Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bandz A Make Her Dance: Examining Hip Hop's Strip Club Love

A throwback from 2012...

Money, cars, women, liquor, clothes, and jewelry. For many years these items have been constant themes in Hip Hop music. It’s very rare to hear a rapper not mention one of those topics in their music or not feature all of them in their videos. Some would even go so far as to say one cannot have a hit without having a song based on one of those themes.  

As Hip Hop music continues to grow, one theme has started to take precedence over the others; the strip club. The strip club is certainly not a new topic in Hip Hop, as artists have been rapping about it forever.

Within the last couple of years it seems the actual strip club itself, and all that goes along with it, is fair game in Hip Hop now. It certainly has become the go-to topic for a hit record. There are even rappers that say they make music specifically for the strip club; with lyrical content that is solely based on things that happen there. With Hip Hop being such a masculine enclave, it’s no surprise “Strip Club Culture” is taking over.

But where did Hip Hop’s fascination with the strip club come from? Luke and the 2 Live Crew might be a good start. We could even classify them as the originators of strip club music, or booty music as they called it. The crude lyrical content on their 1989 album “As Nasty As They Wanna Be” created much condemnation. It even caused group members to get arrested for breaking Florida State obscenity laws. The album was deemed legally obscene and was banned from radio stations and retail stores. The controversy that surrounded this album brought awareness to the role that the First Amendment plays in Hip Hop music.

As the years went on, Hip Hop lyrics and videos continued to push the limit. And with the implementation of the “Parental Advisory” label in 1994, artists were basically able to talk about anything without having to worry about legal backlash. 

Fast forward a few years…

In 1998 rapper Ice Cube gave mainstream America a look into the world of strip clubs with his movie “The Players Club.” The movie told the familiar story of a girl choosing to strip to pay her way through school. But it also showed us a different side of things. We got a keen look at the women that enjoyed the stripper lifestyle and all the perks (money) that came along with it.

Then in 2000 Dr. Dre released the video for his song “The Next Episode.” In the video we get the usual party scene, but this time there are women dancing topless on poles while being sprayed with liquor. And before it became the popular thing to do; they were making it rain in the video, throwing large amounts of money at the dancers. Comparing this video to Wreckx-N-Effect’s “Rump Shaker” video of 1992; both were foretelling of what Hip Hop music videos would become. Based on what music videos are like today, both the “Rump Shaker” and “The Next Episode” videos seem harmless.

As these type of videos became increasingly popular, BET took note and provided an outlet for rappers to display explicit videos. BET Uncut played videos that normally would be banned during daytime television hours. Because of the vulgarity displayed in the videos, the show aired on Wednesday through Friday at 3am. The show featured videos for songs such as Nelly’s “Tip Drill,” 50 Cent’s “Disco Inferno,” and Ludacris’ “P***y Poppin.” All three videos, among many others, featured women dancing around almost or fully naked. Many of these videos were taped in actual strip clubs.

Uncut was cancelled in 2006. But that did not detour rappers from continuing to make racy videos. And as the years went on Hip Hop’s infatuation with the strip club only increased.

In 2005 T-Pain confessed that he was in love with a stripper. In 2006 Lil Wayne had everyone singing the catchy chorus of Fat Joe’s hit song “Make It Rain.” In 2010 rap group Travis Porter released a song of the same title. With a woman on the chorus singing, “You wanna see some a**, I wanna see sum cash, Keep dem dollars comin, and das gonna make me dance.”

More recently Juicy J released “Bandz A Make Her Dance,” in which he raps about basically the same stuff as the other songs. In addition, he created a web page for the song, and while the page is loading words “Taking you to the strip club…” appears on the screen.

Rapper Waka Flocka Flame has seen a high level of success with his strip club anthems “Round of Applause” and “No Hands.” And just last year French Montana released “Pop That.” The song features the most notable rappers that have emerged as the front runners when it comes to this strip club music: Drake, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross. French Montana took strip club music full circle by sampling Luke’s “I Wana Rock.”

With all the above examples and a host of others that could have been mentioned, it’s clear to see how Hip Hop got to this point.
But one important factor that has helped this music become successful is the strippers themselves. Similar to how a few years ago the cool thing for a woman to do was to be a video vixen. Those aspirations have now changed or grown. The new come up: Stripping and being featured in Hip Hop videos or mentioned in songs.

Ex-stripper Amber Rose met Kanye West while stripping at Sues Rendezvous in New York. And now she is engaged to rapper Wiz Khalifa and they have a child together. Blac Chyna a stripper from King of Diamonds in Miami met rapper Tyga and they also have a child together. And there’s Maliah Michel, who is often referred to as “one of the best strippers in the game.” She has caught the attention of many rappers, and even some singers such as Ne-Yo and Sean Kingston. Rapper Drake featured Maliah in his “Find Your Love” video and named dropped her in a couple of his songs.
What may have started out as a means to make some fast and easy cash, has taking these women places they probably wouldn’t have imagined. And by doing it in a manner that seems so effortlessly, these women have now become the norm in Hip Hop.

With Hip Hop music being as popular as it is, we all can see the influences of the culture everywhere. We hear Hip Hop music at basketball games, in movie trailers, and in commercials. It’s constantly around us. So it’s not surprising to see that the popularity of the strip club is not just in Hip Hop, it’s everywhere. Constantly seeing the glorification of it has aided in society’s perception of strip clubs and strippers.

What was previously referred to as Burlesque Shows and started out as a past time exclusively for men, is now a common place that men and woman frequent. The movement has even made its way onto social networking sites. With many rappers including Meek Mill and Wale posting pictures of them and friends making it rain, popping bottles, and enjoying the live entertainment at different strip clubs.

But what kinds of effects have we seen from the emergence of strip club music? A major effect is the perception that women now have of the strip club and female dancers. I once heard someone say Hip Hop artists are usually concerned about their female fans because they are loyal and will always support and buy the music.

Some may call it her “inner freak,” but for whatever reason women are buying and enjoying this music, just as much as men. Women are also buying into the lifestyle, even attending pole dancing classes. Some are even frequenting strip clubs with their boyfriends.

Call it the desensitization of our society or growth. However you refer to it, strip clubs are no longer thought of in the same manner as decades past. And whether it’s thought of as a negative or positive thing, Hip Hop music played a big role in the perception change.

No one can ever say Hip Hop does not influence the masses. In my opinion it has been the driving force behind the progressive perception of strippers and strip clubs. People constantly see the videos, listen to the music, and then want to live that lifestyle.

As a fan of Hip Hop music, it’s understood that artists are going to talk about things they like in their music, as they should. But in the culture of Hip Hop, there is this ever present pattern of rappers imitating what their colleagues do for success. Meaning if rapping about the strip club is fruitful for one, others follow suit. And then it becomes the subject matter for all songs.

Based on the fact that I know the names of strippers and strip clubs in cities that I’ve never been to, makes me feel Hip Hop has reached or is very close to reaching the point of overkill on this topic.
But I guess as with anything, if the music is good fans will continue to support it regardless of the content.

It will be interesting to see what topic Hip Hop drifts toward next.  

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