Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
I’ve listened to rap music all of my life. I remember the first time I heard Slick Rick Too $hort Eazy-E a rapper call a woman a “bitch” and make a song about her pussy vagina.
This would grow to become an all too common theme in the music and culture as a whole, but I never let the overall message get to me. In fact, I consider myself a pretty hardcore rap head. I’ve listened to Hip Hop music since I’ve been listening to music. A long ass time ago. Never have I been overly affected by any of its negative connotations, gangster idiosyncrasies, or Billy Badass brainwashing. (See Ice Cube’s A Bitch Iz A Bitch, Snoop Dogg’s Bitches Ain’t Shit, or all of Suga Free or Too $hort’s respective catalogs for living examples.)
You can look around and see the guys who were raised by rap music as opposed to those who allowed it to be the mindless entertainment it should be ingested as.
I, however, was raised by an ABM.
That’s an Angry Black Man.
No influence in the world can compare to the massive, looming, omnipotent power of a pissed off Black dad in the 80’s. And they were never really mad about anything in particular. Just angry and Black. That’s also the reason I never joined a gang, but that’s a post for another day.
There was a time — when I was about 18 — when I decided I wanted to refer to all of my hoes as bitches. No particular reason. It could have been an influential splash of rap rhetoric finally permeating my not-yet-dense frontal lob. Could have been that I didn’t start maturity until most of my friends were just finishing theirs and I’d begun to “smell” myself. This was also the year I lost my virginity and tried weed and liquor for the first time, so it’s probably safe to say it was a speedball of all the above.
I wasn’t doing it to impress anyone, per se, and there was no endgame. I’d just come to the conclusion that, from that point henceforth, I’d be referring to women as bitches, to their faces. It never quite landed, though. Maybe it was the fact that my voice hadn’t fully matured and I sounded like virtual Bobby Brady. Or maybe it was that I didn’t have a lick of post-pubescent hair on my body yet, which made my bark more of a meow, but whatever the case the bitches they never seemed to take me seriously. They always laughed, like, “Awww. Arent you so cute…” Pimp hand fail.
I tried the same technique a couple of years later, when I moved out of my parents house. I decided, again, that I was going to call all my hoes bitches, whether they liked it or not. Whether I was angry or elated. This too, like my pathetic previous attempts, failed miserably. I even got slapped once, but it wasn’t a full-on slap. I parried left, she skimmed peach fuzz, but my point remains. So, I retired the term bitch from my lexicon, until I was talking about an actual female canine.
But, in the 2000s, after going through life altering situations and periods of uncontrollable growth and maturity, I found that I love being a gentleman. I love being chivalrous. I love opening doors for women, even if I blaspheme the ones who don’t acknowledge me doing it. I dismiss those women as being unraveled and misguided due to daddy issues, so ultimately I know their lack of common human decency isn’t necessarily their fault. Now, I yearn to respect all women to the fullest, partly because I have 2 daughters, and partly because I’m getting older and that’s how grown men should act. I’ve joked about the death of chivalry many times on these pages, but in reality, it’s still owns a healthy amount of real estate in modern civilization.
Within the last 3 or so years, I’ve noticed a weird phenomenon bubbling to humanity’s muddy surface. In numbers that seem to increase annually, more and more women are refusing me when I call them “Ma’am.”
A woman will say something to me or do something for me in public in some fashion at some establishment, and 85% of the time, when I call them “Ma’am” in automatic response — regardless of age or ethnicity — my deposit is immediately rejected.
I’m not that old, yet…
I’m not that much older than you…
How old do you think I am?
And one of my favorites, easily a top 3er:
Do I look like a ‘ma’am’ to you?
Why, yes, yes you do look like a “ma’am” to me. It’s a term of endearment which, in today’s world, is also a sign of respect. Generally, my response to all the questions is the same:
Nothing personal, ma’am. I call most women, even daughters, ma’am. It’s just a sign of respect.
But now I’m second guessing myself. After all the evolution made, personal and societal, I’m up against the most unrealistic obstacle of all. The most unthinkable type of brick wall. Women who refuse respect. It’s like mannerism kamikaze. This, friends, is why so many men insist on chivalry no longer existing. I’ve gotten into minor spats and uncomfortable tiffs behind my freelance usage of such a harmless label. I’m talking mere seconds away from neck rolls and fingersnaps, possibly even hand clapping, all because I refuse to relent on referring to some woman or girl or broad as a “ma’am.”
Welcome to the future…
Now, don’t think I don’t get it. About 5 years ago, young knuckleheads in Los Angeles — the most awesome city ever — started calling me “OG.” It took some time, but I finally digested the sobering reality that I’m not as young as I would like to be. Father Time hasn’t lost a fight yet, but here I was ready to ball my fists and start taking shots. I met their “OG” with all the newest slang I could conjure up, but that shit got tiring quickly. I surrendered. It’s easier to just fall back, accept the respect, and try to pass on any bullshit you’ve learned to the next generation as you — unavoidably and undeniably — grow older. I didn’t willingly come to this acceptance. And I guess that’s how chicks feel when I call them “Ma’am.”
Much like domestic violence, I understand. I don’t agree, but I understand…
Social respect for the next man (or woman) seems to be dwindling. Look around. Watch the news. Read the Internet. People seem to give less of a fuck about each other, yearly. It’s like clockwork. I figure the least I can do, in my scant time on sweet, succulent Mother Earth, is to help generate and spread the same love and respect I want for my wife and daughters to the women I come across daily. No pun intended.
Fuck it, though. Seems they aint trying to hear it. Kinda makes me wonder; what would Plies do?