Posted in Diaspora, Female Emcees, Ghana, South Africa, Student Projects

Gender Roles of Women Around the Globe

The two videos I selected for my fourth blog was Kisses by Fifi Cooper and Skwod by Nadia Rose. Fifi Cooper was born in South Africa and Nadia Rose was born in London, England. I selected these two artists for very specific reasons. They were chosen as the focus of my post because of the ways differences in the ways in which they express their womanhood. Fifi Cooper upholds the roles of what many would expect from women throughout the world.  Cooper constantly sings about love. However, Nadia Rose, on the other hand, in the song Skwod displays a very hardened and masculine image, often frowned upon in many societies. In the videography, Rose wears a jump suit, as she raps about her crew. In her lyrics she states that she has the capacity to kill anyone with her flows, and that her rap verses are like punch lines. Rose was not afraid to tell people that she was their worst nightmare.

Society often forces people into particular boxes. Those who do not agree with or are unable to fit within these categories can become ostracized and judged for their decisions. Women all around the globe often find themselves considering the impact of their decisions on their friends, family, and society.  This same pressure is often not placed on men, who are frequently encouraged to act on their impulses and enjoy the wonders of life. Rose strays very far from traditional ideologies of womanhood, but comfortable in her aggression and independence. The artist, Cooper, differed entirely from Nadia. as deemed for women. Even her style differs from Rose, she spends time to ensure she appears beautiful and even wears clothing to show her body; this differed significantly from Rose who style of choice was loose clothing and sneakers. Even in Rose’s musical lyrics she discusses hanging with her crew and getting into fights, this is behavior Cooper would never agree with. On the alternative, Cooper discusses love and kisses,  throughout her entire song.. In the opening seen of Cooper song Kisses, she is applying lip stick and constantly looking at herself in the mirror. They even emphasize her vanity by showing her with a telephone shapes as a pair of lips. When comparing the two women, Cooper seems to comply to societies typical gender norms, which describe women as being emotional creatures, unable to separate their emotions from their normal day to day activities.   These two videos were both very interesting to compare, as they showed differences in gender roles within society.

 

Posted in Female Emcees, Ghana, Kenya, Student Projects

You Bad Huh?

 

A femcee is a female rapper. She is no different than anyone else, except she is a woman brave enough to step up to the mic in such a male dominated industry. Hip hop is hyper masculine and feeds on the over sexualization of the Black woman. In hip hop, women are seen as sexual objects or mere accessories to the tough emcees for braggadocious purposes. Having to deal with the negative societal characterization of Black women and then to turn to the art form especially for Black expression where the negative objectification of your being is done by your so called “brother” in the struggle can be a hard path to navigate. But Femcees like Nadia Rose and Stella Mwangi are reclaiming their sexual power and using hip hop as their medium of expression and redefining the role of Black woman in hip hop.

Nadia Rose is a London born, Ghanaian descent femcee. Her video “Skwod” is filled with bright colors, and an all female dance crew that are bopping down London streets. Mixed with a funky beat and lyrics that focus on how Nadia Rose is the best rapper and she’s the realest. She preaches sisterhood by being the protector of her “skwod.”

Stella Mwangi is a Kenyan femcee. Here video “Bad As I Wanna Be” is filled with her being just that, Bad! (but in a good sense!) Kenya and East Africa as a whole is a very conservative area where the norms for women are very strict, and Mwangi challenges this as she dons shorts in the video and uses profanity.

Both femcees are wearing very casual, American type clothing that is feminine but not making their bodies the object. They both employ the use of a creative background scenery to add to the overall image of their song. Mwangi uses the back drop of the “hood” in Kenya and Rose takes us on a stroll around the block in London. Both artists  are confident in who they are. They know who they are, are going to continue being who they are, and don’t care if anyone doesn’t like it.

