Psychological abuse can come in several different forms; gaslighting, manipulating, lying. We fall privy to it quite a bit in romantic relationships. Being on the receiving end can create a lifetime of emotional damage, making it difficult to trust and difficult to love. Accusations can be turned against you, your sanity can be questioned, and evidence can be denied. You can be called crazy when in reality, it was the mixed signals and empty promises that gave you a false sense of hope. It can be telling a woman what she wants to hear so that you can have sex with her just to never call her back, making it seem as though she was clingy for no reason. It can result in a woman becoming emotionally dependent on her partner, unable to leave him alone even though she deserves so much more. These are all factors that are relevant in the dating world for both men and women. A lot of tracks tend to downplay toxic relationships, painting women as insane gold-diggers and sluts, while neglecting to reprimand the other person’s actions. It creates the idea that emotionally abusive behavior is normal and acceptable, so long as it’s in the name of passion and love. It makes it challenging to pinpoint unhealthy habits and even harder to stand up for yourself.
Gaslighting is a fairly broad term, but it takes place in Hip-Hop in a multitude of ways. For some reason, lying to women is often approached with a degree of comedy, usually at her expense. It’s funny to see a woman so blatantly ignore the obvious signs that she’s being cheated on. One exaggerated example (although classifying it as hip-hop is a bit of a stretch) is Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me.” In the song, his girlfriend witnesses him cheating on her. As in, she physically saw him. And yet, his first instinct is to make her question what she really saw, claiming that it was someone else. Trey Songz’s “SmartPhones” has a similar concept with a modern-day twist. In the track, his significant other finds evidence of him cheating because of his cellphone. He decides that he “can come to her and lie right to her face/[he] don’t know what [he’s] gonna say but [he knows] that [he’s] gonna say whatever it takes.” Essentially, he would rather lie to his girl and make her doubt what she heard instead of own up to his mistakes. The ending of the song implies that he’s blaming phones for cheating when in reality it was just a matter of time before he got caught. Moreover, Metro Boomin and NAV’s “Held Me Down” also discusses what happens when a partner gets caught cheating. In the song, he confesses that he “[hates] to hurt [her], cameras showing everything that [he] do, piece of shit, [he] got a side bitch and [he] lies to her too.” Once again, he got caught. There is evidence of him cheating, and yet he is going to lie and deflect to get out of it. He’ll make his girl question what’s right in front of her by taking advantage of her love and trust. The reality is any chance of salvaging the relationship would come with confessing. By lying and manipulating her even more, that respect and last bit of trust are thrown out the window. If you had more respect, you would be open and honest rather than trying to twist the facts.
The most ridiculous example of manipulating the situation that I’ve seen goes to Tech N9ne. In his track, “Worst Enemy,” he goes on a rant directed towards his best friend who somehow fucked him over and became his worst enemy. At first, the reasoning is a bit unclear. We just know that it was something bad. It takes an even weirder turn when he mentions that he “even let [him] have sex with [his] lady like a G.” I didn’t know that that’s what guy best friends do to solidify their bond, but I guess I’m not here to judge. The reason behind his anger starts to emerge from the shadows as Tech N9ne raps that his girl became “infatuated with [his friend] and not [him],” but that he chose to get back with her anyway. Still a little confused, but wait for it. He continues on to tell his friend that “[he] fucked it up by letting her know [he] was creeping around, with every chick in the town.” This is definitely starting to feel like a YOU problem. Maybe it’s guy code to not tell a girl that your friend is cheating on her, but maybe you just shouldn’t have sex with every woman in town. But don’t worry, the song isn’t over yet. As Tech continues to blame his friend, rapping that “[he] lost [his] life because of [him]! [He’s] losing [his] wife because of [him]! [He] even had sex and a baby with the crazy bitch [he] introduced [him] to,” I can’t help but laugh. What the hell is this man going on about? The answer finally comes at the end (no pun intended-you’ll see why) because he finalizes the song by announcing that this whole time, he was talking to… Yes. His dick. This grown-ass man dared to deflect the blame onto his penis. Fellas, this is easily the worst way to garner sympathy from a partner if you’ve cheated on them. We know you were only thinking with one thing in mind, but we still hope that you’re a little bit smarter than that.
