In another month or so, it’ll be a year that XXL Blogs has been up and running. Over the past year, I’ve received a lot of emails from people that I don’t know. Hip-hop heads, aspiring writers, underground rappers, industry people, other bloggers, the odd journalist. These folks never fail to remark on the comment section. “You must have really thick skin,” they write. “I don’t know how you put up with all the bullshit in the comments.”
It’s true that our comment section can be gully. We rarely delete posts, no matter how nasty, and some c-boys take that freedom and go crazy with it. Obviously it’s not ideal to have random dudes asking for naked pictures of you. But there’s also some interesting discussion going on (that actually relates to hip-hop), and some downright hilarious banter, and I take what I can from it and leave the rest. Occasionally something has stung. And occasionally someone’s criticism has been useful, and I’ve grown as a writer from it. Basically, I don’t have particularly thick skin—but it’s a heck of a lot thicker than when I started here.
Which is why I find it amusing that every now and then, a female commenter will pop up out of nowhere and come at me. Hard. And with pretty vague complaints.
I have no idea what the stats for the site are, but my sense is that—like the rest of hip-hop—the readership is largely male. And, like in other areas in the culture, I get the feeling that some females are determined to slag the handful of other women around. It’s odd to me, but extremely predictable.
I first noticed this dynamic when I was writing for a newspaper in Canada. Every year or so, we would get an outraged letter that would rant and rave and beg my editor to fire me. Often they would be written by young, aspiring female hip-hop journalists. My editor once gave one of these women a shot at writing for us, and I once offered to mentor one. From that, I learned that a lot of the venom in these letters had to do with feeling like there was no opportunities for females in the industry, that if there was only going to be one spot—cot damn, they were going to get it, even if they had to take someone out.
I understand why they would feel that way. We all know that hip-hop is sexist. It’s tough trying to stay true to yourself and your love of hip-hop. But it’s simply not true that there’s only one spot.
I was lucky that the women who came before me were generous with their time and encouragement. They sat down with me, broke the business down, shared contacts, gave feedback, and offered suggestions for game plans. I could see that it wasn’t about taking anyone out; they were too busy helping me up. They’re still helping me up. And I’m more than willing to do the same for anyone else coming up in the game.
So, to the young and hungry female hip-hop heads out there: chill with the fire talk. I don’t care if you love my work or despise it, I’m just happy to see more women in hip-hop. Do you already.