Posted in Female Emcees, Nigeria, South Africa, Student Projects

African Hip Hop Femcees

Female emcees in Africa are challenging the traditional roles of Women in hip hop while also changing the direction of the feminist/womenist movements through their lyrics, and sexuality. Different artists have taken different approaches to challenging these norms. Some embrace the power of hyper- sexuality while some shy away from it, and take a more subtle approach to  expressing their sexual liberation.

In Eva Alordiah’s video “Double Double” she challenges many gender norms often inflicted upon female emcees. Her half shaved hair cut, and gold chains definitely make a bold statement, also her  camo shirt and bright purple lipstick shows that she is somewhat neutral in her expression of her sexuality.  While she is not parading around scantily clad she is still exuding a sense of femininity while spitting solid bars. Her confident delivery may be perceived as being un-ladylike, her wide stances and hand gestures are not typically viewed as feminine. Alordiah’s lyrics are witty without being raunchy. Her use of the rihanna sample of “pour it up” makes the song a nice mix between hard core rap, and a more pop vibe.

In  Patty Monroe’s video for “High Fashion” she adheres more to the conventional roles of female sexuality in hip hop. She is wearing more form fitting and slightly revealing clothes while doing things that bring more attention to certain areas of her body. Monroe is very upfront with her use of her sexuality,  her lyrics  include many sexual innuendo’s which at the same challenges some of the gender roles that assume sexually explicit lyrics are mutually exclusive to male emcees.  Eva Alordiah and Patty Monroe both challenge the traditional roles assumed for female emcees through their lyrics, and different displays of female sexuality. They go against the grain in order to continue to excel in their craft in a male dominated field.

Posted in Diaspora, Female Emcees, South Africa, Student Projects

QueenTalk with FeMC’s

Lady Leshurr is an English rapper, singer, and producer. Lady Leshurr’s Queen Speech 4 video, from her Queen Speech series, went viral this past year. A native of the United Kingdom, Lady Leshurr breaks down the barriers set for most female rappers. It is expected, by society, that women must be sexualized and succumb to the shadow of the male when it comes to hip hop. The concept of hip hop is hardcore, rebellious, and confident; nearly everything a woman is not portrayed as in the media. Throughout the video, Lady Leshurr is the main image in the camera walking down the middle of the street as she raps. This sheds light on Lady Leshurr’s immense confidence. Her lyrical content emphasizes this as she indeed confident and has the ability to switch between short and funny bars to bars that must be built upon and might pick your brain a bit. The various pop culture references lead me to believe her intended audience may be Americans, otherwise these references would not hold much weight. Her style is a bit on the feminine side, but she adds a masculine touch with her backwards snap back and boxer briefs. I believe her video message was that she is a confident woman who likes to have fun and knows she’s the sh*t.

In contrast to Lady Leshurr, Dope Saint Jude is a rapper and producer from Cape Town, South Africa. Dope Saint Jude’s Realtak, to me, is less about braggadocio and more about social issues. Dope Saint Jude is a member of the LGBTQ community, but she still has a shirtless man in the video. This shows her acknowledgement of the hip hop culture having a problem with sexualizing females in music videos. The scene with the shirtless male looks like it’s the “cool” scene because this is what society expects. On the other hand, the scene with the females are in her room. I took this as a symbol of her comfortability around women and how homosexuality is to be kept private. Aside from the video aesthetics, Dope Saint Jude is also a lyricist. She makes a statement about the problems that come with her skin complexion, as she is neither accepted by the white people or black because they do not feel she identifies with them. Like Lady Leshurr, Dope Saint Jude, shows her attention to American society by using the beat from the song My N*gga My N*gga by YG, an American rapper.

