All Articles Tagged "rap"
Nicki Minaj has made news yet again, this time for unabashedly speaking her mind all while making a great point. A New York Times Magazine profile published this week allowed Minaj to step up to the plate to defend herself against microaggressions being lobbed her way for situations way out of her control. Minaj’s response is making waves, and I look at it as one of the few instances where keeping it real goes right in Hollywood.
The profile was very well done for the most part. Writer Vanessa Grigoriadis managed to get into the psyche of the musician, letting readers in on what it’s like to be a major crossover pop star in the digital era.
And then it all unraveled at the end.
In the latter part of the interview, Grigoriadis questions Minaj about her sticky positioning in the middle of two major feuds (between Birdman and Lil Wayne as well as Drake and Meek Mill). After asking Minaj how she feels about the disputes (which Minaj says she wishes would end already), the writer goes in for the sucker punch:
“Is there a part of you that thrives on drama, or is it no, just pain and unpleasantness—”
Pause. There was a literal pause. And in that silence, the writer should’ve clutched her pearls and fled the room, but the foolish can often be brave.
“That’s disrespectful. Why would a grown-ass woman thrive off drama?” Nicki clapped back.
The writer realized her error and immediately tried to apologize to Minaj, who was not trying to hear that noise.
‘‘What do the four men you just named have to do with me thriving off drama? Why would you even say that? That’s so peculiar. Four grown-ass men are having issues between themselves, and you’re asking me do I thrive off drama?”
Minaj is right. She has remained Switzerland as heck in both tense situations. Her man has been the butt of hundreds of memes and a slew of diss tracks. And her name has been brought up in the feud between the man who gave her a chance and the one behind the label that pushed her to the top. And yet, she has been silent about the whole thing. A muteness that would make Charlie Chaplin proud.
So, why was she being thrown into the mix as a someone thriving off of the melee? A Helen of Troy. A puppetmaster. Did I mention that Minaj wasn’t having any of that noise?
‘‘That’s the typical thing that women do. What did you putting me down right there do for you?’ Women blame women for things that have nothing to do with them. I really want to know why — as a matter of fact, I don’t. Can we move on, do you have anything else to ask? To put down a woman for something that men do, as if they’re children and I’m responsible, has nothing to do with you asking stupid questions, because you know that’s not just a stupid question. That’s a premeditated thing you just did.’’
She chucked up the deuces on the writer and the interview and left me wanting to give her a round of applause for her response. Why are women so quick to blame other women for everything?
It’s a systemic effect of patriarchy. Men are let off the hook for “being men” while women are taught to be wary of other women. A man cheats, and some women quickly place the blame on the woman he cheated with because “he’s just a man and that’s what they do.” If we could truly start holding men accountable for their actions, we could threaten the patriarchy, and we could strengthen our womanhood.
There is a list of microaggressions that are sent in a woman’s direction when it’s time for blame to be placed. We are often unable to speak for ourselves without being deemed “emotional,” “dramatic,” or “all over the place.” So to see a woman journalist use these same tactics against a successful and self-assured woman is disheartening. To see her downplay Minaj’s achievements and standing by relegating her to a cast member or accessory in the soap operas of her counterparts (and boyfriend) is also discouraging. Screw talking about drama. Misogyny is out here thriving on these streets.
Meek Mill and Drake are “grown-ass men” and Nicki Minaj is caught on the sidelines. She has to watch her long-time friend and coworker publicly humiliate her man while using her success as the biggest punchline to threaten Mill’s manhood (i.e., “Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour?”). There could be no way Minaj thrived off of that. It’s never fun to be caught in the middle, millionaire pop star or not.
Furthermore, the idea that she is in any way responsible for the actions of this group of feuding men is pure lunacy. I’m sure if Minaj could control them, she would shut this whole farce down so they could get back to making music and holding a controlling interest in pop and hip-hop. Hopefully, the reporter learned a lesson from her ridiculous line of questioning, and readers, thanks to Minaj, were able to spotlight misogyny as it rears its head, even in women.
