Let’s talk about our bodies. For the first time since the ninth grade, I purchased a bikini. Now I’m not talking about something high-waisted. I’m talking Victoria’s Secret, end of the season, cheeky, itty bitty, bikinis. And the best part? I didn’t cry once when putting it on! I hated going to pool parties or beach days. I would even end up in tears before events that required me to dress up like Prom and Homecoming because I looked bigger than I envisioned myself looking. But, swimsuits particularly have always been grueling, and I usually find myself in my cover-up the whole time. I remember seeing myself in photos in high school after purchasing my first bikini, and I was scarred ever since. It disgusted me to know that that was what I actually looked like versus how I imagined it. But over time, that fear has subsided a bit. Now, this isn’t to say I’ve finally learned to love my body. I’ll be honest. I’m not entirely sure if this is considered body positivity because it took me changing to be happy rather than loving myself for what it was. I lost a bit of weight, and I find myself even more paranoid now than ever that I’ll gain back each pound one by one, and that’s terrifying to me. But I have learned to be a bit more compassionate with myself. It’s okay to enjoy that bag of chips or to indulge in dessert. It’s fine if I don’t have time to work out. Most of the time, it’s because I’m out making memories with my friends anyway, and I think that’s a much more enjoyable use of my time. With that being said, I wanted to make this post about the pressures that women face to fit a certain look. In a world of plastic surgery and Instagram likes, women are expected to look a certain way. As we’re learning to accept all body types, there are still external pressures that negate that and make us feel as though maybe there is still an ideal. One of those external forces is the entertainment industry. Not just seeing different celebrities with their bodies that have been altered and Photoshopped, but also how we talk about women and their bodies in music. In Hip-Hop, songs idolize women with small waists and fat asses. With enough repetition, it’s become the universal standard. But not everyone is built like that. So, how does that impact girls who don’t fit that image?
–The Kite Runner
As the Taliban has captured Kabul and made its way across Afghanistan, taking control of its cities and people, new concerns come to light about the future of the United States and the citizens of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. The US is trying to focus its attention on bringing civilians to safety in the States, but the uncertainty and tensions are creating an unpredictable outcome. Although this may come as a surprise, Hip-Hop’s lyrical content spans far ignorant puns about Afghani Kush and being strapped like a militant. Some of the culture’s notoriously political emcees have been rapping about the war in Afghanistan for decades, calling attention to the United State’s role and motives in the political turmoil. Some argue that the US may not have always been so forthcoming about what they were truly doing in the Middle East and use politically fueled anthems criticizing the government to share their speculations. Unfortunately, a sad reality of this situation is that many feel as if the time, money, and lives spent in Afghanistan are now wasted, and the potential threat of another impending war is daunting. If you’d like to help the innocent people of Afghanistan, I encourage you to donate to the American Friends Service Committee. A friend of mine has been doing some of the most incredible work trying to help civilians with heart-breaking stories have a shot at a safe life by flying them to protection through this organization. The donations help fund the AFSC’s efforts with necessities such as evacuation costs, food, clothing, mental health and trauma counseling, and legal support. I will also be adding other fundraisers and resources to the end of this post. Regardless of what you think of this situation, there are millions of people whose lives are at risk, and even the smallest donation can help someone.
Beginning therapy was one of the best and yet most daunting things I’ve done for myself in a long time. I completely understand that it’s not for everyone, and for others, it may just be unattainable. Even I find myself questioning how feasible it is to pay such a ridiculous amount every single week. It’s sad that I even have to debate that knowing how beneficial it has been in my journey to love myself and find inner peace. But one thing people don’t tell you when you look into starting these types of services is just how exhausting it is. You’re always told that you have to be open and willing to put in the work, but you’re never warned about how tiring it is to revisit past memories that you thought you shelved a long time ago. I find myself sitting in sessions discussing things that happened in my past that hadn’t even crossed my mind. Not because they were trivial, but actually, quite the contrary. They were so impactful and damaging that I never wanted to think about those moments ever again, and yet here I was, paying absurd amounts of money to not only dig up those deeply buried memories but to analyze them with a fucking microscope. It’s not easy to do so, and I wish peace and strength to anyone who may understand this feeling while reading this. Trauma, especially in a world as chaotic and violent and intense as ours, has become so normalized because of the things that we endure on a day-to-day basis, from mass shootings to a global pandemic. As a result, we turn to coping mechanisms like humor to minimize the severity and make it more bearable when in reality, if we have to come face to face with it one day, we realize we have no idea how to handle it. We see rappers do it all the time with their music, especially because of the lack of affordable mental health resources, so they turn to writing to deal with it. In the same way that I write long-form, they write with poetic rhyme schemes, sharing their trauma with the world to help themselves and others internalize it. To honor their strength and resilience, this is a tribute to those who have used Hip-Hop to handle life-altering moments by sharing it with the world.
