The Rap on Declining CD Sales: Too Many Bikinis PDF Print E-mail
By Bianca Buchanan - Black College Wire   

Does hip-hop hate women? Many would deny that, but some on the Dillard University campus say that male rappers do not mind putting women on the chopping block to increase record sales — a method of marketing that might have backfired on the rap industry.

Talib Kweli is one rapper who stays true to the art form, a Dillard student says.

After about 30 years of growing popularity, rap music is struggling to keep its supporters and suffering criticism from some who were once its biggest fans.

Music sales are down overall, but rap sales dropped 21 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to the Associated Press. Additionally, for the first time in 12 years, no rap album was among the top 10 sellers of the year.

Arianna Scott, a sophomore vocal performance and psychology major at Dillard, said, "It has a lot to do with the format of videos; every girl is in a bikini. A lot of people aren't buying rap music because people want something new and fresh. People are beginning to realize that there can be more to videos than booty and breasts."

Not everyone agrees. Michael Byrd, a sophomore business management major at Dillard, said he doubts those selling points will ever get old. "Sex is what sells. It rules the world," he said.

Byrd has his own theory about why rap sales have declined. "There are a multitude of reasons; CDs cost too much, it's free to download, and nobody has any real talent outside of Jay Z, Nas, T.I. and other people of their caliber," he said.

"Nobody is willing to put money behind an artist who is not talking about sex because they don't want to risk losing money. . . . For the most part, rappers do what they are told. They have no influence; all they do is perform. Most don't even write their own songs or get paid much," he said.

Nas, one of rap's top sellers, titled an album, "Hip Hop Is Dead."

Furthermore, Byrd argued, artists who do not make sexually explicit videos have less chance of being seen. "There are a lot of people who make good videos, but they get banned from BET because they have been deemed too intelligent for their target audience of 11- to 19-year-old females," he said of Black Entertainment Television.

Some students said videos are not supposed to be intellectually stimulating, only entertaining. And because they are not in the videos themselves, some students have no problem watching. Tiffany Tempton, a freshman computer science major from Dallas, said, "We are going to buy or burn CDs, listen to them and watch videos either way it goes, because it's her and not us."

This is partially true for Scott, who said she did not discriminate when it came to watching videos, but did with CDs. "I watch videos because it's free entertainment, I don't buy CDs because of the profanity," she said. "At least on TV, the profanity is blurted out."

Whether as video vixens draped in little-to-no clothing or in sexually explicit lyrics, women are exploited for profit. In fact, Byrd said, "there are rappers who say outright that they are in it to make money, but then, there is Common, Mos Def and Talib Kweli, who stay true to the art form." They are three of a few successful alternative hip-hop artists.

In Byrd's view, whether artists stay true to the art form or conform to industry standards separates hip-hop artists from rappers. "Hip-hop doesn't hate women; rap music does, or is, at least, negative toward them," he said.

The blame does not lie solely with the rapper, according to Byrd and other students. "It's everybody's fault. It's the girls' because nobody is forcing them to be naked; and the rappers, directors, the media and consumers are at fault for supporting and glorifying the girls," he said. "The media has turned video vixens into celebrities. You can't blame one person for a whole culture."

Others, such as Demarcus Hall, a freshman physical therapy major from Mobile, Ala., said the women are solely to blame. "A woman puts herself in a position to be talked about . . . and if she feels she deserves respect, then she shouldn't go to the video shoot," Hall said. He maintained that rappers are unfairly targeted. "Rappers are not the only people who treat women like that; they are just seen more often. They do the same thing in strip clubs."

Bianca Buchanan, a student at Dillard University, writes for the Courtbouillon. To comment, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Posted May 17, 2007

Posted May. 16, 2007
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