Lola Monroe – birth name Fershgenet Melaku – is an Ethiopian-American rapper from Washington, DC signed to Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang. She is the first ever international rapper to come from DC and has been dropping lyrical bombs since she debuted in 2010. Monroe is special because she combines the swagger and braggadocio with her background as a model and her clever lyrics to create an all encompassing experience. The way she flows, moves and dresses all play a part in how she creates an experience with her music. Lola Monroe uses her potent style to exercise her agency in ways more traditional folks might not like.
In her song “Dark Red Lipstick”, Lola Monroe empowers herself and breaks down traditional views of women by flipping around 3 common tropes: the use of braggadocio, the use of popular songs about women, and women’s fashion. First, her use of bragging lyrics about how she is “the queen of these b****es” or how she just has to “pick an island out” are two examples of her demonstrating her own power. She sees herself as the top dog and expects other to see her that way as well. This is useful because it shows that she is not asking anyone to give her respect, but that she commands respect regardless. Secondly, the hook of this song makes smart use of a popular TLC song “Scrubs.” The TLC hit was about how girls don’t want men who can’t take care of themselves. However, Lola uses the same style of hook to empower herself to have fun without men at all. She dawns her dark red lipstick, red bottoms and goes out with her friends ready to “to do [her] tonight.” This is powerful because it doesn’t denounce men or make anyone the enemy. Rather, Monroe focuses on what she is doing and where she is going without a care in the world for other people’s opinions on the matter. Finally, Lola Monroe uses the way that she dresses as a way of empowering herself. Her hook talks about the way that she is dressing for a night out, but it does not frame her beautiful and expensive clothes as means of attracting a potential man. Instead, she send the message that the way she dresses is for herself. She likes the dark red lipstick, tight dress and red bottoms, and that’s why she wears them. Of course she knows that she looks good in the outfit, but that isn’t for her to look good for a man, it’s to look good for herself. This song overall is a strong expression of feminism and agency from an artist who has had a lot of experience in commanding both her body and her mind.