With That Said ...

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...I really wish, just once, when smart hip-hop fans see people accusing their art-form of a special degree of misogyny, they could admit that there might be something to such talk:


Ashley Judd is catching some flack for dissing rap and hip-hop in her newly released memoir, All That Is Bitter and Sweet. In the book, Judd says that she was initially hesitant to work with YouthAIDS because of the organization's affiliation with Snoop Dogg and P. Diddy. "As far as I'm concerned, most rap and hip-hop music -- with its rape culture and insanely abusive lyrics and depictions of girls and women as 'ho's' -- is the contemporary soundtrack of misogyny." Yikes. Questlove responded on Twitter, writing "at least i got my answer as to why ash judd didn't give us so much as a nod on her last visit ... EVERY genre of music has elements of violence."

I mean yeah it does. But as a hip-hop fan, and as a music fan, it's really hard for me to believe that all musical forms are equally misogynistic. If we're being honest, I think it's  worth noting that Kanye West's "Gold Digger" isn't just a song, it's actually is an entry into a rather prolific sub-genre that that spans from "That Girl's A Slut" to "I Ain't The One" to the original "Gold-digger" to "Sophisticated Bitch" to "Black Vagina Finda" to "Treat Her Like A Prostitute" to "Davy Crockett" to "The Bitches" to "Dead Wrong" to "Wildflower" to "Hoe Happy Jackie" to "Truly Yours" to "Beautiful Skin" to "The Nappy Dugout" to "I'm Only Out For One Thing," to "Let A Ho Be A Ho" to "Bitches Ain't Shit" and so on...

I could never get over the differing meaning between the Ray Charles original...

I got a woman way over town that's good to me  
Say I got a woman way over town good to me  
She give me money when I'm in need 
Yeah she's a kind of friend indeed...

And the Kanye version...

She take my money, well I'm in need 
Yeah she's a triflin' friend indeed 
Oh she's a gold digger way over time 
That digs on me

There's something very head-in-the-sand about the "all music forms" riposte. I would not make a definitive statement about hip-hop being the "most" misogynistic form of music. And maybe I'm just bitter because I couldn't get through the second Cuban Linx record but for Ghostface ranting about some "white bitch" (again.) 

And I love Ghost. I think he's a genius. And I know this happens in metal and rock. But were I someone who happened to be a candidate for for dismissal as a "white bitch" or any "bitch," I think I might also have a problem huddling with purveyors of "Dead Wrong" and "Bitches Ain't Shit." Surely, a knowledgeable music fan could find a way to make such a person wrong. But that isn't actually answering the challenge.

At some point we've got to get past the defensiveness. This is an industry now, one with so much capital that Judd is already backpedaling
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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