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Hip hop and traditional gender roles

Blog > Hip hop and traditional gender roles

Sep. 15, 2016


Modified: 05/24/19

Whew! Keeping up with gender roles is downright exhausting.

What used to be considered oddball or queer now seems to be a new norm in hip hop and fashion. To be honest, I am thoroughly confused.

Hip hop’s roots are undoubtedly masculine. Some even go to the extreme of saying hip hop is sexist and misogynistic. There are some instances where I agree with this faction, but allow me to break it down scientifically. “Attractive” women are commonly used as props and objects, idols and symbols of status. From an evolutionary perspective, obtaining a desirable female is a most valuable achievement for a male. Since biologically our most primal instinct is to procreate to survive, this fact is less than surprising. So, desirable females seem to be equivalent or possibly even superior to material wealth (in terms of bragging rights), which inspires an insane amount of subject matter in hip hop. I believe this is why many artists exploit females in their songs and videos. It is simply a primal exhibition of power.

That point aside, there is a curious phenomenon in recent hip hop fashion.

This masculine artistic arena has taken an unexpected turn towards the strange. The cover of Young Thug’s new project “No, my name is Jeffrey” shows the artist in an ornate dress with a Raiden-like (see: Mortal Kombat) hat covering his face. Surprisingly this is not Thugger’s first foray in cross dressing. He recently posed in Calvin Klein ads wearing the designer’s summer collection for (you guessed it) women. On top of it all, after news of a recent wedding engagement to the beautiful Jerrika Karlae, YT hinted at the fact that he will also be wearing a wedding gown to the nuptial ceremonies. Although rare, Thugger is not the first or only rapper to have worn feminine clothing.

Lil’ Wayne is notorious for sporting girl jeans and jeggings. A$AP Rocky, Pusha T, Kanye, Diddy, Cee Lo, Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Andre 3K, and Most Def, also known as Yasiin Bey, have all been photographed wearing legit dresses. I think Cam’ron might have initiated this trend a decade ago, though, when he showed up on the red carpet in a pink mink dress with matching pink cell phone.

What does this mean for hip hop?

Well, maybe we are moving into a new era. An era where fashion lines are crossed and gender roles are destroyed routinely. An era where males and females are sexually exploited equally. After all, days ago at the 2016 MTV VMA’s, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande pranced around the stage with half nude muscle bound men dancing suggestively. We can be sure that the future will be a place unfamiliar to what we see now. A dystopian hellscape where men wear lingerie and work boots about town and rap about how tough and powerful they are with their one hundred brides and mega-mansion beach orgies that never end. Or… It could just be kind of like today with a little more tolerance and, of course, ever changing and unpredictable fashions. Still, tough dudes in dresses is a trend to which I still am not accustomed.