Sexist and vulgar: Why is this the music of today?

Published: September 6, 2012

"I get it cracking like a bad back, b**** talking she the queen, when she looking like a lab rat." these are the opening lyrics of Minaj's song 'Stupid Hoe'. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

I’ve always loved music. The sweet tunes of Sufi artists; the purity of Africa’s tribal beats; the melodies of Arabia, and the especially popular Western sounds of the modern world have all impacted me in more ways than I can probably comprehend.

The poetic lyrics have left me, on more than one occasion, in complete awe. However, the more I listen to today’s mainstream music – the likes of Kesha, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga – the more disappointed I am left. The lyricists seem hollow, egotistic and vain.

I get it cracking like a bad back, b**** talking she the queen, when she looking like a lab rat.

These are the opening words of Nicki Minaj’s song “Stupid Hoe“.

As the name suggests, Minaj, who is  regarded as the most successful female rap artiste of all time, goes on to sing the chorus of the song which is nothing but a repetition of the line “You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe”. To be exact she repeats this line eight times in every hook. Not only is the song visibly vulgar but the video is also glamorously pornographic in nature.

Now I am not naive to the disturbing fact that nearly anything in our secular world can be justified in the name of  freedom of expression, and so, my argument will not be merely a moral one. I know that all music is art, that every musician has the right to write and compose whatever he or she wishes. Having said as much, I also believe that the art of a particular time is the best reflection of the people of those times; the best reflection of the collective inner state of humanity at that time. So the mere existence of this song is not what bothers me but the fact that out of an ocean of rich and vibrant songs this is the one we listen to and choose to buy. These are the artistes that become global icons and influence our youth.

Another obvious example would be the pop phenomenon Rihanna, who, despite creating quite the controversy with “S&M” and “Rude Boy”, is looking to take things to the next level with her album Talk that Talk. This album, according to VH1, is ‘the dirtiest album since Madonna’s album Erotica’. One particular song, “Cockiness”, really pushes the boundaries with it’s explicit lyrics.

It’s quite pathetic to see these creatively challenged writers use foul language and raunchy lyrics to give their weak songs the much needed punch. It’s just a cheap tactic to grab attention; say something no one dares to say out loud and make people gasp. Parents will hate it, so teenagers will love it – what a dirty trick. However, what is even more disappointing is that no one seems to care, or more precisely the people who need to, don’t.

And if it’s not the lyrics then it’s the video that succeeds in disgusting me. If it’s not Lady Gaga dancing in her underwear then its 50 Cent using women as commodities. What amazes me again is the normalisation of all this filth ─ the normalisation of an eighth grader singing “sticks and stones may break my bones but whips and chains excite me”.

I would be worried sick if I had the slightest clue that my children were listening to these people. To witness their innocence being violated and their hearts being bruised with all of the junk permeating their ears and eyes would enrage me enough to do something about it at least in my own home. But to create change, we need to accept that something is off, something is not right with how things are going on in this planet.

I want my kids to grow up in a world that facilitates their creativeness, their love for music and their innate humanity ─ not a world that completely destroys it and reduces them to nothing but blind fans.

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Maidah Khalid

Maidah Khalid

An 18 year old writer, public speaker and all round free spirit.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Rehman

    Neither Sexiest nor vulgar!

    Its absurd and lame! Recommend

  • Usman Iqbal

    A good writing indeed….Alcohol, drugs and sex is now have become important component of either music or movies and the worse part is everyone subconsciously accepting all this and displaying all such stuff either in their expressions or words.Recommend

  • damein

    beautiful…sensible and articulate
    loved reading it


  • Muzzammil

    Refreshing read. In general, the use of music to communicate vulgar and sexist messages generally overwhelms its constructive use. Imo, this is true for all periods of times and for all places. And this is exactly why mainstream Islam does not encourage too much indulgence in Music. Imo, one should communicate to their kids the boundary where music turns bad, and I guess it would be really challenging.Recommend

  • Shirazi

    A genuine concern well expressed Recommend

  • BlackJack

    I would be worried sick if I had the slightest clue that my children were listening to these people.
    Madam, your desire to protect your children from harmful influences does you credit. The fact is that lousy music is very low in terms of the harm it can cause young minds, especially in a nation which manages to watch a record amount of pornography. In fact, suggest you look more carefully into their text books than their music collection to find and protest against harmful content.Recommend

  • SoAndSo

    Good music is made even today. One just has to look towards somewhere other than the mainstream music.