Another form of manipulation is intentionally acting as though your partner isn’t of any importance, despite your actions and feelings of possessiveness. There’s no surprise that Eminem’s crazy-ass made it on the list. He spends all of “Superman” talking about his past and how he got fucked over while being in love, causing him to be uninterested in relationships. He raps about not helping toxic women with their shit and urges men to follow suit when they see red flags, especially after his marriage. And that’s when things get hilarious. This man really calls out women with issues, but then goes on to rap, ” yeah, we fucked–bitch, so what? That’s about as far as your buddy goes. We’ll be friends again, I’ll call you again. I’ll chase you around every bar you attend. Never know what kinda car I’ll be in.” Let’s break this down a bit. So, you’re going to have sex with a woman, and say that that’s as far as it goes. That’s fine, you’ve already stated you don’t want a relationship. But despite not wanting to be in a relationship, he’ll exude a fit of jealousy that says differently, following her to bars and stalking her from different cars. Getting angry when she’s out living her life. Something that’s not even okay if they were in a relationship. The lack of communication and grey areas in dating are so prevalent, especially today, that it creates dangerous situations that can lead to a lot of mind games. We also see this lack of clear intentions exemplified in Childish Gambino’s “Heartbeat.” In the track, he’s hooking up with his ex-girlfriend who is cheating on her current boyfriend, all while he also has a girl. However, he sets up his significant other by saying that he’s “chilling with [his] girlfriend, but she’s not [his] real girlfriend. She’s got a key to [his] place, but she’s not [his] real girlfriend.” Does she know that she’s not your real girlfriend? Because I have been in that position and the first thing I can say is RUN. This is very much a ‘wanting your cake and eating it too’ situation. First off, you can’t get mad at your ex for having a boyfriend if you’re sitting here stringing along this poor girl who’s getting wrapped up in this messiness. You’re both at fault, and because of your decisions, there are casualties.
Sex also tends to get treated like a game in Hip-Hop. Like guys rap about having sex with women as if it’s a sport. It determines how much money you have, how much game you spit, how your reputation precedes you. Some rappers brag about all of the money and time they put into courting a woman, just to have sex with her and never talk to her again. Others talk about how easy it was to get her, simply because of their name. Not only do they make it seem like an easy accomplishment, but then they act as if they did her a favor, and now she’s head over heels in love. In Rich The Kid, Rick Ross, and Jay Critch’s “Made It,” they rap about how they “fuck her one time then she needs [them].” Is it because you provided her with financial assistance? Maybe you were actually really nice to her when courting her? It’s such an immature and presumptuous mentality. Similarly, in the Migos’ “Beast,” they rap that “she suck and [they] fuck her, delete.” This isn’t just a famous rapper thing. Broke dudes do this in real life too, and no matter the circumstance, this isn’t cute. It isn’t respectful, and it makes the girl feel like shit. Why brag about it? The worst is, as soon as that girl calls, she’s clingy or crazy. Maybe she’s calling you to tell you that she doesn’t want to see you again? Why is the first assumption that she magically can’t live without you?
And let’s not ignore the fact that all of a sudden, because a woman hits you up, she’s crazy. Well, did you do something to provoke her? Are you actually innocent in this situation? And how crazy is she actually acting? Like in 2 Chainz’ “One Day At A Time,” he raps that he “[wished] that pussy had a sign on it, that said, ‘want it, if you hit it then you mine/’damn, that crazy bitch on that crazy shit.” Call me naive, but I think if you have sex with a woman, it’s fair for her to believe that you have some level of interest in her. And if you’re just desperate enough to have sex with anyone, then the blame can’t be put on her. You had to have said something enticing enough to get her to agree to sleep with you, and even if it’s just what she wants to hear, you can’t blame her for believing it.
The irony of it all is that while these same artists are complaining about women being crazy, they also seem to fetishize it. It’s as if there’s the right amount of crazy. And god forbid her anger is justifiable. In Lil Wayne’s “Amazin Amie,” he simultaneously complains and brags that “that’s my lil’ baby, but that bitch so crazy, that bitch gon kill me, and then she’ll be famous, that’ll be crazy.” First of all, you have some strange priorities if you think this person is going to kill you and your first instinct is to think about how she’ll become famous. He doesn’t seem to mind that his life is in danger. If anything, that seems like the appeal of the relationship. The way the word crazy gets thrown around when referring to women is exhausting. This seems like an applicable use of the word, and even then, its connotations are confusing. This post has shown that a woman is also crazy if she cares too much, or if she’s paranoid because you’ve given her reason to be.
