The 5 Elements of Real Talk; Critical Thoughts from a Hip Hop Feminist

I’ve talked about starting a blog for a few years now. But I never wanted to be that  blogger who  wrote about her day-to-day happenings— that’s the purpose of crackbook facebook. I, however, have found that some are interested in my love/hate relationship with pop culture—particularly Hip Hop culture. This is partly due to my strong feminist/ womanist ideologies. It is often assumed that there is no room for feminism in Hip Hop culture, but I cannot imagine my life without either, thus the inspiration for this blog.   As many of us know, Hip Hop has multiple elements in its culture, so I thought it would be fitting to extrapolate on what you can expect from Real Talk; Critical Thoughts through five different elements.

1. It’s a Remix… As a Black/mixed girl growing up in a white world, I often say that I learned about myself as a Black youth

Alice Walker- writer, activist and woman responsible for politicizing a young Kirsti's mind.

through the likes of Biggie and 2Pac. This ‘education’ took place while simultaneously politicizing my young mind through the crafting of Alice Walker and Terry McMillan (from the perspective of a tweenager, the author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back is somewhat of a political sista). Many assume that my two godparents- Hip Hop & Feminism- make for a contradicting partnership. Though, at times, this is true, I also think it is very possible for Hip Hop and feminism to create a remix, and it is through this blog that I will explore this collaboration.

2. It’s a Chat Room… Real Talk; Critical Thoughts is a space where I, as a Hip Hop feminist, will engage in conversation with both Hip Hop culture, and hopefully, with you. In my experience, people often disregard the complications of Hip Hop culture by placing it in a narrow box marked ‘ghetto.’ If I wrote a word for every time I heard someone blame Hip Hop culture for the fall of our youth, or for our misogynist culture, I would have a novel written—Dickensian style. I hope to disrupt and complicate such empty arguments throughout this blog, but in order to create more fruitful discussions, I need you to share your thoughts. I am but one voice, and as we know, Hip Hop has always been about collaborating.

3. It’s a Training Blog… I look at this blog as a training room for myself. Those who know me would say that music has never simply been a hobby for me. Even during my pop-culture-princess days, I engaged with popular music in ways that reached beyond my headphones and dance moves. My M.A. thesis, which was about Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, allowed for me to indulge in researching the social implications of music. I fell in love with the process of digging deep into the soul of my AuntCestors music by magnifying its historical relevancy, and after  turning in my thesis, I quickly realized my work wasn’t done. And so, here enters this blog. Before I continue my research in a PhD program (which I hope to enter in the next few years), I want to use this blog as a rough draft, or training room, for my future dissertation, which will likely discuss how contemporary Black women musicians (particularly women in Hip Hop) have contributed to protest music.

Joan Morgan- Contributor for many publications such as 'The Village Voice,' 'Vibe,' and 'The New York Times,' Morgan is the author of 'When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip Hop Feminist Breaks It Down.’

4. It’s Time that SheGetsTheMIC… When I was in college, I often eavesdropped on some of my male friends talk about Hip Hop, and despite the fact that I had something to say, I felt as though there wasn’t room for my female voice. Though women have influenced Hip Hop since its birth in the late 70s, Hip Hop is often understood through a male perspective. Popular Hip Hop rappers are men, many of the directors of Hip Hop videos are men, and many Hip Hop commentators are men, yet women are solid Hip Hop consumers, and are readily influenced and affected by Hip Hop culture. Fortunately, fellow Hip Hop feminists such as Tricia Rose, Michele Wallace and Joan Morgan have cracked the ‘glass ceiling’ that has separated women’s critical thoughts from being heard, and I plan on following their footsteps. Not only am I taking the MIC, but I also ask that my fellow Hip Hop sisters turn up their MICs, and join me in offering a woman’s perspective on Hip Hop. On the same token, I ask that my Hip Hop brothers (who, too can be Hip Hop feminists) engage with, and respect our perspectives, just as they would respect the Hip Hop philosophies of their boys.

5. It’s a Space to Challenge Myself… I rarely call myself a writer. I used to, but then I realized that 75% of 20 something-year-olds call themselves writers, photographers, musicians, or, in attempts to be all-encompassing— ‘artists.’ I hate falling victim to the many stereotypes of my generation, but if I’m going to remain honest with myself, I must admit that I’ve wanted to be a writer since I started keeping a journal in the first grade. Outside of the safe bubble of academia, this blog is my first step towards pursuing this clichéd, underpaid, yet fulfilling, profession. It’s a bit frightening, because I know that by creating this public blog, I am offering my thoughts to be challenged, critiqued, and even ripped a part. Challenge is good; hard but good, but being ripped a part is just scary. What is even more frightening is the idea that no one cares what I have to say. I’ve actually prepared myself more for the latter possibility, which has allowed me to put this blog into perspective. It will be a ‘raise-the-roof’ moment if I have readers (friends or not) who find some thing – any thing- in my blog interesting, or thought provoking. But, if this blog simply turns into a space for me to flush out all of the ideas I usually say to myself, then that’s okay too. At least I can begin to call myself a writer again. I also get to add something next to the ‘website’  option on my facebook page that doesn’t include the myspace URL, and that’s kind of snazzy too.

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7 thoughts on “The 5 Elements of Real Talk; Critical Thoughts from a Hip Hop Feminist

    1. Thanks Fabian! I would actually love your help with the layout some time. My technological handicaps are the main reasons why it took me so long to get it launched ( I actually wrote these posts in March), but I figured that I couldn’t postpone this blog much longer, or it would never get done. Talk to you soon!

  1. Hey Kirsti! I really enjoyed reading your first posts. What female Hip Hop artists do you like? I know very few and would like to get to know more. Thanks!

  2. Hey Moritz,
    You probably don’t know of many female rappers, b/c, unfortunately, there aren’t many (boo!). Of course there are the classics such as MC Lyte and Queen Latifah, and then there’s Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Missy and Lauryn Hill, but as for women rapping in the studio today, we are limited. There is a new one coming out from the Lil’ Wayne posse, that I am keeping my eye on. Her name is Nicki Minaj, and she’s been featured on quite a few artists songs so far (Mariah Carey, Lil’ Wayne, Usher…). Due to her sexy persona, she’s been likened to Trina (who is still rapping) and Lil’ Kim, but I think she may be a bit more dynamic than either of those women. I will likely post something about her within the next few weeks. There is also Jean Grae who is supported by Talib Kweli. She came out with an album about a year ago, but she has definitely stayed underground. It’s too bad, but she’s probably not ‘sexy’ enough for MTV. That’s all I have for you know, but I will keep you posted as I become aware of more.

    Thanks again for reading!

  3. Hay fellow music head.. i would love to check out your thesis on Billie Holiday and Nina Simone ? is it online anywhere by any chance?

    (Also the dashboard says I’m getting traffic from this site, so thats for that..)

    + Peace from Sydney Australia..

    1. I have def. been on your page– it’s always nice to check out the music scene on other sides of the world; especially when you can’t make it there ;). As for my thesis, I haven’t posted it online, but I’m thinking of posting pieces of it on my blog. Some of it will be appropriate– especially when thinking about the trend of sampling soul music in Hip Hop. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading 🙂

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