I think the way you see manhood portrayed in hip hop is deeply entrenched in American culture, not just hip hop culture. Like if you watch cowboy movies, gangster movies, action movies – you can see the same elements of manhood and masculinity in those areas that you will see in hip hop. What distinguishes hip hop from the rest of the culture is that hip hop is so blatant. Also, with hip hop you have a lot of young men who come from poverty, and other situations, that make this quest for hyper-masculinity seem much more essential.
I also love hearing a man describe how he came to understand that there are deeply ingrained problems around gender and the oppression of women:
Hurt’s relationship to some of hip hop’s lyrical content shifted soon after college, when he was hired to educate high school and college athletes about gender issues. “I didn’t know anything about ‘gender awareness’ when they hired me,” he says. “It made me nervous. I was worried my friends would think I was soft for what I was doing.” The training he received on the job, though, changed his life. “I realized for the first time that sexism and violence against women were real issues. And I felt like I could make a difference.”