Hip-hop producer Flylo went on a recent Twitter rampage to expose the bad business practices of recording artists, offending many of his own fans in the process. Comparing his experience of being manipulated in the music industry to being “raped” and calling rap artists “rape artists,” Flylo revealed a disturbingly insensitive attitude toward victims of rape. Fans that responded negatively to his indiscriminate use of triggering language were met with more offensive vulgarities.
It is no secret that hip-hop has had a long relationship with misogyny. From lyrics that glorify sexual violence against women to music videos that promote negative stereotypes about women, hip-hop has gotten a bad rap from human rights activists. Countless politicians have spoken out against the art form, claiming it has played an active role in eroding the moral code of society. Misogynistic artists continue to overshadow those that promote positive and inclusive messages in their music.
When current artists, like Flylo, take to social media revealing their ignorance and inability to respect or empathize with victims of sexual assault - it is clear there is still more work to be done to change societal attitudes.
At what point should fans hold artists responsible for the messages they put out into the world? When I reached out Flylo my tweets were met with a mix of supportive remarks and insults by fans. Some admonished Flylo, while others dismissed his original references to rape as an innocent “figure of speech” - telling me to “get over it” or “shut up”. Proving he has yet to understand the significance of his words, Flylo responded by comparing his art to a "sacred vagina". But, I will not shut up and neither should any other survivor of rape that has to live in a world where we are consistently reminded of a violent act perpetrated against us by hurtful terms that have been normalized into popular society.
If Flylo had a vagina that had been violated by sexual assault, he would likely choose his words more responsibly.
Rape is a sexual crime, not a casual term for being cheated out of money or having your work diminished. We do not have to dumb ourselves down to pretend the word has a less grievous meaning because a popular artist has chosen to use it. We no longer have the luxury to separate the artist from their art because social media encourages them to impulsively publish their thoughts before taking a moment to weigh the gravity of their words and ramifications of their actions. We can, however, reject social conditioning and thoughtfully re-consider where to place our financial support in the future.
In 2016, I refuse to support any artist that contributes to rape culture. Words have power, words can hurt and words can alienate you from others - including your fans. We all have the choice to communicate in a way that either elevates or diminishes those around us. If you believe “I got raped” is an acceptable figure of speech to use every time you are manipulated or lose money in business, I implore you to expand your consciousness and your vocabulary. It is time for hip-hop artists to evolve; your fans are impatiently waiting.