Pop vs. Hip-Hop And The Double Standard

Pop stars, we sure love them. From the bubble gum pop, to the sexually suggestive lyrics of Rihanna and Beyoncé, America loves them. We are often introduced to them as fresh-faced ingénues, young girls finally living out their dreams as they share their talent with the world. But as these young girls transition into young women, their lyrics change too, often becoming more sexual in nature.  And yet, our beloved pop stars are hardly criticized for their explicit lyrics like their hip-hop counterparts.

So that begs the question, is there in fact a double standard for hip-hop artists? Male hip-hop artists in particular are often cited for having derogatory lyrics towards women and being labeled a bad influence on our youth. Yet, nothing is said of Rihanna singing about her “Birthday Cake” or Beyoncé singing about being a “Naughty Girl” wearing her “Freakum Dress” to the club.  

In fact, Rihanna has been really enjoying life lately, with a string of suggestive and somewhat inappropriate Tweets and pictures shared via social networks. However, Rihanna is known to not care what others think of her antics, but should she care about the legions of young girls in the “Rihanna Navy”? On the other hand there is Beyoncé who makes sure we know any suggestive songs are performed by her alter ego, Sasha Fierce, allowing her to maintain a wholesome image for “Beyoncé”, one that young girls can model themselves after.

But what kind of message do these suggestive songs send to young girls, and should pop stars (and their alter egos) be held accountable for the music they make too? That is a question that is not easily answered. The public at-large and the media often burden celebrities with the responsibility of teaching our children what is right and wrong. But that responsibility should not fall on pop stars or hip-hop stars.

Ultimately parents should know what their kids are listening to, and if they don’t want their kids listening to Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake” or Waka Flocka’s “Round of Applause” then they can put a stop to it. But, the artist should not be criticized for making adult music with adult content. The double standard in the music industry will probably continue, and our entertainment stars will also continue to influence fans young and old, especially through social networks like Twitter and Instagram.  The best way to ensure that our young people are learning to respect themselves and others is for parents, family and friends to be the one’s setting positive examples.