Women in hip hop. The concept isn’t a new one in this day and age but the industry’s acceptance has been slow, demonstrating that this concept will indefinitely be looked at as something abnormal. The hip hop world is a male heteronormative dominated space since conception, relying on lyrics and swag to brag about their lives and the women they’ve had. One thing that many male rappers and western media share is their indulgence and obsession of the female body. Male rappers use the bodies as props in their music videos and tell a tale that would make the listener think the body is a commodity and not attached to an actual person. This narrative has been replayed for decades but other MCs have been stepping forward to claim agency over their own body. Women in Africa’s hip hop scene have been transforming the prevailing standard to rewrite the same narrative. Instead of men glamorizing and fetishizing their own body, they have taken charge. The cover art shows this sentiment with an African flag decorated ‘throne’ with a woman sitting on top. Lyrics to a song in the playlist are written in the background.
Sex is one of the most widely talked about topics in rap culture and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It can symbolize birth, newness, love, human interaction and even submission or dominance. It can also be used to boast about one’s abilities in the bedroom and how it can lead to clinginess or a multitude of baby mamas or fathers. When some male rappers talk about sex in a song, it takes on the notion that it’s an act that is done to a woman but not involving both parties equally. It can be shown as the male taking over and ‘taking’ what he believes is ‘his’. For example, they will say “I f*cked her” instead of saying “we had sex”. They relish in this control and power. Now, in the 2010s, it is the woman who is telling the story from her point of view and claiming her sexuality in a liberating fashion.
The theme of this playlist is contemporary South African women rappers’ agency over their own body as it relates to gender. The variety in these artists comes together to create unity in the overall message that there is nothing wrong with utilizing sexual appeal. They know they’re beautiful and sexy. They also know their attractiveness does not diminish their lyrical abilities where both characteristics can co-exist. This playlist is upbeat, fun and cocky. These are songs that communicate independence and who doesn’t want to nod their head along to that?
The playlist begins with “#TRAPEM” by Miss Celaneous, a Cape Town based MC. Starting with a song by an artist who is known for her sultry pizazz, Miss Celaneous begins her first verse talking about size and how she favors things that are big. She expresses a carefree attitude when it comes to sex, demonstrating how it’s an activity she can dominate. Rouge, another big name artist, steps up next with a song about no strings attached, dismissing stereotypes about clinginess. Bragging about a clingy woman indicates a male’s power to leave a woman wanting more and more. However, Rouge talks about how she only wants to sex and isn’t interested in forming a relationship. She determines and dictates the direction of the relationship, taking the reigns from the man. This mindset lets the listeners know she’s enjoying sex for her own personal pleasure, not engaging in it to appease a man. Faith Nketsi started off as a dancer and a social media influencer. She is best known as a dancer, twerking apart of the group called Pro-Twerkers. She has never been shy to use her body to grab the people’s attention. Although she is not a major force yet in the industry, her song “Ishuu” offers representative and reflective visuals of what mainstream hip hop has to offer. It’s filmed in a strip club, a notorious site of many popular music videos. Her song is about getting your own money and she flexes on other women by praising her vagina and her overall worth. By showing a lot of women twerking beside her, it shows her confidence in her appeal and indulging in it. One visual in the video is almost hilarious to reap in the irony; it features Nketsi holding a leash attached to three different men which asserts dominance to the other gender. Patty Monroe asserts the same kind of cockiness in leadership in her video titled “Talk”. She makes fun of the opposite gender and how unappealing they can be to her. Showing how disposable some men are is flipping the script on the main hip hop’s scene agenda. The power belongs to the women, not the men. Nadia Nakai finishes up the playlist with a song called “Yass Bitch” with a cover art of the juxtaposition between two versions of a woman. Nadia is known for embracing her sexy side and doesn’t mind emphasizing that in her art. She loves to ignore the haters and accepting that not everyone is going to like what she has to offer. Regardless, these artists have a wide fanbase and are transforming the rap game into a more exclusive space for anyone to tell their tale. The supporting character may now come forward.