Sampleface’s very own Delta Ellisor expresses her thoughts on hip hop snobbery, complaining less and discovering better music.
During one of my recent and ill-advised forays into my Facebook timeline, I was faced with this fairly rudimentary image (above), posted by my long suffering partner. The picture was posted in reference to me, only to say that I was different to this perceived image of the ‘eager female, gamely immersing herself in her notion of hip hop in order to share an interest with her partner, only to emerge with a named penchant for the likes of Nicki Minaj and Drake’. I can’t say that I wasn’t satisfied with my separation from this scenario, nor that I was ignorant to its existence, having been ‘that girl’ before, but it did lead me to consider just why such an image has rung true with so many, in a day and age where so much music is instantly accessible and a genre can be traversed if given even the slightest guidance.
Hip hop is a male orientated genre. There is no question about that and whilst I could delve into the reasons why this is the case in terms of its origin, its recent past and its present, it would serve little purpose as I would basically be throwing a dissertation at you. Ain’t nobody got time for that. However, whereas pop (and to a point indie rock) play to most young female sympathies with their romanticism and easily imitable melodies, hip hop is bold and brave, largely without niceties and very stereotypically ‘masculine’ in its approach to storytelling. I fell in love with Jay Z’s ‘Midnight Marauders’ alongside songs like Tupac’s ‘California Love’ and Biggie’s ‘Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems’ when I was 14, but many of my female peers found the music too brutal and chose to stick with the saccharine. That was 14 years ago, but in a world of One Direction and Justin Bieber, you can understand why females are growing up without the sweet beat of a hip hop classic in their ears. However, for the purposes of this piece, and because I know so many women that are veritable encyclopaedias of hip hop know-how, I will address this to both men and women whose partners have fallen short of their lofty standards when it comes to sharing this particular interest.and A Tribe Called Quest’s
Anyone with ears should know that finding your own niche in music these days, without relying on a Google search populated by the most commercially successful results or Spotify recommendations sponsored by mainstream record labels is challenging, particularly when talking about hip hop, where a lot of the real promise is seen on underground releases. Without knowing what you are looking for, it is easy to pick what is thrown at you and run with it. Therefore, is it really surprising that when a girl/guy wants to share something with their hip hop loving other half, that they come out with the three artists in that picture as a reference point? If your partner has shown an interest by actually going out to look for new music, but has unintentionally fallen in with what the media tells them to listen to under the broad spectrum term ‘hip hop’, then that’s no reason to poke fun. When most people think of a footballer, they think of Ronaldo or Robin Van Persie. When they think of a record company they think of Sony or Universal. When they think of an mp3 player, they will only consider the iPod. The media sells Drake, Lil Wayne, Jay Z and Kanye as the saviours of modern rap and whilst it may have once been true that they were influential, it may take some pointers in the right direction to show them where YOUR particular passion lies.
So, rather than ‘liking’ a Facebook image which sits alongside such gems as ‘like this photo to save the lives of 1000 kittens’ and ‘If we can get 500 shares we’ll name our newborn Mince Pie Ermintrude Grass Field’, why don’t you take a little time to share with your partner what hip hop IS about? In my case, the key was a series of playlists. Sure, I had knowledge of the genre and I certainly was no fan of Minaj and her ilk, but having a list of tracks by the likes of Common, Mos Def, De La Soul, Talib Kweli and Black Milk moulded into a playlist that I could appreciate and use as a starter point made me look beyond what was sold to me in the mainstream media and appreciate the musicianship that I now celebrate daily writing and researching for Sampleface. The important thing to remember here, beyond all else, is that your partner may simply not enjoy hip hop. Don’t worry, it isn’t terminal for your union, but what Drake and Nicki produce these days is more pop than real hip hop. Perhaps that’s their pleasure, and if so, there’s no need to create mocking images like these about it. Respect it and move on… maybe play a little Dilla one night when you’re having a drink after work, or subtly slip some Midnight Marauders onto a party playlist. Maybe they’ll catch on and maybe they won’t…but whichever scenario applies, it doesn’t make them a figure of fun.
And maybe, just maybe in the end, after all this time and effort, you’ll find that they know more about hip hop than you do.