The Future is Female in Hip-Hop

 The future is female – isn’t something that just looks trendy on a t-shirt. Feminism isn’t a fad that people can subscribe to then dispose of whenever they feel it is no longer ‘cool.’

Whether this era is truly one for women is yet to be discovered, with two leading women in the rap game, becoming pioneers in their own right. Conquering firsts, and solidifying themselves in history

Nicki Minaj and Cardi B have bulldozed their way to the top of the rap game, they maximised their femininity through sex appeal but didn’t let it shy them away from making ‘money moves.’

Cardi B is the latest female rapper on every lips, she was even dubbed the hottest rapper in NYC by Revolt. After her chart topping success from single ‘Bodak Yellow’, Cardi B became known as the first solo female rap act to top the Billboard charts since Lauryn Hill, in 1998. Her glow up is the new American Dream, being picked up from the street of the South Bronx and thrown into fame and wealth.

The fairytale-like story is similar to Nicki Minaj’s, although her come-up story seems a lot further away now with her consecutive chart winnings acting as a lodge between her present and previous life.

2010 marked the release of Nicki Minaj’s first album Pink Friday – the puns, grit and catchy hooks catapulted her as the new queen of rap- a title that she has maintained for a decade now. At the start of her career Minaj was invited to rap on many prolific artists from Madonna to Justin Bieber. Yet it was her track with Kanye West, “Monster” that really proved she was a force to be reckoned with. Nicki Minaj has reigned supreme, fighting off any battles that have threatened her reign. Until this date Cardi B’s recent chart topping success has been the only thing that shook the Nicki Minaj dynasty.

The history of hip-hop teaches us that only one woman can reign supreme at a time, and that there must be beef between the existing queen and the one on the come up. These unwritten rules are encouraged by a matriarchal society which feeds into pitting women against each other.

This notion materialized recently when Remy Ma ignited beef with Nicki Minaj in March earlier this year. Nicki Minaj responded by releasing three songs “No Frauds”, “Regret in Your Tears” and “Changed It”. The tracks crowned her as being the woman with the most Billboard Hot 100 hits of all time, her 76 entries beating out Aretha Franklin’s former record of 73.

Releasing dis-tracks isn’t new to the game; it is imprinted in Hip-hop culture. Hip-Hop is rooted in beef, and some of the most historical moments in the culture prove this. A lot of hip-hop heads were feigning for Cardi B to release a track about Minaj, but the two continues to deny a beef between them. Both rappers have risen up above the idea that women must tear each other down in order to get to the top, a theory that is riddled in sexist assumption.

On the contrary if we look at the leading males in the rap game today, there isn’t a slim line for all of them to exist within. J.Cole, Drake and Kendrick Lamar can all co-exist without any animosity or overt competition between them. Separately they are all kings in their own right, and musically they have evolved into their own lanes where comparison no longer takes precedence.

Yet we have never seen what it is like for two women, in their prime to achieve consecutive wins without being pitted together. We have never seen what it is like for females in Hip-hop to rise up above the notion that there can be only one queen.

Cardi B’s win signalled a shift in culture and a new American dream- one that champions and includes the marginalised. Women once existed without a voice but today women are leading conversations. This is especially significant in Hip-Hop – a world where women are openly objectified and degraded.

If the future of hip-hop is female, we can encourage a future generation of boss women; and we can dislodge the idea that only one woman can succeed at a time. Young girls need to recognise the importance of supporting instead of competing with one another.

Nicki Minaj’s time is far from up, she just hit a decade of continuous wins, and Cardi B is just starting her winning streak. Can the rap game make an exception for two rap queens?

-By Naomi Grant

American Nightmare | Trump wins US elections

This is a dream America hopes it can desperately wake up from. I think we all underestimated the seismic divide that race can cause. Trump represents the racism that has been lined underneath the unity that America has been proclaiming. Trump has reawakened the anger that simmered through the air of America, and sat uncomfortably on the seats where the black and white convey. This election is evidence that the issue of race has not yet been abandoned. Race was at the forefront of Trump’s campaign, and yet with all his outlandish remarks, the people chose him to rule the Land of the Free.

A fear sits deep and grows with every exhale that I release, expressing my discontent with this black and white world. These winds and walls do not nurture my spirit. Imagine living in a world that does not want you. In a world that demonises you over factors you have no control over. It hurts, but when power meets pain it can create a beautiful thing. Trump has no direct control over us, you can still maintain hope. I have recently been learning how much you have to coach yourself from falling into sadness or depression. Sanity is a luxury that the youth enjoy. I think as people get older, and their childhood dreams are quietened by the screams of society, they sacrifice their sanity for adolescence. Age plays no factor in this exchange, the individual himself must make the active choice of letting his dreams go and chase after the American Dream, as a nation. Yet today, I am not too sure what America dreams about. In the 1950s the term was an ideal perception of perfection; something that kept men striving and women accepting of their subservient role in the home. Fifty-odd years later it became clear that this dream was reserved solely for those who slept with deluxe duvets instead of single covers.