    A lot of talented artists from the 1990s (especially the female ones) are making a comeback; try listening to them as well.Recommend

  • Akbar Khan

    i disagree….. what is called vulgarity or raunchy expressions are the subjective terms…. what is vulgarity for one may be an art for the other…. secondly whatever the poet say must not necessary be in line of the so called ‘spirit of age’……….. Recommend

  • Mydah Tariq

    My thoughts exactly! Somehow all the illegal, vulgar stuff makes its way into present day music and goes blockbuster! Just the wrong sort of idols are looked up to. The worst possible lyrics are played louder than ever. I cannot comprehend where this world’s sanity got lost..Recommend

  • I am Sam

    The singer might have the same opinion for the author because she wears a hijab. Lets face it – a hijab is’nt exactly “Gangnam style.”Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Sex Drug rock and roll, peed weed and birth control are everyday things to them like we have pyar ishq mohabbat larki chand lolRecommend

  • Faraz Talat

    If I had a nickel for every time I heard an adult grumbling about “the music of today”, I’d probably be rich enough to start buying music legally.

    I’m no fan of Minaj, but some adults like listening to ‘stronger’ music, which has generated this market. Denying them their choice of music because your kids might hear it, is like saying (if I may borrow Mark Twain’s words) that I cannot have my steak because your baby cannot chew it.

    Music with sexually explicit lyrics is always labelled as such.

    Besides, there’s a lot more to the music industry than Rihanna and Eminem. There’s Gotye, Leona Lewis, Lana Del Rey, Taylor Swift and many talented country artists out there.

    The music today is more diverse than it has ever been, from songs that are extremely mild to those that are terribly loud. Don’t latch on to just one genre and use it to criticize the “music of today” as a whole.Recommend

  • Op

    well written,,..we are just accepting these obscenity as if we will not get affected but actually we are Delhi durrrus Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @Author —
    You are just 18, aren’t you? Your motherly instincts have kicked in a bit too early i’d say.Take a chill pill..Let ur non existent children be.
    There is no dearth of talented artists. Rihanna and co cater to a certain segment who love their brand of music.People who enjoy that kind of music should have the freedom to listen to it. If u dont like it,look for something else.And when your kids are born try to shield them from “things that are going wrong on this planet”. But just to give u a heads up,kids tend to do exactly what they are forbidden to do. What you do in the confines of your house and how you handle ur kids is your business. But please stop preaching about what people should or should not care about. The rest of the world is perfectly capable of making its own choices.. Recommend

  • Turbo Lover

    Why not go back to the days of the old, when the music actually WAS music and not noise pollution, when there was fun in the music without any harsh lyrics and finally, there was no commercial trash songs. There is still good music today, but they barely get any publicity because of the monopoly of Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Justin Beiber, One Direction, etc.Recommend

  • Kafir

    Is music permitted in Islam? If yes what kind, please quote quran. If not , what’s the point of this discussion?Recommend

  • Kay

    Author says

    ” But to create change, we need to accept that something is off, something is not right with how things are going on in this planet.”

    How come you say that today’s world is only facing such evils. Allah sent his prophet 1400 years ago thinking of the same, to put the world indulged in all evils back on track. So every time has its own negatives. Just wait till Allah will take action.Recommend

  • Haider

    Oh for crying out loud! 1st of all isn’t music haraam? So why is this author listening to music in the first place? Secondly has she heard the phrase live and let live? If you don’t like such songs and videos then don’t watch or listen to them. Simple as! Don’t stop other people from enjoying it and having fun!Recommend

  • Parvez

    Do agree with you that what goes for music today is harsh on both the ears and the brain.
    If you go back some 45 years when rock-n-roll was making itself felt, the sentiment was about the same. People even called it the work of the devil etc but we survived and I am sure will survive this present phase as well. Recommend

  • Steppenwolf

    Jazz, blues, rock n roll were all accused of being cheap or vulgar by the older generation at the time. It’s just that the new has to move forward, out-do the old, otherwise everyone would just get bored.

