Is All Fair in Love and Hip-Hop?
Amongst news of fake baby bumps, false hospital sightings, and extravagant delivery quarters, there was one issue that the birth of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s daughter Blue Ivy unexpectedly brought up: the use of the word “bitch” in rap.
The issue has never really gone away, and it was bound to resurface the minute Jay-Z put out a song that wasn’t as thoughtful and reflective as “Glory.” But a fake poem and wishful thinking spun things out of control and society believed what it wanted to—that the word bitch was making its exit out of hip-hop vernacular.
But should we really have expected that? After all, Jay-Z’s got the hottest bitch in the game wearing his chain, right? Except Beyoncé isn’t just his bitch now, she’s his wife. And if the Brooklyn rap king hadn’t laid the b-word down since exchanging vows with her in 2008, what made us think he would now just because he has a daughter?
By no means is this situation specific to hip-hop’s hottest couple. Plenty of rappers with wives, girlfriends, and significant others make constant references to the sexual favors “bitches” and “hoes” who aren’t their wives perform on them–all while their “main bitch,” i.e., their wives, are at home, most likely caring for their children. Given the natural transition from lyrics about selling on the block to “look what I’ve got,” my only question is when do all of these rappers’ lyrics begin to grow up with their changed lifestyle?
I don’t necessarily get squeamish about the use of the b-word. After all, tons of women use it on a regular basis to describe themselves, other women and even some men. But I do wonder how that dynamic plays out in these rappers’ real relationships. Is the expectation of being referred to as a bitch and having the bodies of other women explicitly described in your man’s lyrics just one of the prices you pay to be in that position, sort of the same way politician’s wives are expected to swallow infidelity and stand by their man during a press conference?