Wednesday, April 5, 2017
First Installment of Final Project- Alexus Uqdah 8
So, for my final project in this class, I decided to use another section from Hip Hop and Philosophy, and it refers to the importance of dominance and recognition in the hip-hop culture. This section covers a lot of important aspects of rap music like the use of violence, the historical conflict of the rap battle, and the need to be the best. However, even though I am not discussing these things in depth independently, I will be addressing the roles these things play in hip hop music and why they are important to the culture. The main reason for the varies characteristics of hip-hop music is for self-consciousness. In the book, John P. Pittman discusses the fact that rappers compete to be the best using violence and putting each other down comes from the need to be recognized as what they want to be. Self-consciousness is a tricky topic because I have found that it is more about others awareness than of a person’s own awareness. In a basic explanation of how self-consciousness works, it is the idea that for a person to be what they think they are, others must recognize them as such. In other words, for a rapper to be the best rapper then other rappers must also recognize him or her as such. As a result, there can become a conflict of interest among rappers resulting in battles, and uses of violence and derogatory use of lyrics.
The importance of self-consciousness, in this book, is related to the ideas of the nineteenth century German philosopher George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Pittman says that Hegel described self-consciousness as “a primary stage of human development.” With that being said, Hegel argued that a person would only be able to become certain of themselves was through “the struggle of recognition.” To contribute to the idea of struggling with recognition Hegel identifies the relationship between slave and master, and how their self-consciousness or recognition comes from their dependence on the other. “The master is dependent on the slave for recognition of his mastery,” and on the other hand, “the slave is not free because he is not recognized as such by his master.” This dynamic suggests that one cannot be completely self-determining because they must depend on the awareness and confirmation of another self-conscious individual. To tie this back into the culture of hip-hop music, it implies that the need to be the best at one’s skill is a part of the process of a person’s self-consciousness. However, to accept the idea that a rapper is who they say they are, they must then be recognized by others as such. When someone challenges that idea, then a rapper must be able to defend their belief. This leads to rap battles, where rappers struggle and risk credibility for their recognition. Also, it creates a belief that artists must use any means necessary to secure their identity or self-consciousness in a sense that they will go to the extreme using any type of lyrical mean to do so. This accounts for the threats of violence and negative connotation of another artist.
This is just an interesting, and convenient, occurrence that ties into this subject. In the book, Pittman uses the iconic battle between Jay Z and Nas as an example of the culture of hip-hop and the use of rap battles. Most recently, Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma reconstructed a similar battle in the female MC world. Remy Ma creating what is possibly known as one of the craziest diss tracks of all time. She reused the “Ether” beat, calling her diss ShEther. This became very controversial in the hip-hop world. I think this is a prime example of this struggle for self-consciousness and recognition. The reconstruction of a prior disses that was almost historical in the rap industry signifies that need to be recognized (and maybe even remembered) as the greatest in order to fulfill that belief that one’s self-consciousness created. As these women exchanged bars demonstrating their desire to be known as the best, they created a perfect model of the struggle of recognition. So, I guess I am curious, do you believe their battle was to satisfy their development of their self-consciousness or simply a gimmick to increase popularity and sales of their stuff? And if it was just a gimmick, then how does their need for popularity and relevance play a role into their self-consciousness or struggle for recognition?
** Here is Ether by Nas in 2001 and ShEther by Remy Ma released this year, both have explicit language for the heads up!!!!!!!**