    Off the top of my head, when we were younger they were playing I’m on Fire by Bruce Springsteen or Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye or anything by Joan Jett and later Guns n Roses and Aerosmith and all the other 90s rock bands: at the time they were considered sexy and out there.Today considered inocuous and kinda funny classics that we even make fun off and we laugh “what were we thinking!”. All part of a healthy well-rounded youth.

    So don’t worry. Your kids will turn out fine. Just as we did and the generations before.Recommend

  • http://NewYork Falcon

    wow…you apparently came down too hard on author…I don’t remember that being your style…on a side note, just because human beings can make a choice does not mean that it becomes good automatically, don’t you think? Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Sarah B. Haider:
    Sex Drug rock and roll, peed weed and birth control are everyday things to them like we have pyar ishq mohabbat larki chand lol

    Sex is universal. Afghanistan/Pakistan are the biggest suppliers of drugs. In Western countries I think desis are not too far behind in sexual experimentation, it is just they may not go all the way. Fear of being killed by the family makes some not cross the limits.

    Given equal freedom, desi girls may beat their western sisters in many ways.Recommend

  • Vikram

    Author “I want my kids to grow up in a world that facilitates their creativeness, their love for music and their innate humanity ─ not a world that completely destroys it and reduces them to nothing but blind fans.”

    I don’t think you can control the world. You can encourage/facilitate your kids to be creative. You can have a family atmosphere where good music is appreciated. Music is not the only thing that can influence kids. Recommend

  • Jamshed

    well written, well written, well written….

    Your friends are heaping praises on you but they aren’t telling you to excercise your choice of skipping to the next song on your iPod. But if this is vulgar, how come you’re not writing about the acid facials women get in Pakistani society or the regular butchering that the minorities get from the hands of “men of faith”? Does that not yank your chain or is it only Nicki Minaj that gets you riled up? Doesnt the sensless ANP/ MQM violence not have an effect on youngsters? However, I get your drift. If kids are prevented from listening to trash from Nicki Minaj, problems will magically disappear from society.

    Well written indeed. I hadn’t thought of that. Recommend

  • Tim

    Is Nicki Minaj really voting Republican?

  • Anoop

    The Moral Police are here!

    I love it when Religious people take on the mantle to tell what is right and what is wrong, as if we others are dumb and cannot figure it out on our own.

    If they come and tell us that Drugs are bad, fine, but no, they get into areas which are relatively harmless and personal.

    They tell us while Music is good, many types of it is bad. If its bad then why are so many people listening to it?

    Let people be, please, oh Religiously oriented ones. Hijab, Burqa, Music, Movies, Cultural Invasion, Concerts banning, who is a Muslim or not,etc is what seems to concern you people.

    Chill out, like Nandita says. Appreciate that there are people who like that sort of Music and they would not appreciate you telling them what to do or not to do.

    Tell your Children the tales of Akbar, Gandhi and Ashoka. Give them education and some Hindustani Music lessons. Let them decide what they want to listen to. Even if they end up liking Rihanna, no worries, its just Music.

    Like all good Muslims, they will end up in Heaven, even if they end up liking Rihanna. Recommend

  • gp65

    @Falcon: “on a side note, just because human beings can make a choice does not mean that it becomes good automatically, don’t you think?”

    Don’t mean to speak on behalf of Nandita but I felt she said it like it is. I found an 18 year old trying to impose her opinion on other adults using her unborn children somewhat ridiculous as well.

    To your question about whether the choice is good or bad – well when people learn that with choices come consequences, most begin to make good choices. Of course what constitutes good choice might differ between you and them if the definition of desirable consequence differs between you and them. I might choose not to keep rozas because I do not believe in heaven. This might seem like a bad choice to you but surely as long as my choice (good or bad) does not affect you, I should have a right to make it anyway?Recommend

  • CommonSense

    Sex sells. Fact. Being a musician myself, I certainly don’t condone using such blatant displays of vulgarity in selling music but that’s how the world is. Music is viewed as a commercial product and there’s big bucks to be made. I choose to ignore this sort of music and listen to what I like. You should do the same.Recommend

  • ayesha_khan

    @BlackJack: “Madam, your desire to protect your children from harmful influences does you credit”

    Except she is 18 and was using her yet unborn kids to pull at our heartstrings.Awwwww!Recommend

  • dferger

    The Pakistani parenting technique: treat your kids like they’re stupid or mentally challenged or something. Never ever trust them to make their own decisions. Because they will always pick wrong, whereas you the parent are always right.

