Hip Hop is Having Her Moment

Hip hop is having her moment.

Princess Nokia and Ab-Soul talk philosophy and God through feminism.

I knew Princess Nokia was a godsend when I saw her unshaven pits in this January’s issue of Bust, with tagline “for women with something to get off their chests”.  In fact, I’ve been feeling that godsend often lately. Like when Reverie released her track “Scheming” and rapidly rapped through her third verse with a comedic twist “ho, I even sell socks!” Other favorites genuine Gavlyn, real shit Rapsody and drama class Dessa have been pulling up stops in recent years, not to mention the latest hot addition to the coveted Rhymesayers crew, Sa-Roc.

Breathe a sigh of relief because I’ll stop dragging names and get to the moral of the story – after shouting out Snow tha Product, Nitty Scott, MC and Little Simz.

Women are coming up in the big beautiful botchy world of hip hop. Big and beautiful because Hip Hop – if you don’t know, look around you. Botchy because same shit, look around you. Any movement has flaws and hip hop is a fairly new one. I’m under 30, read history of rap stars, and have debates at bars that usually end up with me laughing then sighing because a dude wants to show me his side and then his dick. I’m not here for that. That’s an example of the disappointing discussions I’ve had about feminism and hip hop.

Then comes Princess Nokia – born Destiny Frasqueri, a beauty with a brain, happy trail and conscious consideration with a voice and character like that of a hip hop nymph (clarification: not nympho, mythological goddess). Yes, that’s how I describe Princess Nokia. The first hit I heard was “Tomboy” and I loved it. When the video released, YouTube didn’t die because she is still underground yet hundreds of thousands of girls saluted themselves, Mother Earth and God – if not one and the same. This type of concept blooms from hip hop roots busting through the surface layer of expected musical content and catapulting into the sun. I can’t think of a single hip hop artist who has presented herself in such a way as she does.

“As a woman who owns that, that takes a lot of cojones. That takes a lot of balls not to be pretty and to forcibly be ugly first and then allow my beauty to shine through my ugliness.” – Princess Nokia

Their Couch Talk begins immediately by discussing Princess Nokia’s masculinity and Ab-Soul’s female-focused album Do What Thou Wilt. They speak on inspiration for their work and delicately peel off the layers to their authenticity. Princess Nokia has choice words for claiming her whole being, a proud supporter of the word bitch and honoring herself and her ghetto roots. She hails all women and men, dismissing the “squirrel meat” who try to undermine her feminist values.

Ab-Soul, born Herbert Anthony Stevens IV, is touched, touting “Love is law.” I haven’t listened to Ab-Soul much before but I will now. I plead guilty to having my guard up with men hailing women while focusing on sexuality. It’s hypocrisy when I can relate to sexuality as a sacred piece of humanity and men can’t – another godsend in epitome form. He claims we are all more androgynous, a favorite of mine, and furthers his impact.

Princess Nokia speaks of him admirably, noting how his album works to “solidify this existence in hip hop which celebrates women and celebrates other themes, not just women and women’s empowerment and feminism but you know, other aspects that normally aren’t correlated to rappers.”

Their conversation sways and settles, recognizing the need for hip hop artists to be bold. This isn’t the latest or greatest yet it is telling. A turn towards the heavens, away from heathens. A drop in the melting pot that is hip hop today, creating a concoction some of us are entirely ready for and others don’t know they need.

Thanks for reading and please repeat: Love is Law.

Public Enemy – Harder Than You Think

Starting the year right with a dose of Chuck D.

Lyrics:

Yo, Chuck, whats the move, man?
I was on my way up here to the studio, you know what Im sayin?
And this brother stopped me and asked me
Yo, whats up with that brother, Chuckie D, he swear he nice
I said, Yo, the brother dont swear he nice
He knows hes nice, you know what Im sayin?

So, Chuck, I got a feeling youre turning into a Public Enemy, man
Now remember that night you was kickin to me
On the way out to L.A. Lounge in Queens
While we was in the car on our way to the shot
Well, yo, right now, kick the bass for em brothers
And let em know what goes on

Rolling Stones of the rap game, not braggin
Lips bigger than Jagger, not saggin
Spell it backwards, Ima leave it at that
That aint got nothin to do with rap

Check the facts, expose those cats
Who pose as heroes, take advantage of blacks
Your governments gangster so cut the crap
A war goin on so where yall at?

By the power comes great responsibility
F the police but whos stoppin you from killin me?
Disasters, fiascoes over a loop by PE
If its I instead of we, believe in TV

Spittin riches, bitches, this new thing about snitches
Watch them asses move those em masses switches
System dissed them but barely missed her
My sole intentions to save my brothers and sisters

Hard, get up, just like that
Hard, get up, just like that
Hard, get up, just like that
Hard, get up, just like that

Yeah, thats right, Chuck, man, thats what you gotta do
You gotta tell them just like that, you know what Im sayin?
Cause, yo, man, let me tell you a little something, man
These brothers runnin around hard hatin

They get a little jealous, you know what Im sayin?
Just like that, you know they try to bring you down with em
But, yo, Chuck, you gotta tell em just like that

Screamin gangsta, 20 years later
Of course endorsed while consciousness faded
New generations believin them fables
Gangsta boogie on two turntables

Show no love so its easy to hate it
Desecrated while the coroner waited
Any given Sunday, so where yall rate it?
With slavery, lynching and them drugs infiltrated

Im like that doll Chuckie, baby
Keep comin back to live, love life like I’m crazy
Keep it movin, risin to the top
Doug Fresh, clean livin, you dont stop

Revolution means change, dont look at me strange
So I cant repeat what other rappers be sayin
If you dont stand for something you fall for anything
Harder than you think, its a beautiful thing

Hard, get up, just like that
Hard, get up, just like that
Hard, get up, just like that
Hard, get up, just like that

Yeah, thats right, Chuck, man, thats what you gotta do
You gotta tell them just like that, you know what Im sayin?
Cause, yo, man, let me tell you a little something, man
These brothers runnin around hard hatin

They get a little jealous, you know what Im sayin?
Just like that, you know they try to bring you down with em
But, yo, Chuck, you gotta tell em just like that

So its time to leave you a preview
So you too can review what we do
20 years in this business, how you sell soul, gee wiz
People bear witness

Thank you for lettin us be ourself
So dont mind me if I repeat myself
These simple lines be good for your health
To keep them crime rhymes on the shelf

Live, love life like you just dont care
5000 leaders never scared
Bring the noise, its the moment they fear
Get up, still a beautiful idea

Get up, throw your hands in the air
Get up and show no fear
Get up if yall really care
PE, 20 years, now get up