It’s no secret that Sierra Leone hip hop is predominantly run by men. There is a common stigma in many African societies that women must stay home, cook, clean, and raise the children. However, Natasha Beckley, a Sierra Leonean female rapper, rebels against that in her 2020 music video, “Thonon.”
Beckley’s music video as a whole shows her by herself majority of the time and in some shots features a handsome young man besides her. This choice is very significant because normally, even in American hip hop, women are placed in music videos to make the men look good. However, Beckley changes things by reversing the role and having the man stand there and just “look handsome,” while she does the rapping. Beckley’s lyricism highlights the problem in the lack of representation of women in the music industry. She often refers to the men in music as her “sons,” while rapping that she is applying pressure to the game. This “pressure” is the women uprising in music and how she is one of the few helping to change the game by applying pressure on the industries to bring out more female rappers. Additionally, she exclaims, “Not afraid to talk or go back and forth with a man.” These lyrics caught my attention because it speaks on the societal norm of submissiveness that men expect from women. While growing up in Sierra Leone, I often saw this. The man was always the talker in the household. Women were either the more quiet one in the conversation, especially in politics, or would go and talk with other women. It was not common for me to see a woman confidently go back and forth with a man in public. Beckley urges this idea of boldness and confidence while speaking about her will to argue or speak freely in front of men.
She further challenges this notion of the glorification of men throughout the song by praising herself. She admits that God made her sassy and beautiful and she proudly exclaims her goal in “chasing the bag.” This is especially unique because in many African cultures, the man is the provider. Women are not often urged, compared to men, to “chase the bag.” This video shows an underlying problem with lack of women in the music industry, the common sexualization’s on women in music videos, the expected submissiveness of African women to men, and the lack of urgency for women to get jobs and be on the same playing field with men. In all, Natasha Beckley did a very good job in showcasing these problems and solutions in her music videos.