The way female sexuality is perceived is quite strange. Some embrace it, while others condemn it. Some find it liberating, while others find it disgraceful. To argue that it’s viewed on the same plane as male sexuality is naive, and honestly, ignorant. But in my opinion, there’s something extremely powerful about a woman who comfortably embraces her sexuality, and that’s one reason why it’s typically shunned. The female body is capable of incredible wonders. One way that we’ve seen this depicted is through the idea of the honeypot. Now, the term honeypot has a few different meanings. But for the sake of this article, I’m referring to a woman who uses her sexuality to get what she wants, whether it’s information, an item, or even just attention. Oftentimes, the woman is using the other person and their vulnerability to her advantage, praying on the weaknesses of those around her because of her confidence and divinity. It’s used as a term for spies, where the agent uses sex to con someone out of viable information. I think there’s something freeing about that. Imagine being so sure of yourself and your beauty that you can make anyone do as you please. We live in a world that criticizes women who own their sexuality, and yet men are the same ones that constantly exploit it. So why not take control of the narrative, and get what you need? For this article, I pulled examples of women in Hip-Hop songs who used their feminine appeal to control men, often leading to their demise.
If you checked out my Gemini Season post, then you know it’s my birthday (June 5th), so I figured I would subject you all to celebrating with me. In honor of the day that I was brought into the world just to make my parents’ lives even more stressful and expensive (along with my own once I reached adulthood), I have compiled a breakdown of every Hip-Hop song in the Billboard Top 10 the week of my birthday starting in the year 1996 and spanning over the past 25 years. It’s fun to see the different patterns and trends that took place as Hip-Hop evolved over the years. So come get nostalgic with me!
I love sharing with my readers the different elements that make me who I am. One such detail is my star sign. I am not deeply invested in astrology, but I do see how being a Gemini impacts my identity. It’s either that or I really am bipolar, but I’ll leave that up to my therapist to diagnose. I don’t know anything beyond that; hell, I don’t even know what time I was born. I don’t know what a sun sign is. Or a moon sign. I know that I keep getting my life ruined by Libras, which is apparently a common occurrence? Either way, my birthday is coming up in the next few weeks, and tomorrow marks the beginning of Gemini season. So to help my fellow Geminis and I get in the celebratory mood, here are some of the hilarious (and potentially truthful and/or dramatic) ways that rappers have described Geminis. Either out of pride or out of a warning. You can be the judge of that.
Conspiracy theories are nothing new. They range in subject matter, from religion to science to entertainment. While I am not a conspiracy theorist (at all. Please allow me to REALLY emphasize that I believe in science and think the Earth is round and climate change is real and have absolutely no merit in any other conspiracies beyond this scope), it has a strong presence in Hip-Hop. Some prominent artists have been accused of being in the Illuminati while others have allegedly faked their deaths. Some of the ideas aren’t quite as crazy as they may seem; for instance, it adds up that a culture built on anti-elitism would distrust politicians and the media. The skepticism makes sense; systematic racism has plagued our society and lower-income neighborhoods for decades. Some of these theories explore just how far the government will go to prevent these areas from thriving, and they aren’t the most unbelievable. But others encroach on some bizarre territory, including Satanism. As of right now, Lil Nas X is the newest artist to be worshipping the Devil, but I think that’s just the homophobia talking. Christians everywhere have classified Hip-Hop as evil for decades. So why not have fun with it and bring these exaggerated characters to life? No matter what motivated the lyrics, they don’t always need to be taken literally. With that being said, while some sound intellectual and wordy upon first listen, quite a lot of them do require a second take. So here are some bizarre lyrics that touch on some popular (and some lesser-known) conspiracy theories. I have excluded those about Coronavirus being fake since that shit is tired and played out. And as always, this is solely based on my opinion. Please don’t read into it.
