Ethical Inquiry: What do we make of Biggie and Eminem?

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Every Thursday at noon the Philosophy DUG hosts a lunch in Wilson 101 providing anyone and everyone with free Kabob and Curry and savory conversation. The discussion led by Ben Seymour ’17 this week was no exception. Over chicken tandoori, we discussed a particularly relevant topic to Millennials, given the increased presence of mainstream rap music: things that are not okay to say on a day-to-day basis are often completely acceptable in rap lyrics. If someone happens to a slide a casual “F*ck b**ches, get money,” into a conversation over coffee, it probably wouldn’t be taken as lightly as it is when Biggie and Jr M.A.F.I.A. spit it on stage.

The matter did not come to a unanimous consensus in the 50 minute dialogue, but here’s the gist of what you missed:

Anyone who has listened to Biggie Smalls or Eminem is well aware that both of them produce violent, misogynistic, offensive lyrical content. While Eminem’s lyrics come from Marshall Mathers’ satirical character, Biggie’s lyrics are truer to his real-life actions. If Eminem is making a social commentary and Biggie is bringing attention to an unfortunate social reality, and both are expressing their messages through an artistic medium, how do we judge them morally?

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