20th Mar2017

Chicken or Beef: Nicki and Remy

by admin

Does my womanhood take away my right not to like you?

Remy Ma Nicki Minaj

Following the flurry of commentary around this beef and how Remy was wrong for ‘slut shaming’ Nicki Minaj and vice versa, I am left with one question: Does the fact that I am a feminist strip me of my right not to like you because you are also a black woman? Yes, we are all women and yes, we need to uplift each other and reconstruct the patriarchy thrusted upon us. However, some things should be taken at face value. Nicki and Remy, have got nothing to do with me and my struggles as a black woman.

Remy’s personal and professional views on Nicki Minaj have nothing to do with women in general. The idea that all feminists, or all women for that matter, ought to get along is one that I find highly ironic considering that all of us know people, men and women, we don’t like. We might share the same values but if I don’t like your behaviour and I feel like you need to get checked, why not? This is hip hop; tracks and whatever is said on them ought to be viewed in that context. The patriarchy that we are trying to prevent is the patriarchy that you are perpetuating by not allowing these women to openly challenge, and destroy their direct line of competition. The release of ShEther, is a play on one of the most famous beefs in hip hop- between the New York giants, Nas and Jay-Z who later settled their difference after many fights, war of words, and the release of Ether by Nas. It is with this in mind, I feel people should listen to Nicki and Remy, the battle between two New York giants, going at it. In my opinion, their gender has no bearing in their lyricism. It is fun and it is what hip hop is all about.

I know some might be thinking that if this is a pure hip hop battle, why post it on social media, and why the release of intimate information by both parties.  Well in response to that I say that all is fair in Love and Hip Hop. It is a battle and it is not going to be pretty, something must get beaten, besides their make-up. Dirt was dug and mud was slung from both sides, some more than others, but that is the nature of the game. Only the best will survive: it is eat or be eaten, killed or be Nicki’d. For every punch that was thrown in ShEther, there was a comeback in No Frauds. Where Remy referred to Nicki’s surgery, Nicki did the same. When Remy came for Nicki’s brother, Nicki came for Remy’s children. It was blow for blow, grimy and ruthless on both sides and this brings me to my point; Remy does not like Nicki, Nicki doesn’t care, and the audience is entertained.

This is all that there is to it. To assume that empowering females in all spaces relinquishes my right not to like you is not only patriarchal but it’s a bit naive. As feminists, we are not in the position to judge every situation based on gender under the assumption that all females who believe in a free, equal and non-sexist world need to love and support each other at all times. It is in cases like these where I think that we should truly consider what feminism means not only as a movement but for all women; Black, White, Asian, Indian, Mexican, Latin, and all other shades of womanhood. If these two rappers weren’t female, would there be so much fuss about what was said and how they said it, and would we even be discussing how objectified and disrespected the females in their lives must be feeling. Equality and justice are not the same things and as feminists we need to ask ourselves as to whether we are fighting for equality or Justice? These are all important questions that we need to address however, in a hip hop battle, I find it more helpful to ask: Who won? Who came out on top? In this case, who was the better rapper?


09th May2016

The Positioning of Women in the Rap Industry or Hip Hop Culture

by admin

Hip hop has a very deep rooted and highly defined culture which defines its identity. If you try to stand apart from the rest you are automatically rejected because of your not appealing to the larger market.  Brands oftentimes struggle with the idea of working with someone who is not going to bring in the big bucks.

We’ve had a couple of conscious artists in this life time to grace us with their lyricism and conscious message but their careers are usually short lived. This is because the demand for their music is apparently not that high enough and the people in decision making positions are driven by the business making side of creativity. This makes it difficult for artists with something positive or something that has a powerful message to gain wider recognition in the mainstream music industry. We regard talent and hard work as being essential to a successful career. Those two elements may get your foot through the door but considering the business-side of the music industry, as well as being able to reinvent yourself, are also essential for having longevity. Creating great music is of course crucial to the winning formula.

I grew up listening to almost all genres of music and I have a pretty sound knowledge of the dynamics involved in each genre. The hip hop industry can be described as a male dominated industry where women simply have no place except for when they are half-naked whilst gyrating and shaking their hips. Strong female hip hop artists are an anomaly, much like peace in the Middle Eastern region.  As a born free, the music I grew up listening to was from the early 2000’s and I often wonder how it would have been to have attended either Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu’s concerts. I also think of how it was to have lived in that era where women had claimed a sit at the oppressor’s table and yet had also had the opportunity to have expressed themselves without relying on their sexualities.

I look at all the female rappers from then and how their rap careers penned out and the successes gained during their run. Female rappers have had to rely on their sexuality in order to garner attention or build some buzz around them . Although most have had to look a certain way and conduct themselves in that manner, there have been a few female rappers who have forged their own paths and we do commend them.

We are living in an era where men still have so much power in influencing how women think and behave. This phenomenon seems to be worse when considering the music industry. It seems to me that as a female artist you do not get taken seriously if you have something valid to say unless you present yourself a certain way. I have been amongst people who simply wanted me to look pretty and be seen and not heard.  This experience is a reality for most women as they navigate schools, the workplace, government and almost all other spheres.  I am a very opinionated person and I say what I want. The fact that I am very tomboyish and I have spent a lot of my time within those masculine circles has resulted in people telling me to be less forward and to know my place as a woman.

If you are a female rapper you have a choice to be feminine or to play the game like your male counterparts.  This is not to say that female rappers should not be proud of their sexuality. I believe that that one should own their sexuality. Your sexuality is something you were born with and you can use it to your advantage.  Rap is a genre of music like any other. It is a form of expression that has become hyper-masculinised and a female presence always makes things interesting. As a woman, I feel really empowered when I see women holding their own and representing the masses whilst expressing themselves- and doing it even way better than their male counterparts.

The South African hip hop industry has been under the radar for a long time. Many critics claimed that the genre would never gain mainstream attention. These critics are probably singing a different tune as the past two years have been a period of immense growth, success, and increased international recognition. We have had quite a few female rappers who make you sit up and listen to what they have to say. These new female rappers are not merely imitating Nicki Minaj which is something I truly really appreciate as someone who has been following the growth of the genre. We live in an era which is celebrity-obsessed.  If we only have images of women in distasteful positions does it not say that it is okay to treat women like sex objects with no brains? Considering that women give birth to nations and help build the world and continue to love unconditionally despite their struggles, I find this to be highly problematic.

As a woman, I feel that we will continue to be treated in this manner unless we decide to stop allowing men to treat us the way they do. It is always up to the oppressed to fight for what they believe in. Change is always resisted but it often brings good. The more females are seen in a positive and encouraging light, the more the older generation will support the female movement. We need to have a united voice as we aspire to be positive role models for young girls. Young girls need to know that there is more to life than being seen on a man’s arm.

I see movements like feminism trying to correct the injustices women have experienced as result of patriarchy.  Different movements aim to empower the disempowered by getting the marginalised to reclaim their power through rethinking the status quo. My message is this: women have their own resilient power and the ability and capability to be almost anything they choose to be. Young women should not allow any men tell them that they are incapable or that they are not better suited for something because of their gender. As women we need to start believing that we are more than that.

Thabisile Miya

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