Death of World Star Hip Hop (D.O.WSHH)

 

In 2009, Jay-Z released D.O.A. (“Death of Auto-tune), a song in which he takes certain hip-hop artists to task for diluting rap lyricism and creativity. The mogul declared that he was “drawing a line in the sand” after a trend of artists using auto-tune technology excessively and without regard for organic musical production. While Jay-Z is rarely celebrated as a voice for progressive hip-hop, he spoke a timely and needed truth. And T-Pain’s career hasn’t been the same since.

The video aggregating site World Star Hip Hop could stand similar brand damaging from hip-hop artists and community activists.  With its heavy use of physical violence and racial stereotypes, the self-professed “CNN of the Ghetto” is one of the most culturally damaging media platforms in existence today.

HuffPost Live host Marc Lamont Hill recently gathered a panel to discuss the violence on the site. “During the 30-minute online panel discussion ‘Do ‘Hood Sites’ Normalize Black Stereotypes,’ Professor Brittney Cooper of Rutgers University, Professor Shayne Lee of the University of Houston, television personality Amanda Seales, Chicago rapper Rhymefest, and filmmaker Mandon Lovett discussed whether World Star Hip Hop was irresponsibly profiting from Black-on-Black violence,” reports NewsOne.

The debate quickly reflected stark ideological differences along gender lines. Cooper and Seales argued feminist perspectives on how it is problematic for the site to glorify the pain, anger and bullying of black women. In contrast, Rhymefest, Lee, and Lovett defended the site as a necessary mirror to the urban violence in African American communities.

Calling World Star Hip-Hop “a democratizing space,” Lee said he doesn’t “understand this kind of maternalistic approach that when something harms Black women, we have to worry.” Lee argued that the site is not doing violence to people but instead reflecting the violence that people are already doing to one another. Cooper rightfully pointed out the violence that happens on psychological and emotional levels, which is often equally (if not more) damaging.

When you couple the imagery in viral videos found on World Star Hip Hop like “Sharkeisha” with what’s happening on reality television shows like the Housewives series and Bad Girls Club, we must acknowledge that there is an entire media industry that is profiting off of women-on-women and black-on-black violence. To defend World Star Hip Hop is to defend the normalization of violent stereotypes and exploitation of pain, anger and brokenness.

World Star Hip Hop and outlets like it are protected under freedom of speech laws and have the right to exist in our cultural world, but it is reckless to describe their content production as “truth-telling.” Responsible truth-telling speaks truth to power; it says the unspeakable in hopes that the truth would set someone or something free. That is not the mission of this site; it is quite the opposite.

World Star Hip Hop is not in the business of truth-telling but rather voyeurism of violence. To defend the site is to argue that there is value in repeatedly watching violence done to others in hopes that our zeal for justice would be ignited. At that point, we are no longer passive spectators. We then become complicit in the violence and destruction we seek to end.

Yes, the violence in our communities must end. But so does our support of corporations and mediums that profit off of it.

Originally published on The Washington Post.

Rahiel Tesfamariam is an activist, writer, public theologian and cultural critic. She is also a columnist for The Washington Post and founder/ publisher of UrbanCusp.com, a cutting-edge online lifestyle magazine highlighting progressive urban culture, faith, social change and global awareness. Visit Rahiel.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @RahielT.

7 Comments

  1. Tarrell Campbell

    January 18, 2014 at 4:20 am

    Rahiel: now you know I am on your team. I am die-hard Urban Cusp. But, please help me to understand how you can state the following regarding World Star Hip Hop (and the corporations that function let the site): “Yes, the violence in our communities must end. But so does our support of corporations and mediums that profit off of it.”
    My question does not stem from a place of disagreement, regarding the sentiment and centrality of your statement. It stems from a position regarding: how can you condemn World Star and corporate entities and be such an adamant supporter of Jay-Z (you do pay homage to him in the piece). I ask because it seems no matter how successful he becomes, he cannot but help to remind the audience that he is “Good Music’s drug dealing cousin.” As one who has suffered from the effects of drug traffickers and dealers, Jay and his ilk have cause more harm to my community than anyone that I can readily get my hands on (and, I know I can’t get my hands on Jay but you get my point).
    Thanks and best,

    Tarrell

    • Rahiel

      January 18, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      Here are two past articles I have written on Jay-Z for a more thorough understanding of my views on him and a video from HuffPostLive. Your claim that I am an “adamant supporter” is wrong. Nonetheless, I have also been very clear in saying that I think the problems are bigger than any one artist but about an industry epidemic (hence “Bigger than Rick Ross: an industry that glorifies rape and drug culture http://wapo.st/11T6bWp)

      My Relationship with Hip Hop: It’s Complicated
      http://www.urbancusp.com/2011/08/relationship-with-hip-hop-its-complicated/

      Why Jay-Z has no desire to be our generation’s Harry Belafonte: http://wapo.st/18Cemdt

      Is Jay Z an example of the American Dream
      http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/is-jay-z-an-example/507ed7a902a7607f96000566

      • Tarrell Campbell

        January 18, 2014 at 12:32 pm

        No, doubt and you, to your credit, are not lacking in the veracity department – as I have surely read each of those articles. “Adamant” was too strong of a word. We, I, should reflect more thoroughly before hitting send. I guess, Signifying on the “Death of Autotune” title is what put me in a mood of feeling some kinda way. At any rate, thanks for the response

        • Rahiel Tesfamariam

          January 18, 2014 at 12:40 pm

          You read the reference to the song as paying homage. I wrote it as an example of the power that artists and activists have on bringing about major cultural shifts. And also because it is an example of how the power of life and death is in the tongue and we as a community have the power to decide what we will breathe life and death into it. All the best.

          • Tarrell

            March 25, 2014 at 1:54 pm

            Rahiel, i have been following as you have been teaching – or, perhaps proselitizing is better, because you ARE spreading some words. Ok, so I am beginning to be persuaded by the argument regarding the power of artists to bring about cultural shifts. I still struggle with how to develop and grow, within this all encompassing machine, and not be co-opted by it. I have been having many conversations about Bey and her use of the subversive in her latest project – and losing them badly I might offer. My question, along the lines of Bakhtin (sorry): if the machine ultimately co-opts even the subversive (see aristocrats and the use of the carnivalesque and masques) how do we subvert without be co-opted? or, is that co-option inevitable and when one feels the co-option coming one knows it is time to change direction. I do not want to feel as though i conservatively delimit/limit women’s abilities, powers, or functions, especially when it comes to a politics of (sexual) pleasure, but…help my dear lady, please help.

  2. Logic

    January 21, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    You sure make me feel smarter. Big ups on this article and others like it. One thing is for certain World Star is not a beacon light for the conundrums prevalent in urban areas, simply because it is rarely puncturing the homes of other cultures or societies to change or advocate for change.

  3. http://jimmyscamo.wordpress.com

    January 21, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Good day! This is my first comment here sso I just wanted to give a quick shout
    out and tell you I truly enjoy reading through your articles.
    Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same subjects?

    Thank you so much!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>