“We been hurt, been down before
Nigga, when our pride was low
Lookin’ at the world like, ‘Where do we go?’
Nigga, and we hate po-po
Wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho
Nigga, I’m at the preacher’s door
My knees gettin’ weak, and my gun might blow
But we gon’ be alright”
The song is explicit and emotional, speaking directly about racial disparity. Current events show us that we are not safe, and some of us feel displaced. There is some hatred for the cops because of the police brutality. You could argue that “my knees getting weak and my gun might blow” is about the helplessness that makes you want to take matters into your own hands, or maybe the helplessness that might make you want to turn the gun on yourself. The song is timely and the black-and-white video that dropped yesterday is gorgeous, packed with symbolism, and even downright depressing.
But as far as Rivera’s statement, two things: 1) Nothing is more damaging to the Black community than racism. 2) Nothing is more damaging to the Black community than racism.
I had to say it twice because his sentiment should be in the Guinness World Records book for the longest reach in the history of reaches.
Now, that is not to say that rap music is not jam-packed with problematic and damaging messages, but using Lamar to make his point displays Rivera’s ignorance of the culture. Kendrick Lamar is one of the few Top 40 rappers whose purpose is to share a message about the trials and tribulations of our current times. Had Rivera referenced Young Thug or The Game, his statement would have some weight, but alas, he did not. Then again, why would I expect the man who blamed Trayvon Martin’s hoodie for his own death to make a valid point when throwing around tone-deaf cultural accusations?
Let’s be honest: Modern-day commercial rap music is theater, akin to the WWE and Love & Hip Hop. A lot of things are said and done to get ahead, not because the lyricist truly means it. Rick Ross is a glowing example of this. Once a corrections officer, the Florida-bred rapper is constantly criticized for spitting bars about a history of drug dealing and arms carrying. Back in 2008, when it was uncovered that he had worked as a prison guard, Ross denied it, insisting that pictures of him in his uniform had been Photoshopped. He later came clean and admitted that if times got tough enough, he would return to his old job though his recent troubles with the law might make that a bit hard. No matter his past, Ross is a character in a costume and his act has paid off.
But for every Rick Ross portraying a hood caricature, Kendrick Lamar lands on the other end of the spectrum. He did grow up in Compton. He is facing internal struggles about his socio-political environment. He did see a lot of violence growing up. He sometimes has girl problems, too. He’s just different. Very different from his colleagues in rap.
As a Black woman, the violent and misogynistic lyrics in commercial rap definitely make me uneasy but they don’t “damage” my worldview. The first time I really remember being put off by the content of a rap song happened when I was 10 and one of my family members was bumping DJ Quik’s “Sweet Black P***y.” I vividly remember covering my ears in disgust as Quik rapped about his love for, well, you know. Bad words were no friend of mine. As a side effect of hearing this song, I do not prefer to use that word nor hear a woman’s nether regions referred to as such. While I definitely came up with vulgarity-laced hip-hop, there was a balance in my life; my dad constantly exposed us to the oldies from the ‘60s and ‘70s, which allowed me to revel in a time when men were able to sincerely proclaim love for a woman and her beautiful…soul. There are probably a few hours worth of music from the ‘70s devoted to the beauty of a woman’s eyes alone.
Those times are gone. Long gone. Now we have songs about eating booty like groceries. I am forever nostalgic.
The levels of homophobia, violence, exploitation, and misogyny in popular rap are at peak levels. When I get frustrated by any of this, I have to remind myself that the music industry is like theater. It’s a sometimes cartoonish, and troublesome production, much like Ringling Bros. Theater is dramatic and compelling and it requires the views and participation of the audience. What if the audience doesn’t realize it’s watching a show? Do young kids realize that Nicki Minaj is the Hulk Hogan to Onika Maraj’s Terry Bollea? Would it change their views if they understood that Minaj is a character that Onika created to be successful? She is a strikingly talented businesswoman; over the course of 8 years, she has created a multi-million dollar empire that includes a clothing line, signature perfumes, an alcoholic beverage, platinum records, sold-out tours, and three movies. Behind the persona, for the world to see, is a success story. What could be damaging about that?
