Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Messages In The Songs Of Female Rappers Cultural Studies Essay

Messages In The Songs Of Fe bitlike Rappers Cultural Studies EssayRap is considered to be a fount of music which serves as a means of expression for those who ascertain alienate and outraged in American society for certain backgrounds. According to more than(prenominal) scholars hip joint joint jump in America originated from disadvantaged neighborhoods and served as a voice for people of who lacked post secondary education and had difficulties in decision a job in the reinvigorated post-industrial service sector economy.1In the ahead of time solution rap work macrocosms rapped well-nigh p every(prenominal)placety, racism and injustice. As the genre was development, depreciators would heart for inspiration in other aspects of their every heart. Male/ egg-producing(prenominal) relationships would appear as a common motif in their airs. As discussed in the first chapter misogynistic messages could be ground in a large sh be of manlike rap assumes. Although r ap has been associated mainly as field of battle of men, distaff contri onlyion to this genre is overly square. Hence it is worth to go through how their legacy contributed to the lightlessness womanish govern in the United States. It is also important to note how the messages in their songs differed from those of anthropoid rap artists. In this chapter I am going to focus on the motifs of dour pistillate identicalness which permeated the lyrics of womanly rap hits starting from the slowly eighties through the ascendant of the twenty first century. I will support my analysis by refer donut to the works of literary scurrilousamoor hip hops culture connoisseurs very frequentlytimes(prenominal) as Tricia Rose, bell hooks, Gwendolyn D. Pough or Cheryl L. Keyes. The findings symbolizeed in this study will be based on the existing researches on the subject as come up as my lyric interpretation of Billboards Hot Rap Year abolish Charts.One of the recognized social theorists, Patricia Hill Collins, set the theory that much of the contemporary social phenomena is understood and analyzed from the European, duster male standpoint2Moreover, by this speak to dimmed women in point feel been comprehend as non-human, commodified and objectified.3Needless to say it is important to recompense this approach by interpreting drear womens lives from their perspective. I find artistic works of effeminate rappers, as well as their interviews to a be a enormous source for much(prenominal) a counter analysis. Female rap artists would oftentimes identify themselves as croaking to a certain crew or would use the words as fly, attitude, fairy, diva while describing or referring to oneness another. Based on those ego imposed labels Cheryl L. Keyes in her study bossy four prevailing types of pistillate rappers faggot Mother, strike down Girl, Sista with stance and Lesbian. These categories reflect certain pick ups, voices and ages of A frican American women.4Interestingly enough rappers assigned to these assemblages pronounced their presence on the hip hop scene in this particular order but, as Keyes noted, they can swing between these teams or belong to a few concurrently.According to Keyes, the first group Queen Mothers rest mainly of early female rap pioneers in the 80s much(prenominal) as Queen Latifah, Roxanne Shante or MC Lyte. They express strong connection to their African heritage by calling themselves Nubian queens, and wearing ethnic clothes and jewelry. The symbol of queen mother whitethorn be supposedly rooted in African court customs duty. Mothers of kings in many a(prenominal) an(prenominal) African kingdoms used to be cult objects and granted special privileges.5Queen Mothers in hip hop culture also consider themselves as strong, intelligent dour women responsible for(p) of circleing the word among the lodge. They discuss issues same to their male vis-a-viss marginalization, subjug ation, and hardship of an urban feeling.6A theme for their concern would be also hetero versed person advances of men toward women, as well as domestic violence, and male sexism. These female rappers tended to largess black women as egotism assured and independent in their songs.7 in like manner to male rappers they would aim to challenge racist white supremacy by their music. Whilst black males in order to em actor themselves oftentimes resort to male chauvinist notions addressed towards their female counterparts, Queen Mothers do not use the very(prenominal) strategy of subordination. As the excerpts from the songs presented in the first chapter show, many male hip hop artists depict women merely as familiar objects and generally reproduce derogatory light on them. Some black culture critics, as bell hooks, claim that male gangsta rappers engage in this behavior because women supposedly emasculate black men, negating their manhood and reducing the respect received from ot hers.8The critic also states that closely black males lack of strong male (father) models to look up to. They are be convinced throughout their childhood that they are not destined to grow up as successful, strong, virtuous males. kind of they receive education how to become emotionless thugs. The author blames the mass media for perpetuating the image of a strong, angry black woman as opposed to black castrated male who is not able to bring home the bacon for his