Now here’s something I’ve been wanting to address for some time now. I was duly inspired last weekend while hanging out at one of StL’s newest, black-owned, hot spots Soho in the Grove. I was with my cousins and friends celebrating my best first cousin’s bday. We are all officially in the 30 & up club; never even imagined this day would come when we were pretending to be and wanting to be grown while still playing with our Barbie dolls at age 13…shhh, don’t tell anyone. That’s when we weren’t learning the “Doo Doo Brown” (a dance…yuck) at the skating rink on the weekends, circa the 90s at Saints Roller Rink. Why was the name Saints? Idk, because I’m not sure what type of Saints we were becoming on Saturday and Sunday nights as teenagers back in the day learning to back it up. All in fun right?! Those were the days…
Anywho, the music at Soho last Saturday definitely gave me the creative juice to go on and get this long overdue post out. We are now turning into our parents as the DJ played some Lil Kim, Puffy, and Biggie (Junior Mafia). We were jamming, drinking, and eating; reminiscing about the good ol’ days, and the skating rink, and talking about how kids today don’t know; and that music today is not what it was when we were in our teens and 20s. (we’re so old now right?) lol! So this Love & Hip Hop post is not about some reality show that I don’t know much about because I don’t watch a whole lot of TV (junk). This is about real life and the impact the 90s and early 2000s music made on us, the adolescents of that time period, regarding love and sexuality.
My underlying theme ultimately concerns the role the female rappers/MCs of that age played; and how there really isn’t that type of representation existing today. Am I so much under a rock that I don’t know what’s going on in the world (my cousin says I’m the oldest young person), and who is repping for the ladies these days? Or am I just growing up and I can’t keep up with the fast-paced music industry? There was a time when I couldn’t miss a “beat”; not really a “hip-hop head” per se, but I have an older brother and somehow I was able to keep up more in my teens and 20s. I could add the title DJ (DJ Raechie Raech to be exact…corny, I know) to my list of hats pre-30, but I guess life changes have set me back; or it may just be my own personal evolution.
Back to the scene at Soho: So the music is playing, and you know the song by the intro of the baseline…you hear that familiar voice screeching “Big Booty Ho3$ hump with it”! We get excited and commence to putting a hump in our backs and shaking our booties! The shot of patron has officially kicked in by this time. 🙂 Yes! That voice was Uncle Luke and his 2 Live Crew, “you ain’t nothin but a hoochie mama, hood rat hood rat, hoochie mama”. Sort of embarrassing huh? Not really, the night is becoming very nostalgic thus far; this is the music we grew up on and learned to “pop that thang to”. LBVS!!!! So all the 30 and up guys are like really? Laughing and enjoying all the booties popping and shaking. They’re thinking you don’t know this music, “you were five when this song was out”. No, I was like 13 or 15 (no one believes I’m over 30). I was probably about 14 or so; this song is from the movie Friday, Ice Cube’s first film production, #classic! His girlfriend in the movie was truly a Hoochie Mama, this was her theme music. Funny stuff! So while Uncle Luke was teaching us how to shake those ti!!ties and “pop that coochie”, who was representing for the ladies to combat all the trash talking stripper music?
We had the greats, the veterans of the game, ie, Salt-n-Peppa, Queen Latifah, Queen B. aka Lil Kim, Missy Elliott, TLC (Left Eye); yeah, I should have stuck to the plan of being crazy, sexy, and cool; the next crazy Left Eye…had I tried to focus on writing rhymes while writing poetry *wink*, Foxy Brown, Trina, Da Brat, Mia X, Eve…did I leave any women out? These ladies held it down and liberated us during a time when the rap game was and still is heavily male-dominated. They empowered us. They taught us that we could be just as tough as the guys; they taught us the rules of the “game”. The end of the nineties and crossing over into the 2000s was liberating and empowering for women as we began to embrace being single, independent women rising to positions of power economically, socially, and intellectually.
Socially speaking especially regarding our sexuality, these women held the torch showing us to take control of our bodies (and protect them if we were going to decide to get down with someone) in fighting against the trash talking men. Men who celebrated having fun, and living the lifestyle of a pimp with hoes, which demeans women. I remember one of Mia X’s songs where she said “who the playa, who the pimp, who the mack, we need some elbow room we need some elbow room, no sweat”. And this became the theme song for one of the many cliques we created as young ladies growing up. The P.A.N.E.Y (Pimpin’ All Ns Even Yours) clique. This was the time for us to embrace ourselves as sisters fighting against young boys who thought they were playas. All in fun right?! Getting numbers at the skating rink *wink*. Who and what were we pimpin? Not a thing! What did we even really know about pimpin? What could the kids today be doing? It’s all different now with the influx of technology. We had pagers, for what? LOL! They have cell phones, video messaging, and the Internet…wow!
But Mama Mia was angry on those tracks at some of the real life situations that she had seen and been through. Wasn’t that was music was about? Being able to convey real messages about life? Where are we today in portraying real life through music or is it all about the party tracks? So the young ladies today have Nicki Minaj…I respect the game, but uh, yeah to talk about Nicki Minaj would require another blog post on how I really feel. As I watched the BET awards this year, she had no other competition. Where are the female rappers? What did we lose in what we gained in expressing our sexuality? Are we afraid to speak out about the real issues that bug us about men through music; beyond R&B I mean? Society can’t handle the real issues that need to be addressed; so we continue to show the foolery on TV like (Love & Hip Hop and Basketball Wives). Additionally, our music continues to broadcast nonsense through the radio that inherently just keeps our booties shaking. What messages are we sending? And how are we being empowered?
By the time I reached college, I was full of “swag” regarding my understanding of the game. It didn’t matter who or what guys liked me, I was going for whoever I liked. This is what I somehow learned, that women could treat men the way they treated us. “Pimpin”, but what was lost in that type of mentality? Now that I’m post-30 and ready to settle down, I am gaining a true understanding of what it means for a guy to really like you and court you. That’s what a real man is supposed to do. He is not to treat you like a notch on his belt. You are not supposed to pursue him. You have to, as my big Sis Angie says “sit on the porch and wait for him”. It was fun dating and being liberated, and having NSA (no strings attached) relationships, but that does not get you to the ultimate goal of becoming a girlfriend or wife. There are women who have seen both sides of the coin. No one wants to be a dumb girlfriend whose man is cheating on her with every round-away girl in town. And no one wants to be the side-chick. Everyone at some point wants to be number 1. I know I do! There are some men who will even settle for being your “Boyfriend #2”. Keyword settle.
Where do we go from here? Learn from the veterans who are all chillin’ somewhere because they’ve sown their oats, had kids, gotten married, the whole 9. I want the young ladies to understand that we can’t act like men or attempt to treat them the way some of them attempt to treat us. Being a player is not in style and not cute in the age of STDs, etc. The player will be played. As far as rap and someone to represent the ladies, I sincerely hope that Nicki Minaj and whoever is to become the next big “IT” girl after her realize how much power they have lyrically to influence the minds of young women…and that the bulk of influence goes beyond the size of our butts! Again I ask, what message are we sending today?
(to be continued…)