13 thoughts on “Wet Dog

  1. I would be curious to know what the author, and your classmates think of the overtly misogynistic lyrics and attitudes many of today’s rappers adopt? I don’t know, call me a synic, but it renders the idea of rap music as “spiritual” somewhat hard to swallow. Could be I’m just not privy to enough of the genre to make an educated statement, but based on what I hear on the radio and MTV? Yikes.

    Hi buddy! Long time no visit- sorry about that. 🙂

  2. The disparity between the roots and the modern message of rap music is one Pinn acknowledges . . .

    “For some, there is a paradox at work, a form of existential slippage between stated commitments to a particular religious vision and the system of ethics expressed in the music . . . We may not find the resolution offered by certain artists appealing, when such sensibilities do not raise a critique concerning oppressive attitudes and behaviors. Nonetheless, this should not mean a lack of attention paid to the nature of confrontation with the “religious” that is expressed in their work.”

  3. Years ago I saw a huge billboard here in Australia advertising some rapper from the US. It showed a muscular guy without his shirt on, bandana tied around his head, in a crouched stance with a gun in one hand and a chain in the other.

    I remember thinking to myself at the time, “who needs that sort of poisonous cultural pollution here?”

    I’d love to be in that classroom to discuss rap and try and understand how such things can be passed off as somehow beneficial.

    I suspect that the elephant in the room is white guilt and a true exchange of information doesn’t happen. I wonder how your black classmates would react after hearing some racists remarks about their smell that I’ve heard?

    I’ve also been thinking lately about much of the “entertainment” that I see coming out of the US. In so many cases it focuses on simplistically solving problems with violence. The police are often shown as either incompetent, impotent or corrupt and the government as indifferent to the plight of the downtrodden. It comes as no surprise to me that there is so much violence in rap lyrics when I can imagine that any doubts that blacks have about the society they live in, are reinforced and amplified in the entertainment media.

    If you doubt what I’m saying about how people are affected by what they watch as entertainment, then take a look at young guys (not just the black ones) when they come out of a Kung Fu movie or action flick.

    As for the religious content that may be found in rap, I see that as an indication of a mindset that is set and not open to negotiation. When one is dealing with faith, one is dealing with beliefs that aren’t supported by facts. It all becomes so black and white. Your one of us or not. You are either right or wrong. So absolute, with very little wiggle room or grey areas and sitting on the fence becomes a bad thing.

  4. Razz,

    One interesting thing about the class is the professor’s recognition of the fact that there is a big difference between religion and spirituality.

    As I understand it, religion is a set of beliefs adhered to by a community of like-minded individuals. There is structure in religion found in ritual and community-based theological dialogue.

    Spirituality, on the other hand, is a very personal outworking of attitudes and beliefs about the human experience, informed by some sort of understanding of our relationship with the divine, however that is defined by the individual.

    Obviously, the two meet up on occasion. But spirituality is much more slippery and subjective . . . harder to pin down. Thus, how one works out their spirituality can me misunderstood or criticized more readily, especially when that spirituality spills out in public discourses such as music or entertainment.

    In this sense, the “mindset” that you refer to, if I understand your use of the word correctly, is much more open to interpretation and not contingent on the existence of hard facts.

    As the class is only one week old, we have yet to get down to the core concern many commenters have expressed: How can any form of entertainment that is in myriad ways so coarse have any redeeming spiritual quality?

    I guess we’ll see . . .

  5. I’ve read that before, just like that, “Why do white people smell like wet dogs when they come in from the rain?”

    It was on the site stuffwhitepeoplelike.wordpress.com in one of the comments sections.

    MTV has an excellent documentary about how rap and hip hop got started, can’t remember the name, but it was just playing a couple of weeks ago. If I find the name I’ll come back and link.

  6. A few years ago I had a black workstudy, and a couple of her friends were in my office, along with a few other kids, and we were clowning each other and I made a comment to one of the white girls about how I’m the only white guy that doesn’t smell like a wet dog, and ALL the blacks girls lost it…like the fuckin’ def comedy jam…and the white folks that were there just looked at me. It’s one of the best kept secrets in the black community. Just like the word “spoda” is for us. Not many white folks know we “smell like wet dogs”. But the spodas probably don’t realize they smell like coconuts, so I guess it’s all relative.

    Funny shit.

  7. Kitty,

    Yeah, I guess the word is getting out. We’ll all be buying umbrellas tomorrow . . . let me know if you find that link.

    Joon,

    Long time, so chat! I recognized your name immediately. It’s a pleasure having you here at The Cheek. Chime in more often, my friend. It’d be a hoot having you in this class . . . “spoda” . . . I haven’t heard that in a while. Had to look it up online. According to the Urban Dictionary . . .

    “A black person who doesn’t know how to speak English properly.

    Derogatory term to describe uneducated blacks. Not necessarily intended as an insult but could be used as such . . .

    A derogatory term used for blacks, following the definition as spoda, short for “suppose to”, can used to call blacks because they’re never doing what their “spoda” be doing.”

    I’ll have to run that one by my prof . . .

  8. On his “Untitled” album, Nas raps . . .

    “They say I’m all murder, murder and kill, kill / What about Grindhouse and Kill Bill”

    Those films are obviously artistic expressions and not based on any sort of reality. Pinn writes . . .

    “It is quite likely that much of what is expressed in rap music is not meant to be taken literally.”

    Violence happens. But does Nas have a point?

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