So I ended up catching the hip-hop segment of that NBC Nightly News series on the state of black women in America called African-American Women: Where They Stand, and I figured a few of you fruits might be interested in hearing my views on it. From what I understand, this segment wasn’t part of the series that actually ran on the Nightly News, but was rather one of the bonus features that ran on the NBC website, which is where I saw it. Here’s a link to the video, in case you’re interested in seeing for yourself.
The segment consists of a panel discussion hosted by a woman named Mara Schiavocampo and featuring “Angry” Kevin Powell from the Real World and… um, activism; some broad named Kendra G, who’s supposedly a radio host; Irv Gotti from The INC, or whatever Murder Inc. is calling itself these days; and Melyssa Ford, from any number of rap videos and various other forms of soft pr0n-related media. Michael Eric Dyson and Karrine Steffans aka Superhead (though she’s not referred to as that here) are also featured, briefly, as talking heads, I guess because they’ve established themselves as the go-to figures when it comes to this issue. I’m so jealous.
Surprisingly, to me at least (because I’m racist like that), I thought Irv Gotti brought up some good points. Especially his very first point, which is that hip-hop is entertainment for men. If rap videos seem to feature nothing but women with ridonkulous cans and ridonkulous asses, that’s because that’s what a man wants to see when he turns on his TV – unless he’s Common or somebody. Kevin Powell countered that there was more of a balance in hip-hop between the years of 1985 and 1991, but I’m not even sure if I’m buying that argument. Yeah, there weren’t as many hoes in videos then as there are today, but that’s probably just because no one had realized there was a dollar to be made. And an absence of hoes isn’t really a balance per se, now is it? It’s just an absence of hoes.
Then of course they tried to make Irv Gotti look stupid (as if he needs any help), asking him a question about his daughter. For what it’s worth, Irv kinda set himself up by saying that he shows his videos with hoes in them to his daughter, who’s 15, to see if she thinks they’re hot. Honestly, I don’t see such a huge issue with that, but you know how mofos like to act all self-righteous. So one of the panelists asked Irv if he’d let somebody pour champagne on his daughter in a video, and of course Irv said no, which they all viewed as contradictory. But again, I’m not sure if I’m buying that line of reasoning. Of course you’re not gonna want to see your own daughter getting the Dame Dash treatment in a rap video, but you know what? You wouldn’t want to fuck your own daughter either. (Unless you live in Alabama.) Does that mean you shouldn’t fuck anyone else?
Finally, someone brought up the fact that there hasn’t been a really successful female rapper in ages (thank god!), and I thought this was a real missed opportunity. Michael Eric Dyson, speaking on this issue, referred to hip-hop as a male phenomenon, but I’d go him one further and state that hip-hop is a male artform, though I’m sure plenty of you would beg to differ. Which is not to say that women can’t rap, or shouldn’t, if they want to. A woman (or a man, for that matter) can *do* anything a man is willing to pay her money to do. But if you notice, most successful female rappers either play into male fantasies (Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim 10 years ago), or basically pretend as if they were guys (Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim today). I mean, think about it. Why would a guy be interested in listening to a girl who might shoot you or (try to) beat you up? It’s no wonder female rap sales are in the dumps. Girl rappers need to go back to looking good and talking about how they might blow you.