difficult position. Trying to defend misogynistic rap lyrics is a pointless exercise; they're indefensible. Referring to women as "bitches and hoes" who "ain't shit" but a receptacle for a rapper's penis is, obviously, offensive in the extreme.
And yet, as Rock says, if the beat is right...
What I'm saying, reader, is I CAN'T HELP LOVING DIRTY RAP MUSIC, EVEN IF IT GOES AGAINST EVERYTHING I STAND FOR. In the words of Gloria Estefan: "I just can't control my feet when I hear the beat." (And in the words of Gloria Steinem (probably): "Are you fucking kidding me?")
But Ms Estefan raises a crucial point - the beat. If the beat's no good, what's the difference between a misogynistic rap song and that crazy guy who shouts on the subway?
Which brings me to this song I discovered yesterday, Snitches Ain't by YG, which sounds EXACTLY like that crazy guy on the subway ranting over the top of a mobile phone ringtone. This, apparently, is what modern hip-hop has become (BTW, NSFW):
I might point out that I found this charming song in a "Mainstream Top 100 Chart" playlist on Spotify, so it's not some niche track no one is listening to. This is mainstream, modern rap music. And it's utter crap.
After smacking you in the head with 30 seconds of monotonous "bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks" chanting (great for family sing-alongs, this one), you get to fun lyrics such as:
Got this bitch named Britney, with big-ass titties,
But bitches ain't shit, cuz bitches act Mickey, ughhhhh
Take a bitch life, now it's my life.
Need a bitch that can fuck, cook, clean right
Now, when I was first discovering my love for hip-hop in my early teens, Snoop Dogg's Ain't No Fun - which basically posits that women are nothing but sexual objects to be shared around amongst friends - was pretty much the zenith of misogynistic lyrics for me (also NSFW):
But while lyrics like:
I know the pussy's mine, I'ma fuck a couple more times
And then I'm through with it, there's nothing else to do with it
Pass it to the homie, now you hit it
are hardly any better than YG's rap about his bitch Britney, to me there's something about Snoop's song itself - a spoof of those cheesy "I'll Make Love To You" R&B ballads that were so popular in the early 1990s - that elevates it from being just another depraved rap tune. Maybe it's just nostalgia speaking, but I like to think that Ain't No Fun is more funny than shocking. There's something humorous about juxtaposing such sexual lyrics with such a happy, dinky tune. It's saucy, rude and baudy. And crucially, it's pretty groovy, musically speaking.
But Snitches Ain't is just... depressing. It's like someone just turned on the drum machine, fired up the first three second synth loop they could find on royaltyfreeloops.com and then took a lyrical dump all over humanity while giving everyone the finger.
It's not only indefensible from a feminist perspective, you can't even defend it musically. I defy anyone to dance to Snitches Ain't without looking like a dementia sufferer.
Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is if you're going to indulge in dirty, depraved, misogynistic rap music, at least make sure you can dance to it. Otherwise just go and hang out in the subway.
(For the record: Yes, I'm aware that Snoop is the one singing the elegant opening lines on YG's track. The man will do practically anything for money these days. Now who's the ho?)