I have a strange relationship with my womanhood. I love being a woman. I think we are divine, with bodies and minds that are capable of breathtaking things. However, it’s also the source of a lot of my frustration. It makes me angry that I’ve had to leave or second-guess positions because of men who don’t know how to treat me with respect and professionalism. It makes me angry that I’m not always taken seriously and that my appearance will often be the main focus. It makes me angry that people think they can treat me like a second-class citizen. And it really makes me fucking angry that I go out in public fully clothed, just for people to undress me with their eyes, invading my personal boundaries with no possibility of consent because the advances are unspoken and indirect. Even after everything women have done for this country, we still often find ourselves demanding respect. On the final day of March, I want to celebrate Women’s History Month with Hip-Hop lyrics that uphold the names of women who have overcome obstacles to leave an imprint on history, cementing their legacies in poetic raps. No matter how others treat me, I’ll forever cherish being a strong woman with the stubbornness and willpower to continue fighting no matter what life throws at me.
It feels like every time I plan a celebratory or positive post, some sort of injustice or tragedy has occurred, diverting my attention to more pressing matters. This week, we had not one, but two mass shootings take place. One took place in Boulder, Colorado, and the other in Atlanta, Georgia. While the police haven’t discovered a motive behind the Colorado shooting as yet, the Atlanta shooting was racially charged, exemplifying just one more hate crime towards Asian Americans since the beginning of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Violence against Asians has spiked since former President and forever dipshit Donald Trump referred to the virus as the “China Virus”, the “Kung Flu,” and numerous other scientifically inaccurate (but I guess who needs science, right?) names that linked it directly to the country. Unfortunately, just like Americans do to brown people, they linked the virus to all Asian people, sparing no one, not even the elderly. Someone equated the increase in attacks as to how Sikhs and Muslims were treated after 9/11, and the parallels are disturbing, especially considering the lack of concrete evidence linking the virus to China. As the country diverts its attention to ethnic and religious minority groups, we are once again witnessing white men get away with terrorist attacks simply because of their blinding privilege, and honestly, it’s infuriating. As a result, I wanted to write this post to show the beautiful ways Hip-Hop has paid homage to Asian culture through lyrics over the decades.
In numerous posts, I’ve recounted how my older brother, Sahil, shaped my love for music. Growing up with a four-year age difference, I always wanted to be like him. He wore his overalls with one strap buckled in place, the other hanging lazily. So I did the same. The very first instrument he learned to play was the flute, so that was what I chose to learn in elementary school. I couldn’t play a single note. He watched Pokemon on the weekends, with me faithfully by his side. He signed up for baseball, so I signed up for softball. That only lasted up until I got hit square in the face with the ball. After that, any time it would come near me, I would cower in fear, providing absolutely zero support for my team. Most of the time I wasn’t quite as successful at these activities as he was, and looking back at it, I’m not sure just how good he was at them. But in my eyes, he mastered every single thing he tried. It was impossible for him to fail. And even if I fell short in comparison to him, he always encouraged me. He knew what I needed to hear so that I wouldn’t give up. That pattern has continued into our adult lives, even if he isn’t quite as vocal. We both fell in love with music. I drew inspiration from his passion, talent, and diligence, and I wanted to show him that I was capable of it as well. After a few years, I started to feel those same sentiments, no longer feeding off his love for the arts to impress him as it grew organically within me. We grew older and fell out of touch through our teenage years, reconnecting and drifting apart incessantly as the exhausting cycle of life ensures. However, our sibling bond never faltered. I always knew that he would be in my corner, no matter what I chose to do. So today, on his 29th birthday, this post is dedicated to my best friend and incredible brother, Sahil. Thank you for exposing me to so much incredible music.