But a lot of kids take entertainment at face value. Therefore, it falls back on the parents to set the tone and lead their kids by example. The onus is not on Ludacris, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Tyga and any other rapper you can think of to be role models; it starts at home. While I may have had an uncensored entertainment experience as a child, my parents made a lot of lessons very clear to me: Treat people how you wish to be treated, respect yourself and your elders, help others, and act like you got some sense. It was and has always been, just music. It entertained me. It made me think. But it didn’t damage me.
I don’t think the tone of pop rap is going to change anytime soon, so these uncomfortable messages are going to continue to dominate and be passed around. But, in the background and sometimes in the forefront, we get entertainers like Outkast, Common, Mos Def, J. Cole, Jidenna, and yes, Kendrick Lamar. They give me hope that there is a balance in this rap universe, and that positive, uplifting messages are being shared too.
But whether or not there is a balance, rap music does not force or cause racial disparities. Rap music could never be more powerful than racism. Racism is a hateful never-ending plague. Rap music is not perfect. It feeds the culture, and sometimes perpetuates nasty messages, but it can also heal, raise awareness and bring a marginalized group together in celebration of the vibrant culture that racism deems ultimately inferior.
Everyone loves a good comeback. And over the past year, we’ve been blessed with the return of D’Angelo and Janet Jackson. Check out these 15 musical acts who have had some of the greatest comebacks ever!
When I was coming up in the roaring 90’s, it seemed like at least one song per album was devoted to bashing the deadbeat dad. Others took a more positive route like Tupac and praised the sturdy, but loving mother. Hip-Hop was predicated on being the truth, but nobody seemed to have a good enough dad to write about. Those days are dying…slowly.
I think Hip-Hop dads are changing the profile of a good dad. Lets start with the OG’s like Will Smith, Rev. Run, T.I. who all have very visible families that appear to be burgeoning dynasties like the Wayans Family are presently. We’ve recently seen other older gods of rap like Busta Rhymes, Young Jeezy and Baby from Cash Money Records graduating their offspring from traditional education institutions. Most of them have fought out of impoverished conditions to feed their families, provide and nurture their seeds.
Then, we have the young guns, who TMZ and other tabloid media outlets have a field day with, but they still persevere as fathers. Make not one mistake, many of these guys live lives wrought with controversy. Take Rich Homie Quan for example. His name has recently been sullied after a pair of songs he wrote referenced raping women in them. The songs were unacceptable and inexcusable and he has since apologized for both instances. He said, “I was young and just rapping. At the time, I had no guidance in my life. I blame it on that. So I apologize once more to my fans.” When I talked to him, earlier this year, he made it clear he was a dedicated father and explained the challenges with being in his sons life and that he was not perfect, but aware of his shortcomings.
Similarly, Chris Brown’s life is a true cluster of missteps in his personal life…and yet he still manages to adorn his daughter with love and lavish gifts. And not all young bucks have drama-filled lives. Take Fetty Wap, the NJ singer/rapper, as an example. He and his child’s mother are in perfect accord. However, he wrestles with his life as a rapper and he told VIBE, “I used to see them every day. Now, my biggest fear is that my daughter is going to be crying because she doesn’t know who I am. Or she’s going to be crying because she’s happy to see me. She’s still young so she doesn’t really know what’s up right now. As a man though, that s**t kind of hurts me. That’s my baby girl, my only daughter. What man don’t want their daughter to know who they is?”