    End of sarcasm.

    Seriously: We are NOT the music we listen to. I mean why would you think your kids will not be able to reach the same conclusions you have? Or does everyone who listens to gangsta rap turn to a life of crime?Recommend

  • gp65

    I saw the link to the song and noticed that 61 million people had watched the You tube video which was uploaded in Jan 2012. Same as kolaveri D. Neither of that caters to my style, but then democracy does not mean I stop people from listening to music they like. IT just means I can chose to listen to music that I like. so instead of whining about music I do not like I listen to the music I DO like. Much more empowering that way.

    Also as for your attempt to imply that raunchy videos only happen in ‘secular countries’ and not in Islamic countries like Pakistan. Big fail. I was able to find an equally raunchy Pakistani video The fact is watching a raunchy video is better than visiting a prostitute and visiting a prostitute is better than raping someone.

    One final thing I would like to leave for you to think about. Most men/women in India/Pakistan do get married at some point and will see a naked human body even if they never set their eyes on a raunchy video. But exposing kids to hate, intolerance, demonisation and oppression of the ‘other’ is not inevitable. Yet Pakistani society is letting it happen through its TV shows like aalim online, through its madrassahs and through its textbooks. Somehow no-one finds these things obscene.You are young. I urge you to rethink your definition of what is obscene and what is not.Recommend

  • just saying

    @Sarah B. Haider: “and birth control are everyday things to them”
    And if birth control was more widely practiced in Pakistan would that be a BAD thing?Recommend

  • just saying

    “Parents will hate it, so teenagers will love it – what a dirty trick”
    You are a teenager yourself – right?So clearly the trick was not as successful as you imply because you apparently DON’T love this.

    “However, what is even more disappointing is that no one seems to care, or more precisely the people who need to, don’t.”

    So who exactly are the people who NEED to care but don’t? And are you their Mom that you are disappointed in them?

    I would have said grow up except that you have pretensions of being grown up. So my advice to you – act your age.Recommend

  • Shuja Ul Islam

    @Faraz Talat:
    what did eminem do..!!??Recommend

  • Shuja Ul Islam

    why is it that all the discussions end up with…topic vs. religion..!!??Recommend

  • enlighten moderate

    Who is stopping you to make them listen to ABBA or Cat stevens? Or Nazia Hasan or junoon? Recommend

  • MonsieurCritique

    Music of today is the more diverse than has ever been before. Plus you have the internet to access the music of previous generations. So anyone who says that they don’t like music of “today” It makes me CRINGE.

    Every generation has its share of pop artists. The 60’s had the Beatles. If you listen to their earlier albums you will know that their music was also about partying and sex. Rock and metal were called the music of satan. MTV didn’t play MJ videos because he was black.

    “Parents will hate it, so teenagers will love it – what a dirty trick”
    Teenagers don’t do everything just to annoy their parents, you should know better.

    This is what pop music is all about. Making POPULAR music so that it sells. They are making it because people are buying it, not vice versa.

    “If it’s not Lady Gaga dancing in her underwear”
    I know right! Nobody wants to see her in her underwear.

    To witness their innocence being violated
    Their innocence? THEIR INNOCENCE? That was gone a long time ago. Do you really think that some racy music videos with bad music are going to do more damage than thousands of people being killed in bomb blasts by Jihadis. really? REALLY?

    With that said I’d like to conclude by saying that Dark Side OF The Moon is THE best album ever!

