Put Your Money Where Your Playlist Is


Graphic by Leo DiPierro

By Camille Morgan

Graphic by Leo DiPierro
Graphic by Leo DiPierro

In the morning, as I shuffle out of my house in a desperate attempt to get a spot in the back parking lot, I jam my phone into my car’s speaker and press shuffle on a playlist containing the works of about six or seven different rappers. Usually I’m much too frantic or exhausted to even understand the words these artists are spitting, but on occasion after an extremely effective dose of caffeine I’ll find myself singing along, and on even more rare occasions, deeply contemplating the meaning of “B****** ain’t s*** but hoes n tricks.”

As I drive and ponder these vastly profound lyrics, occasionally I’ll manage to get a grasp on the sheer irony of this situation. Here I am, wearing a maxi-skirt and a peasant blouse, drinking Earl Grey tea out of a Starbucks thermos, driving a Honda Pilot with an installed DVD player in the back, listening and enjoying a song referencing field goals and “waxing the jeep.”

An absurd juxtaposition, considering that I am a strong believer in women’s rights and overall equality. But what’s even more perplexing is the fact that I have five thousand different friends with exactly the same political viewpoints, and astonishingly, the exact same playlists.
Rap music has evolved over the decades, as have all genres, and one could argue that all songs sung by male artists more or less are getting the same message across. However, I find something excitingly unique about someone rapping for five minutes straight about throwing money while their “woman does it with no hands.” This seems to be something rather unique to rap culture and its usual degradation of my gender. The more pertinent question is, why do I like listening to this music so much?

People say that we listen to music in order to relate to something, that music stirs something in us. However, what exactly are Lil Wayne and Tyga stirring within us? Perhaps the entire allure of rap music can be traced down to its West African origins, from a musical style of rhythmic drumbeats and sparse instrumentation. Maybe the beat alone is enough to make a rap song a success.
What’s more confusing is Marin’s demographic, specifically its female demographic, being so entranced with its lyrics. Most Tam students can proudly attest to the fact that they’ve all witnessed a (most likely drunk) girl rap an entire song, word for word with minimal errors. Keep in mind, such lyrical precision isn’t easily obtained. This means the girl must have, at some point, sat in their room drinking chai and chosen to listen to someone reference “big booty hoes.” I don’t even understand what it all means, to be honest. Like what, for example, is a bad b****? What does it entail exactly? If you’re not a bad b****, are you worthless? Or are you worthless and that’s what makes you a bad b****? It’s all so confusing.

It’s truly a perplexing dilemma, almost a moral crisis. I believe so strongly in the empowerment of women but I would say about 50 percent of my music library falls into the hip-hop/rap category. Marin seems to have the oddest fascinations with rap culture, and perhaps our obsession with this type of music stems from its “badass” allure and street credibility that Marin teens seem to lack and desperately desire. This would explain the matter for the guys, although you could argue that any boy with half a brain and a heart would be turned off from this kind of music as well.
But the fascination for the girls is something truly inexplicable. Women complain about guys treating them like garbage and disrespecting them, but aren’t we only further enabling this type of treatment when we broadcast to the world that we enjoy and regularly listen to these songs?

I’m not sure how to approach this crisis. I can’t exactly rally up all girls and forbid them to listen to rap. That would be hypocritical. The first step would be to wean myself off this music. Or maybe it’s about only listening to rap songs that don’t degrade women. They do exist, right?

I was thinking about just this the other day and decided to take a fresh look at my entire music library and create a new playlist, one with rap music that managed to be rid of serious objectification. I combed through this library extensively while sitting in math class, so focused on the task at hand that I occasionally had to wipe sweat from my severely furrowed brow. After thorough examinations, I’m proud to say I ended up with a playlist with a total of…four songs. This is a pop culture crisis if I’ve ever seen one.