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Hip-Hop and Gender Stereotypes

A Semiotic Analysis of Masculinity in Hip-Hop

Michael Donnelly

on 28 April 2010

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Transcript of Hip-Hop and Gender Stereotypes

Hip-Hop Music & Gender Stereotypes A Semiotic Analysis of Masculinity in Hip-Hop Masculinity In Rap Music What is Semiotic Analysis? The presence of hyper-masculine themes and imagery
in both the music and the imagary of hip-hop culture has been criticised ever since its acceptance into mainstream society in the 1980's. What is the source of this and what has been the response by others in the hip-hop
community? To find out, we will analyze the masculine culture of hip-hop music through
the scope of Semiotic Analysis. Semiotics is concerned with how meaning is generated and conveyed
in "texts" (i.e. films, TV, magazines, other media). The dissection and study of the signs and symbols that make up a text helps us understand the underlying meaning of the text as a whole. A sign is a combination of concept and sound-image, a combination that cannot be seperated. A symbol has a signifier and is never wholly arbitrary. By Mike Donnelly Summary of Symbols in Hip-Hop Music Violence Competition Materialism Misogyny Consumerism Image Anti-Homosexuality What began as friendly competition between rappers quickly turned into intense rivalries,
oftentime boiling down to heated personal attacks. Some of these situations turn physical in a short period of time.
The explicit violence and aggression
featured in rap lyrics plays a role in
the increased violence in the streets
and between rap artists. According to some studies, the highest concentration of rap listeners was found in areas with high crime rates. Rap music and videos flash images of
cars and other material goods as to
proclaim status and/or wealth. This in turn suggests to the audience that such material things are essential for hip-hop credibility. Young listeners in low socioeconomic sectors are particularly suceptible to this symbolism.
Women are portrayed as commodities
in many forms of rap music, as well as the
terms "bitch" and "ho" being used
commonly to refer to other people as
well as directly to women. A great stimga exists about the
discussion of gays in hip-hop. The same rappers who were known for calling out others as "pussy", "bitch ass", and "faggot" have generally refused any civil discourse on the topic. Approximately 70% of rap music today
is bought by white consumers. This is
keeps many hip-hoppers on the
soundscan charts, whether they like it or
not. Image is just as important, if not more,
than the rapper's actual music in many
cases. Not only that, but much of their
music exists soley to bolster their
hip-hop credible image. The Major Signs of Hip-Hop Music What "Texts" Are We Talking About Here? In semiotic analysis, an arbitrary and temporary seperation is made
between content and form, and attention is focused on the system
of signs that compose a text. Primarily, the hip-hop culture Through the mediums of TV... ...and music. Conclusion The hyper-masculine presence found in
hip-hop music is the result of a combination
of factors:

Low socioeconomic status of listeners & participants.
A media system which glorifies power and status.
High crime rates in hip-hop dominant regions.
Varying emotional factors in individuals who listen to rap.
Most visibly, however, it seems that none of these hyper-
masculine signs and symbols were originated from hip hop itself. TV and movies have been glorifying the masculine roles in sex, money, and violence for many years prior to the existence of hip-hop.

Thug Image Guns Women Bling Slang Cyphers Responses References The Quinessential Figure of Masculinity
in Hip-Hop: Tupac Amaru Shakur Tupac was an individual who dealt with many
external and internal conflicts throughout his career and life.
As such, many of his lyrics contained the typical thug content and imagery commonplace in rap at
that time period. Being an educated individual, however, and exposed to the
philosophies of the Black Panther party and heavily involved
in poetry, Shakur's socially conscious and afrocentric lyrics
also inflitrated his lyrical content throughout his career. Shakur himself has become a symbol of hip-hop, as
a multifaceted individual who expresses his emotions, whether aggressive or intimate, through the artform. So with that in mind, ask yourself this....

Is hip-hop simply an reflection of the signs and symbols that society has put forth already, or another avenue in which society can directly proliferate its views? I'll let you answer that for yourself... Symbols of Hip-Hop He was also a key figure in one of the most violent periods in hip-hop history:

The East Coast-West Coast beef in the mid-90s. Where else are these signs & symbols prevalent? Mainstream Media & Society Media with abundances of violence, sex, and drug use
is readily availble virually anywhere in our society today. The Symbol of Hip Hop: Tupac Shakur Homosexuality in Hip-Hop Conscious Rap Stop the Violence Movement Personal Masculine Responsibilty Role of Women Berger, A.A (2005), Semiotic Analysis, Media Analysis Techniques. Sage Publications. Thousand Oaks, CA.

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