Photo by Jaskaran Singh
I don’t think I had much of an intention of Spice on the Beat becoming a political outlet when I first started it. However, over the last few years, we have seen the fine line between politics and human rights diminish as acts have been passed that make you question the morality of the government. After a while, I felt like there was something more that I could do; an interesting way to get people involved and tuned in to the issues that have been suppressed over decades. I have a platform and a knack for writing, and to use the two to stand up for injustices felt like a no-brainer. Nevertheless, I would be doing a disservice to my blog, my culture, my people, my family, and my roots if I didn’t find a way to talk about the Farmer Protests that were currently occurring in India. In what has become one of the biggest protests in the country, tens of thousands of farmers have set up camps outside of New Delhi to fight India’s newest laws. The laws, which were once used to protect the farmers and their profits by guaranteeing at least the minimum price for crops, are now being changed to “modernize” them. Rather than working with the farmers to come to an agreement, the people were met with barbed wire fences, police brutality, water cannons, tear gas, internet outages, and unlawful arrests.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I wanted a bit of a change of pace with this post. I absolutely adore Valentine’s Day; I have ever since I was little. I would go all out in elementary school, with the most obnoxious homemade cards. My poor parents had to put in so much time to help me cut out large hearts. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more of a fan of Galentine’s Day (thanks to Leslie Knope). Getting wine drunk and eating chocolate in cute pajamas with my girlfriends. Celebrating how lucky I am to have them by my side. Showering them with cute treats and fun cards. I have had some sweet Valentine’s Days; I still remember one year when a guy bought me two boxes of Cheez-Its. That was the real winner. But even without romantic attachment, I still looked forward to the day when I’d see people walking around with teddy bears and gorgeous bouquets. It’s fun to have a day dedicated to going above and beyond to tell those around you that you love them. This year, however, is a bit different. Dating during a global pandemic isn’t easy, and unfortunately, spending it alone, especially without your friends, makes it a bit harder. So to help those who may not have any plans get into the mood, I wanted to highlight the beauty of love languages and the different ways in which you can express your sentiments to those around you. Love languages align with how you display your fondness and can vary by person. Your dominant love language is either Gifts, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Words of Affirmation, or Acts of Service. Hip-Hop isn’t typically thought of as the most romantic, so I wanted to make this post to debunk that myth, and possibly give you a fun playlist to listen to while you enjoy a bottle of wine (either by yourself; no shame! Or with a loved one). The irony of it all? I’m very very single, and even after numerous Buzzfeed quizzes, I have no idea what the hell my love language is. So despite how unqualified I am to write this, I hope you enjoy it!
Psychological abuse can come in several different forms; gaslighting, manipulating, lying. We fall privy to it quite a bit in romantic relationships. Being on the receiving end can create a lifetime of emotional damage, making it difficult to trust and difficult to love. Accusations can be turned against you, your sanity can be questioned, and evidence can be denied. You can be called crazy when in reality, it was the mixed signals and empty promises that gave you a false sense of hope. It can be telling a woman what she wants to hear so that you can have sex with her just to never call her back, making it seem as though she was clingy for no reason. It can result in a woman becoming emotionally dependent on her partner, unable to leave him alone even though she deserves so much more. These are all factors that are relevant in the dating world for both men and women. A lot of tracks tend to downplay toxic relationships, painting women as insane gold-diggers and sluts, while neglecting to reprimand the other person’s actions. It creates the idea that emotionally abusive behavior is normal and acceptable, so long as it’s in the name of passion and love. It makes it challenging to pinpoint unhealthy habits and even harder to stand up for yourself.
This post is a bit delayed, but I figured it’s never too late to say thank you. As you can tell by the majority of my subject matter from the past year, 2020 was exhausting. The country faced a lot of division, and Covid-19 took hundreds of thousands of lives and jobs, isolating us to a degree that I’ve never personally experienced until now. I was lucky to have my family close by, spending a lot of the last year in Maryland with my parents. The rest of the time was spent in my apartment in Philly. Alone. I’ve never done well just sitting with my thoughts. Frankly, it’s excruciating. But my blog became an outlet for me to vent, whether personally or about political affairs. It also gave me the ability to connect with others, whether they’re artists, trusting me with their music, or music-lovers, diving into the songs that I’ve chosen to analyze. I’ve met some incredible people all around the world thanks to this blog, and it’s been an incredible experience. So thank you for 10,000 views on my personal musical diary. This is me at my most vulnerable, but also me at my most genuine, so to see it so widely accepted is a breath of relief. I can’t wait to share more of my thoughts and incredible artists with you.
