In 2005, the Ying Yang Twins released “one of the greatest rap songs about sex”, titled “Wait (The Whisper Song)”. This song hit “No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop singles chart, is up for best rap performance by a duo or a group” (Ollison 2006); however, was unabashedly misogynistic. This song received incredible praise for its brilliant use of “sexy whispering”. This song apparently needs special recognition for being “simultaneously ratchet and romantic. The words might be foul, but the Twins’ presentation would make Barry White proud” (Gonzales 2013).
We observe that the video and audio simultaneously work together to actively reinforce and perpetuate the preconceived stereotypes of black males in the media and women as victims or sexual objects. “Wait” re-secures hegemonic masculinity viewing males as having power-over and females as being submissive. Throughout this essay I will present a summary of the video along with its analysis, I will then present the many different responses stemming from the music video, and finally I will explain how the video actively reinforces the stigmas resulting from hip hop/rap culture and how that effects our society.
The importance of studying the genre of hip-hop/rap is widely known is necessary in order for us to find solutions to the many controversies/issues that arise from this culture (Enck, Mcdaniel 2012). If you were to turn on your pop radio station in 2005, then you surely heard the Ying Yang Twins’ infamous “Wait (The Whisper Song)”. This song quickly became a huge hit, and shortly then after, the music video came out and seemingly trumped all other major video countdowns. Right from the start of the music video, we see nothing short of disrespectful.
We get a close up of a rich black man in a suit and sunglasses whispering extremely close to a beautiful young black woman. The black male shows power over, using whispering as a way to lure in the woman. Hey how you doin lil mama? lemme whisper in your ear Tell you sumthing that you might like to hear The line “Tell you sumthing that you might like to hear” clearly demonstrates the males power in manipulating the woman with words, which don’t necessarily have to be true, but is something they want to hear.
The attractive black woman (wearing skimpy clothing) is smiling in agreement and licking her lips. The next image shown is this same woman laying on some sort of couch (arguably looks like a coffin) touching her self and moving to the beat of the music. Throughout the video, we see recurring images of women lying nearly naked. The image is shot from an aerial view and surrounding Ying Yang Twins. These women are shown squirming around with their hands all over him. Some may interpret this as the females “asking for it” or fighting for attention (The Careless Language of Sexual Violence).
Within the song we hear the insolent and explicit lyrics following with women responding positively to these condescending and degrading ords. Consequently, this sets a bad example for younger boys, saying that if you talk to a woman like this, she will respond like the other females do. The next lyrics I choose to highlight demonstrates male domination. And they say a closed mouth don’t get fed So I don’t mind asking for head These lyrics are suggesting that this woman has no other choice, but to perform oral sex. It exemplifies how females have no power and can’t negotiate.
The camera pictures a woman nodding and licking her lips, which reinforces the woman as a submissive and sexual object. This gives the wrong message to many young men. It gives them the idea that it’s okay to say these things to women, and by saying these things, they will lure them in. In the black community, apparently in order to be masculine, one has to “get women”. The chorus of the song does not any better, “Ay bitch! Wait till you see my dick! Imma beat dat pussy up! “. These lines are simply degrading. They reinforce black males as aggressive and violent.
It gives viewers the idea that disrespecting women will lead to sex. While the lyrics are being ‘whispered’, we see an image of a woman holding a champagne bottle. Once she shakes it, the bottle pops and the foam starts to come out. This is a clear symbol of male ejaculation. Throughout the video, there is no sense of pleasure or power presented for the woman, women are only presented as actively participating in their own self objectification. Throughout the music video we constantly are fronted with images of money, cars, and women, all of which reinforce black masculinity in hip-hop culture.
The next scene I choose to highlight includes the Ying Yang Twins. Here we see one of them stick their key into the ignition of their expensive car, the engine revs, and the girl who is standing in the headlights begins to twerk… yet another symbol of sex. It could be argued that the two males are participating in “girl watching” (Gendered/Sexed Communication). These two men are sitting in the car looking at each other and then nodding, they are clearly evaluating and examining this young black woman who is dancing in the headlights with little clothing.