I often envy guys like Nas and Common, both sons of musicians because both of their fathers were able to witness their success in Hip-Hop and they were even able to do cool things with their dads. Nas and his father were in Gap ads and Common’s dad played on several of his popular albums. At the day’s end, I was extremely proud that they had dads that reminded me of my own father in many ways. My dad was far from Hip-Hop, but he would sport suede Puma kicks and Adidas suits back in the day as a sign of solidarity with his b-boy sons. That’s the kind of father I have become. I’m that father, like these others, that seeks to break cycles and create new ones.
When we talk Hip-Hop Fathers, people tend to think about rappers and cultural affiliates, but that’s not it. This is a movement that can be seen on every front of life. If you look on Facebook, Instagram or other social media, you will find doting dads that are sharing information, encouraging other fathers, and showing how much they love their kids. These are people like my brother, a teacher with a teen daughter and a penchant for making beats. My boy Jerry, an editor at WatchLoud, in an overlord in the underground rap scene but is also a diligent father or take Datwon – who runs VIBE.com – who has been one of the coolest, dedicated fathers I’ve ever known for the longest.
We are doctors, dentists, lawyers, security guards, engineers, bankers, poets, web site owners, entrepreneurs and more. We are Hip-Hop. The days of old may not be completely dead, but we are doing our best to kill them, despite a myriad of hurdles placed in our way. Our lives may not be perfect, but as fathers, we can and will do this the right way – by any means necessary!
At a time when many women in music are working hard to look and sound exactly the same, sometimes it feels like there aren’t very many female artists speaking your language and trying to make genuinely good music. Not true! They may not be at the top of the Billboard charts or all over the magazines yet, but there are some very talented women out there ready to change the game. For music lovers everywhere, here are five up-and-coming women in music to look out for.
This Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter, and emcee has had her vocal abilities compared to the likes of Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill, but with a fresh twist. She has provided supporting vocals for many musical geniuses including Common, Lalah Hathaway, Zap Mama, and The Roots. Her work with The Roots landed Maimouna her first Grammy nomination for the hit “Don’t Feel Right.” In 2011, Maimouna released her first EP, Black Magic Woman. That same year she released a full-length album titled The Blooming, which made the Washington Post’s list of the Best DC Music of 2011. One of my favorite songs of Maimouna’s is her cover of Lorde’s “Royals.” Maimouna reclaims our rich African history and proclaims, “We’re already Royals, see it runs in our blood. We just been having tougher luck, we need a different kind of buzz. Let me be your ruler, call me Nefertiti and baby I’ll rule, come on in to reality.” Maimouna is truly a voice that will take the music industry by storm.
Hailing from California, Luke Christopher and his infectious smile captivated us while we interviewed him about his budding music career. Growing up in a biracial household, Luke Christopher mixed various genres together to create his own sound. As a self taught musician, Luke Christopher’s claim to fame has been to blur the lines in music. Therefore, his personal edge has been covered through working with artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Common and Usher to name a few. In this intimate interview with the L.A. crooner/rapper he details how he entered the music industry, deals with groupies and is changing the West Coast sound.
How did you get you start in the music industry?
I started writing song on GarageBand back in the day, when I was 12 years old. My brother and cousin would create music with me on the program but to be honest, we were just messing around. We would take nursery rhymes and turn them into raps. Then at some point, they started to do their own thing but I stuck with creating tracks on it. I started rapping when I was 13 and I started singing when I was 15 and producing. I didn’t have anyone to sing on my hooks, so I began to just do it all and it worked out to being a blessing.
Who would you like to work with currently, or in the future?
I definitely would like to work with Andre 3000, James Blake, Regina Spector, Mos Def and Kanye. I really like what Pharrell is doing right now; to be honest I am really drawn to artists who are extremely creative.
Every Tuesday, you promised to release a song. Have you lived up to that goal?
My team and I have released 15 weeks worth of Tuesday “singles” of original songs and some of them are samples.
Creatively, how does that affect you as a writer?