Posted in Diaspora, Female Emcees, South Africa, Student Projects

A Lady, a Miss, a Feminine Touch to Hip Hop

If I were to tell you “there are women in hip hop” you wouldn’t hesitate to tell me that you already knew that. For years, women have been making names for themselves in the male dominated field of hip hop through their lyrics, looks, presence, and persistence. Today we’re looking at some femcees (female emcees) that are taking the genre and making it their home. Lady Leshurr is a hip hop artist from the UK who has been  coming out with mix tapes since 2009 and is most known for her Queen’s Speech rap videos.

lady

Her lyrics are clever, silly, and most of all memorable. In her 2016 song/video Where Are You Now?, Lady Leshurr immediately sets the mood with loud brass ensemble that plays an upbeat, “aww shit” type of tone as the camera moves from showing us the colorful walls of a room to seeing Lady Leshurr in a bright red and yellow oversized crewneck sweater looking very nonchalant. She begins speaking in her accent about how all the people she has been apparently suppose to see and how they have all of a sudden “disappeared”.  The whole song is about people who have treated her like she’d never succeed in the business but now she’s making it pretty big and all those people have seemed to of shut up. Lady Leshurr in this video (and all of her others) is all about the lyrics, upbeat tempo, and flow. throughout the entire video you see her in comfortable and cute outfits but nothing that evokes the idea of sex or distracts you from the lyrics. She makes the song just an all-around fun experience from beginning to end. One thing that also stood out was that despite having a male rapper be featured in the song, he doesn’t appear in the video. There could be many reasons this didn’t happen but I like to think it was purely because Lady Leshurr never has a man in her videos. This speaks volumes to me as a way of saying that a man can collaborate with her but at the end of the day people should want to experience her content as hers. If you came for Lady Leshurr then that’s what you’ll get!

This ties into our other femcee: Miss Celaneous. A lesser known rapper from South Africa. In her 2015 song/video #TRAPEM, she has the same feel as Lady Leshurr in her independence as a female rapper but the difference is the tone and the message that is being told.

miss

It clear to the listeners that Miss Celaneous wants to be seen as versatile with lyrics like

they think I’m rude, they think I’m a dude

He never thinks that when I’m sending my nudes

I’m poorly misunderstood

actually I’m not, they just can’t handle the truth

Miss Celaneous shows the two sides of her that has managed to make people either love her or hate her. She’s naughty, she’s nice, she’s miscellaneous… uh, sorry, Miss Celaneous. Both of these artist use their lyrics instead of their bodies to define themselves. A lot of the times it seems that in order to make it as a female in a male-dominated field of hip hop, you have to talk about sex, show yourself in a sexual way, or both but these ladies it shows that you don’t have to. Femcees of today are still struggling to be taken seriously but with women like Lady Leshurr and Miss Celaneous out here, it’s only a matter of time!

Posted in Diaspora, Female Emcees, South Africa, Student Projects

The Lack of Women Empowerment with Female MC’s

Hip Hop is a male dominated field. Many of the male artists in their music discuss women primarily in a negative light. They either discuss women as inferior to them, discuss them as hoes, discuss women at the strip club, and more. Male MC’s fail to acknowledge women in a positive light in their music leaving a negative message about women to dominate the air waves. Although few female MC’s, it is up to them to change the way women are portrayed in music and music videos. Female MC’s have the ability to not allow sexuality to be at the forefront of their image, but to have more focus placed on the message they want listeners to receive. But, female MC’s currently have failed to incorporate a women’s empowerment message into their music. Instead they continue to do what their male counterparts do: brag about their money, brag about their bodies, and tear down other women. Instead of using their platform to empower women in their music, they continue the cycle of degrading women.

When watching South African artist Rouge’s “Mi Corazon”  the song and video lacked a message. The video captured your attention due to the visuals not due to any important message that was suppose to be displayed in the song. Rouge even rhymes in her song, “Not reppin’ the females, that’s not my focus”. She is acknowledging her failure to put on for women in an empowering manner and choosing to demean them. She has the power to use her platform to change the image of women in hip hop, yet she is choosing to continue the cycle of degrading women. When watching U.S. artist Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap” video, the video had no message towards women. The video focused on her looks as well as the other women in the video’s looks. The lyrics likewise lacked an empowering message about women nor for women. Both artists hold platforms that will allow them to change the face of women in music, yet why do they fail to do so? Their black female sexuality is put at the forefront of their music, lyrics, and image allowing the message for female empowerment to be overshadowed. If they don’t put women’s issues at the forefront of their music than who will?

