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Ideological Criticism

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kelly lindahl

on 27 September 2013

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Transcript of Ideological Criticism

Wiz has 4 topics in this song: jewels, car, Taylor Gang & representing Philadelphia. The song has a dichotomy between city loyalty / his gang and materialism. His lyric: ‘just made a million, got another million on my schedule’ suggests that instead of going to work or playing shows, he sees it as simply a way to make money. The ultimate goal for Wiz (at least presented in this song) is: money to buy materialistic items.
Materialism/
Excess Bling

Jewelery
Flashy Car
Taylor Gang
The bright yellow 1987 convertible that Wiz drives in the video is a clear sign of materialism. Wiz describes this car throughout the entire video including one line that says ‘my car look unapproachable’ as though to say that he has the best car in the area. He may very well have the best car as it flashes quite obviously against his mother’s modest house.
The name ‘Taylor Gang’ originates from Wiz’s love of Chuck Taylors. These shoes are not expensive or rare which doesn’t stick with the materialist ideals. In fact, they are an ode to his school days. Members of Taylor Gang are his friends but they also now include his fans.
Throughout the song, Wiz keeps returning to lines about his car and about his diamond jewelry which suggests that becoming rich and showing off such money is very important to him. He even brags that he has ‘so many rocks in my watch, I can’t tell what the time is’. In the music video, nearly every shot is careful to include the top half of his body to show off his multiple jeweled necklaces or it is at an angle to grab the sparkling shot of his diamond earrings.
Conclusions
Wiz attempts to prove his legitimacy as a hip/hop artist from the ‘hood’ by showing his modest background in such sharp contrast with his excess bling paraded around in the video. This type of shot is visible in many hip/hop or rap videos and perhaps it is due to these artists often growing up in modest or poor neighborhoods, but the excess amount of bling may indicate a sense of insecurity about these artists’ newly rich positions in life. It is as though they need to prove that they belong in a higher class now. Physically, Wiz is transitioning into becoming rich but mentally, he is still unsure about it which explains the video’s shots of him still living in his mother’s house. Wiz has yet to fully make the leap into becoming a grown man with money so the materialism in the jewels, cars and Taylor Gang all aide him in this transition.

The "Gangsta" ideology is prevalent in many rappers songs and videos but there has been a major transition in the nature of how this ideology has been exploited over the past decade. What was originally an expression of the recognition of the injustice faced by the African-American community in urban environments is now an asserstion of material gain and a nod to a poor past without any real any depth behind it. Because of the popularization of "Gangsta" it has been transformed from a lifestyle into a postmodern image. Wiz Kalifa and others are now contributing to the consumerism and inequality in which their predecessors wished to expose.
Continuity
First impressions
Upon first glance the two predominant elements in the video appear contradictory:

Eg. Wiz eats breakfast off of disposible tableware presumably at his mother's house then proceeds to speed off in his sports car.

Eg. Wiz is covered in bling but is hanging around a public basketball court and conveinance store
Relationship
What connects these two elements is the ideology of 'Gangstaism' (group of young predominantly black males that typically reside in an urban environments and participate in such activities as ballin', pimpin', hustlin', reppin', etc.)
Wiz legitimizes his actions through his roots (community) and the measure of his success (bling)

By placing these seemingly contradictory elements next to each other, Wiz achieves recognition of his urban roots while keeping enough distance to showcase his success. This displays his credibility as a rapper (street cred)
Gangsta Cred
In Wiz's case, he makes reference to "Taylor Gang" a few times in this song and throughout the rest of his music.

