Cleo IceQueen’s Message in “Dreamers”

“Dreamers” by Cleo IceQueen was released in January 2021. It features Tio Nason and promotes perseverance and hope. The song is primarily sung in Black American slang and its video is black and white, establishing a dream-like mood. 

The purpose of the song is inspiration with lyrics such as “the word will try to break you/take a look in the mirror/don’t you dare let em change you” and “dey issa Queen issa King you the main show.” These lyrics encourage self-love and self-motivation. The music video accentuates these themes by featuring exceptional individuals like Evelyn Mulenga Malama, a cancer survivor and founder of the Nthazi Cancer Foundation; Christine Chama, the first ever female president of Unzadesa who is also differently abled; and Chaka Chella, a choreographer and content creator. Malama, Chama and Chella demonstrate that one can fight their unpleasant situations and meet their goals. 

In addition, IceQueen repeatedly looks to God as a source of hope in the song. She raps, “God’s time/God’s plan,” “I pray to God for more life,” and “Live in the moment but praying to see better times.” The rapper declares her spiritual beliefs, a decision that is not typically fashionable in hypermasculine spaces like the hip hop industry. While God may be acknowledged in songs, his dominance over an emcee’s life is not frequently highlighted as it lessens the emcee’s masculinity by showing he/she/they may not be tough or commanding enough.

IceQueen plays into the hypermasculinity of the industry by sexualizing herself in the music video. As aforementioned, the video is primarily black and white, but IceQueen’s dress is hot pink. At that, the video begins with her laying on the ground touching herself suggestively. Her behaviorisms in the video confirm Adelaja O. Oriade’s remark that “…female musicians have become willing partners in the subjugation of women…” This is peculiarly precise because the song is about hope and has no relation to sex appeal. 

On top of that, IceQueen conforms to this culture by presenting a one dimensional view of single mothers in the song. She raps, “…this for every single mother raising up the daughters/working hard every day to stay alive…” As a single mother herself, she recognizes the hardships that these groups of women go through. She even raps about raising her son: “on the throne of my legacy/got a young King and he icy/ruthless like a storm…” In hip hop, mothers are painted as individuals who shape virtuous people. IceQueen complies with this ideology and fails to paint the multidimensional identities that these mothers have. It is notable however, that this song is about hope, thus it would not make much sense to provide a complete picture of these women

Therefore, while there is truth in the notion that women have become participants in their own oppression, one should not ignore that women’s success in hip hop often depends on their willingness to conform to this hypermasculine culture. It could thus be that women engage with this tradition in order to gain commercial success. 

All things considered, the music video of ‘Dreamers’ presents an appropriate case study on the position of women in the hip hop industry. The decision to include outstanding people fits perfectly into the reassuring tone of the song.  

References:

Adelaja O. Oriade. (2020). “Challenging Hegemonic Masculinity in Nigerian Hip Hop: An Evaluation of Gender Representation in Falz the Bahd Guy’s Moral Instruction Album”. International Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, Vol:14, No:9, 785-790.

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