By: Katherine Adams and Rose Jackson
Just about everyone in America knows that music is a huge component of our culture. As a female in her early 20’s, I can say some of the best memories I have involve music. I feel that other young women around my age can relate to this fact as well. Music acts as an amplification and later a trigger of a memory. They make things like Senior Week, driving to prom with your best friends, and going to your first concert memories that you will never forget.
But what happens when we become distracted by the music and miss the lyrics? What happens when violent and harmful messages are sung to the tune of a catchy beat? Does the message lose meaning or gain potency?
A recent example of a toxic message in a catchy song in Beyoncé’s latest hit “Drunk In Love” featuring the extremely successful rapper, who happens to be her husband, Jay-Z. Though there are many sexual references throughout the song the first issue with this song is the line that says “Drunk in love. I want you. We woke up in the kitchen sayin’ ‘How the hell did this s**t happen?’, oh baby”. This is problematic because it glamorizes and in a sense promotes drunk sex. Though many people have heated debates over this fact, drunk sex, by definition, cannot be consensual because one or more of the parties are impaired. The popularity of this song mixed with people not knowing what consent entails can lead to a toxic situation. When the idea of getting drunk and having sex is glamorized in a song that is so popular, it leads people to believe this act is sexy and common, when in fact it can often lead to decisions that are not fully consensual, hurt feelings, and damaged relationships.
The second part of the song that is problematic and has caused a stir in the media, is a line is Jay-Z’s appearance where he says “I’m Ike Turner, turn up, baby, no, I don’t play
Now eat the cake, Anna Mae said, “Eat the cake, Anna Mae!”. For younger listeners this reference may hold no meaning but one can do a simple google search to figure out its origin. The lyric is a reference to a scene from the movie “What’s Love Got To Do With It” which depicts Ike and Tina Turner’s horribly abusive relationship. The scene shows Ike, Tina and another couple at a diner. When Ike offers Tina a piece of cake and she refuses, he becomes violent and pushes the cake forcefully into her face and then proceeds to smack Tina’s friend in the face for confronting him about what he did. The scene did not involve punching or weapons but none the less is domestic violence. When Jay-Z raps this lyric, it trivializes domestic violence and turns the line into a sexual reference. This is a dangerous message because it is these subtle messages in our media that tell people that being aggressive and sometimes violent in a relationship is sexy and passionate when in reality domestic violence is emotionally scarring, painful, and traumatic.
Though music is a fantastic element of our culture that I, personally, could never be without, I think it is crucial for us to have a more critical eye in analyzing it. It is through active listening and speaking up that we can combat issues that are much bigger than a popular song.
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