Dream Hampton committed the cardinal sin of hip hop last night on her Twitter thread, she dared to express her opinion. Hampton said that J Dilla was the greatest producer of all time. When another producer & hip hop icon, Pete Rock of Pete Rock and CL Smooth, took exception to her expressing this opinion, taking it as an insult to his own producing cred, he called her a groupie and a rider, short for dick rider. Men who either supported Pete Rock's sensitivity about his legacy in the game or who just disagreed with Dream's opinion also attacked her validity to have an opinion on the issue.
When Busta Rhymes, of Flip
Mode Squad and Leaders of the New School, Q-Tip, of A Tribe Called Quest, and Questlove, of The Roots, either re-weeted or agreed
with Dream's opinion, all the male hip hop heads who were up in their
feelings, or up in Pete Rock's feelings, gave them the pass of silence. None
of the negative, aggressive, or bullying comments that were lobbed at Dream
were directed towards Busta, Tip, or ?uestlove.
Furthermore, when Dream committed the
second deadly sin of hip hop, calling out the misogyny laced in the
comments she received, the volume on the bullying speech was turned up.
People demanded that Dream stop playing the sexism/male hegemony card and defend
her position. However, the gender-based comments were launched well before a
debate could take place. No one even asked Dream why that was her
opinion before Pete Rock said she should know better, he's not going to let her diss him, and FOH, short for fuck outta here, as in get the fuck outta here.
What does a Twitter squabble mean in the gist of hip hop? For starters, it would seem that the total dismissal of a woman's voice via gendered aggressive language is still second nature to some in hip hop culture. Again, before one person asked her why, there were several attempts to silence Dream and piss on her opinion. It's the former that's the higher offense, as the latter sometimes happens when all involved are passionate about the subject. The mean spirited knee-jerk response of Pete Rock and shameful taunting comments of his cronies that followed seems a testament to the fact that there's still a long road ahead for equal respect of women in the genre. Not just for rappers but also for people expressing an opinion, which is just sad.
The saving grace in this exchange was Hampton's refusal to be intimidated or silenced. She owned her voice and agency and never gave them up. She didn't apologize for anyone's hurt feelings or bruised ego and refused to correct an offense she didn't make. Another bright light was the show of disgust by men at the comments of an immature few. While some men tried to see both sides, others outright threw the shame back into the face of Pete Rock and his co-signers.
Be more clever. Sexism is too easy of a path to take but it may be the only path available when you have no intelligent basis for debate. Women have had and continue to have a voice in hop hip. Get over it. Women are the subjects of lyrical inspiration and they have produced some of its most memorable content. Women, including Dream Hampton, have given some of the most articulate critiques about the genre and have been its biggest guardians.
The most tragic and wholly unacceptable part of this incident is that Dream was heckled outside her home by guys who may have been adding their personal 2 cents about the Twitter argument. An immature social media response could have been a most unfortunate physical encounter for these guys who felt entitled to try to interrupt someone's life. [**Dream has since confirmed this was not the case. Not all hope is not lost!] And this is the problem with the way hip hop is presented to the masses. No respectful disagreements, only disrespectful dismissals via sexist taunts. To the people who claim to love and live for hip hop but act this way, grow up. You're old enough to know better and hip hop deserves better.