By using the term "Gang" the observer/ listener enters his music through a particular terministic screen, one that idealizes territory, criminal activity, and material wealth.
What is interesting about Taylor Gang is that is isn't really a gang. It is an artificial community created by Wiz to market his brand (clothing/ music)
he exploits the popularity of gangsta style and associates his name with it in order to capitalize (how's that for hustlin'?)
Artifact
Ideological Criticism
An ideology as defined by Sonja K. Foss, is: “...a mental framework--the language, ‘concepts, categories, imagery of thought, and the systems of representation‘ that a group deploys to make sense of and define the world or some aspect of it”(209).
Ideologies are based on evaluative beliefs
Hegemonic Ideology
the prevalent ideology in a culture that may be used to represent the experiences of the culture as a whole. The Hegemonic ideology may be used to sustain current power structures within a culture.
Focuses on rhetorical artifacts as sources of information about the many ideologies that may exist in a culture.
“...the symbolic power to map or classify the world for others”(210).
qualities of a hegemonic or dominant ideology:
1) shielding
2) normative
3) defines what is “natural”
Q: How does a culture maintain it’s hegemonic ideology as dominant?
A: Rhetorical practice and strategies reinforce, defend and renew the evaluative beliefs within the hegemonic ideology.
Conscious vs Unconscious Support of Dominant Ideologies
Perspectives That Inform Ideological Criticism
Structuralism
Semiotics
“...a series of projects in which linguistics is used as a model for attempts to develop the ‘grammars’ of systems such as myths, novels and genres”(211).
“...a systematic attempt to understand what signs are and how they function”(211).
Marxism
“...an intellectual system...(that is) a way of analyzing cultural products in terms of the social and economic practices and institutions that produce them”(211).
Deconstructionism (poststructuralism)
“...to subject to critical analysis the basic structures and assumptions that govern texts and the development of knowledge”(212).
Postmodernism
“...a theory of cultural, intellectual, and societal discontinuity...”(212)
Cultural Studies
“...an interdisciplinary project focused around the idea that relations of power within a society are embedded in and reproduced through cultural creation”(212).
Articulation
“...establishment of a relationship among elements (such as beliefs, practices and values) so that their identity is transformed”(213).
Feminism/Feminist Criticism
“...the effort to eliminate relations of domination not just for women, but for all individuals”(213).
The Aim of Ideological Criticism
Ideological critics of all backgrounds aim to discover and portray the hidden ideologies within rhetorical artifacts. The analyses preformed by these critics is valuable as it allows us to understand the role of communication in building and solidifying ideology. Through these analyses we are also able to question whose interests are being promoted. By understanding the different relationships between elements using different forms of ideological criticism, we may then attempt to change pre-existing ideologies and form new relationships between concepts.
Wiz Khalifa
Cameron Jibril Thomaz (September 8, 1987) is born in Minot, North Dakota. After his parents' divorce, he lived in many parts of the world, like Germany, Japan, England and US. Cameron and his mother settled in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania when he was two. He released his first album "Show and Prove" in 2006 and signed with Warner Bros. Records 2007. Later, he left the record deal and became independent in 2009.
"black and Yellow"
The song was released in September 14th 2010.
The music video was filmed near Wiz Khalifa's neighbourhood, by the intersection of Chatsworth Avenue and Berwick Street in Hazelwood. To Wiz's surprise, the song landed the Top 15 in the Billboard 100 chart.
Semiotics
In the video, the images represent two certain concepts: community and individuality.
Community
Industrial structures (Three Sisters and Smithfield bridges) and commercial building (U.S. Steel Tower, PPG place, Station Square, Shannon Hall, The Waterfront and Art Institute of Pittsburgh) have been carefully chosen to represent a part of Pittsburgh's community. These are all well known for their structural reputation, as well as their business relations in the U.S.
Individuality
Later on in the video, specific details like the intersection signs, people of the working class, waving of the "Terrible Towel" from the Pittsburgh Steeler sport games, convenience store and the basketball court link back to Wiz's neighbourhood. These aspects are significant to him individually, at least in this music video.
Shielding
Carefully chosen images represents Wiz’s own take on how Pittsburgh ‘should’ be identified to his audience
Shots of the city landmarks funnel down to his roots in his own hood make the representation more personal
“reppin’ my town when you see me you know everything”
Relates Pittsburgh with working class
Use his past and community to promote specifically his present identity
Satisfies his own intention
Creates a new community
Full transcript