Thoughts. Ramblings. Heavy-hipped. Mango-obsessed.

I'm Not a Hip-Hop Head but...

(The blog I read couple nights ago - seems to have done something to me - brought up stuff - thrown more logs on the fire in my belly.   I wrote this piece some time ago - was an email convo I had with a friend - which I then expanded. So here it is.)

NOW, I'M NOT A HIP-HOP HEAD... I can very well imagine that one day someone will probably challenge me and say that I know nothing about hip-hop (implying that I have no right to challenge it). What I do know is that I'm not into lyrics that degrade women – it just so happened my subject of choice is hip-hop – it's as good a place to start as any, methinks.

I'm not prepared to watch certain artists give what is a great artform a bad name, riffing off with the mentality that 'that's just the way it is'. Now I might not know a whole heap about hip-hop but that's not what I imagine encouraged its initial growth – I think the growth of it might have started out of desperation, out of a need to say "Hello World, I have a voice", out of a need to say "if no-one's gonna tell me I'm beauty-full, if no-one's gonna give me the time of day because of the colour of my skin, if I'm gonna be shoved off to the ghetto and left to rot, if the money I spend does not enrich my community, but continues to suck the life out of it, then, hell, I'm gonna tell myself I'm beauty-full even if I have to exaggerate the hell out if it, this is my Capoiera, this is my gum-boot dance, this is my Oriki".

I draw the line when what you say presents a warped view of women (and romanticises gangster'ism and the ghetto), when you know and I know that you have a whole heap of talent and yet you choose to denigrate, when you know and I know that a lot of the people buying your music are young people and you wouldn't be where you are today had it not been for them – what?, a teenage girl scrapes pennies together to buy your latest CD to listen to you call her a bitch and a ho? - a boy buys your latest CD to listen to how you smacked your bitch up, fucked her from behind, bought her ass (out) with Gucci & Krystal?  If this wasn't so serious, it'd be childish and boring.

(Parental Advisory stickers on CD covers – erm, what's that?)

So, my cute 7yr old nephew comes up to me the other day and says "auntie, look how girls dance!", and he starts wining up in front of me – I'm like 'what?' – my soul sank to the bottom of my feet. I thought: hmm, do I hit him now or later when his parents ain’t around? (Or do I practice my karate skills on his folks instead?)

I argue with myself in my head and sometimes I think "but what some of these 'rappers' are rapping about is their reality, it's their way of expressing themselves, of venting - it's what they know". Then the other side of me thinks, "BULLLLLSHIT – no-one's that one-dimensional – and if what they're rapping about is harming just about everyone involved, including themselves, then what's the point? Really."

(You can take the man out of the ghetto but you can't take the ghetto out of the man – that's bullshit too. I don't know why. But it is.)

So, as far as I'm concerned, what some of these artists do is not hip-hop in my eyes. A wolf in sheep's clothing is still a wolf...even if it becomes a vegetarian!

(p.s., is Lil Kim fuelling or quenching the rampant level of misogyny in the industry?)

(p.s.: If you find yourself getting defensive over my take on things (though I don't see why 'cos I'm sure you've heard it all before), and you feel like 'labelling' me a 'feminist' in the same way women were branded 'witches' back in the day, then please form an orderly queue behind 50 Cent, R Kelly and the rest of the gold-teethed bo-zoes that Africa's slowly becoming too ashamed to call one of her own.

Should your defensiveness upgrade to aggression, please convert said emotion into monetary energy which you may donate to a charity of your choice – lord knows there are plenty of women's centres, youth centres, children's homes, empowerment projects and support phone lines that could really do with the money.

The Aggression to Monetary conversion rate depends on the amount of r's in your Grrrrrrrrr. Each 'r' converts to a pound or a dollar. So, for example:

GRRR = £3




pps: ahem, you might be thinking "she's all talk and no action - what is she doing about it?" And that would be a good question. An even better question if it came from someone who was actually doing something about it. )

(ppps: do you know how many souls hip-hop has saved? Honour the religion or STEP THE FUCK OFF IT. )


Bloggrrl said...

I think it's all about the money, honey...I loved hip-hop when it was all political (as in, for real), but I can't stand hearing my male students buy into the crap they are currently listening to. You would cringe to hear the sh** they say in group when we discuss domestic violence. It's always worth stopping at the liquor store on the way home after those groups.

Ebele said...

It is a real shame, bloggrrl. I'm not sure what I would have done if I'd heard what they might have said in that group - for once, I don't think mangoes would have made me feel better - might have been right behind you in that liquor store.

But the truth is - I'd listen to what they've got to say regardless.

Bloggrrl said...

I listen. I get paid to listen, and anyway, it is an interesting eyeopener. I like to know what people are really thinking, and the kiddos are comfortable enough with me to let me know--no holds barred. I say what I think as well, but not with the words I'd like to use... There is a HUGE disconnect between our two worlds--most of these guys really believe that it is okay to hurt a woman if she says she's going to leave. They look at me like I'm crazy when I say I'd never put up with that crap from a man. There's their mama's story right there...

Ebele said...

...those kids are very lucky to have you. really.

take care...