family.9Other reason for that whitethorn be the fear of female sexuality, thus women must be controlled.Queen Mothers demand respect not only for black company in general but for black women in particular. This causes a abundant inner identity conflict among black women, whether to be loyal to your ethnicity and racecourse or gender. Extending the theory of black womens liberation movement to rap, black female rappers provide back lashing voices against male sexism and misogyny.10However being a black feminist shoul d not mean rejection of the African heritage. The African legacy may be utilized as an additional source of strength and power in this attempt. Tricia Rose in the her book, Black Noise, argues that in the late eighties and early 1990s pioneer female rappers although refraining from calling themselves feminist, expressed three nigh feminist standpoints female empowerment, agency, and independence. They would quite call themselves womanists as they did not feel much connection with the predominantly white second wave feminism movement. Moreover, they felt as having been overlooked or even purposely excluded by white feminists in their struggle for female empowerment.11These artists rejected and challenged representations of women as merely sexual objects. Rose states that these artists use rap music as a platform of dispute between other female and male artists, and their sense of hearing in general.12The most noticeable Queen Mother on the hip hop scene is Dana Queen Latifah Owe ns. Although latifah in Arabic means feminine, cushy and kind she excavated to be also a strong and potent rap artist. At the young age of twenty one, she became well acclaimed artist. notwithstanding her young age, her maternal behavior and mature approach to life do her to be perceived as a Queen Mother. Although she would find such comparison flattering, she tried to distance herself from being labeled. She would call herself a queen because every black female is a queen to her.13The reason wherefore Queen Latifah and other rappers fool been allocated to the group of Queen Mothers may be linked to the othermothers phenomenon in black African community. Patricia Hill Collins elaborates on this notion in Black Feminist Thought. She claims that black women take a significant part in fostering of the black society in the United States. They throw off developed an image of a strong black woman who contribute to the whole black community well-being. The notion of maternal qual ity in general, whether invoked by bloodmothers or othermothers, has powerful connotation.14It come outs that African American community gainks for strong mother figures not only in real life but also on the hip hop scene. Queen Latifah reflects the image of othermother by taking up serious political-economic issues of the black community in her lyrics, as in The Evil that Men Do15where she raps round struggle of women on welfare.16another(prenominal) modelling of a strong political explanation is Queen Latifahs song Ladies First.17She focuses here on promoting womens importance and clamors for their equal treatment. She raps about the need for sisterhood which prompts women to support each other. The notion of sisterhood is express here by the fact that the artist collaborates with another black European female rapper, Monie Love. They feel connected with each other by the bonds of the equal gender and race. This is a typical approach of women of colouring engaged in the Th ird Wave Feminist Movement in America. The concept of worldwide sisterhood coined by the Second Wave feminists is questioned and challenged here. Black feminists manifest more connection with other women of color from different countries or countries of their origin than with white middle menage women from the United States. The video to this song is also a tribute to African American womens history featuring images of activists and abolitionists as Rosa Parks, Angela Davis, Harriet Tubman, or entrepreneurs as Madame C.J. Walker.18The video also features the image of Winnie Mandela which may serve as a commemoration of the struggle against segregation in South Africa as well as emphasis on the concept of global black sisterhood. The rappers bring back these images into the light in order to re-inspire all women of color and prove they are capable of achieving the highest goals as breaking the racism and sexism.Queen Latifah in her Grammy Award- winning song U.N.I.T.Y, as one of th e first female artists not only proves of her rapping skills but also takes up the issues which divide black community. She focuses here on perpetuated hatred directed by black males toward black females.19She answers back to males who use the insult beef in reference to women. She does so by using similar forms that are used by many of their male counterparts to denigrate women. For instance, by the use of vulgar language she reclaims those forms for women. Another pioneer rapper, MC Lyte in her song Paper Thin also makes a black female as a subject. She brings it to the center of interchange by rapping about the constrains of her intimacy and setting the rules by which she will regard a man. According to Rose, the above mentioned artists messages are both emancipating and liberating for women. They rebel against the have got of black female voices, offering counter hegemonic perspectives. Female gangsta rappers in particular, have created and imposed their own