The Sound is a column on all things music written by Charles Park (’20) and Mark Park (’20). -Ed.
As much as we love rap, Hip-hop has perpetually related to violence. Hip-hop is starting to become a major division in the music industry; it has expanded the scope of influence. The genre was not only a culture enjoyed by the black communities, but it also became a part of a global trend. At least 40% of the songs are categorized as Hip-hop in the Billboard charts; Hip-hop has become the most popular genres in all streaming services.
Assaults and domestic violence in Hip-hop started in the 1990’s with Dr.Dre’s assaults on Dee Barnes. The allegation has put Dr.Dre in the spotlight, damaging his rising career. From the Rolling Stones interview in 1991, he was notoriously unapologetic to Barnes, saying “I just did it, you know. Ain’t nothing you can do now by talking about it. Besides, it ain’t no big thing, I just threw her through a door.” From the recent Netflix documentary, “The Defiant Ones” and other movies based on Dr. Dre, they have censored his assault of Dee Barnes which the allegations resurfaced again. Later on, Barnes accepted Dr. Dre’s apology which was directed after “The Defiant Ones”. There were only a few rappers who were accused of domestic assaults such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and more in the past.
Throughout the recent years, trending rappers always have faced charges for their violent behavior, yet, their controversy never stopped their rise. For instance, Rapper Kodak Black was convicted of a first-degree sexual assault charge on a teenage girl. While it brought harsh criticisms from the community, his songs from Spotify and other streaming services still gained popularity during that time. Similarly, rapper Famous Dex was caught on camera assaulting his girlfriend. Although XXL Magazine snubbed him from the Freshman list, he already gained 1 million streams from Spotify in a week from his debut album “Dex Meets Dexter.” As Hip-hop continues to grow and influence other trending genres, this violent pattern of behavior has entered into designers too- more specifically streetwear. Designer A$AP Bari faced domestic abuse controversy when he posted himself hitting his girlfriend on social media. Bari faced many criticisms from other colleagues, including his own teammates, A$AP Rocky. Even though his career was damaged, his fashion brand, Vlone, is still one of the most popular brands in streetwear. It seems as if the rap community views the artist and his or her songs differently, disregarding the artist’s action when evaluating their music.
There is still positivity that flows in Hip-hop as the genre gives room for redemption. One of the most popular rappers was the South Florida rapper, XXXTentacion (Rest In Peace Jahseh Onfroy). He was faced with seven felony charges including kicking his pregnant girlfriend while he was gaining massive popularity from the free music streaming base, Soundcloud. In early 2017, XXXTentacion was held for 8 more charges for witness tampering. All throughout 2017 and 2018, XXXTentacion has stirred controversy of constant assaults of his fans, yet, his music always charted in several streaming services. However, in late 2017, XXXTentacion started to redeem himself by starting donations challenges for orphanages and spreading positivity through his new music. His album “17” and “?” deals with depression from his actions, bringing critical acclaims of his messages and how it has saved many lives. Onfroy continued to redeem themselves, helping people in need, until his tragic end. Still, more than a handful of people protest against his music due to his past events. Therefore, it brings to the question: Should people be given second chances?
Hip-hop was always under the spotlight for its perpetual relationship with domestic violence and physical assault. The new generation of rappers is constantly troubled with allegations for sexual assault and physical harm as they create music that focuses on themselves rather than the struggles of black communities. Such controversial cases should taint their career, yet it only seems to boost their profits and confidence.
As much as I love Hip-hop, I do really see a problematic pattern within the community. Even though I know their controversial past behaviors, I still listen to these rappers such as Famous Dex, Kodak Black, or XXXTentacion. Honestly, Hip-hop is a controversial genre despite its great significance in today’s society. But if we were to only listen to those who uphold the behaviors we support (not only Hip-hop), half of our playlists should be deleted. I’m not saying we should support these controversial behaviors, but I wanted to convey that it’s a difficult choice to make on how we judge the artists. We just have to hope for the best that these artists on our playlists do the right thing.
Featured Image: The Daily Beast
-Mark Park (’20)