In LaBennet Oneka’s paper titled ” Histories and “her stories” from the Bronx: excavating hidden hip hop narratives”, she discusses the ways in which “historical accounts of hip hop have privileged male narratives, stifling women’s stories and their valuable contributions to hip hop music and culture”. She also indicates that for some women, hip hop can provide a space in which their unique voices may be heard. In the following two videos, I show how the women of hip hop have used their art form to speak on the issues that often go unheard in the male dominated world of main-stream hip hop. Eve’s song titled ” Love is Blind” expresses her experience with violence and rape. She tells a story of a friend of hers who has endured abuse thinking she was in love. Eve expresses her anger and her rage as she raps:
Hey, yo I don’t even know you and I hate you
See all I know is that my girlfriend used to date you
How would you feel if she held you down and raped you?
Tried and tried, but she never could escape you often are not exposed to in the world of mainstream hip-hop today.
City High, a hip-hop group consisting of a few men and a lead female vocalist, also put out a song called “What Would you Do?” which explores the world of prostitution. Instead of portraying black women as hypersexual and leaving it at that, it takes this narrative of the hypersexual black woman in media and complicates it. The song is interesting in that it is set up as a debate between the female lead vocalist and the male rappers. The male rappers express their disapproval of women who use their bodies as a way of making money. Yet the lead vocalist interjects and sings from the perspective of these unheard voices:
” What would you do if your son was at home, crying all alone on the bedroom floor because he’s hungry, and the only way to feed him is to sleep with a man for a little bit of money and his daddy is gone. Somewhere smoking rock, in and out of lock downs. So for you this is just a good time but for me this is what I call life.”
The purpose of the song is not to defend prostitution, nor is it to promote slut shaming. Rather, it provides an opportunity to understand the complexities behind real life issues such as the one mentioned. Hip hop in this sense, provides a space for women to tell their stories in a way that is not so simplified.