Posted in Diaspora, Female Emcees, South Africa, Student Projects

Not Your “Average” Females

I recall watching a Dope Saint Jude video earlier in the course. She was raw and so eclectic, so when I saw her name on the list I knew she was the first artist I would choose. Dope Saint Jude bends the norms in Xxplosive, much like many of her other videos, using her words, her clothing, and overall attitude. She can be seen wearing loose fitting or baggy clothing all throughout the video and takes this very slouchy, masculine stance. Also, she wears her hair locked, which to many aren’t very “lady-like”. As far as lyrics, she refers to women as bitches, so not only is she swearing but she’s using a derogatory term for women. Overall she has a very androgynous look vibe. Her characteristics may even make someone question her sexuality or what she identifies as, but she makes it very clear that she is all female and could care less about what you think.

The next artist I noticed was Nadia Rose in her video for “Station”. Although she doesn’t give off the same consistent masculine appeal like Jude, you can still see her slouching her posture and sporting baggy clothing from time to time. For majority of the video she’s wearing a sports bra, jacket, and form-fitting pants, which are deemed as more feminine, but the amount of skin on top may be seen as unladylike. This is the perfect example of how artists can be on opposite sides of the spectrum, but still given the same label. Also, Rose openly talks about her sex life, reciting “he put his bit in my bit, now I’m “coming” on the go”. Society, both in America and especially in Africa may deem her expressive lyrics as too personal or explicit for a woman.

Overall, both femcees are going against the grain in their own ways and paving the way for future female artists to openly and freely express themselves however they want because tha’s what hip hop is all about.

Posted in Diaspora, Female Emcees, Student Projects

Femme Fatale

The state of rap music has changed since its creation in the 1970s. Starting in Bronx, New York rap was always seen as an underground subculture that deviated from the social norms and patterns of the dominant culture. It was here that the expressions of young Black and Hispanic men were freely expressed and not criticized. Rap music is a cultural art form that consists of four elements: deejaying, break dancing, rapping, and graffiti. Having its historical roots in ancient African culture traditions, rap music can also be traced to countries that were part of the African diaspora. And even though rap music was a means of civil disobedience against the “Man”, uniting all those who felt indifferent about the system in which they lived in it is not a fully inclusive culture. I feel as though we still objectify and under value our femcees by constantly undermining their skills and giving them less room for creative freedom.

The success of femcees as we’ve seen with the success of artists such as Missy Elliot and Nicki Minaj has relied on the use of their sexuality. Missy expresses her sexuality through her lyrics for example, the first verse to one of her most notable songs Work it :

I’d like to get to know ya so I could show ya                                                                                               Put the pussy on ya like I told ya
Gimme all your numbers so I could phone ya
Your girl actin’ stank then call me over

While Nicki expresses her sexuality through both her lyrics as well as her image as we’ve seen in her song Anaconda where she says:

This dude named Michael used to ride motorcycles                                                                                 Dick bigger than a tower, I ain’t talking ’bout Eiffel’s                                                                               Real country-ass nigga, let me play with his rifle                                                                                       Pussy put his ass to sleep, now he calling me NyQuil

While most femcees are objectified by their labels in an attempt to boost their sales Nicki has embraced her sexuality and uses a tactic known as self-objectification. Where instead of letting her label be the ones to push her sexuality to the forefront she embraces her sexuality and in an essence objectifies herself. Im not saying that the rap industry should be dominated by femcees but its time that we let them take control of their own sexuality and stop belittling their presence in the game.