I like hip-hop. Contrary to the beliefs of some of the more conservative among us, I think the form has some artistic value and can certainly be enjoyable to listen to.
I am finding it increasingly more difficult, however, to overlook some of the disturbing trends I’ve seen growing in modern hip-hop culture. In many ways, I shouldn’t be surprised-these trends often parallel some of the general cultural developments I’ve outlined before, which are spreading more widely in America.
Regardless, the growing emasculation of hip hop and the devolution of some of its leading figures into insecure, gaudy, feminized, and at times frankly absurd caricatures of men (and women) has gotten me thinking lately.
Hip-hop, as we know it today, is becoming an increasingly feminine culture.
Behind all the posturing you see from these men is a tremendous amount of insecurity about themselves, their status, and their own masculinity, as well as quite a bit of feminine style and energy.
This is part of why they promote such exaggerated, dysfunctional caricatures of what it means to be a man (ex: urban gang culture). They have no model for real masculinity because, in the matriarchies they come from, there simply are no fathers or other stable male authority figures to show them what that looks like. So, since they’ve got no template to go on, they simply make it up and try to derive new ways of “proving” their manhood.
The Journey To Urban Manhood
“Taking yo’ bitch” is one way to prove maturity. In order to make this work, you must be sure to let everyone know you banged that other dude’s girl via music or social media. Be sure to rap or instagram about it. Simply having sex with her isn’t enough. Rather, it is the fact that everyone else knows you had sex with her that marks your manhood. So make sure they find out-attention whoring is your friend.
Snagging “the bad bitch” is another way to show one’s manhood. Again, you can’t just bang her. You gotta talk about it, rap about it, or tape it if you can. The world needs to know that you have the girl they want. Not necessarily the girl you want, but the one that they want.
This is similar in some ways to how women often choose men based in large part on their status or ability to impress her peers. This growing internalization of female attraction cues is leading to a larger number of male groupies in the world of hip-hop, men who (like women) prioritize status and peer approval over raw physical attraction.
“Shinin” is another way to prove to the hip-hop world that you’re a man. To do this, you’ve gotta have the biggest chains, shiniest/newest cars, flash the most money, roll on the biggest rims, and just generally spend like money is not an obstacle.
The key is not merely for you to enjoy your cash or the objects it can buy, but rather to make sure that everyone knows you’ve got that cash and how much it cost you to get those objects. If nobody knows, then it is really not worthwhile.
Oh, and forget about building wealth—this isn’t how you prove your manhood. You’ve got to spend as much as possible, so don’t bother with things like home ownership. Lease and rent everything you can if it makes folks think you’ve got more cash.
Attention whoring via social media is another key to establishing your manhood. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter offer worthy platforms for you to prove your achievement of the many “manly goals” listed above. You can show off your bad bitch/other-dude’s girl, let the world see your new ride, and even show off your cash flow directly.
We’re used to social media attention whoring being a predominantly female phenomenon, but in hip-hop culture it is just as much a male one. Just as teenaged girls have to document every little socially relevant step they take, these men must do the same.
The Feminized Product
For all the posturing and attempted maintenance of an outwardly sexual, hyper-masculine frame, these men seem largely incapable of showing the independent spirit that is so often the essence of masculinity, the spirit that allows a man to go his own way even without extensive peer approval or adulation. Instead, like women, they are slaves the collective and have always got to prove themselves to everyone else-what the world thinks ALWAYS matters.
It isn’t just about getting yours, its about making sure everyone else knows you got yours.
It is in this way that the culture reveals its growing femininity as it directly parallels female social structures. Just as girls work tirelessly to secure peer approval and conform to group social norms while rarely deviating from them, male adherents to the hip-hop culture and their deities in the entertainment industry work tirelessly to win the praise of their peers and posture to look as integrated with the culture as they can.
Like women, they rely heavily on fashion trends and attention whoring to aid them in these endeavors. Like women, they gossip and feud (or “beef”) over trivial things. Like women, they’re obsessed with brand names and jewelry. Like women, they love bright jewelry created by females, skinny jeans originally designed for feminine forms, Birkin bags and even skirts.
Truly masculine men once ruled the world of hip-hop. Much of the foundation for what we now know as game came from within the urban communities that birthed this culture, and we who benefit from the growth of a community surrounding game (which ultimately gave rise to sites like this) owe a lot to that. Increasingly, I fear that this legacy is being left behind, another victim of the west’s seemingly unending bid to neuter the remnants of its masculinity.
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