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View Full Version : Soldiers and Baby Mamas: Gender in Hip-Hop


SelenaStar
August 14th, 2011, 04:14 PM
I think the title says it all really, but I'll expand on what I mean and hopefully you guys will offer up your opinions on the matter.

I was watching Nicki Minaj - Super Bass the other day, and although both the song and the video are excellent, I couldn't help but wonder why Nicki Minaj - as the most current, famous female mainstream artist in a very male-dominated genre of music - was dressing, dancing and generally portraying herself in the same demeaning fashion as girls in the videos of male Hip-Hop artists such as 50 Cent. Thinking back over all the female Hip-Hop artists I have been made aware of through the mainstream, I can only think of Missy Elliot who didn't portray herself in this manner, but even the imagery used in her songs could be seen to be very 'masculine' in tone.

Then I read a fascinating article (http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jun/09/women-rappers-detroit-hiphop-invincible?INTCMP=SRCH) about how there is a very vibrant, healthy female Hip-Hop underground scene in Detroit - many of whom equal or surpass the talents of mainstream female artists - who find it extraordinarily difficult not just to break out into the mainstream but even to raise their own profile in the underground scene in their own City.

So this all got me thinking about the constructions of Gender in Hip-Hop - videos, music, language, art - just general Hip-Hop culture really. I understand that there is a degree of debate amongst music scholars over whether Rap is counted within Hip-Hop, but I think that to understand one requires a contextualising understanding of the other, so I don't tend to see much of a distinction.

I don't really want to give off my own opinion just yet - I just wanted to know what you guys thought:

Do you think that the Gender constructs used in Hip-Hop should be concerning? Do you think that looking at Hip-Hop alone is too blinkered, or irrelevant and we should be more concerned about Gender constructs in general?

What impact do you think these portrayals of Gender-types have on the Hip-Hop audience and even wider society?

And why do you think that Hip-Hop has developed these Gender constructs - back in the boom of the late 70's/80's Hip-Hop was more concerned with illustrating a message of racial oppression and talking against the impoverished conditions that many African-Americans lived in - but now this message seems to have all but vanished yet the conditions remain vastly the same.