Crystal, I stumbled onto your blog through some rabbit hole of links a while back and have been a reader ever since. You write some intelligent things about hip-hop which is rare and dope. One thing that I'm sure you've realized in your relationship with hip-hop is that it is a deeply flawed genre. For all its lyricism and rhythm, it is also deeply sexist. How do you, as a woman, reconcile your gender with your music? Tumblr gives me a character limit, but you get the idea of the question.
Hi Anon, this question is phrased as well-intentioned, but it is also extremely boring.
Women much smarter than I have been writing about their relationship with the genre for well over a decade now. My favorite book is Joan Morgan’s When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost which is an easy read; it’ll take you an afternoon. If you’re looking for a vaster collection of materials, Melissa Harris-Perry’s Hip-Hop and Feminism class had an awesome syllabus. A lot of these books were extremely important to helping me unpack some of my more complicated feelings.
Perhaps because of the exceptional attention paid to hip hop, I’ve found that as a genre it is extremely self-critical and self-aware. Women have been doing incredible things in hip hop since the very beginning. Salt-N-Pepa were making sex positive music at the same time as Madonna. Queen Latifah and MC Lyte wrote some of the most overtly feminist songs to have ever existed. Today, women in hip hop and who are tangentially related to it like Nicki Minaj, Kelly Rowland, and Beyonce consistently challenge societal norms behind gender more than anyone else.
Finally, I don’t think that women who love hip hop are the only ones who think about its sexism. Men certainly don’t deserve extra points for being decent human beings and fighting sexism, but plenty of male critics do their job and point out the bullshit. A quick example that springs to mind immediately is Renato Pagnani’s review of Kevin Gates’ By Any Means, where he grapples with his feelings about Gates’ persona and the deeply violent lyrics in “Posed to Be in Love.”
So yeah, I do find hip hop to be deeply flawed in its relationship to woman, but I love it a lot. As always, the answer is to critically think about the things that you love. Maybe one day this will change, but for now, this question is boring.
Thievery Corporation is a Washington DC-based duo that defined and popularized a genre of music loosely called globetronica. They just released their latest album, Saudade. I caught up with Rob Garza (one half of the group) to talk about Internet, creativity, streaming, Pandora and Spotify.
If you’re considering starting a label or releasing music, good insight here.
Elle Luna is an artist and designer who lives and works in San Francisco. She worked with teams to design and build Mailbox, redesign Uber’s iPhone app, and scale the storytelling platform Medium. Before startups, Elle spent five years at IDEO where she worked across a variety of industries to develop multichannel, holistic experiences with massive impact. When she’s not painting, you can find her traveling to Bali for her new textile venture, Bulan Project, and inspiring people to follow their passion. Luna is social proof that finding your calling is a worthy pursuit, and this is how she did it.
This is a fun article.
Also I never realized what a beautiful font PT Serif is to read. Going to use it for something asap.