It’s fucking Friday and I’m fucking tired of people blaming hip-hop and rap music for everything. I scraped my knee while running — blame the Kendrick I was listening to on my jog. I threw up and got sent to the hospital for drinking too goddamn much — blame that last Biggie song that came on during power hour. I fucked up and said something both homophobic and racist — blame every rap artist that came to SU during the past year because it’s their fucking fault.

Yeah, no.

I’m someone who personally doesn’t get to enjoy the benefits of white privilege — and I’m the editor of 20 Watts, Syracuse University’s only music magazine. So reading Teresa Sabga’s editorial published in the September 11th Daily Orange, which comes across as pedantic while simultaneously placing blame on the wrong parties, struck a nerve for me.

I’m someone with enough common sense to understand that when someone makes a decision, it is that individual who should be held accountable. I am not going to try and claim that I have the authority to say that blaming a genre of music is ignorant — but I feel the need to speak up for those not only affected by Hanna Strong’s remarks, but Sabga’s as well.

In her editorial, Sabga makes some pretty ridiculous claims, the most obvious being that hip-hop and rap music influenced Hanna Strong to call someone a “f*ggot-ass n*gger” on camera. She says “[rap] music influences anyone that is willing to listen, and there is no “acceptable” form of hip-hop or rap.” But who exactly is she blaming for this? Is it University Union, the organization that Sabga credits for enabling our student body to be influenced in such a way? Or is it the portion of the student body that doesn’t have the academic privilege to listen to hip-hop with the same discerning, “enlightened ears” that Sabga does — whatever that means? With this alone, she insults Strong and all students at Syracuse by implying that none of us are smart enough to be able to tell the difference between entertainment, like hip-hop music, from reality. Hip-hop doesn’t cause racism, ignorant people do.

Sabga’s base claim that  “We only lengthen racism and homophobia’s longevity by inviting these [rap] artists to perform at our school and in part, we have become part of the cycle” becomes a loaded accusation that places an entire genre of music at fault for Hanna Strong’s outburst. It’s not deserved, either. Sabga names several hip-hop artists who have performed at Syracuse University — among them Schoolboy Q, Ace Hood, A$AP Ferg, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar, Trey Songz, Earl Sweatshirt, Joey Badass, and Kid Ink — and goes on to label these artists’ songs as racist as well as homophobic. It’s an interesting claim — since all of these hip-hop artists are people of color, I’m not sure how they’re racist.

Sabga also shouts out University Union, a group allegedly bringing homophobic and racist acts to campus. University Union is a professional student organization that strives to bring the music that the student body wants. UU is not in any way to blame for the actions of Hanna Strong. Strong spoke of her own accord. To blame the organization or the artists it brings to campus is a cop-out. It’s really a stretch to try to accuse the musical acts UU brings of causing Hanna Strong to unleash a string of vulgar, intolerant insults on camera.

Calling hip-hop and rap music full of racist and homophobic lyrics plays into a tired, inaccurate and outdated stereotype of that genre of music. There are so many hip-hop artists whose work is not defined in these limiting terms presented by Sabga, who does not provide concrete evidence for her claim of causation between Hanna Strong’s outburst and racist and homophobic hip-hop music. Saying that there is no acceptable form of hip-hop is simply untrue. Here are just a handful of hip-hop artists whose work is not reflective of the stereotypes Sabga’s article brings up: Ab-Soul (brought to SU by UU just last year), K’naan, Immortal Technique, Common, and, of course, TuPac.

If there are examples of intolerant lyrics or artists in hip-hop, it’s not a hip-hop problem; it’s a music industry problem transcending genres. Country music, pop music, indie rock, and EDM all have sexist, racist, homophobic, or otherwise problematic artists and songs — take a look at the appropriation of African-American culture in both Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift’s music videos (‘We Can’t Stop’ and ‘Shake It Off,’ respectively), and Selena Gomez’s appropriation of Hindi culture by wearing bindis. Calling this a hip-hop problem is grossly irresponsible. However, Sabga is correct in saying one thing: we should be critical of the media we absorb and make a conscious effort to destroy the heteronormative and racist constructs presented across ALL genres of music.

What are your opinions on hip-hop music and the Hanna Strong situation? Let us know in the comments!

Photo by Sage Cruz Field

  • Mark DiBona

    One of the best Fucking Fridays, when I first read the DO editorial my immediate thought was that this might be more racist than the original comments as clearly a lot of thought went into them. Beyond how she showed a poor understanding of several artists and bad logic in drawing her conclusions, as someone who’s favorite hip hop artist is A Tribe Called Quest she insulted the genre even further by just shoving away all the artists who do nothing but uplift people and I’m glad this response addressed that.

  • Tom Charles

    I found it interesting that she left Macklemore off the list of artists brought to campus by UU, given the success of “Same Love.” Is Macklemore not a hip-hop artist? Is it because he’s white? That exclusion is racist in its own right.

    Or it was just intentionally glossed over, hoping none of us would remember that one time an artist with four Billboard Top 20 singles came to campus…

  • Sista E

    I (used to) be a hip-hop fan until I found myself to be AN EXCLUDED MINORITY in the scene. so yes fuck hip hop. “it’s the message” really they should call it what it is fucking hip(ocritical)-hop

  • Sista E

    And I will continue to spread peace freedom truth and love without the 5 percent fundie fear mongering (master builder) agents using doublespeak. For real as long as these hypocritical motherfuckers truly wake the fuck up and stop trying to proselytize afrocentrism and continue bashing woman, gays, pagans, while writing “socially conscious???” hip-hop!!!!! they can fuck off!! Deep Drum n Bass from now on 🙂 I can still enjoy my fucking art without you hoes

  • Sista E

    Let me reiterate a bit. I’m not saying that all hip-hop is sexist and straight bigoted, but a vast majority is. Theres still some good quality shit out there without the bullshit tho (-.^).