A Hip-Hop Staple Riddled with Misogyny and Violence

In November of 1999, hip-hop producer/rapper Dr. Dre released his second studio album titled, 2001. Amidst the expanding plethora of hip-hop music, 2001 echoed the black male experience through lyrical narration. The album grew to establish itself as a staple in hip-hop and black popular culture through its stellar production. As of August 2015, 2001 received six platinum certifications from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and sold 7.8 million copies in the United States alone (Erlewine, 2008). Lyrically however, the album spurred controversy. This essay will explore track 20 of 2001, titled ‘Ackrite’; produced by Dr. Dre and Mel-Man featuring the vocalist, Hittman. This track most prevalently illuminates the lyrical controversy, as vocals regularly reference drugs, violence, and gangs (Smith, 2005, 90; Ackrite: Dr Dre, 2014). These references echo the overwhelming theme of misogyny that exists throughout 2001. This essay explores Ackrite’s vocalist Hittman, whoutilizes a certain vernacular that echoes themes of violence, misogyny, and the promotion of OG culture. Three prominent terms that are used in this essay to explore the chosen media are; vernacular, the OG, and the Hoochie Mama. The first term, vernacular, refers to the use of language utilized by Hittman (Favor, 1999, p. 5). The OG, or Original Gangster is a slang term regarding a superior gang member who expresses detachment from society, hyper-sexuality and social gregariousness (Gray, 1995, p. 402). Lastly, the Hoochie Mama is regarded as a hyper-sexualized, or overly provocative woman (Collins, 2000, p. 70; Jeffries, 2018, p. 107).

Examining the vernacular of Ackrite, the frequent references to violence and association with Original Gangster (OG) culture attributes the black male experience with a sense of detachment from society, hyper-sexuality and social gregariousness. The black vernacular is crucial to examine in this context, as the use of language is critical to both understanding the attitude the artist possesses towards certain subjects, and the persona that they are trying to express. Houston Baker’s (1984, p. 15) examination of the black vernacular explores how ‘black subjects describe themselves in black ways’. Baker’s (1984, 15) analysis is reflected in Ackrite, as the vocalist Hittman’s lyrical narrative expresses a particular persona resembling the daily experience of a black gangster or OG. However, Stewart Hall (1993, p. 113) addresses a conflation of stereotyping and glamorization in a commodified popular culture. Here exists a ‘theatre of popular desires [and] fantasies’ that audiences become desensitized to; as this representation prompts the audience to form a skewed perception of the lived black experience (Hall, 1993, p. 113).  In this sense, one can conclude that Hittman’s representation of the black subject, is likely to be ‘profoundly mythic’ (Hall, 1993, p. 113). In the first verse, Hittman is quick to state that he ‘[grabs] the gat for misbehaviours’; reflecting both a lifestyle of violence, and a careless, macho attitude (Ackrite: Dr Dre, 2014). Hereaffirms this assessment through mentioning that he is ‘strapped by [his] waistline’, and will ‘ack-wild’ (act wild or violently) if he does not receive Ackrite (respect) from others (Ackrite: Dr Dre, 2014). Hittman’s use of aggressive language institutes an association between the black masculine experience and violence, exemplified most distinctly through the OG experience. Paralleling Baker’s analyses of the black vernacular, Herman Gray’s (1995, p. 403) illumination of the romanticization of the ‘original gangster (OG)’ is illustrated through Hittman’s thematic portrayal of the experience of the black rapper. Gray (1995, p. 403) eludes to a sense of ‘masculine hero worship’ which listeners often engage with upon listening to Ackrite. Hittman fosters this ‘worship’ through his choice of vernacular, glorifying the OG experience; one which pertains to notions of ‘masculine hyper-sexuality, insensitivity and cold-bloodedness’ (Gray, 1995, p. 403). For example, hestates that the ‘cuties peep [his] style’, eluding to his sex appeal as an OG (Ackrite: Dr Dre, 2014; Gray, 1995, p. 403). Additionally, he states that he ‘[plays] lead, not the background’, establishing himself as an alpha, or dominant figure in the black community (Ackrite: Dr Dre, 2014). The glorification of the alpha black male leads to skewed listener perceptions, as the OG lifestyle is eulogized as a staple in the black male experience.

