In Defense of Rap: Hip Hop, Wall Street, and Capitol Hill
By Jaylin Paschal
One of the strongest critiques of rap music is the vulgarity of the genre--the references to drugs, sex, money, violence, and crime. The fiercest of rap critics argue that it is simply unfit for society; immoral and obscene.
Well then, so is Wall Street. And so is Capitol Hill. Rap music is no more dysfunctional.
As I’ve discussed before [see: Thank You, Hip Hop], rap is a reflection of society at large. So while rap music may capitalize on the images of the “obscene,” it is not creating these images and it is not the sole reason for their persistence. If you are going to attack a subculture, you must be just as critical of the financial and governmental systems of the mainstream.
Before you devalue rap music for its drug references, remember that Wall Street and Capitol Hill frequent (barely legal, like marijuana) performance enhancing drugs. Business Insider ran a report on Wall Street’s favorite drugs (which actually did include marijuana), and summed it up like this: “Rather than brain-eating drugs like heroin and ecstasy, Wall Street turns to drugs that will make them operate at 150%.” Don’t cringe at rap’s obsession with “popping pills,” if you don’t flinch at Wall Street’s bad Adderall problem. The same can be said about alcohol references and consumption.
The next time you claim rap isn’t “real music,” because of its sexually explicit content, I hope you at least remember that both brokers and politicians are notorious for their own escapades, usually involving prostitution or infidelity. Even our presidents have been involved with sex scandals including, to name a few, Jefferson, Kennedy, and Clinton.
References to violence in rap music are no more unpleasant than actual violence enacted by all levels of government. As explained on Matador Network, The United States spends more on weaponry than the rest of the world combined. To say that “it is the ‘violence’ of hip hop that is an exclusive pathology” is to deny the truth about America. We're violent, and some would argue we're bullies.
And finally, critics argue against the imagery of crime in hip hop. As if Wall Street and Capitol Hill aren’t ran by criminals. I hope it’s unnecessary for me to list all of the financial and political scandals in this country, but for fear that it's not: Watergate. 2008 stock market crash.
Yet ironically enough, the same people who shame hip hop culture aspire to Wolf of Wall Street and House of Cards lifestyles, when in reality they all capitalize on the same things. The aspects of obscenity which bother rap critics are present wherever there is power.
At their core, rap music and politics are different only in the way the media presents the two. And the true difference between rap culture and Wall Street culture, is that there’s no one to bail us out.