Please make sure to subscribe! If you’d like to have your music featured or if you need help with upcoming releases, please click here. Here’s to a brighter 2021.
TW: Racism, Police Brutality, Violence, Terrorism
Unless you’ve been living under a rock or in ignorant bliss (in which case I am very jealous), then you know about the events that rocked Washington DC. Trump lovers, Klansmen, Blue Lives Matters supporters, and anti-maskers/QAnon (yes, apparently they’re all different????) joined forces to protest… Well… I’m not exactly sure what they were protesting. Was it the Georgia election? Do they even know what they were protesting? Was that even protesting when you’re just asking the government to overturn democracy? Okay, whatever. Either way, they gathered together in their maskless glory, donning American flags and other obnoxious costumes, to storm the Capitol building. Well, not exactly storm, seeing as there wasn’t a whole lot of force used. Instead, they just kinda meandered in, with no real hurry and no fear of repercussions. It really makes you wonder where all of those tanks and guns were when we were faced to face with them during the Black Lives Matter protests. Wait, there was no National Guard either?! Wow. Maybe it’s because there was no real cause for protesting, whereas we were fighting for racial injustices and police brutality; two very present issues that go hand in hand. Apparently, trying to keep your Black friends safe is more dangerous than being an angry and fucking idiotic white supremacist who didn’t get their way. And yes, you had your token minorities, as you always do. But let’s be honest, because this country has completely given up on trying to hide this fact. White people can get away with 10x worse than Black and Brown people. These people got away with bringing BOMBS into the Capitol building! Whereas my family and I can’t even go into airports without being randomly selected, because clearly, I’m hiding something in my shoe. As a result, I’ve decided to talk about the police and the very different ways that they treat Black and white people. In hip-hop lyrics, of course.
Tik-Tok has been a huge source of entertainment throughout Quarantine; from cute dances to easy recipes to inexpensive lifehacks, you can get just about anything on there. However, the platform has also had a significant impact on the music industry. In 2020, the industry has faced challenges like no other, altering how we find new music. Thanks to Tik-Tok, an artist just needs 15 seconds of their song to go viral for it to be at the top of the charts. We saw it with Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage.” Whether the song has been around for decades or if it’s a new release, chances are if that song is in a Tik-Tok that gets enough views, it can be a hit. It’s a new age of Influencers. Screenshots of Spotify screens are no longer enough. Tracks need some sort of visual; specifically, a dance routine that is simple enough to be learned by just about anyone, but creative enough to be offered some versatility.
The music industry can be taxing on one’s confidence. As much fun as it is, it can be turbulent to navigate, and it will often take a toll on your ego. Gaslighting, manipulating, and lying are not foreign to the business. It can be ruthless, and people will say what they need to say to get what they want. And when money is involved, it’s a whole different ballgame. Now, I’ve never been very good at asking for money, but after realizing that I do have valuable knowledge and experience in an industry that I’m passionate about, I still tend to get treated like an intern. People treat services in this industry very differently than a lot of industries. Jobs are often thought of as favors. But at some point, you deserve to get paid for the work that you do. Unfortunately, I’ve had numerous discussions like this, but they end up with the other person downplaying and even insulting my skillset, making it known just how replaceable and unimportant I am. It’s something we see at every level in the music business; as soon as you ask for something in return, all pleasantries are out the door. The skills that people were hoping to utilize are all of a sudden unnecessary, and essentially, you ain’t shit. Artists see it too when they start taking their demands to level executives. Out of nowhere, the same people who labeled them geniuses have named five others who could take their place. Thankfully, I’ve always taken pride in my resilience. I know that there are hundreds of thousands of others doing what I’m doing and more. But there’s only one me, and that’s valuable as hell.
Whenever words have failed me, hip-hop was there to give me a voice.
