The Duality of the Emcee or Why I Don’t Like Wale Anymore
Last year, I was asked to speak on a panel about misogyny at the Hip-hop symposium at Princeton University. I was the only female on the panel, which provided me with much pressure. Twiddling my fingers and taking swigs of water I nestled into the conversation, trying to make my way in whenever a brief pause allowed.
The panelists threw banter of Greek goddesses and connections to the hyper sexuality of women through time—landing upon the perspective of sixteen bars. We traded words without interruption—even from the moderator—and agreed to disagree. During our question session, something not so deep and often ignored blitzed at me through inquiry.
A college aged girl asked, “Aren’t you tired of rappers giving us handouts? One song about love and then one about whores, it’s like they write the one respectful track for us to buy the album. Wale is a prime example.”
I remember answering her quickly, the timekeeper symbolizing that our tenure had almost expired, “You’re absolutely right. Wale’s ‘Manipulation’ record shows the difference between a good and a bad guy, but the end of the track’s banter shows that he’s probably the latter:
“I’ll treat you like a queen, you rather be a slave
I’ll show you I’m a gentleman, but you prefer a cave man
Shoebox money, and crumbled up 20’s
I’ll teach you ’bout equity and real estate honey”
Banter at the end: “I might have said some words or some terms that might be offensive. Basically I just want to give you a formal apology, I didn’t really mean it…I wanted to creatively express myself. I just want to let them know that there are two different types of guys you can date. There’s the good guys that’s going to call you a lady or a woman, even your real first name, and then there’s the guy that’s gonna try to pull your hair and call you Beyotches, hoes and all that. So you basically have the opportunity to choose one or the other. So Beyotch, pick the right mother—.”
Almost every emcee has had their day with misogyny: Tupac made “Brenda’s Got a Baby” and “I Get Around.” Jay-Z scribed “That’s My Beyotch” during the first years of his union with Beyonce. Even Common’s “Ghetto Dreams” touches on it: “I want a beyotch that look good and cook good// Cinderella fancy, but she still look hood//Butt naked in the kitchen flipping pancakes//Plus she tricking from the dough that her man makes.” Common will tell you that this is his personifying of a ghetto brother’s voice, but I’m quite sure he wouldn’t mind the visual.
However, the reason why Wale’s misogyny is so highlighted is because of his blatant and bold dichotomy. How can someone who pushed an entire campaign for ambitious girls—the female bloggers/hip-hop writers swooning at their keyboards—also be so incredibly disrespectful when it comes to women? How can you call yourself an advocate for the educated and independent and then down them in your next verse? It doesn’t stop at the new music—if you check Wale’s mix tapes before he became mainstream, you’ll notice his split was apparent far before his hit singles. Wale’s issues seem to stem outside of the music arena. Examples: His spar with Amanda Diva, the Pretty Girls fiasco, his infamous emotional tweets and numerous other rumored experiences.
But I feel as if it goes far deeper than that. Has anyone ever REALLY listened to Wale? I’m not talking about the go-go band induced beats and clever puns, I’m talking about what’s in between the lines and sifting amongst his most hurtful utterances.
“Sometimes I just wanna speak you up// Yeah, hit you up, or call you up, or send a text// Your new man got my respect// So if I do call it’s just to check//”
“Perfection doesn’t exist if it doesn’t consume her// And the truth hurts that this world’s mine, but the womb is hers//
“I’m in love with your business// and your productivity is the reason I interest, ambitious girl// See, I like the person that you are, but I’m in love with the person that you have the potential to be//”