Original Ethiopian Mixtape

Liner Note:

Crop tops, lipstick, and dance moves seem to be the three adjectives that bring each song featured on this mixtape together. It is the essence in which women are portrayed in these videos that have in some way motivated me to write this liner note requesting a chance for change. These videos are all of Ethiopian rap artists who utilize a fast pace rhythm in their rhyme schemes. They are all extremely popular and have made numerous top ten lists for the nations best rap artists. Mc Mike a relatively new entrant into the Ethiopian rap scene, exploded with his hit song Gondergna, which was about the ancient city of Gondar and the heroic Ethiopian Emperor Tewodros. Teddy Yo, an Ethiopian rap god began with the group Gamo Boys, but went solo and exploded into the lime light. One of his most popular projects was Prisoner which focused on those who are a prisoner to their culture. This was one of the main projects which enlightened listeners on his ability to make art that includes social commentary. Lij Michael, also known as Faf is considered one of Ethiopian Hip Hop’s first initiators. He began his career with musical shows organized by institutions of higher learning then went on to Dj. His latest album sold 50,000 copies. He has a strong ability to reach large audiences. Abdu Kiar is also an Ethiopian artist who attracts large audiences. His youtube videos typically receive over 1,727,720 views. He gained popularity in 2003 with his first album called Merkato Sefere. Abdu Kiar is well-known for mixing his musical melodies to hip-hop Ethiopian music. And lastly but not least, is Hahu Beatz who attracts large virtual audiences causing his youtube video numbers to sky rocket. Despite their proven ability to positively impact social commentary it seems as though all of them are degrading women through their depiction in these music videos. The overall theme that I noticed in each of their selected pieces was their use of women as props.

Women are the backup dancers, the caterers to men, and in the eyes of these videos a figure to be admired. These videos, whether people realize the interpretations or not, are describing the “ideal woman.” As portrayed, women are in the background simply dancing and encouraging the message each male rapper is trying to get across to the audience. Even in the last song I selected, the male rapper is just featured, however, the video continually shows the woman catering to him. It does not seem as though she had any power in this video. I feel as though this is an ongoing trend that emphasizes a male’s toxic masculinity. The message seems to be if you don’t acquire a woman that acts this way, then you’re considered to be one who willingly emasculates themselves.  Coming from a female standpoint, if you’re arguing against these rap videos or how women are treated and objectified, then you’re just brushed aside as a crazy feminist and you’re making a bigger deal than what’s really there. One example to prove this statement would be the way the Ethiopian music industry chooses to depict Lola Monroe. I recently saw a title stating she was an, “Ethiopian Whore.” She has received so much flack for making music that speaks to her soul unlike other Ethiopian male artists like Amnie who have done the same thing. WhetherI think that these videos and the people who produce them need to evaluate the way they depict women and the male fantasy by empowering women instead of bringing them down. While the lyrics are extremely powerful I believe the message the video creates should also be considered. I assume the reason they film in this manner may be because of African rappers desire to embody hip hop culture which originated in America. Despite the rappers clearly filming inside of their home many of them can be found wearing white or black tees with gold chains and some can even be found wearing a puffer jacket or American jersey. The point being that they are imitating rappers who they don’t know and a culture they may not fully understand. This is why I think that the producers and stylists in these videos may need to re-adjust the method they use to develop music video concepts.

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