So… Today’s the day. How’s everyone feeling? If I’m being honest, my emotions are all over the place. I’m trying to distract myself with mundane activities but find that it’s a bit difficult to focus my attention on anything other than the potential outcomes for this week. I still remember four years ago, when I sat at the bar until 4 AM watching the votes pour in. The swing states were trickling in, and the numbers were close. By the time my friends and I got an Uber, I felt defeated. I knew what was happening. As I pulled up to my apartment, I heard the boys next door cheering Trump’s name. Unsurprisingly, it was the lacrosse team’s house, which seemed to be his target audience. The privileged douche bags who could get out of any problem thanks to their skintone and their dad’s money. After a few hours of sleep, my alarm went off, reminding me that the night before wasn’t a nightmare and that I had to face the world and go to class. I felt my mind fog with sadness and the remnants of the alcohol from the night before, with the clouds and rain echoing my emotions. Cops were posted on every corner of campus, foreshadowing the disarray that was to come. And yet, it still didn’t prepare me for the hell that has been this year.
In 2008, the United States saw its highest voter turnout rate in young voters for the first time in 35 years. Celebrities of different statuses and backgrounds banded together to help campaign for the first Black president, with quite a few of those artists stemming from the hip-hop industry. In fact, Obama encouraged the use of this unlikely culture in politics, and it proved to have a strong impact. Young adults all over familiarized themselves with him through lyrics, falling in love with his charisma and optimism. Unfortunately, not everyone was enthusiastic about this introduction of hip-hop into mainstream politics. And let’s be clear, hip-hop has always been political. Whether it was commenting on racial inequality or exposing issues with authoritative figures, hip-hop has always been up-to-date with the political climate of the United States. But now, it has been at the forefront, receiving news coverage and getting noticed by politicians everywhere. And although one may disagree with Obama’s actions or beliefs, he was presidential. He inspired change. And he’s sure as hell better than what we have now. So as we get closer to the November election, I want to highlight some of Obama’s best hip-hop moments and reminisce on when we had a president in office, and not a disgusting, horribly spray-tanned piece of shit.
As you can probably tell, I am extremely invested in this year’s election. I’m typically always concerned when it comes to politics, but if you are honestly not terrified for the future of this country right now, then you are either hiding behind a veil of denial or a veil of privilege. Or you’ve simply just stopped caring, which is kind of understandable at this point. It’s been a whirlwind. And I know that this is supposed to be a hip-hop blog, but the ways in which I have been seeing politics and the entertainment industry overlap is actually pretty inspiring. Out of all of the methods I have seen to promote voter turn-out, this may be one of the most innovative ideas. President Trump has managed to worsen this country every time he opens his mouth. It’s genuinely become difficult to tell fact from fiction. So artists all over the United States have taken it upon themselves to expose President Trump’s web of lies in the new trend, #45Lies.
I decided to take a small break from my usual posts to do something I don’t usually do. This isn’t a sponsored post, but rather an event for something that I’m extremely passionate about, and that involves the dreaded world of politics. Unfortunately, at this point in time, we can’t think of politics as something that only affects the 1%, or what we hear talked about on the news at 11 PM every night. The current issues going on involve every single one of us, and that’s why this election is so important. It goes beyond a topic that is avoided on first dates and family dinners. In fact, it’s something I feel I have to talk about when meeting someone for the first time (if anyone would like to know why I’m still single). This has become a fight for basic human rights, and lives are depending on it. We need change. And this cannot happen unless we go out (or stay in!) and vote.
My last post was difficult to get through, as a writer, an editor, a reader, and a lover of hip-hop. But it was an issue that I was passionate about that needed to be brought to light. However, I ended it by mentioning “WAP,” the Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion song that has everybody talking. Astonishingly, the lyrics that I discussed in my last post were far more accepted than two women rapping about consensual sex, something that isn’t a new trend. When I first heard the song, I was a bit taken aback. However, that’s mainly because the version I first heard edited the chorus to say “this wet and gushy.” If you know me, you know that that would make me uncomfortable no matter who sang that. I’m definitely no prude. Gushy is just a weird word. It’s like how some people react to moist, which, oddly enough, I’m a little more okay with. But once I heard the actual version, I could 100% get behind it. It was empowering and refreshing. It was fun, but it was also powerful and sexy. It felt both dominant and feminine, showing just how fierce women could be. And frankly, if you think that song is inappropriate, you haven’t heard anything yet. So this post is dedicated to having *consensual* sex, fucking, making love, whatever you want to call it, and how it’s portrayed in hip-hop.