By releasing a new song every Tuesday, it has been a cool exercise. Every single week, you have to create something different. None of the songs sound the same and I notice my fans realize that. They will tell me “oh snap, that new track is different and dope.”
You call your fans the TMRGang; Are they just as crazy as the BeyHive, Beliebers or other stans?
Yeah the TMRGang stands up even though they are not as big as the other fan bases but they are crazy [laughs]. But on a serious note, they love good music and that is what it is all about.
Since your status is changing due to you becoming more popular, do you feel the people around you have changed? Also, have you had any experiences with groupies?
The people around me have not changed. The homies are still the homies, because we are a team. But the groupies are coming. But to be honest it has all been all flattering, so it’s all good. Nothing too crazy [laughs].
What style of music influences you when you are in the process of creating a song?
Writing wise, it would be Stevie Wonder. Also, The Beatles, Micheal Jackson; if I am writing a rap song, I look to Pac, Mos Def or Common. I like to input wisdom in rap. I definitely go back to early Kanye too; he has been a great influence on my music.
West Coast rap has changed; do you think it should revert back to its 1980s style or do you like how it is transitioning now?
The nature of music is to change and grow, so sonically it will never sound the same again. But I like the current sound and I think it’s dope. There are a lot of artists coming out of the region now, so it is a perfect to be out there. The sound is ill and it’s like we are coming back now to take over the industry.
Check out Luke Christopher’s latest Tuesday song, “Sunny Days!”
During the 2006 Essence Festival in New Orleans Jill Scott spoke out about how women of color are portrayed in rap lyrics and their accompanying music videos, calling the content “dirty, inappropriate, inadequate, unhealthy, and polluted” as she told the audience in the superdome they needed to “demand more.” Eight years later, we caught up with Jilly from Philly during the 20th annual Essence Fest to ask her whether she feels any progress has been made on that front or if her words still ring true today. Check out the video above as Jill Scott reflects on the current state of rap and its depiction of women. Do you agree?
Hip-hop is still a young artform, which means there is still a long way to go when it comes to giving respect where it is due. The women of hip-hop on the mic, in the studio, writing bars and battle rapping often don’t get the respect and recognition they deserve, so we decided to spotlight 15 women who’ve contributed to hip-hop in big ways.
Yo-Yo did her thing in the ’90s when she was featured on Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted album for “It’s a Man’s World.” Her debut album Make Way for the Motherlode in 1990 gained popularity with the single “You Can’t Play with My Yo-Yo.” Although she didn’t receive mainstream success she continued to release albums that were authentic and true hip-hop. In 1992 she released her second album, Black Pearl that had a positive message which clashed with the current sound of gangsta rap. She went on to release three other albums and her single “Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo” was ranked number 92 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs.
When it comes to music, there are classics and then there are songs that just got all the way played out. We loved these tracks when they first came out in the ’90s, but eventually they were played so much we lowkey ended up hating them. Check out our list songs people played out thoroughly.
If there’s one word I can use to describe Jay Z, it would be…charming.
Friday night, HBO premiered Jay Z’s “short film” for his song, “Picasso Baby.” In the beginning, Jay discusses how he believes concerts are “pretty much performance art” with different venues. He goes to explain that by doing the video for “Picasso Baby” at a small venue like Pace Gallery in New York City, he’s able to have an exchange of energy between the crowd and himself.
As the performance starts and continues, you get to see Jay interact with different people in the crowd – both young and old. In some capacity, almost everyone who comes face to face with him throughout the song is some type of artist, whether it be a singer, dancer, actor, designer or anything else you can think of.
There are a few people who stand out like actor Michael K. Williams from The Wire, actress Taraji P. Henson (who is clearly a Jay Z fan) and actress/activist Rosie Perez. By the way, Rosie is still as fly as she was back in the 80s. There were also appearances by Wale, Alan Cumming, Cynthia Rowley and Fab Five Freddy.
Check it out and let us know what you think! Did you expect more?