I’m the biggest hypocrite of 2015.
I was a 19-year-old college freshman who would chug a beer every time “Put it In Ya Mouth” came on. Four years later, I graduated, and I was smarter, but by no means better. I realized how gross, hypermasculine, drug sex and booze-filled a lot of the rap I was listening to was, but I ignored it. Some of my favorite songs, like "Go DJ," were not the most upstanding—that AIDS in the ass line is pretty awful—but I just didn’t care. The beat was too dope, Lil Wayne was rapping too hard. It’s not hard to find an excuse for apathy.
Now I’m 26 years old. I don’t pretend to be mature, farts get even funnier with age and I still eat cereal out of cups in my boxers, but I do feel older in some ways and right now, I can feel myself going through a shift. The stuff that used to get 19-year-old me pumped for a night of beer pong and bad decisions, the shit I could blissfully ignore, has been sticking with me, a thorn in my side, something I can't easily dismiss. In recent months I’ve seen it happen more than few times.
I really noticed it first with Vic Mensa. My feelings on Vic and “U Mad,” in general, have been well documented, but his “hit a bitch in an elevator like Ray Rice line” has left a sour taste in my mouth, and it’s been lingering ever since. Trivializing a case of domestic violence is the biggest gripe to have, but the line also reeks of a certain "listen to me say something controversial" desperation.
Obviously, Vic didn’t mean “hit” as in professional athlete cold-cocking a 100-pound woman; he meant “have sex with.” Obviously, guys, come on. Sweet punchline bro. Awesome. It feels like being trapped at a party with that guy who won't stop talking about how easily he gets girls and you know they're over-compensating.
I was surprised by how much it bothered me, but honestly, it just pissed me off. And not in a falsely-outraged-blogger-pretending-to-be-mad-for-an-article kind of way; in a real, actual human kind of way. It's been months now, and it's still bugging me. Maybe it was the manifestations of my feelings on Vic as a whole, that one line kind of represents how much he's changed, but that line officially has me jumping off his bandwagon.
Then, of course, we have A$AP Rocky. I tried to enjoy his new album, I really did, but I couldn’t ever get into it, and part of the problem was how gross his Rita Ora reference was.
"I swear that bitch Rita Ora got a big mouth / Next time I see her might curse the bitch out / Kicked the bitch out once cause she bitched out, spit my kids out / Jizzed up all in her mouth and made the bitch bounce"
Maybe 19-year-old me would have laughed, but 26-year-old me is unimpressed. Throwing Rita Ora under the bus like that isn't cool. If anything, it makes him seem desperate, and like Vic’s Ray Rice line, it seemed like a forced attempt to be shocking. Worse, when he's been asked about the line, he acts surprised.
Rocky’s no rookie, he knows how the game works. In the era of Twitter beef and TMZ, when you mention someone by name it will get attention. Don’t even act like you're shocked when people ask about the time you said you ejaculated into a famous person's mouth. This is exactly the reaction Rocky was shooting for, he got it, and the same went for all his talk of orgies on acid. Years ago I probably would have thought it was awesome, now it felt like a frat bro bragging about his exploits, he just won't stop talking about orgies, and the media ate it up.
I could end here, I could say hip-hop has a problem with women which it most definitely does, and that’s what bothers me. I could shame the community and the listeners who eat this slop up like pigs at a trough, but the truth is, I’m no better. I can critique Vic, Rocky and Rape Homie Quan till I’m blue in the face, but it’s easy because I don’t really consider myself a fan of their music.
What about artists that I love? What about when Action Bronson, legitimately my favorite rapper and my favorite human being, referencing another case of a professional athlete abusing a woman on "Terry"?
"Choke a pussy with his tie knot, it's my block, Chuck Knoblauch"
The fifth song on my Top 25 most played playlist in iTunes is Anderson .Paak’s “Already,” where the whole first verse is about a girl fucking all his homies before he will fuck her. Or on “Suede,” straight up my favorite song of the year, where he says “bitch” more times than a veterinarian?
How come I’m not as disgusted with them as I am with Vic and A$AP? Is a dope beat all it takes for me to forget my morals? Why aren’t I hitting Action and Paak with a scathing gif? How can I sit here and bump “Already” when the subject matter is essentially the same thing that makes me delete A.L.L.A from my iTunes? Should I stop listening? Should I stop supporting them? Maybe. Will I? Hell no.
"Suede" has too much bounce and Venice is one of my favorite albums in years. Hand to god, Anderson is one of the best artists around right now, nobody is making music like him, and I need Fuck That’s Delicious in my life. It’s easy to hop on my high horse when I don’t like an artist - even without the Rita Ora line it wouldn't have been too hard for me to forget about ASAP’s album and claim some sort of moral superiority—but it’s really hard to do the same with artists who I genuinely love.
Does that make me a hypocrite? Abso-fucking-lutely.
Do I know what to do with this newfound epiphany? Abso-fucking-lutely not.
It was my hope that in writing this article I would find a balance, a solution to the problem, but if anything I’m just more confused. I don’t know how I can spend 500 words criticizing Vic Mensa and Rocky’s mouth, then turn around and write an article about how amazing Anderson is, how much I love Bronson, or why I hit repeat on some rappers using the same subject matter I can't wait to skip on others. It's tempting to try to find some sort of standard rule—saying X is bad, saying Y is ok—but music and art don't really work like that. It's constantly changing alongside the world we live in, we're constantly changing personally. Maybe there isn't a "worse," a "better." Maybe context and intention matter. Maybe I have my lines and you have yours.
I honestly have no idea what to do. I don’t want to be a wet blanket. I'm far more Police Academy than PC Police, but I also don’t want hip-hop to be the worst version of a locker room. I don’t want to hear A$AP Rocky talk about jizzing on girls, but I also don’t want to not listen to any Eminem song ever. At the very least, if I'm going to call artists out on their bullshit, I can't be afraid to admit my own, that'd be the real hypocrisy. Actually thinking about the way I pick and choose what I like and hate, what I'm offended by and what I applaud, is the first step in figuring it all out, and then acting on it. Or maybe not. What the fuck do I know?
I'm the biggest hypocrite of 2015, but I’m not the only one.