Shaunna Cullen – General Assignment Reporter –
Byron Hurt, the director of “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” wanted to produce this film to examine aspects of masculinity in the hip-hop culture.
Julian Wilson, a member of the Men’s Initiative on campus, hosted the event. Wilson grew up in the Fair Haven neighborhood of New Haven and could relate to what the men in the film had to say about hip-hop culture.
Wilson said he remembers when hip-hop started to change.
“The culture changed, when the music changed, “ said Wilson.
In the film, Hurt said that he grew up listening to hip-hop, but not really examining the meaning of the lyrics.
Hurt went to a hip-hop music festival in Fla. in order to get people’s point of view about this topic and who listen to the music.
One thing Hurt noticed were the men’s preoccupation with guns and violence when he asked them to do a shot rap for him.
“All they seemed to rhyme about was gunplay, killing other men, being tough and invulnerable, feminizing other men, and putting fear into another mans heart,” said Hurt in the film.
Kevin Powell, a hip-hop historian appeared in the video. He explained that hip-hop started in the ghettos such as the south and west Bronx neighborhoods.
Powell said in 1946 and ending in 1963, the construction of the south Bronx expressway displaced thousands of small businesses and people. Many people were relocated, Powell said, and they did not get any help from the politicians who decided to have the expressway built.
“All of that fed into what was becoming hip hop” said Powell.
Dr. James Peterson, a hip-hop scholar said if a person wants to understand hop-hop imagine someone putting an expressway through your home.
One of the issues CEO of allhiphop.com Chuck Creekmur talks about in the film is the fact that our society “limits the range which men can express their emotions.”
Rapper Chuck D weighs in on the topic of masculinity in hop-hop. D said, “Its like almost to the point where Tupac and Bigge were used as martyrs for this new endorsement of black animosity.”
The same kind of hyper masculine violence is portrayed in movies, video games and in the military said Hurt.
Going back to what is happening at the music festival in Fla. Hurt examines the behavior of some men toward the women at the festival.
One woman said she was going to throw her fist in someone’s face because she was being touched and she made is well know the touching was unwanted.
“Being in Daytona really made me realize how desensitized we have become to the sexism and misogyny and the sexual objectification of women in the hop-hop culture,” said Hurt.
The film also touches on the idea of hyper masculinity in hip-hop and the idea this kind of music is not ready for a gay rapper.
Tim’m West, who was trying to be a hip-hop artist, was featured in the film. After he came out as being gay, he was not very well received and now is a comedian.
“I think in areas or family ‘s really where a male role model is lacking, the liquid of this music fills those holes,” said senior journalism major Chris Carrion.
Carrion does not think this is an issue within only the black community. “ I think it’s a crisis in many communities where father figures, male role models are rare and music is the most readily accessible form of entertainment.”