This post requires a strong TW for rape, sexual assault, violence towards women, and harassment.
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- Sign up for e-mail notifications for Spice on the Beat
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The winner will be announced Friday, August 7th at 8 PM.
Over the years, hip-hop has intertwined with movies in so many ways. It was always exciting to see some of our favorite emcees like Ice Cube or Tupac on the big screen. Sometimes we see them play characters that we fall in love with, or everyday actors portray their glamorous lives. We think of NWA’s Straight Outta Compton or Eight Mile. Even Gully Boy if you want to include a bit of Bollywood. There are incredible behind-the-scenes documentaries, like Michael Rapaport’s Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, or fictional stories of neighborhood kids like Dope. But occasionally, we’ll see hip-hop music being used in movies that we don’t typically expect it in. We see it in family-oriented movies or used to portray superheroes when society has taught us that hip-hop is the villain. The genre connotates one thing, but then filmmakers use it to mean another. Often times, hip-hop can create a new dimension to the story or its characters and contributes a beautiful feeling of nostalgia and personality.
Similarly to my last blog, I have gathered a list of petitions at the end of this post that you can sign to help make the Cannabis industry more inclusive. If we want to legalize and decriminalize Marijuana, there is no reason why individuals should still be locked up due to their complexion when others can profit off of it. Please take the time to sign at least one petition.
The other day, I was running my fingers through my hair, feeling every inch of each strand. Most don’t know this about me, but I developed alopecia just a few years ago. It was traumatic, to say the least. I always loved my hair because it was the one thing that connected me more to my culture and religion than anything else. So when I woke up with a giant, striking bald spot on the right corner of my head, I was mortified. My mental health was already in turmoil, my stress through the roof. The worst part is, the more I stressed out about it, the more patches developed over time. My best friend was the only person entrusted with my hair. I would only get the bare minimum cut off during trims, terrified of losing any more of myself. The attachment was so strong that it was probably a bit unhealthy. But my hair was so much of who I was.
Just because the Instagram posts are dying down doesn’t mean the fight is over. Keep the momentum up. The changes that we need are just beginning.
*The incredible featured image is done by @nouriflayhan on IG. Please support her GoFundMe for kafala victims in Lebanon*
PSA: At the bottom of this page, you can find a list of resources to donate to, as well as other ways to get involved. I have also compiled a list of local black DMV/Philly artists that have Spotify fundraiser picks up on their page. I strongly urge you to support these artists. While media blackouts have good intentions, by not listening to these artists, you are taking away their streaming revenue. Play their music. Hear their voices.
*Also credit for the beautiful header image goes to @bymudra on Instagram*
If you’ve ever gotten a chance to check out some of Luke James’ music reviews, then you’re in luck. I’ve been following him for quite some time, and after surprisingly not much nagging at all, he agreed to let me interview him. After a few back and forth messages over Twitter, we were able to make this happen. I have a lot of love for him, so even if you aren’t into full music reviews, check him out on Twitter to get a bit of his humorous takes and honest shade. It’s super entertaining.
“My tribe is a quest to a land that was lost to us”Riz Ahmed – The Long Goodbye
If you’re in my inner circle, you know that I struggle with my cultural identity quite a bit. I did touch on this a little in Screwing the Light Bulb, but I’m going to expand on this a little more. I stopped feeling comfortable in Indian clothes around the same time that I stopped feeling accepted at Indian parties with my parents and their friends. I felt out of place, and I remember carrying that feeling with me to college as I would walk around with my best friends, knowing I looked nothing like them and feeling the eyes of the Desi kids staring at me as if I felt like I was better than them. But I didn’t. I just felt unaccepted. Hip-hop became my safe place, becoming so much of who I am today. But I still felt a similar sense of not belonging, the way I stupidly feel with my white friends who love my culture and don’t even notice the color of my skin, or the Indian kids that in reality, don’t even pay me any mind. These insecurities may be stupid and in my head, but they’ve caused me a lot of internal turmoil nonetheless.