definitions of c harwoman through their use of vulgarity, voice intonations, and sexuality.20Although most female rappers identify themselves by belonging to specific rap crews some of them would fall from one grade to another or exist in many simultaneously. As an example of such a swinging artist may serve Yo Yo. The rapper and activist when perceived through the optical prism of her artistic and social work would be allocated to the group of queen mothers. Her songs are devoted to her view on the political issues and black feminism. She is the founder of the group Intelligent Black Women Coalition (I.BW.C.) which aimed to fight against racism and sexism. Yet, Keyes claims that her style and cram would suggest she also fits the category of so called travel Girls who gained recognition on hip hop scene mainly in the nineties. The origin of the new meaning of the word fly dates back to the sixties and seventies and renders person wearing fancy clothes. The style has been presented in the blaxp loitation movies like The Superfly (1972), Shaft (1971), The macintosh (1973) or tricky Brown (1974) and then adopted by the black youth in the eighties and nineties.21Indeed, what distinguished tent flap Girls from Queen Mothers at first sight was their sense of fashion. Queen Mothers tried to affirm their erotism that refrains from the nakedness and exposure of Western styles by rejection of miniskirts or high heels. Fly Girls did not fear to wear tight clothes which accentuated their sexuality. They tried to counterbalance western European witness canon by showing the beauty of black female body, accompanied by eye catching hairstyles, glazed jewelry and suggestive dancing. By doing so they made a argumentation against the white supremacist stereotype of the black round female body being undesirable. It was their fashion style that made them not only heard but also visible. The male hip hop group the Boogie Boys describe a fly girl as Woman who wants to see her name, her g ame or her ability. . . she sports a lot of gold, wears tight jeans, leather miniskirts, a made up face, has voluptuous curves, but speaks her mind.22The most prolific and well pronounced Fly Girls of hip hop scene is undoubtedly the trio Salt- N- Pepa. They aspired to be acknowledge as models of real independent and successful black women of the nineties.23They reached the peak of their usuality in the early nineties by releasing controversial hits like Lets colloquy About Sex (1991), What a Man(1993), or Shoop(1993). While the first mentioned hit raised awareness about safe sex, the other songs can be interpreted as manifestation on female sexuality and idea of men in terms of friendship, hit the sack and intimate heterosexual relations. Lyrics from their usual song Aint Nuthin But a She Thing, again typify messages of their powerful womanhood Im a female, and I got it goin on /Dont be fooled by my s-e-x/It aint that simple, Im more conglomerate/Lets keep moving forward, gi rls, never look back.24In this song artists are exchanging ideas with women and men in general, warning men not to rely on clichd notions of gender fictional characters when interacting with women. They refuse to be considered as a weaker sex. They prove of their ability to work as hard as men, yet their inclination is not to empower, or emasculate men. equally, they are passing on the same message to women while concurrently urging these women to progress, not regress, in their persuasion and behavior. Such messages permeate most of the Salt N- Pepa top hits. some(prenominal) examples of the Fly Girls songs take focus on female agency in male/female relationships perceived from the womens point of view. In the chorus of her song, Whats Up Star, Suga initiates the interaction with males Whats up star, Id like to get to know who you are/Lets have drinks at the bar/And if I like what I see then the drinks is on me.25While men are usually considered to be the initiators in heter osexual relationships, here the artist takes it over and demonstrates her empowerment on this field. By doing so she violates an unwritten procedure of male-female courtship. She breaches the gendered norm of conduct. Instead of waiting for a man to approach her with an offer to buy her a drink, she would rather sit in judgment and contemplate over possible suitors. Upon positive evaluation of a potential mate she offers to buy him a drink. Another example of assumptive power comes from a rapper and bass dancer, MC Luscious, who in her song Boom I Got Your Boyfriend seizes another hypothetical womens match chastening take him, shake him, ring him out/ Ill show your man what its all about./ So when he tells you its the end./Thats when you know I got your boyfriend.26Her use of the verbs take, shake, and ring in reference to her male lover illustrates the control that she maintains over him. She outdoes her female competitor by articulating her ability to sexually expose what the g irlfriend cannot to the boyfriend, guide to the termination of the relationship. Thus, she demonstrates her control and manipulation of the lover and eventually her supremacy over the female enemy by stealing her boyfriend. Although deceitful and potentially unethical, MC Lusciouss desires, and behaviors are at the core of attention in her song.27Another significant group of Fly Girls worth noticing is TLC ( Tione T-Boze Watkins, Lisa Left-Eye Lopez and Rozonda Chilli Thomas). Their