After four days back in the US, North Carolina’s beautiful weather is winning me over. For those of you who may have noticed that I’ve fallen off the face of the earth, I am taking a few days to reconfigure my self-image. Fitting a new self into an old life is never comfortable – but I’m adjusting.
During the 30-hour flight back from Cape Town, I listened to hip-hop for hours. Hip-hop has been my go-to language and salve for years now. And yet that language is phallocentric, and often degrading toward women. Women comprise 50% of hip-hop listeners! In the past 15 years or so, mainstream rap has shifted away from protest toward pure capitalism. In this atmosphere, how can female rappers shine?
Shad vocalizes what, I think, many of us feel. Many of hip-hops strongest female voices (Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Salt-n-Pepa) have faded out of the scene, leaving a vacuum. M.I.A. is doing her best to hold it down, as are Yo-Landi and Jean Grae,
but the lack of poignant female perspective is a frustrating oversight in mainstream hip-hop. (And no – for me, Nicki Minaj does not count. But, admittedly, Lil Mama rocks my socks.)
I have every faith powerhouse female voices are coming back to rap music, hopefully including Caucasian and lesbian women, as well as gay men. Rap is a music of passion and protest; its core tenets are not limited to a single perspective.
And please. All you up-and-coming lady rappers out there… show me you have passion for more than sex, money, and your own bravado.