Yardfest has certainly created an intense amount of discourse on this campus. Personally, It surprises me that the Harvard community suddenly cares about misogyny when they are usually less than vocal on sexual assault policy, social space, and body image issues. I would contend that Tyga’s upcoming performance at Yardfest has galvanized people to speak up about rape culture, in part, because it allows many of the white students on campus to box ‘rape culture’ into the hip-hop culture, allowing them to deny complicity in the objectification and over-sexualization of women.
For a debate that appears to be about sexism on the surface, “Tyga-gate” has largely divided Harvard undergraduates along racial lines. I would argue that this is because most of the Harvard community simply does not understand the language of hip-hop.
I attended high school in the inner city of Long Beach, CA—Snoop Lion (Dogg) is a fellow alum. We had a “twerk team.” I grew up listening to the music of youth of all races, playing the dozens and spitting rhymes. These rhymes could often be overtly sexual and occasionally violent. However, the intention was not to glorify the content of these, but explore and challenge the significance with which they could be spoken through the use of “signifying” a form of literary expression that involves exaggeration and subversion, sing witticisms and absurdity in verbal competition. Trust me, Tyga does not actually want “your grandma on [his] d**k.”
Tyga’s lyrics are not clever. He is, arguably, playing the dozens badly. I do not deny that his lyrics are misogynistic. However, I simply do not believe that they are indicative of rampant misogyny in the hip-hop community, just a manifestation of everyday misogyny within a certain musical context. It is just far too simple to say that everyone who supports Tyga is misogynistic—as many petition signatories have said—particularly since many of the people supporting him for Yardfest are women of color (arguably the target audience for much of his music). For me, as a woman of color, the best feminist critique of Tyga’s Rack City has been this 40Love remix. Check it.
Photo Credit: Reuters