popularity had been quickly developing since their debut in 1991 and reached its maximum in the second half of the nineties. They spread similar messages to the other Fly Girls like rising awareness about safe sex (Waterfalls)28or fighting with women insecurity (Unpretty)29. They also introduced more diverse fashion sense. Instead of accentuating their fit bodies with tight clothes, they would wear slapdash pants as a symbol of solidarity with women of less flattering shapes. Similar approach was take n by another Fly Girl female child Misdemeanor Elliot. Being a successful writer and producer coat her way to the enormous success in the music industry. In no time she was offered a possibility to douse her raiment line and appeared in GAP and Adidas commercials. The fact that full-figured Missy became a model of the established clothing brand could be perceived as ground breaking in the sphere of perception of black female bodies. She serves as a role model to many black women who doubt in their agreeableness.30As during the late nineties rap became commercialized, gained greater audition and shifted to mainstream it is worth examining what were the messages conveyed by the female rappers. During this time some female artists were as popular and selling as many records as men for example, Lil Kim and Foxy Brown both had albums that sell one million copies.31Contemporary female rappers of the late nineties and beginning of the twenty first century also endeavor in empowering and revolutionary mission against male domination, but the lyrical content of their songs show affect and alarming similarities between them and male rappers. This may be one of the reasons these female rappers gained more commercial recognition than the pioneers. As means of empowerment they apply the strategy of giving the attitude and answering back in a rude manner to their male counterparts. This group of female rappers fall into category of Sistas with Attitude which consist of such popular rappers as Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, and Da Brat, or Sis, or Eve. The feature film of their style is the employment of the same emblematical speech and behaviors as their male fellow rappers. It may seem that by doing so they show to be equal to men on every level. The lyrics of their songs included motives of indulging in hedonistic activities as partying and smoking marihuana with their men, seducing, harassing, and sexually emasculating male characters as well as disrespecting (dissin) th eir male and female counterparts. Although so called dissing in female rappers songs is mainly directed at male sexism, an analysis of contemporary female rap songs reveals that there are instances the same strategy is aimed at women. It is well visible here that these women seek for their self empowerment by all means.The content of songs with attitude is abundant in vulgarity. The use of derogatory terms may be interpreted in a positive way. I trace some similarities between Sistas with Attitude and some of the Third Wave of feminism representatives. Similarly to them, female rappers change the pejorative meaning of vulgar words addressed to women.Sistas may be considered a coarser, clad version of Third Wave of feminism Girlies or Riot Grrls. These were usually members of underground punk bands who addressed issues as rape, female sexuality, domestic abuse, and female empowerment. Same as Sistas they also adopted derogatory, prideful words as cunt bitch slut in their vernacular . By paper these words on their skins or t-shirts they ridiculed and nullified their derogatory meaning.32On one hand reclamation of the stagly used word bitch may be perceived as positive way of self empowerment or provide healing liberation. Other critics claim that this may bring worse returns as the message of female empowerment seem to be diminished and eradicated by female self-objectification.33One of the most reoccurring motives found in female rap lyrics is their swaggering feminine self assurance. This characteristic of rap has its roots in part of African-American literal tradition of toasting , where the toast-teller employs in verbal self- enhancement, and presents himself or herself as the dreams of his or her Black audience and symbolize for them triumph and accomplishment against the odds.34For instance, in Sittin on Top of the World, Da Brat writes Im on top of the world/Girlfriend offender cuz they mans commemorate Im all that/ One of the baddest bitches on the planet.35She highlights how she is so bad, meaning great to such extent that she aggravates other women because their men find her beautiful. Another fitting example of braggadocio can be found in Eves song What Ya Want,36writing Popular since I started my life/ Every thugs dream wife, see the love in they eyes/My time to shine, whole package make her a dime. In these lyrics, the rapper is presenting herself as popular, and good-looking to every male and a perfectly shaped physically ( adime in hip hop vernacular).Many rapper enhance their sense of attractiveness by emphasizing their ownership of precious objects that others cannot afford. Foxy Brown, who adopted her moniker from the seventies blaxploitation movie champion of the same title, in Ill Na Na raps Uhh, rollin for Lana, dripped in Gabbana/And yall gon see by these mils I possess/Never settle for less, Im in excess.37Foxy highlights here the fact that she wears expensive womens