by Charing Ball
I was 15 at the time when my dad decided that he wanted to have a impromptu heart to heart while sitting in his car outside of his house. I was visiting him for the summer in his home of Harrisburg, which is about 100 miles away from my home base of Philadelphia. Since I only got to see my father once or twice a year, he was taken aback by a number of changes I had undergone since our last visit. At that age, we were virtual strangers to each other. He couldn’t understand my style of dress, my choice of slang and why I chose to sit in the house instead of going out and, in his words, do something. However, his lecture for that early evening zeroed in on my taste of music.
“You know, one day you are going to realize that all that rap stuff just isn’t real music,” he said, as he pulled the car up to the curb. “You are going to recognize that this is just a phase and that you will grow up and have better taste in music. It’s time to mature and let go of all this hip hop stuff.” I remember I was angry with my dad. I didn’t understand where any of this was coming from. And I felt really defensive for the way in which he had nonchalantly dismissed my choice of music because it didn’t fit his ideals of real music. But being a typical teenager, riddled with teenage angst and the inability to express thoughts outside of sucking teeth and a blase “whatever,” I just roll my eyes and hummed the lyrics to Wu Tang’s Protect Ya Neck.
Nineteen years later, I’m driving my own car now, and despite my dad’s calculations, still banging with hip-hop. However I’d be lying if I said that I’m still that 15-year-old kid. As I’m in my car, listening to Nicki Minaj do voice fluctuations through Stupid Hoe on the radio, I can hear my dad’s voice in my head asking, is this what we call music now?
I want to give Minaj the benefit of the doubt, mainly because she is the only female emcee repping in a world heavily laced with testosterone. So I have tried very hard to like her music. I really have. Her weird, childish animations and voices and her eccentric outfits and performances appealed to the quirky Black girl in me, who wished she had the guts to walk around in colorful wigs and pink tutus. But listening to her mocking the “nappy headed,” in contrast of her kitchen being “good” and calling another female rapper that “n****’s monkey,” doesn’t sit well with me. All I can think about is the message that it sends to young black girls everywhere and that little girl with the big voice on Ellen, who happily belted out Super Bass along side her idol.
Back in the day, although there weren’t many of them, there was more of a female presence in the rap game. We could justify Lil Kim and Foxy as the bad girls because we also had Missy Elliot, Da Brat and Left Eye, keeping it fun and fluffy. But today’s hip-hop lacks a diverse representation of feminine viewpoints. We are left to reluctantly wave our hands as we strain to listen and lip sync to questionable lyrics like, “If you cute than a cuckoo roll. If you se*y eat my cuckoo roll. Put ya cape on, you a super hoe. 2012, I’m at the Superbowl.” I have no idea what that is suppose to mean, or if she even says this, but that’s how these ears heard it.
And I’m not laying all the blame on the shoulders of Minaj. I’m willing to say that I do harbor a deep resentment of most of today’s popular music. R&B lacks soul; hip-hop lacks authencity and the lyrics of both genres are more shallow and nonsensical than ever.