As I write this I’m listening to the hip-hop samplings of Migos. Hip-hop as a genre does very little for the women’s movement. They consistently call a woman out of their queen title with misnomers like hoes, freaks, nat-nat (ATL-ien for ho), thots and bitch. Meanwhile, my hips are moving and head nodding as Quavo “Pop Shit”. And it’s not just Migos, it’s various other artists. They are just my current hip-hop obsession. Women hip-hop artists also spew the nouns and adjectives synonymous with slut-shaming and degradation. Most notably the two women on top of their hip-hop game: Cardi B and Nicki Minaj. Cardi B has now somehow become the face of human empowerment and anti-slut shaming. I, for the most part, co-sign Cardi B’s raw talent and self-expression. Shit! I even bought her new album in the name of supporting a woman from my neck of the woods, whom I may add beat all the odds. So how can someone, like myself, and these strong women artists embrace the same genre that knocks women down to sexual objects and property? Well, I don’t know, dammit. I can’t sit here and tell you with a straight face that their just words. Words are everything. Don’t think I can convince you the intent to insult or degrade is nonexistent (or can I?).
So how can I be so in love with a culture that so blatantly berates its listeners with offensive commentary on women’s worth and sexuality? I clearly believe women are equal if not a superior being. They are capable of so much more than men, both biologically, emotionally, and mentally. Is it just conditioning? Are we vying for a top spot in the big boys club? As a NYC born and raised female, I can confess to being “one of the boys.” Having to be rough and tough in the big city is a must if you want to survive. But not sure if I can deem that a cop out for taking sexist tones in casual conversions. I also have a really bad habit of calling anyone I’m comfortable with (male or female) bro or ‘b’ (As in, “Nah, b”). After moments of going back and forth with my inner voice in between stops on the C train; I chalked it up to “bad habits die hard” and switched to my meditation app to get some ‘HeadSpace’. Or snooze? I’m pretty sure I fell asleep on that particular ride to enlightenment. The next day I looked through the Spotify categorized playlists. There were a few calling right at me as I looked for the perfect playlist to focus me at my desk during one of many seemingly useless, monotonous tasks. I can get real cranky and indifferent around 3pm so I needed a playlist that inspired but also didn’t impose or propagate angst. And there shined a playlist. So simple yet so true, her name was “Focus”. Can’t make this stuff up! So I said come’on Miss Focus let’s see what you got. She did not disappoint. I felt like I was playing the soundtrack of a movie. They were a string of lyricless, delightful and moving instrumental. Some incorporated nature and environmental sounds, some boasted percussion and world rhythms. Others made me feel like I can lift a car or win a supreme court case. I almost wanted to apologize to the playlist for doubting its awesomeness and to myself for thinking I was lame for trying it out.
Now I’m not saying I’m giving up hip-hop forever. Not all hip-hop artist or hip-hop music degrades women but I am saying it is very important to think about what you’re feeding your mind throughout the day. Maybe listening to someone calling women bitches and hoes, especially at your place of work, when you are looking to be inspired as a woman and inspire other women is not the right alignment of flow. Maybe listening to some kickass blockbuster epic instrumentals is key. Maybe listening to some nature sounds or uplifting beats is what you need. Not sure one would listen to the blues when working out; but I know for me I’d just end up laying on the stretch mat, letting the tears roll down to my ears regretting the waffles I hate before my workout.
And I’m gonna listen to the new Cardi B album, no question about it. I am, however going to be a bit more conscious of the messages I’m feeding myself daily. I am a feminist and hope to be raising one too. That means being more in tune with the art, news, products, and organizations that filter into my life regularly. The next time you are looking for inspiration or feel it strike, note the energy and message of that moment. If you are feeling melancholy what’s the mood in the room? If you are feeling angsty what’s the tone of the music you are listening to? It’s all relative; just make sure you’re relating to the world the way you see it. Not how the way the world wants you to see it.