Sara L Graham Boulder, CO


The men in the A$AP Rocky Video present two alternative masculinities, presented blow in images taken from the video. Screen shot 2013-01-15 at 3.57.52 PM.Screen shot 2013-01-15 at 4.18.56 PM

The man on the left resembles a young professional masculinity. This masculinity is similar to that of the man that appears in Taylor Swift’s video. The man in her video is clean cut, educated, successful and professional. This is conveyed through his grooming and apparel. The performer from the A$AP Rocky video is relatively clean cut and simply dressed without many accessories. He conveys a somewhat professional and put together look. Alternatively, in the image on the right the masculinity expresses a different masculinity. Success is conveyed through the amount of bling and gold chains he is wearing. However both masculinities in the video convey the same aggressive masculinity though the lyrics despite their differing apparel. I find it difficult to decide if the young professional masculinity is less masculine than the aggressive one. I have come to the conclusion that I don’t find either ‘less’ masculine but rather different.

Although Mackelmore’s masculinity seems to be complicated by his apparel his behavior expresses male dominant behavior similar in some way to that in the A$AP video. He is walks with a woman on each arm, goes to clubs where the girls are all over him. Unlike in the A$AP Rocky video the women and Macklemore are not separated from the performer yet they seem more to be accessories to Mackelmore. However at several points in the video he also conveys a boyish masculinity. For example, such as the scene where he is wearing footie pajamas, sitting on the table and dancing. Macklemore’s video thus seems to bridge the gap between the most masculine and the ‘least’ masculine, New Direction. New Direction’s video is only the least masculine because it is so boyish. They try on different masculinities that are both time and location specific. They’re ‘playing’ makes them seem both young and charming but not traditionally masculine.


2 thoughts on “Sara L Graham Boulder, CO

  1. I think that the connection that you draw between the two types of masculinity in the A$AP Rocky video is really interesting and not one that I picked up on. But now that you mention it, it makes me wonder if the two types of masculinity depicted exist in the video to suggest that the lyrics and message conveyed are universally masculine. The more professionally dressed man is rapping about the same things that the man with all the bling is rapping about. And if not, what is the function/purpose of one man being more professionally dressed and the others more casual? And why are the men “allowed” to be more casually dressed? The women are all made up and are not wearing a baggy t-shirt and jeans.

  2. A Second Thought on Sara’s Post

    I think that you raise a very interesting point about the emphasis on physical grooming and adherence to standards of masculinity. I think that in A$AP Rocky’s video the masculinity that the artists exude is created by a careful navigation of physical displays of masculinity. For example, the jewelry that is worn is used to elevate the status of the men and reinforce their masculinity; when the artists engage in the elaborate displays of hand waving, there is an emphasis on their jewelry. In this way, a marker of femininity (use of heavy jewelry or accessory to accent attire) is clearly gendered male. A$AP Rocky doesn’t wear any jewelry in the portion of the video when he is wearing “professional clothing,” which presents another form of black masculinity that is celebrated in the video. Rocky and Lamar both wear the professional clothing, and they express the same sentiments about masculine behaviors and attitudes toward women, uniting narratives about what being masculine means but providing different bodily images of it. Rocky also boasts about others wanting to emulate his image to attract women. Rocky is the only artist to use the “N” word as both a descriptor of a positive identity and a label for himself. Other artists, such as Drake, use the “N” word to describe men who fail to successfully perform both masculinity and sexuality and get “led on” by women. In this way, this video proposes an interesting incompatibility between the artists’ use of the “N” word to comment on masculinity and the value of the men they sing about. The artists all forward similar beliefs about women and masculinity, yet the artists themselves describe their differences as mutually exclusive, which is fascinating to me.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s