Jun 202014
 

If it’s not clear from the title of this thread, the following video is Not Safe for Work, excluding perhaps, those of you working as fishmongers and truck drivers. Take caution before clicking Play on this video.

Despite becoming a super-square and super-late-to-the-party fan of Ice Cube through his Barbershop movies and other mostly family fare Hollywood movies, I didn’t purchase any of his music until yesterday, when I bought N.W.A.‘s Straight Outta Compton album. I knew a couple of songs from that album and a couple of solo Ice Cube songs from mix CDs friends gave me through the years, and I liked them. However, I objected to supporting any band with a name containing any variation of the word nigger. Despite liking the music I heard from this crew, the band’s name and the frequent use of that word and constant cursing in their songs always struck me as that set of highly inappropriate and unnecessary things out there that I could easily avoid, much like I avoid buying a bag of pork rinds, no matter how appealing those things sometimes look to me.

Well, yesterday I bought this musical bag of pork rinds. I don’t know how or when I’ll be able to listen to this stuff. I don’t support the language, but the music is excellent. I even dig the nasty language in the context of the music, much like I dig extremely foul language and brutal violence in Martin Scorsese’s movies. For some reason, though, watching a movie with NSFW content in the company of other people doesn’t bug me. Listening to music that goes well beyond my personal rules for social engagement, however, is a more difficult hurdle for me to overcome. Why?

Is the way content is framed within a film somehow safer than the way the same content is framed within a song? We don’t drive down the street with our car projecting scenes from Taxi Driver for pedestrians and other drivers to see. Would I subject others to that if I could? I can’t imagine driving down the street blasting a song like “Straight Outta Compton.” That makes sense, doesn’t it?

When can I listen to my Straight Outta Compton album? Can I play it in my backyard with my fellow middle-age, upper middle-class white friends this weekend? Can I play it in the car, with the windows up, as I drive around with my boys, or even alone? Can I play it while I’m cooking dinner? Can I play it on my iPod while I’m working out at the gym? Do I need to beware of the people around me, in case they can hear the music bleeding through my headphones? You know, headphones aren’t my bag.

Do you see what I’m getting at? Do you run across this with certain NSFW music? I like being as free and easy as the next rock ‘n roll rebel, but are there limits?

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  7 Responses to “NSFW Music”

  1. I played Kanye in the car with my dad once. Big mistake.

  2. 2000 Man

    I have a lot of problems with rap, but the biggest one I have is the constant use of the word nigger. I’m not going to say, “the “N” word” because I find that just as offensive. I think you should say what you mean, and that euphemism is just a way for people to use that word on TV. I think the tension between blacks and whites in this country is still way too high, and I think we’d all be better served if everyone just quit using that word and agreed it was offensive. I’m not easily offended, either. I just think we’d be closer to the supposed goal of getting along if the music out kids listened to didn’t say nigga and act like women have no more value than a pair of shoes. The whole, “I’m only talking about what I see” thing is bullshit, too.

    Plenty of the music I love can be pretty misogynistic, but I have music when women slag on men, too. I think in the kind of music I like it takes a vast generalization to make a song seem applicable to more than just the person singing it. So I can handle that because sometimes women piss men off, and sometimes men piss women off. It seems fair and those albums always contain songs where the opposite sex is celebrated, too. I just don’t see where teaching suburban white kids there’s an acceptable use for the word nigga is good.

    I may be out of touch, but that’s a big reason why I just don’t listen to rap. I’ll put Lydia Loveless singing about getting head any day, in any crowd and feel it’s their problem is they can’t get it, but too much rap just makes me depressed that the people that live in this country are getting so far apart that I just don’t see any hope for us getting along with anyone from someplace else.

  3. Beautifully expressed!

  4. I think you’re just not listening to the right rap. Plus, people make misogyny out to be a big problem in rap, but it’s a problem in every genre. As far as the n-word, I’m not really comfortable with you as a white person deciding that you don’t approve of African-Anericans reclaiming the incredibly offensive term. But there’s a ton of really excellent rap, and swearing off the whole varied genre like that is just not something I’d do.

  5. Terms like bitch and nigger (or kike or spic or wop or whatever ethnic slur you can think of) are not thrown around lightly in rock. Do even those skinhead bands from the ’80s use that kind of language as easily as rap artists?

    Also, what’s with this “reclaiming” business? Should Ice Cube and Kanye reclaim lynching while they’re at it? What is worth reclaiming about the word nigger?

    I’m trying to get to a broader point than whether I can understand why anyone would want to loosely pepper their songs with words like nigger. I’m asking what’s expected as us as listeners. I like some songs with pointless foul language, but at what point am I not allowed to listen to it, and if I can’t, why should anyone else?

  6. 2000 Man

    I agree with you on the “reclaiming” aspect. When did the African Americans ever have that taken from them? Other races have been called that at times in history, but it will probably stick the way it is now for a long time. But if you’re going to say, “It’s okay for me to use it because I’m reclaiming it,” then you have to make room for anyone to use it.

    There are supposedly a million reasons why I should like some rap music, Mr. Human. I don’t buy any of them. I listen and once in awhile I don’t hate a song, but it’s just like classical music or jazz to me. I think it’s boring. I find sampling as offensive as a lot of the lyrics, and I just don’t get the whole, “Look at me!” aspect of so much of it. I mean, Kanye West calls himself a genius? Whatever. he can call himself King of Siam for all I care. I don’t have time for him.

    Do I have limited tastes in music? Yep. I do. I’m not a musician and I never found it all that interesting when someone showed me their all over the place music collection. Why do I need to be well balanced and since when did being well balanced include listening to crap I can’t stand? Hey, I own up to it. No guitars = No Love form 2000 Man. I’m plenty okay with that.

  7. ladymisskirroyale

    Hmm, the NSFW music issue is one I think about all the time, although generally my concern reflects listening to almost any music, rather than music that may be seen as problematic from a racial or derogatory angle. My laptop was supplied to me by my place of employment, which is situated smack in the middle of Silicon Valley, so I’m super careful to not watch or listen to anything that could be construed negatively. (I rarely follow this site at work, and usually wait to get home before checking it. You never know if a band like Man Man may be on it!)

    Second, as the daughter of a Brit, I was raised, for better or worse, to always be aware of others and consider their needs (often before my own). Damn superego! Hence, at work, I typically don’t listen to music I might like if it could be offensive to others. That goes for volume, type of music, etc.

    Third, that NWA video seemed so tame by today’s standards. I’m really bothered more by references to females as bitches/hos, etc than I am by racial slurs, so tend to avoid a lot of music that includes that language, rap or otherwise. If I don’t like it, I’m sure not going to be playing it for others. However, of the crass, loud music I do like, I tend to prefer to listen to it at high volume in the privacy of my own car or home. If I share it with others, it’s fully disclosed before hand that it may include information that others find offensive. This typically happens on someone’s phone after a really crappy meeting and we all need to dance around and swear a lot.

 
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