The White West is under some sort of illusion that their countries are ‘great’, they are even confused as to whether their country is theirs or not. Black people were brought to America; nobody voluntarily picked up and left the mother land. The white house was built off of the black man’s back. The greatness that America and Britain claim started with us. I used to be an activist for unity and the ‘human race’, but honestly what has happened in the UK and the USA recently is very disheartening. Donald Trump’s presidency was a huge step back from the legacy Barack Obama left. For anyone who does not believe in white privilege; think about the hurdles Obama had to overcome to even dream about being the first black president in white house. Then consider the ease in which Trump made his decision and then won the position. It isn’t a fair playing field, Obama undoubtedly had to mute his blackness is certain white spaces to get to where he is today. Yet Trump can be very white and very racist and still win the vote of the people!

My only cry for black people is to educate yourselves, do not be ignorant in a time like this. Especially British blacks, because in Britain race is sugar-coated, but this election speaks volumes for us too. People in the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU because the issue of immigrants was at the forefront of UKIP’s campaign. Both the USA and the UK are singing similar songs; they’re trying to regress into their supposed greatness. But do not be discouraged, for us as black people have made progress. We have made giant strides to success whilst white people are trapped within a raging hatred of themselves that keeps divisions alive. It is not up to us to fix racism. It is up to us to fix ourselves and our communities. Just like Master P said on Solange’s A Seat At The Table, we have to be rehab ourselves. We have to heal ourselves and the one thing that black people collectively have is faith, our belief in God is unwavering and He has got us through so much already. We cannot look to them for our healing when they’re the ones who caused the pain. Do not give them power over you. Create your own spaces, carve out your own destiny, and trust in God not in man. These powers do not have power over us.

Seek places of healing, find stillness and peace, and rely on your faith to pull you up when the world around you tears you down. We have been successful in curating many only communities that allow us to relish in our magic. This is the time to revolt, but the revolution has to occur in your mind. We must aim to rise within the black community, and healing is generational it doesn’t come overnight, so be patient. But be encouraged by knowing just how far we’ve come, we have already evolved better than our parents; imagine what our children would do. Imagine how beautiful black would be for the next generations if we continue to build now.

No role models: Lil Wayne dissociates himself from Black Lives Matter movement

In a recent interview with Nightline Lil Wayne publicly dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement. In his own words he said: “I don’t feel connected to a damn thing that ain’t got nothin’ to do with me.” The clip of the video has since gone viral, with Black Twitter dragging Lil Wayne through all kinds of dust. It is unsurprising that every news publication covered this story in the hopes of positioning Lil Wayne as a representative of the masses. I do not want to bash Lil Wayne because he has produced some great socially conscious records such as My Heart Races On and Georgia Bush. He even shouted ‘Black Lives Matter’ at a concert in August, so his standpoint in this interview is more than confusing.

Lil Wayne has always presented himself as being unapologetic and if that’s his brand/image, then that’s okay. However ignorance on a thirty-four year old man is never a good look. Claiming to not feel “connected” and therefore ignoring the issues at hand is white-man ignorance. Dare I say it, Wayne sounds a lot like Trump in this interview. Lil Wayne may deny the term ‘role model’, but he is still in a position of power, he still has a hold over the youth. So even if he sees a multiracial crowd at his concert, he cannot deny that we too are his audience. We hailed him and positioned him to become a “rich-black-mother*” position. An artist would be nowhere without their listeners. So to say that you do not feel connected to issues that are affecting our communities is a slap in the face, especially to young black boys.

The notion of black boys growing without fathers is stereotypical, yet true in a lot of cases. Black boys consequently search for role models outside of the home; they find their heroes typically in rap, sport or Obama. Young boys undeniably look up to Lil Wayne. They do not mind the fact that they may be growing up in deprived areas, whilst Lil Wayne flashes the diamonds stuck in his teeth. They find the connection. Lil Wayne is a black man who has made it in White America, so they can too. He and other rappers, and athletes make the dream tangible. However a comment like this wakes them up to a terrible reality that there isn’t unity within the black community, and the few who become stars forget where they came from. Some rich black people become slaves to the dollar, which is why they can claim racism isn’t real because their real concern is only one colour. Rappers are the rock stars of this generation, and history shows that eventually even rock stars fade. Maybe Lil Wayne was faded in the interview but whatever he is smoking takes him far away to Wayne’s World.

– By Naomi for LAMBB