Abena Rockstar: “Commas and Karma”

Abena Rockstar is a Ghanian rapper and songwriter from Kumasi. She released a debut album, the Harvest Season LP, in March 2019. The music video, “Commas and Karma”, was released last year. According to this week’s reading,Challenging Hegemonic Masculinity in Nigerian Hip Hop: An Evaluation of Gender Representation in Falz the Bahd Guy’s Moral Instruction Album, “Over the years, the genre has evolved from its historic social justice advocacy to a brand that is replete with themes that project hypermasculinity, violence, drug use, misogyny, homophobia, and sexual objectification of women”. As a result, many female rappers use braggadocio to prove themselves in a male dominated genre. This can be heard not only in their music, but also in the visuals as well. Music videos are such an important first impression for many artists and if you have unique visuals, it can really solidify your audience. In “Commas and Karma”, Abena Rockstar decides to take a different approach. She uses nature as the background for her music video. She also celebrates dark skin people by showcasing them in this video. This goes against the norm because male rapper’s music videos are notorious for not celebrating dark skin women in their videos. The representation in this video can be compared to British Nigerian rapper Enny’s music video, Peng Black Girls. Instead of using braggadocio, she takes a softer approach. It shows a more vulnerable side to her, while still keeping that confidence that hip hop is associated with. According to this week’s reading, “women are described with demeaning terms such as ho, bitches, and gold diggers. Also, the women are objectified through the lyrics and dressings in music videos as tools for the man’s lecherous pleasure  and as such aligns into the patriarchal societal norms that regard the woman in gender discourse as the dependent ‘other’”. A lot of times female rappers can be categorized in the hypersexual category and that can get them a lot of traction. This category is a response to male rappers using women as the center of their sexual prowess. Abena Rockstar being able to solidify her own style creates more diversity among female rappers.

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