    One more thing Kids, PLEASE don’t watch porn, nudity. When you watch it then fundies want to ban it even for the rest of us grownups and it is so annoying! So please don’t watch it now, you can after a few years. Promise.Recommend

  • http://localhost:8080 TightChuddhi

    Its still better than listening to Sir Zaid Zaman Hamid everyday on TV. Recommend

  • Loneliberal PK

    Sarah B Haider: “Sex Drug rock and roll, peed weed and birth control are everyday things to them”

    Waitaminut, Did you just clump ‘birth control’ with weed and other drugs?

    Yes. Heaven forbid if our teenagers ever gain access to birth control! What a nightmare that would be!Recommend

  • Asad

    We illegally download their music, so our opinion carries no value and we hold no right to criticize their work. Recommend

  • Nandita.

    @Falcon – yes dude, i came down hard on her.. I apologise for that. My thoughts are still the same but i should’ve used a milder tone maybe.

    @Author – Girl, at 18 you shouldnt think abt ur future mein hone wale kids.
    At 18, you should be worrying about finding a hot boyfriend.
    Before u go all ‘haawwww tauba’ on me, falling in love is no crime okay?Recommend

  • Mahamia

    Say it like it is, sistah. Recommend

  • Ali

    Nice article and very true, now a days people are making meaningless songs as you mentioned in article and sexuality in songs is on peak or may be we are more interested in sexual video rather than lyrics of song?Recommend

  • Cry Me a River

    I would still prefer Nicki Minaj or Rihanna because they have the (Explicit) tag for these kind of songs.

    I’m more disturbed by those Punjabi songs and videos on YouTube from Pakistan……….which use descent Artist and Song Name’s in their title instead of carrying some kind of Warning………so that you can mentally prepare yourself to watch some big boned aunties trying to be promiscuous or be quick in closing it before it destroys your psyche #LahoriTerrorismRecommend

  • Waleed

    This is a good example of the pornification of our culture…totally agree.Recommend

  • Adrian D’Souza

    Has anyone actually listened to the music? It is simply noise pollution- behind the glitter, glam and commodified sex the husk that is the song is just a simple beat and line repeated ad nasuem.

    If you actually listened to to Nicki Minaj you would realize that this crap which cannot be called music does not even make sense in the english language. Recommend

  • Vigilant

    You are comparing Arts with Business……….Crap sold in the name of Arts and music is just Good business and with passage of time it will become worseRecommend

  • RK Singh

    so madonna’s music of yester-years was good?Recommend

  • Noise

    Thats what happens when you only silent to rap and hip hop. Listen to another genre, like rock or techoRecommend

  • Furqan

    Excuse me for being rude but I think that the OP is just trying to get some attention by jumping on the bandwagon of hating mainstream music. You are not bound to listen to what the majority likes. There are gazillions of brilliant artists out there, feel free to listen to what you like. Blabbering about this on the internet wouldn’t make any difference at all, I will just create hate and frustration. Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Our time is filled with hysterical debris of meaningless music just to please our minds and starve our souls. Listening to music such as this is like trying to please our thirst by drinking alcohol even though we know water to be the true source of nourishmentRecommend

  • wolfie loves kulfi

    Sexist and vulgar: Why is this the music of today?

    Ms. Maidah Khalid..
    you live in a democratic country
    you have the chance to exercise ur right
    as you have the option to switch off ur radio or TV
    if u dont like what u listen
    problem solved

  • Tolzoh

    Loved your article and ill agree that singers such as lady gaga and minaj are like termites eating the core essence of good music. anyone who says otherwise is an idiot and has never listened to good music..that’s what i believe!Recommend

  • H.

    Just so you know Nicki Minaj’s “stupid hoe” is making fun of various actresses, singers, and stars.

    and she’s really sarcastic and enjoys shenanigans in general

    Also, the famous composer Mozart wrote a song called “Lick My rear end” and this was WELL BEFORE the 1900s, mind you.

    and Ke$ha sounds nice when she turns off the annoying autotune, she’s just playing a joke on us all.

    So yeah- jokes flying over your head, unable to take a few cuss words, and not doing any research….

    starts singing “you a stupid hoe” and dancing in a ridiculous, taunting mannerRecommend

  • Harry

    Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Def Leppard, Green day, U2, Linkin Park, Cold Play, Red Hot Chilli Pepper, Dido, 3 Doors Down etc Recommend