designer clothing that working class and mi ddle-class individuals could not afford. Furthermore, the audience gets the message that Foxy earns millions of dollars from her rapping. She also admits she is not willing to settle down and start a family but would rather live in abundance of material goods on her own. A ample majority of the female artists mentioned owning luxurious crossroads of mass consumption. Obviously, willpower of extravagant material goods are crucial for many contemporary female artists. Material success, fame, and sexual satisfaction is their achieved American Dream. Similarly to male rap artists who glamorize life a of a pimp, these female artists present themselves as physically attractive to possible mates as well as in possession of goods that regular people do not and cannot acquire. This type and degree of cocksureness permeates throughout rap music and is common to both sexes of rappers. It illustrates artists abilities, or their dreams, to surmount obstacles (unattractiveness, lack of money) and eventually achieve (sexual and material) success.The partying, intoxicant and drugs abuse is a frequent theme also in Sistas with Attitude rap music. In the general sample in Owares study of 44 female hip hop songs of the nineties, in each song there was an average of one-and a-half references made to inebriantic drink or drugs.38For instance, in her song Deeper, rapper called Boss refers to both alcohol and drug use. In these lyrics, Boss is indulging in a popular malt liquor, and also smokes chronic, a strong form of marijuana heterogeneous cocaine. Another song by Queen Pen, Party Aint a Party, presents Im intoxicated from the cab, down the whole bottle of Henney/ Is you dealing with the cat thats blunted. Queen Pens alcohol is Seagrams Hennessy and blunted means being under the influence of marijuana. These female rappers refute the stereotype that women refrain from hard alcoholic drinks and illegal drugs.. These women depict themselves as being equal to men by enga ging in similar potentially harmful behaviors.39Another feature of rap music that is often taken up by female rappers is disrespecting or dissin, which is the act of verbally insulting an opponent. Dissin allegedly has its origins in West Africa, among tribes such as the Efik in Nigeria and later could be found in early African-American oral traditions.40Smitherman writes women rule when it comes to signifyingfemale rappers use this age-old rhetorical strategy to launch critical offensives41Traces of such style can be found in the verse rapped by Heather B. Fuck how much you sell cause, I read your album cover/You couldnt write a jam if your exit name was Smucker.42As jam may also mean a hit song she ridicules here the amount of records sold by her opponent while dissing his writing skills contrasting them with a popular food product brand Smuckers Jam.Most disrespecting attitudes were pointed at males who attempted to pursue women with pretentious tales of sexual gratification. Wh ile some rappers resorted to warning of the potential suitor who must approach them in a courteous manner or gets rejected, other rappers would openly ridicule males sex skills and their fear of womens sexuality. Considered to be one of the most manifest and explicit rappers, Lil Kim in Hardcore rhymes The sex was wack, a four throw creep/(later he asked) Could he come over right fast and fuck my pretty ass?/Ill pass, nigga arctic was trash.43The rapper sets here her own conditions for a sexual intercourse. She keeps men under control and reserves the right to choose her partner by assessing his sex skills. She also implies what is surely feared by most of the heterosexual males to be ridiculed by a woman for poor sex performance. Black males in particular who have been trying to conceal the image of an emasculated black man may feel highly sensitive about it. As many instances of male rap hits presented in the first chapter show that they tried to apply many strategies to rega in their control over women. Boasting about their sexual hyper skills was a frequent topic.Gangsta Boo, a successful Sista with Attitude of the late nineties and early twenty first century, touches upon similar themes in her lyrics Ha-ha, hey, Ladies check this out/ Well, let me tell this story about this nigga/ With a little dick but when its hard, hes swearin it (is) bigger/ Im not to be the one guess you aint got much to offer.44Here, Gangsta Boo speaks directly to women about false male machismo. Boo, similarly to her counterpart Lil Kim sets the norms here and evaluates whether her possible mate lives up to her expectations. When finds out that the man is ill endowed she ridicules him in front of other women. Hence, as Rose writes you have women speaking to men, engaging in critiques of supposed male sexual bravery in addition, they are speaking to other women about the failed attempts of these men to occupy them sexually.45These disses provide a female response to male rap pers chauvinism, misogyny and hyperbolise about their sexual potency.Similarly empowering themes also permeate throughout the songs and lyrics that present female sexuality. Several popular female rap artists depicted themselves as explicitly sexualized. Lil Kim in one of her songs vulgarly demonstrates her acting upon a partner and presents herself as not submissive in sexual relationship.46

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.