“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”-Malcolm X
Hollywood’s being shaken to its core as some of its most successful producers and actors have been accused of sexual harassment and abuse. One of the most common themes to emerge from the controversy is that it isn’t just one profession that suffers from rape culture but all professions… including rap. Lyrical content and suggestive imagery are often misogynistic and objectifying of women in rap music. Remember Rick Ross spitting that Molly line? Creativity is protected by free speech but what about when things go beyond music and words?
The most recent allegations of rape in rap involve Nelly. A woman in Washington state accused him of raping her on his tour bus after a show this October but she apparently changed her mind and dropped the case, due to feeling like the system will “fail her” if she pursues criminal charges. We may never know if this is indeed a case of rape but it is a clear example of how rape culture permeates rap culture. Nelly has been scrutinized before, especially after his video for Tip Drill caused him to lose fans and led to some women at Spelman boycotting the entertainer.
Rape culture is bigger than any individual rapper, but when the list of accused abusers includes rap’s greatest contributors, the issue shouldn’t be ignored. Jermaine Dupri recently shared a story about Biggie pulling a gun on Lil Kim during a recording session. This instance was one of many, as Biggie was a prolific abuser of Lil Kim. Dr. Dre beat Dee Barnes and Mystical turned himself in on rape and kidnapping charges. Chris Brown’s recent Welcome to My Life documentary on Netflix has opened old wounds for some given his history with domestic abuse. Other rappers accused of sexual assault include Snoop, DMX, Big Sean, Fat Joe, Freddie Gibbs and the late 2Pac.
While all of these rappers have rape allegations in common they shouldn’t be painted with the same brush. False accusations come with the territory for celebrities. Most agree that Pac was probably innocent of the rape he served time for but he still documented violence against women in his music The root of the problem is a culture that condones and promotes rape culture as a business practice. Rape culture is American culture and hip-hop is a reflection of American culture. At some point, rap took it a step further and began to perpetuate the culture it once reflected and it’s time we acknowledge it. In the words of Malcolm X, “the black man never will get anybody’s respect until he first learns to respect [black] women.” Violence against women, sexual or otherwise, is unhealthy and a sign of a decaying society. It’s time for rap to acknowledge its roll in spreading rape culture and do something positive to change it.