Rapper Too $hort appears to have learned something from the recent XXL.com video debacle. When XXL posted a video of the rapper giving “advice” to middle school boys on “how to turn girls out,” many called for the resignation of Editor in Chief Vanessa Satten. After a conversation with the brilliant writer and activist Dream Hampton, Too $hort told AllHipHop.com he understands why everyone was upset, and that his “jokes” about sexual assault aren’t funny.
AllHipHop.com: It’s been a rough couple of weeks for you in regards to the negative feedback that you received for your recent XXL video. Tell us what that was all about.
Too $hort: At the time, I thought it was something of a comedy nature. As they released it, it was put up in such an irresponsible manner. They just put up a headline without any type of real description of its intended nature. It’s been a blessing in disguise, though, because as the negative reactions poured in, my first reaction was to just be like, “it’s just a damn joke.” It took a moment though to understand what was really taking place here. Initially, I was being nostalgic about my situation growing up with games like “Hide and Go Get It” – you know just doing stuff as bad little kids. That goes from learning to how kiss to a lot more than that.
I say that it was a blessing in disguise because I had a conversation with Dream Hampton about it. Immediately when this happened I began to question why anybody would release the video in the manner that they did, and why would I even allow myself to be recorded? And especially during these times of social media, where you can grab any piece of that video and use it as you wish. The person who asked me to do the video set it up as a joke, but didn’t release it with the premise of being a joke. I did an interview about music and my career. We finished, and while everybody was packing up, they asked for a little drop for their website. I still haven’t seen anything else from the interview put up – just what they got from the video. I should have been much more responsible knowing what bloggers do. I take full responsibility. I have to reverse that bad energy.
Dream Hampton explained to me about how this is a time when women are fighting for their rights, and here’s a video that describes an assault. I’m actually a very knowledgeable brother, but Dream schooled me in the conversation. It really opened up my eyes to something I had not known about. She told me that if we were kids at a pool and I ran by and yanked her top down, it wouldn’t be a joke or a prank to her – that would be a traumatic incident, and it is along the lines of sexual assault. As little boys, we’re running around tapping girl’s a**es like it’s funny, but they’re really victimized by it. I learned that it’s not a joking matter. I feel like I needed that education because had I not, I could’ve continued thinking that it is a joke. Even with my music filled with misogyny, I still have morals.
Over at Colorlines, Akiba Solomon has a fantastic list of “5 things Too $Short, XXL, and all of hip hop journalism can learn about sexual violence,” which everyone must read. Number four is so on point it made me want to scream and shout.
4. Loving women such as your mother, daughter, wife or sister doesn’t absolve you from participating in rape culture.
Because accusations of sexism have dogged hip-hop for so long, many people are resistant to hearing about the very real ways it can contribute to a culture that condones and encourages violence toward women. (This includes exalting actual pimps, running photos of women’s body parts without showing their faces in mainstream magazines, and shouting down adults within the culture who question some of this behavior.) Instead of dealing with the issue, I’ve seem some folks point to how they take care of the women in their lives. That may work for artists. It doesn’t work for alleged journalists.
The Too $hort debacle is simply another example in a long history of misogny in hip hop. It’s good to see that the activism and outrage sparked by the initial video is leading to a larger and very necessary conversation about rape culture and sexual violence. Because #itsbiggerthantooshort.