As a hip-hop enthusiast and woman of color it is only natural that my interests in music largely lies in what female emcees are producing today. From the lyrical dopeness that was Queen Latifah, and Salt and Pepa, to the tastefully ratchet nuances of Lil Kim and Trina, female hip-hop artistry has always carried a certain flare especially in a male-dominated industry.
Aware of my interests a friend of mine shared with me a refreshing take on the hip-hop scene involving women of color outside of the United States. My friend Lena, through the Fulbright-mtvU Fellowship program she was accepted to, spent a year in South Africa creating video interviews with female rappers, Dope Saint Jude and Miss Celaneous, who both identify as feminist. What I admire most about the interviews of these two distinctively different female musicians is that their inspiration for their art form and the adversities they face as female artists of color is relatable to me as an artist living in America.
Dope Saint Jude, an independent rapper and producer from Cape Town, South Africa experiments with drag while exploring the boundaries of gender identity. She believes that rapping is a universal language that can influence a mass of people. She uses rap to recreate her reality and it now affords her the opportunity to travel and go back to school. Her music is definitely queer friendly spitting revolutionary lyrics that celebrate the progression for LGBT .
Miss Celaneous, also a female emcee from Cape Town, is heavily influenced by her city, finding a lot of her inspiration for her music by being out in the streets of Cape Town. The beats she raps over are similar to what you would hear from hood music here in America and rap with a hardcore southern style. She believes rap music is not only dominated by men and objectifies women but, that the audience heavily plays a part in the degrading of women because we openly accept the industry’s formulated image of what hip hop should be. Thus, ultimately accepting a misogynistic preconceived ideal of where a woman’s place in hip-hop is positioned.
Through Lena’s research I realized that for these South African female rappers their challenge is breaking the boundaries that chastise female sexuality in South Africa. In contrast, female rappers in the states are expected to be hyper-sexualized and provocative which deters from the lyricism that they bring to their songs. These female rappers have the opportunity to go against that norm and create a retro version of the female rapper because the rap genre is in a way still new in South Africa. They are not expected to look like Lil Kim and Trina to sell recrods. It is proof that although hip-hop has influenced people on an international level the image of the female rapper is constantly re-developing itself everywhere. Female emcees such as, Dope Saint Jude and Miss Celaneous, are striving to change the norm for female rappers on an international basis. Definitely check them out!