Ackrite is plagued with misogynist vernacular that perpetuates sexual oppression, correlating hoochie culture with the black female experience. In referring to women, Hittman’s choice of language is heavily derogatory, as he refers to these women as ‘h*es, b*tches, hooker tramps and dykes’ (Ackrite: Dr Dre, 2014). These offensive terms degrade black women to objects of sexual pleasure and masculine desire (Jeffries, 2018, p.106). In Ackrite, women are only referred to in a context of sexual opportunity, and all notions of consensual negotiations of sexual action are neglected (Gill, 2012, 131).  Jeffries (2018, p. 106) explores the sexualization of women through the concept of the ‘hoochie mama’; the stereotyping of black women as promiscuous and sexual provocateurs (Collins, 2000, p. 70; Jeffries, 2018, p. 107). Hittman emblematizes Jeffries’ (2018, 106) analysis of the hoochie mama in the chorus of Ackrite, where he states that he will ‘[snatch] up your honey (woman) for some late-night hype (sexual activity)’ (Ackrite: Dr Dre, 2014). The use of the term ‘snatch’, possesses physical and almost forceful connotations, as Hittman is perceived to be coercing the woman into sexual action, disregarding consent (Ackrite: Dr Dre, 2014). Moreover, Hittman’s violent actions towards women perpetuates the overarching misogynist theme of the track. Additionally, Hittman states that he will ‘yank’ women by the arm if they refuse to give up their phone numbers, and follows up this claim by mentioning that ‘snobby-ass b*tches get slapped out of spite’ (Ackrite: Dr Dre, 2014). Playing into the theme of objectification, Hittman states in a line; ‘you’re very eligible for my summer league team’ (Ackrite: Dr Dre, 2014). Referencing the National Basketball Association (NBA) Summer League, where players try out to present their skills to NBA coaches, Hittman presents that the woman he’s addressing is ranked second-tier; that she must prove her worth to be considered by an upper-tier OG (Ackrite: Dr Dre, 2014; Jeffries, 2018, p. 106). This example illustrates the concept of a hoochie mama, as physical appearance alone is regarded as the determinant of ranking with regards to sexual desire. Hittman’s use of violent language directed at women illustrates a sexual dominance and perpetuates a theme of misogyny throughout the track.

Hittman employs a unique vernacular to illuminates common themes of OG culture, instituting himself within this category. This culture is presented as one which degrades women through deeming them as hoochie mamas. His sexualization of women perpetuates a sentiment of feminine hypersexuality, presenting false representation that widely influences listeners and skews their perceptions of both the feminine and masculine black experience. Dr. Dre’s ‘Ackrite’ emblematized supreme production and mastering, and is regarded as one of the staples in hip-hop history. However, lyrically, the frequent references to violence and gang culture, expressed through misogynistic overtones that plagues the record’s legendary status. ­­­­­

References:

Ackrite lyrics: Dr Dre. (2014, August). Retrieved from https://genius.com/2424639

Baker, H. A. (1984). Blues, ideology and Afro-American literature: A vernacular theory. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Collins, P.H. (2000). Mammies, matriarchs, and other controlling images. In P.H. Collins (Eds), Black feminist thought: knowledge, consciousness, and the politics of empowerment (pp. 69-90), New York: Routledge.

Erlewine, S. T. (2008). AllMusic review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine. Retrieved from https://www.allmusic.com/album/2001-mw0000040094.

Favor, M. J. (1999). Discourses of black identity: the elements of authenticity. In M. J. Favor (Eds), Authentic blackness: the folk in the new negro renaissance (pp. 1-22), Durham: Duke University Press.

Gray, H. (1995). Black masculinity and visual culture. Callaloo, 18(2), 401-405. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3299086

Gill, G. R., Moras, A. 2012. Black women and black men in hip hop music: misogyny, violence and the negotiation of (white-owned) space. The Journal of Popular Culture, 45(1),(118-132). New Jersey: Wiley Periodicals.

Hall, S. (1993). What is this “black” in black popular culture? Social Justice, 20(1/2), 104-114. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/29766735

Jeffries, D. (2018). “You ain’t nothing but a hoochie mama”: explorations of black female promiscuity in contemporary media productions, in J. Malarcher (Eds.), Text and presentation, 2017 (106-109). North Carolina: McFarland & Company.

Nash, J. C. (2011). Practicing love: black feminism, love-politics, and post-intersectionality. Meridians, 11(2), (pp. 1-24). Durham: Duke University Press.

Smith, S. L. (2005). From Dr. Dre to dismissed: assessing violence, sex, and substance use on MTV. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 22(1),(pp. 89-98). New York: Routledge.

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