This week rapper T.I. and his wife, Tameka “Tiny” Harris, were accused of sex trafficking and forcing women to take drugs.

These accusations stemmed from a social media post from Tiny’s former friend, Sabrina Paterson. Paterson alleged that T.I. pulled out a gun and put it to her head. Soon after Paterson’s claims made their way to the world, multiple stories of T.I. and Tiny drugging and coercing women to engage in sexual acts started to surface.

Victim accounts implicate Tiny as the orchestrator of these perverse encounters.

As details about T.I. and Tiny’s exploits come to light, it showcases the avoidance of acknowledging rape culture and sexual assault crimes in Hip-Hop. The genre has always been a lightning rod for misogyny and violence. But even with society’s new level of awareness, it doesn’t face the level of scrutiny that it should.

There have been countless stories of sexual misconduct in Hip-Hop. Often these accusations are attributed to the sexually charged identity that the genre assumed in the ’90s. But in reality, these assaults were taking place in Hip-Hop’s so-called innocent phase as well.

The Fall of Afrika Bambaataa

Afrika Bambaataa on stage

Afrika Bambaataa

Hip Hop pioneer and leader of the Universal Zulu Nation, Afrika Bambaataa, was accused of molesting young men in the ’80s. The first victim came forth in 2016. Shortly after, three more men confessed that Bambaataa assaulted them, as well.

The Universal Zulu Nation dissociated itself from Bambaataa and other members who engaged in similar crimes or aided in covering up Bambaataa’s wrongdoings. They also apologized to his victims. Bambaataa hasn’t been convicted because of New York’s statute of limitations.

The Trial of Robert Kelly

Aaliyah and R. Kelly in the 90s

Aaliyah and R. Kelly

R.Kelly’s ongoing saga is the most notorious case regarding Hip Hop and sexual misconduct. Although evidence of his perversions didn’t hit the mainstream until the sex tape, Kelly’s marriage to protege Aaliyah was one of the industry’s worst kept secrets.

Kelly married Aaliyah when he was 27 and she was only 15. Their marriage license indicated that she was 18. In the documentary Surviving R. Kelly, Kelly’s camp admitted that they were aware of the couple’s marriage. Some even confessed to helping to facilitate the illegal union.

Kelly’s transgressions have since caught up with him. However, the complicit nature of his team and most of the industry insists they condone his actions.

Trey Songz’s Various Accusations

Trey Songz and Keke Palmer embracing at an event

Keke Palmer and Trey Songz

T.I. and Tiny aren’t the only contemporary stars to face these sorts of accusations. Singer Trey Songz found himself at the center of sexual misconduct accusations on more than one occasion. In 2017, Actor/Host Keke Palmer alleged that Songz sexually intimidated her into appearing in one of his videos.

Palmer’s allegations went ignored until 2018 when an unknown woman claimed Songz sexually assaulted her in a Miami nightclub. A 2020 No Jumper interview corroborated his deviancy. A third woman told Adam22 that the 36-year-old singer urinated on her after they had consensual sex and that she didn’t give him permission to do so.

With numerous accounts and evidence to support these victims’ claims, why hasn’t Hip-Hop suffered the same backlash as Hollywood during its #MeToo movement? For decades the genre has been the scapegoat for society’s decline, yet the efforts to prevent sexually cohersive situations are non-existent.

The Fall Out

The lack of attention paid towards these accusations contributes to their reoccurrence. When Black people and sexual assault victims talk about experiencing trauma, it is often glazed over, especially when the accused wields a certain level of power, popularity, and influence.

In the case of individuals like Bambaataa and Kelly, they were able to continue preying on victims with assistance from those closest to them. Their commitment to making their meal tickets happy allowed the physical, emotional, and mental abuse their bosses inflicted.

The ordeal between Trey Songz and Keke Palmer reinforces rap’s inability to listen to and protect Black women. Her call for justice and accountability didn’t receive validation until a non-Black woman sounded the alarm. The overall disregard for the safety of Black women makes them prime targets for industry predators.

Hip-Hop has done very little to secure the safety of sexual assault victims. We’ve seen the culture praise men despite their deplorable acts, only to criticize, ignore, and blame their victims.

With the recent allegations brought against one of Hip-Hop’s most celebrated couples, it may be time for T.I., Tiny, and others to face the music.

Posted in: Pop