Russ sets a ridiculous standard with his song, “Down For You,” when he raps that “[he needs] a crazy bitch that’s down for [him]. [He needs] a little something wild and free. [He needs] the right amount of attitude, she checks herself but she checks [him] too.” What the hell is the right amount of attitude?! 38%?! He also continues his thoughts by exclaiming that he doesn’t want “the type of crazy that don’t let [him] breathe.” So basically, you want a girl who will give you attitude over small things but will leave you alone if you cheat on her. Is that what we’re getting at? Only crazy when it’s cute? The glorification of crazy is convenient; it molds itself to fit certain narratives, painting women as psychos when they stand up for themselves, and as submissive pushovers when they turn a blind eye. Unfortunately, we do also see situations in which the anger and aggression are reciprocated, advocating for Joker/Harley Quinn type relationships.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to break a vicious cycle, and toxic love can be like an addictive drug. I’ve definitely given people more chances than they deserve, and sometimes you just want to overlook those red flags. Sometimes the physical chemistry is just too much, overpowering your senses. For instance, in Jeezy’s “Leave You Alone,” he recognizes his own faults, hoping that “this time [he’ll] be different cause she shed so many tears.” To see your partner cry because of your actions is heart-breaking, but to continue your behavior is cruel. He complains that “she’ll remind [him] of all the dumb shit that’s he done over the years. But she don’t be tripping in the morning, [he] got her legs up by her ears.” Essentially, rather than deal with their problems, he’s just going to have sex with her. That seems practical. Also, we really need to erase the stigma that a woman reprimanding you for hurting her, especially when she’s giving you another chance, is just annoying nagging. It completely downplays her emotions to make it seem like she’s overexaggerating and what you did wasn’t that big of a deal, when she’s entitled to her feelings. That shit feels awful. Kash Doll’s “Krazy” is a bit more extreme, but shows the turbulence that goes into an abusive relationship, downplaying the violence as if it’s normal. According to LouGotCash, “she tried to stab [him], she tried to [shoot] him/she tried to dropkick [him]/then she tried to hit [him] with a two-piece. This bitch so crazy/but [he] like it.” Kash Doll responds by saying that “[she’s] crazy, but that’s how [he] made [her]/when [he] got to actin’ shady.” Clearly, neither are in the right, but he continues to antagonize her, and she chooses to resort to violence. That blatant display of violence can also be found in Eminem’s “Kim,” along with half his discography. While their relationship was obviously extremely fucked up on both sides, his line, “you really fucked up, Kim/never knew cheatin’ on me would come back to haunt me,” makes me so angry. You did something wrong, and then you’re going to have the audacity to get angry at her for moving on. You really didn’t think it could possibly come up again as an issue in your relationship? Further in the song, the juxtaposition of saying I hate you and I love you shows just how much you can manipulate someone by telling them that you love them, and by defending your actions with those words.
Anderson .Paak’s “Without You” is an interesting example. He describes the nature of their relationship as including “all the spittin’, the cursin’, the fightin’ and fussin,” which I think can be credited to passion. But when does that passion become too much? When is it more than regular fighting, and is it better to live a passionate love full of rollercoasters and turbulence or to settle into a safe but somewhat boring relationship? This song packs a punch though. It highlights his insecurities, and how he projects them onto her. As a result, he digs for issues, ending up with problems like falsely accusing her of things. It also seems like he wasn’t very faithful, and ended up attacking her when in reality he was the cheater. Rapsody fights back, refusing to put up with his false accusations and manipulation. Instead, she straight up tells him that he “fucked up/[and she’ll] be gone by the PM.” The strength and power that’s demonstrated in not putting up with someone’s shit are truly inspiring. It shows that there is only so much disrespect that one person can take before they’re done because sometimes love isn’t enough.
I know how it feels to wonder if you’re crazy. I’ve had men ignore my feelings or try to make me feel like I’m overreacting when I’ve attempted to hold a discussion to work things out. I’ve had people flip the script on me, making it seem like it was my fault when I rightfully got emotional, or because I read into someone’s actions. It’s a horrible feeling to be lead on when the signs were clear. Manipulation is a terrible tactic, and it doesn’t just exist in love. People manipulate to get what they want and to hold a degree of power, something that is a common motif in hip-hop. Power is valuable, but it can also be abused. We need to be realistic with our expectations for women, but we also need to stop vilifying strong ones. We need to see more admiration and respect for women who won’t put up with shit, and we definitely need to reevaluate what the fuck it means to be psychotic. At some point, we need to be held accountable for our own actions, admitting when we fuck up rather than putting that burden on someone else.