“Girl Power”, by Mina la Voilée, preaches tough feminism, women’s empowerment, and just an overall sense of badass rhymes and flow in a short but sweet song dedicated to women in Senegal.
Being a female rapper in Senegal is unfortunately not as common or accepted as in other parts of Africa. Rap in general has not taken as deep of a footing in Senegal as in other places; with an overwhelmingly Muslim population from whom the genre has not been wholly welcomed. Adding on to this, Mina la Voilée, as her name suggests, (translating from French as Mina the Veiled) also wears the veil, including in her hip hop performances. Her donning of the veil in the context of hip hop, as well as her existence itself in a still overwhelmingly male-dominated hip hop industry, has earned her a fair degree of backlash, with her haters, according to thesource.com, preferring the word “satan” in their criticism of her.
Her song, as well as she herself, are an embodiment of the opposite of these haters, and are a protest against the unfair treatment of women not only in the hip hop industry, but in Africa in general, and particularly in her home country of Senegal where laws protecting women and punishing crimes like rape are far and few.
Weaving lyrics and rhymes in her satisfyingly clean flow in Wolof, repeating the phrase “Girl Power” throughout the song, as well as other phrases like “black queen” and “feminism”, and name dropping Sister Fa, an influential Senegalese female rapper, “Girl Power” stands against the idea that women do not belong in hip hop, or that they are not equal to men, that pervades across Africa.
As was discussed by Adelaja O. Oriade in “Challenging Hegemonic Masculinity in Nigerian Hip Hop: An Evaluation of Gender Representation in Falz the Bahd Guy’s Moral Instruction Album”, even some of the most frontal assaults on these problems in society and hip hop still exist within an industry plagued by them. Finding out about Genji Hip Hop, the rap collective of which Mina la Voilée is a prominent member, outside of articles discussing their intrinsic nature of female empowerment in rap, is very difficult, and just hearing a female voice on a beat in galsen hip hop is rare enough as it is. Mina la Voilée is one of the many women in Senegal leading the charge against inequality, violence against women, and traditional norms regarding women and religion, and supporting feminism, women’s rights, and of course, women in hip hop.