Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Walking On Turbulent Waters: FemCees Flipping Pain

The "most beautiful music (and artistic expression)comes from pain and struggle."

Black women have a life span that exceeds that of black men by seven years. The reason, I believe, is that they process pain and struggle far more effectively than black men. The men often internalize anger, pain and struggle which becomes destructive as it devolves into health problems. Women, by and large, are able to survive longer because they are able to creatively channel or redirect the negativity into other areas including artistic expression where they have their own unique voice.

The artistic contribution to hip hop by women and of hip hop feminism has long been downplayed, ignored or outright denied. This theme is wonderfully articulated in my personal favorite works such as Home Girls Make Some Noise: Hip Hop Feminism Anthology edited by Gwen Pough, Elaine Richardson, Aisha Durham and Rachel Raimist and Pough's Check It While I Wreck It.

A welcome addition to the literary works of the aforementioned pioneers is Say My Name, a new documentary by Mamamess, directed by Nirit Peled which has been six years in the making.

The documentary promo states:
In a hip hop and R’n’B world dominated by men and noted for misogyny, the unstoppable female lyricists of Say My Name speak candidly about class, race, and gender in pursuing their passions as female MCs. This worldwide documentary takes viewers on vibrant tour of urban culture and musical movement: from hip hop’s
birthplace in the Bronx, to grime on London’s Eastside.

The personal stories of 18 artists, FemCees and Lady DeeJays such as Remy Ma, Rah Digga,Jean Grae, Erykah Badu, Estelle and newcomers Chocolate Thai, Invincible and Miz Korona reveal women balancing their professional dreams with the stark realities of urban poverty, racism, sexism, and motherhood.

The common themes connecting the new work to previously mentioned literary works is women speaking for women and women turning adversity into art.

Gangsta rap is just a part of hip hop, and a dying part at that. It is also the portion owned and distributed entirely by white corporate interests.

Thankfully, there is a new generation with a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them and that operates in a different context.

Included in this "post hip hop" generation are male and female voices whose messages empower rather than denigrate or exploit women.


Blog Queen said...

Hip Hop has been and hopefully one day will be again a sounding board for young black men and women. At this point Hard meaningless gangster rap has invaded what once was music with a message.

Dawn on MDI said...

I think women outlive men in many cultures not just because of our ability to process and handle pain and suffering, but also because we are less likely to kill each other in violent confrontations. Just a thought.

Revvy Rev said...

Hey Dawn, Peace!

I would submit to you that the reason males kill and attack each other is that they do not process anger and pain effectively. Females are often confrontational among each other but in more subtle ways. Just a thought.

Dawn on MDI said...

Hey, Rev.
Excellent point. How can we teach our boy children to process adversity in more healthy ways, then? I guess that is the question.