The Playlist highlights a plethora of hip hop styles from the women of Africa. All the artists help break a prevalent and ubiquitous norm typical in African Hip Hop today while still speaking of their own success using braggadocio. While watching the videos and listening to songs, you should think about first gender norms. The first three artists, Rouge, Gigi Lamayne, and Natasha Beckley all break the societal norm in hip hop of men being the alpha male viewed in music. They all use their voice to sexualize men, express their sexual experience, relationships, and dating a man. It is more common for men to speak about their sexual encounters and normally men are the more predominant gender when issues of relationships and sex are spoken about in rap. However, these three artists break that norm in a unique way. The songs transition from a raw and straightforward denial and complete gender switch by Rouge and transitions to the topic of just wanting sex by Lamayne, it then transitions to Beckley as she brings a combination of braggadocio and introduces viewers to a male counterpart being used to appease the main artist rather than a man. The last two artists speak of society’s lack of representation in hip hop. The artist Dope Saint Jude reveals the lack of representation of the LGBTQ community in hip hop, while Enny reveals the lack of black women. The transition from Beckley to Dope Saint Jude is used to combine their similar message of braggadocio and confidence in their art while introducing the social norm of misrepresentation. Enny is meant to end the playlist in a more light and soulful way while introducing the misrepresentation of black women. Braggadocio links all these artists as one because they are vocal about how powerful and talented they know they are.
No strings by Rouge
This first song speaks about a woman not wanting to be attached in a relationship with a man. The common storyline in Hip Hop shows the women always wanting the relationship and being known as the “Person who always catches feelings.” However, Rouge breaks this as she switches the gender roles normally seen. The video shows her dressed casually like a tomboy while the man is very dressed up. She exclaims, “If you leave I won’t even cry for you…You’ve been catching feelings.” It is important to move away from the single story of women being the ones who always catch feeling in hip hop today. Rouge does well to dedicate her entire song in flipping the common script.
Mojo Jojo by Gigi Lamayne
This song transitions to the theme of sex in hip hop culture. It is very common even in American hip hop that male artists speak about sex. However, Lamayne instantly starts off her rap by saying, “I don’t wanna talk right now, I just wanna fu#k right now.” Since the beginning of time, it was seen as taboo in society for women to just flagrantly speak about sex; meanwhile, Lamayne breaks this norm by entertaining the talk of casual sex. She continues to speak about her “Kitty” very confidently with disregard to how others may feel. As Rouge disregards the notion of courtship from women, Lamayne follows up in disregarding the secrecy in talking about casual sex.
Thonon by Natasha Beckley
Beckley follows up by introducing viewers to the sexualization of men rather than women in music videos. If you pay close attention, throughout the video she has a strong, muscular, black man as her counterpart to make her look good. Even as she exclaims lyrics like, “Sonning these Nigg#s” she still rubs up against the man in the video feeling his muscle as well. This is interesting because in hip hop videos it’s always women with bodacious bodies who get hypersexualized even when the lyrics are used negatively towards them. Beckley does well in giving men a taste of their own medicine in music by flipping the roles in hypersexualizing a man.
Keep in Touch by Dope Saint Jude
Keep in touch is an active song featuring Dope Saint Jude who is a queer hip hop artist. She transitions us to the problem of the lack of representation of the LGBTQ community in African hip hop. She shows the same confidence and braggadocio of her talents like Beckley while still drawing attention to the lack of representation. Even the feature of Angel Ho, helps raise awareness of this problem as she comes in strong by bluntly revealing that she is a South African woman. Both their eccentric looks bring something very different to hip hop.
Peng Black Girls by Enny
Enny does well in speaking and showing the lack of representation of all shades of black women in hip hop. As the video starts, she shows a plethora of different skin tones. She also continues to speak on the different shapes and sizes of women with lyrics like, “Thick lips, got hips, some of us don’t.” She is doing something society and African hip hop lacks to do, which is embracing all women black women, not just the ones that are fetishized. This song serves as an amazing conclusion to the playlist in giving praise to the women in the playlist and showing that they are a stepping stone to the issue of diversity of black women and their representation in hip hop today.