Friday, January 15, 2010

Mos Def and K'naan: first hip-hop act featured on Austin City Limits

So, it looks like Mos Def and K'naan will be the first hip-hop artists performing exclusively on Austin City Limits.

Now, I don't necessarily fault ACL for not featuring any hip-hop artists; the show started out featuring mostly music coming out of Texas (country, Tejano, etc.), and while it started expanding into other genres, the featured artists sort of remained firmly entrenched in, well, not hip-hop.

However, I take issue with this quote from Terry Lacona, the producer of ACL:
When I asked him why no rappers had been exclusively featured before, he noted the difficulty of finding acts whose lyrics weren't, in his own words, "sexist, or tinged with violence."

OK, really, I have a problem with this generalization of hip-hop. But in addition, I have an issue with this because ACL has featured artists such as The Decemberists, whom I love, but who have lyrics tinged with questionable intentions. Such as these:
What can one do when one is widower
Shamefully saddled with three little pests
All that I wanted was the freedom of a new life
So my burden I began to divest...
Charlotte I buried after feeding her foxglove
Dawn was easy, she was drowned in the bath
Isaiah fought but was easily bested
Burned his body for incurring my wrath...
"The Rake's Song," The Decemberists. Listen here.

Or these:
As I was a-ramble
Down by the water
I spied in sable
The landlord's daughter
I produced my pistol, then my saber
Said, "Make no whistle or thou will be murdered!"

She cursed, she shivered
She cried for mercy
"My gold and silver if thou will release me!"

"I'll take no gold, miss, I'll take no silver
But I'll take those sweet lips, and thou will deliver!"
"The Island," The Decemberists. Listen here.

OK, look. There's lots of hip-hop artists that tell socially-conscious, non-misogynistic stories. And The Decemberists are fabulous musicians that bring storytelling back into indie rock. However, please don't use the content of mainstream, popular hip-hop to exclude the entire genre. Just because violent lyrics are accompanied by accordions and melodicas doesn't make it any less disturbing, and you can't hold one genre of music to a different standard than another. Fin.

1 comment:

Molly said...

Oh gosh--I've heard non-hip-hop lyrics that appall me, and I've heard hip-hop lyrics that touch my heart and bring tears to my eyes. Annoying generalization. I agree.