Misogyny in Hip Hop

A lotta my girls come up to me sayin’ “Oh I just like the beats. I don’t listen to what they sayin”

Them beats open you up and you just let everything seep in. When you breathing it in—all the language, these words– they creep in like second hand smoke.

One of my favorite artists is Dr Dre and he’s rough on the ladies, man. I swear I don’t even register it.

I’m so like “Ooooh how he get his drums to slap like that?!”

or

“Daaaaayyyyum—the EQ on them overdubs”

— Peep One in HYPE MAN, p. 41

When Peep says Dr. Dre is rough on the ladies, she’s speaking to the issues that Dr. Dre presents in his music and relationships with women, but also to the pervading misogyny in hip hop music and culture more broadly. Not only is this behavior excused and accepted, it also makes navigating the industry exceedingly difficult for women like Peep One who are trying to make a career in music.

“Hip hop has always had a serious problem with the female gender. Most of the time women are viewed solely as a visual accessory or sexual object. This is nothing new, right? I mean, how long has it been since Dr. Dre assaulted Dee Barnes? And the list of incidents in recent memory goes on, including Famous Dex, Ian ConnorKodak Black and let’s not forget Chris Brown, who managed to get off or get over in the court of public opinion, becoming a worldwide icon again thanks to people’s short memories and attention span not to mention their willingness to overlook violence against women.”

(Read the full article here.)

Check out Dr. Dre being “rough on the ladies” in his song “Bitches ain’t shit” below:

 

“Bitches ain’t shit” is only one example of the many songs where male hip hop artists have expressed aggressive sexual and physical violence toward women. Some prominent highlights also include:“Me So Horny” by 2 Live Crew, “Big Pimpin” by Jay-Z f/ UGK, “One More Chance” by The Notorious B.I.G., “Slob on my Knob” by Three 6 Mafia, “Wait (The Whisper Song)” by  The Ying Yang Twins“Who knew” by Eminem, “Culo” by  Pitbull, and, “Bitch Suck Dick” by Tyler, The Creator f/ Jasper, Taco.

All of these artists have been, and continue to be, hugely successful in the hip hop industry, largely because of a die hard fan base that defends them no matter what. And because American society normalizes misogyny and violence against women, especially in pop culture and music,  many fans keep listening and push push past the lyrics to hear only the beat. But, as Peep One says, it doesn’t mean those messages don’t enter our subconscious — they truly do creep in like second hand smoke.

 

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Peep One crafts her beats

Last week we had two Boston based music producers come in to rehearsal and work with Rachel Cognata, who plays Peep One, on the art of beat making and producing. Tim Hall and Abstract Minor gave Rachel tips on how to mechanically create beats using the mixers and sound system in front of her, and also shared their individual work styles in the studio. We explored questions like: What is Peep One’s ritual when getting into her work mode? What is Peep’s work style in the studio? What does it look like when Peep is vibing with her beat?

The note that brought it all together came from Abstract Minor as she and Rachel were working on Peep One’s first individual beat making moment of the play. She said to Rachel,  “When you’re up there, YOU are the master of the beat you created. You know it better than anyone else, and it’s your job to hype it up.”

 

 

The World of Hype Man: Costume Inspiration

As the team explores the musical influences and contemporaries for the characters in Hype Man, we’ve also looked at the way these influences might manifest in the costume design for the characters. Below are some of the images and cultural inspiration we’ve been referencing when thinking about Verb, Peep One, and Pinnacle’s personal style.

Kdot, Bryson Tiller, and Chance the Rapper have served as useful reference points for the casual, layered look we’re exploring for Verb.

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Some possible style influences for Peep One include Amandla Stenberg, Venus X, Slim Woods, Willow Smith, and Princess Nokia — people who feel effortlessly fashion forward, or who blur the sartorial lines between masculine and feminine.

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A leading style inspiration for Pinnacle is G-Eazy, whose look is refined and put together, but still relaxed and based on simple pieces and muted colors.

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Friday Playlist – Vol. 3

During our rehearsal process, we’ve been checking out a variety of music videos and clips of live performances as we develop ideas about what Pinnacle, Verb, and Peep One’s performance styles and stage presence might be like. Each week we’ll compile a few selections here on the blog — here are this week’s links!

Kendrick Lamar is incredibly dynamic onstage — the way his body becomes the beat makes for a high energy live performance, and his use of the mic stand as a tool to focus and ground him in the space is worth noting.

Yelawolf has command of his stage, whether he’s walking around the stage during a break or spitting raps at the mic:

Bruno Mars might not be the first artist that comes to mind when you think of Hype Man, but the high energy, the sense of joy, and the use of levels and specific movement to punctuate beats in this performance are all things worth exploring:

This clip of Rezz provides a few different examples of how a DJ might be present onstage — the video is super long, so skip through a bit, but note the way her movements and vibe respond to the changes in the beat:

Dr. Dre: The most influential producer in hip hop history

“So many dope women out here. I can put on for em. I can build a movement just like Dr. Dre did. That can be my brand.” — Peep One in HYPE MAN, p.56

In rehearsal, the team has been exploring the intricacies of Peep One’s character journey throughout the play, including the way she begins to find her voice as a female beat maker in the hip hop industry. Peep One mentions Dr. Dre multiple times throughout the play, suggesting that his career success and influence in hip hop is something she aims for in her own work. Verb also references Dr. Dre’s song “Deep Cover” while telling a story about a high school party later in the play.

So who is Dr. Dre, and what innovations has he contributed to hip hop?

dd

“Initially known to the world as an MC for gangsta godfathers N.W.A., Dr. Dre went on to become the single most influential producer in hip-hop history. With 1993’s The Chronic, he married breezy funk samples to hardcore imagery, creating the G-Funk style and inspiring a host of imitators. He would later discover and nurture some of the best rappers ever, including Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and 50 Cent.” — Rolling Stone

Not only is Dr. Dre a groundbreaking music producer and beat maker that discovered some of the most famous rappers in history, but he also popularized rap by marrying early gangsta rap’s commercial sheen with the grit of the neighborhoods from which the genre came. This is the legacy Dr. Dre has carved in the hip hop industry, and what Peep One would like to model for women in hip hop.

For a deeper look at Dr. Dre’s sound and career highlights, check out “Dr. Dre’s 16 Greatest Contributions to Music, Ranked” on Vulture. The list includes the aforementioned song “Deep Cover,” which features a lot of Dre’s stylistic hallmarks, as well as tracks from his groundbreaking album The Chronic and other collaborations and high points spanning his career.

 

Friday Playlist – Vol. 2

During our rehearsal process, we’ve been checking out a variety of music videos and clips of live performances as we develop ideas about what Pinnacle, Verb, and Peep One’s performance styles and stage presence might be like. Each week we’ll compile a few selections here on the blog — here are this week’s links!

GoldLink, Brent Faiyaz, and Shy Glizzy all have really different styles of delivery and presence here — it’s interesting to see how those styles contrast and compliment each other as we play with different approaches for Pinnacle, Verb, and Peep One:

Run the Jewels bring a lot of energy to their performance on this DJ Shadow track, and their connection feels genuine and fun:

Noting the way Macklemore and Offset use the stage space in this performance on Jimmy Kimmel is useful as we explore the onstage movement for the Hype Man performance moments.

Post-Malone’s performance on Late Night relies on a lot of lighting and fog effects to create mood and interest, but there’s minimal physical action onstage. Like Pinnacle’s focus on “the grind,” Post Malone’s lyrics here highlight the hard work he’s put in to reach success: