Jay Z denounces the B-Word upon becoming a father: Nevermind the B-Word, Does rap need a change overall?
I was listening to a major NY urban radio station when it was reported that superstar rapper and mogul Jay Z would no longer use the B-word in his lyrics, thanks to his new status as a father to the newest addition to the Carter family, baby girl, Blue Ivy. He stated that he would not want anyone to disrespect his young girl with the inflammatory word. Jay has been known to use the word in his music and now he is saying that the word needs to be stopped, beginning with him. He writes a letter to his daughter in this poem dedicated to her expressing his wish:
Before I got in the game, made a change, and got rich,
I didn’t think hard about using the word B—-.
I rapped, I flipped it, I sold it, I lived it
now with my daughter in this world
I curse those that give it.
I never realized while on the fast track
that I’d give riddance to the word bitch, to leave her innocence in tact.
No man will degrade her, or call her out her name
the women won’t despise her and call her the same.
I know it’s gonna miss me
cuz we been together like Nike Airs and crisp tees
when we all used to hang out front
singing 99 problems but a lady ain’t one.
Excuse me miss, can I be your mister
cuz I can tell the difference from a little girl and a sister,
She never grew up, her father left her alone
I promise not to talk like we used to
until Kingdom Come.
I’m so focused on your future,
The degradation has passed
I wish you wealth, health, and insight
forever young you may pass.
Blue Ivy Carter, my angel.
Amid negative based reports surrounding the birth of Blue Ivy Carter, from the meaning of her name to his supposed sinister “Illuminati” connections. Instead of deflecting rumors, Jay is using the forum instead to shed light on the use of the B-Word. His awakening also sheds light on the way some men view women and illustrates the fact that: Men can grow and learn.
But his awakening has several implications. One: Does it take a member of the rap community to reach the masses of this generation to re-think the way young men (and some women) communicate with the opposite sex. Also two: Not only does it take
a member of the rap community, but can it be awakened by one person or does it take many leaders within the rap industry to make the change and sound out regarding not only the use of the B-Word but the misogynistic attitude that is so prevalent in
rap music today.
For some men it does take a very eye-opening experience as the birth of a child for some men to wake up to the way they express themselves. I give credit to Jay Z for using his forum to denounce the B-word and make a change in the right
direction. Some may say: “so what!: most men who become fathers easily get misty eyed in the face of new found innocence staring them in the face, Many may say his sentiment will fade and the old Jay will re-emerge as the newness of fatherhood fades by the wayside and reality steps in.
Chicago born rapper, Common described in his 1994 ode to rap. “I used to Love H.E.R.,” the fading early innocence of rap becoming bastardized as it mainstreamed for wealth’s sake, becoming muddied by the advent of gangster rap as it further moving away from the roots well established by seminal hip-hop artists. In its earliest eras hip hop that did not glorify violence, masochism or chauvinism but light-hearted bravado and braggadocio was used as a means to rise in their struggle to survive in midst of poverty and bleak conditions. Jay’s newfound stance against the B-word right away reminded this writer of that early time when rappers were conscience of how their words affected others and actually applied that consciousness to their art. Famed Bronx native and rapper of seminal rap hit: “The Message,” Melle Mel, put it this way in 2001 in “Q: the autobiography of Quincy Jones”: “I never did rap to make kids shoot Tech nines and gang bang and abuse women. I did it for opportunity. I did it to humanize my neighborhood, the part of America that’s in my heart, the part that the world never sees”
Let’s face it , to be honest the B-word has been around way before Jay Z and will be here long after he is gone, yet it is significant when someone of his stature and impact says that the B-word is no longer acceptable as a word to be casually tossed around in his music. Does it matter that it took the highly publicized birth of this Brooklyn born rappers baby girl,to officially denounce the word and epitomize the sentiment in ….yikes! …a poem? Has he all of a sudden become sensitive to the needs of womanhood and the need for niceties toward the female sensibility after looking into the face of the future in the form of his baby girl? Are we to assume now that innocence is a priority, Is the implication that we have to review all the rap music that we have been listening to and adjust and re-adjust to bring rap in alignment with a more positive approach? Are we going back into a conscious era. If Jay is questioning the past use of the word, should all rappers conform? Is this an opportunity to open the dialogue to raise the consciousness of the youth and to uplift the race in our struggle for self-determination and empowerment. Just where do we go with this tool, this powerful medium such as rap. Do we we return to its roots and rediscover the reasons why hip-hop started in the first place?
Prior to his marriage to Beyonce Knowles, Jay has been noted in past interviews to state that he was moving away from more misogynistic lyrics after solidifying that relationship and also when he eventually reunited with his father and forming a relationship with his dad after many years of his dad’s absence since the age of 11 years old. In a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey he described his feelings after his father left his family: “I remember just being really quiet and really cold. Never wanting to let myself get close to someone like that again. I carried that feeling throughout my life, until my father and I met up before he died.” [sic]
Many young hip hoppers can and do relate to that sense of isolationism. Many fathers are not apart of many young men’s lives as the break down of the family, both Black and White, becomes more evident due to both separation and divorce. Stats show that 21.8 million children are being raised in single parent homes. 26% of children in single parent homes under 21 years of age. With as many as 84% of single parent homes being led by the mother, there are many being raised in absence of a father on a day to day basis. These circumstances can have devastating affects on young men.
Like Jay, that cold disconnect can be felt by many hip hoppers as a chasm is felt and expressed through rap. If “rap is the CNN of the streets” as Chuck D (of Public Enemy) put it, then the top story of the day is that sense of coldness and isolation expressed in both rage and passion. There remains a dissonance between the roots of rap and its current day status as a mainly misogynistic expression of burning anger and pain over a pulsating back beat. A sense of fatherlessness and lack of direction can be translated in music that expresses the heartbeat of the streets and all of its concerns, both exagerrated and real.
The fathers of hip hop try as they might, many through symposiums and yearly tribute concerts, just as the annual Hip Hop Summits of Russell Simmons tries to get the message of unity, self determination across, yet the message is not clear. Who is gong to make the connection in the divide between raps early years and its current state of affairs. Even if the originators of hip hop do make the connection, who will listen. Are hip hoppers willing to listen to rappers who all off a sudden say The B-word is not cool. Let’s try another approach. Is it too late for us to make the assumption that because one lone rapper, albeit arguably the most influential in the world all of a sudden has an epiphany that rap needs to be revamped. Sadly, without the support of the industry at large, Jay Z’s contemporaries as well as the “fathers” of rap making the same declaration in unison that misogynistic language period, not just the B-word is not o.k.and even passe. Can we return to our roots to preserve and safeguard an art form that so desperately needs a total overhaul, and inventory of what should remain and what should go and redirection to preserve not only itself but the future of the youth that listen to it.
Written By: Stacy C. Smith
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this post is that of the author and not BLACK STREET entirely.