Taking the rap: hip hop, R&B and social responsibility

Sunday 20 October, 9.30am until 10.15am, Garden Room Artistic Battles

Hip hop and R&B have been embraced by mainstream society in recent years, yet the culture and its leading exponents still find themselves coming under intense scrutiny. Criticised for propagating homophobia, misogyny and gangsterism, stars from Jay-Z to Rihanna are increasingly called upon to buck the trend and set a good example. It is within this climate that Frank Ocean is lionised for coming out as bisexual, thus standing up against hip-hop homophobia, while Rihanna is lambasted for going back to abusive boyfriend Chris Brown, as she is seen as reinforcing the culture’s underlying patriarchy.

Should musicians be expected to set a good example – in either their music or personal life? Are such calls simply symptomatic of hip-hop’s growing cultural acceptability or proof that it still possesses the ability to terrorise respectable opinion? Are critics expressing deeper anxieties over out-of-control urban youth or is it time for rap culture to grow up?

Lindsay Johns
writer and broadcaster; (non-residential) Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African & African-American Research at Harvard University

Brendan O'Neill
editor, spiked; columnist, Big Issue; contributor, Spectator; author, A Duty to Offend: Selected Essays

Rosie Swash
online fashion editor, Guardian

Campbell X
film maker and digital consultant, director, Stud Life

Tom Slater
deputy editor, spiked; coordinator, Down With Campus Censorship!

Produced by
Tom Slater deputy editor, spiked; coordinator, Down With Campus Censorship!
Recommended readings
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Jeff Miers, Buffalo News, 26 June 2013

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Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times, 15 February 2013

Homophobia in Hip-Hop

When I was growing up, rap's raw sound drew me in, but its repugnant attitudes toward women and the LGBT community left me feeling torn. I love hop-hop but dislike what it has sometimes stood for.

peter Wright, Huffington Post, 8 February 2013

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