Having that expensive car and beautiful woman is used to symbolize the essence of manhood and materialistic power within the black community. After watching this music video and listening to the lyrics, a variety of different responses came about. One scholar reacts to a critics explanation of the ‘Wait: The Whisper Song”: “In the supposedly feminist New York Times, critic Kelefa Sanneh called the song ‘one of the year’s best and weirdest hits in which the rappers were hissing sexual promises so explicit they almost sounded like threats’. Almost?
But it gets worse… Sanneh praised the song in advance as ‘crude, gimmicky, unnerving and strange – which is to say, perfect”‘(Brent Bozell 2005). Brent Bozell makes it clear that he is in utter shock and disagreement with the New York Times critic, Kelefa Sanneh. He finds it ridiculous how one could miss the frequent and clear misogynistic lyrics. In the article “As women suffer to the beat”, interviewer Reed Baker (a New York-based hip-hop record producer and chief executive of Sophist Productions) asks Nicole Marzan, about her thoughts on the catchy song.
She says, “No matter the club I went to last year, an upscale joint or a hole in the wall, women in the place flocked to the floor whenever “Gold Digger” or “Wait” boomed through the speakers”. Baker responds by asking, “How do you expect the media or anybody else to get upset about these songs when the women don’t? “. She hesitates, then says, “Women — the women I know — concentrate on the hooks and the beats, anyway. There’s a general unawareness of the lyrics. ” (Ollison 2006). This genre of music has generated many different responses, and sometimes none at all.
Ytasha Womack explains, “Overt misogyny is common in rap music, and executives, artists and fans have been silent about that fact for years. But the lack of outcry has consequences, say those who are angered that popculture enthusiasts accept rap music’s sexist images and that young women, in particular, seem numb to the impact those images have on their lives” (Womack 2004). Johnnie Walker, president of the National Association of Black Women in Music and Entertainment in New York City states, “We as women are the biggest perpetuators of what we see [and hear] because we don’t say anything about it”.
She says, “We want to be a part of what’s popular, and there’s a huge segment of us who just go along with it” (Womack 2004). In response to these misogynistic music videos, Rose, a professor of American Studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz, explains that in order for change to occur, ‘Women need to protest, and they need to protest loudly, being clear that they are not trying to attack hip-hop, capitalism or black men, but an attack on misogyny period”(Womack 2004). This process is not simple.
Getting women to speak up about these issues are no easy. “Young women aren’t educated on the pitfalls of sexism”, Rose says. “They’re told that men are being men, and sexism is an acceptable part of life”( Womack 2004). Hip-hop and rap culture is and might always be this controversial issue that our society is stuck with, unless more people step up to make a change. There is an extreme amount of evidence that shows just how much these artists are making out of misogynistic, degrading, and stereotypical black songs/ videos.
These producers continue to portray images of what the black community thinks black should be, and they do so because it sells; however, with all of these stereotypical images of black rappers in the media, the black male identity remains trapped. With that, black women become projected images of sexual eroticism and misogynistic values. Michael Eric Dyson reminds us “that patriarchy and sexism and misogyny are triedand-true American traditions from which hip hop derives its understanding of how men and women should behave and what roles they should play” (2007).
These videos containing many well-known artists set the wrong example for black youth in their developmental stages. These artists are people have a huge fan base and many kids aspire to follow in their footsteps. However, they are giving out the wrong message and pushing further the stereotypical black identity in hip-hop culture. It’s no surprise that “there are many issues which have been listed within hip-hop that detract from its original purpose, and our youth have become more accepting of the negative stereotypes promoted by popular mass media”(Speer 2014).
Author of “Hip-Hop and Black Identity”, Nina Speer explains an important issue that needs to be addressed. “Despite the inconsistencies in the lyrics in popular hip-hop songs and the listener’s conflicting moral values, many young people choose to intake these negative stimuli”, which has led to an overall negative reaction towards their identity (2014). According to ——”the media is a constant construction of footage, manipulating reality and distorting our depictions of life” (Media).