I take ya girl, kidnap her, feed her to my mattress...Rap and hip hop lyrics don’t have to be this vulgar to make you turn the volume down, blush, or change the station. Something as simple as Jason Derulo’s new release “Wiggle” that sings you know what to do with that big fat butt…wiggle wiggle, is embarrassing enough if you find yourself in the company of your mom, younger siblings, or even co-workers. It’s not exactly the type of poetry you want to listen to with anyone less than a peer, friend, or close relative who falls into your generation.
It’s similar to watching American Pie with your parents, which happened to me once, and the second hand embarrassment, or whatever those shameful feelings I repeatedly experienced throughout that entire movie were, became so unbearable it wasn’t worth seeing the movie. At all. However, the difference with watching American Pie with my parents was that we all accidentally made a really bad choice, but we made a choice, and while you do choose to listen to certain stations, and yes you can always change the channel (I already hear you yelling this argument), the radio is much more unfiltered and accessible than a movie, and is something most of us engage in more often than movie watching.
We may enjoy a particular station, but we never know when that certain song will come on, or a new song will hit, and we’ll have to brace ourselves for whatever words are coming next. That’s the biggest anxiety right there: it’s bad enough when you know it’s coming, but when a new song is playing you have no idea what you’re in for, and this anticipation and anxiety is where I’m having a problem.
I’m not sure why the lyrics of mainstream rap and hip hop have become increasingly vulgar, but I don’t feel that it’s necessary. The catchy beats exist without the mention of venereal diseases to menstrual bleeds, and questions like is we fucking when we leave the club or nah? I ain’t spending cash for nothing, I wanna see you take it off, I’m a pop this bottle you gon’ give me brain or nah?
I remember sitting in my mom’s car with my older sister and singing along to Missy Elliot’s Work It. My sister, who is seven years older than me, caught wind of my maybe 11 year old self reciting the words I’m not a prostitute but I can give you what you want, and she freaked out. I sassed up and got defensive, but I mean…that’s messed up.
I’m sure plenty of people, especially my people, my peers as we say, are thinking I’m some sort of prude, and will throw out remarks like but you like a bitch with no ass you ain’t got shit, and that’s fine. I get down, I like most of the songs I’m mentioning, which is why I even know they exist and know their lyrics this well. Still, I wonder how necessary these types of lyrics are to creating a hit song? Pairing vulgar lyrics with a good beat has become the formula for making a song that’ll make us all feel cooler just by listening to it. It’s working, and that’s the scary part. We are down with the offensive, degrading, dark language — we memorize it, we sing along, and we keep listening.