Sure, things are absolutely crazy right now. Animals are roaming the streets, the environment is the only thing thriving, cities are going on their first full month of quarantine, tornadoes are wreaking havoc, and it is absolutely impossible to find toilet paper anywhere. But did you see that RZA vs. Preemo though?!
I’ll be honest. I had a lot of trouble figuring out what to write about. When I first created this blog post, I literally titled it, “Well What Now…?”, a title that I’m sure I’ll reuse in a month if I am still sitting in my pink polka-dotted childhood bedroom. I am lucky if I get up earlier than noon these days. I’m stuck, tired, and frustrated. Every day gets more exhausting than the last, and I honestly couldn’t tell how much time had gone by since my last post. Was it one week or two? What day was it today? Time has been blending together, and it is beyond uncomfortable. But for the artists who have used this time to create content for everyone else to enjoy, I am so very thankful. Because I know how hard it is right now. And because without you, I don’t know what I would do. Every day I go for a walk around my lake. It takes a bit of energy to convince myself to get up and do something, but the minute that I plug in my headphones and select shuffle on my Spotify is the minute that I can be transported away from all of the bullshit. I’m able to smile and enjoy the sweet bliss of some of my favorite songs, imagining I’m with my friends or at a fun bar.
I’m not 100% sure how to approach this post seeing as I’ve been feeling quite numb for a while now, so I do apologize if it’s all over the place. But music has been the one thing to keep me going, so I may honestly be making this post more for me than anyone else. But I hope that it’s able to give you all something to take your mind off of what’s going on in the world, even if just for the few minutes that it took to read this. Please, no matter how discouraged you feel, do not let go of your creative outlets. Paint, make music, do what you can to feel a sense of comfort, because I promise, it will inspire others as well.
This is the second part to a two-part series called Homosexuality in Hip-Hop. If you haven’t already, please read part one here.
In the first part of this series, we took a step back to look at how homosexuality was viewed in hip-hop for years, and how it’s slowly but surely progressed. While a lot of it was due to progressing views overall as a nation, some of those conservative ideas have still held a lot of people back. The big difference now, however, is that artists are using their voices to advocate for this cause, no matter what sort of response they might receive.
Is it finally accepted?
This will be a two-part series discussing homosexuality in hip-hop. Honestly, it was just getting too damn long.
Do you think you could honestly count how many times you heard the word “faggot” in rap songs? That is probably one of the most notorious insults in rap disses, used by some of the most prolific hip-hop emcees including Common, Tupac, Blackstar, Kanye West, Method Man, and Eminem. But where did this start? And for what reason? Was it actually a sense of deeply rooted homophobia, or was it just because everyone was saying it? Was it because it rhymed and sounded catchy, or was it because there was hatred and embarrassment tied to liking people of the same gender? In 2020, we FINALLY have openly gay hip-hop artists such as Tyler, the Creator, Young M.A., Syd, Frank Ocean, and Lil Nas X representing the LGBTQ community. But due to ignorance, stigmas, and intolerance especially among minority communities, it took many many years of extremely hurtful, cruel, and foul lyrics to finally get to that point.
Part 1 to my women in hip-hop series can be found here or on my homepage.
In the first part of my series celebrating the beauty that is womanhood in hip-hop, I talked about some of my favorite instances of which men advocated and praised women in the most poetic of ways. In this part, I will be talking about some of the actual women who helped shape hip-hop into what it is today, not just for female emcees but for the culture as a whole.
This is going to be a multi-part series discussing different aspects of women and feminism in hip-hop music.
I think one of my biggest reasons for writing this post is to respond to one of America’s number one culture vultures, Miley Cyrus. I grew up adoring Hannah Montana. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that this same pop princess decided that she wanted to take a stab at hip-hop music. After failing miserably even while showing off her whole ass, she decided that hip-hop music was no longer fit for her, deeming it “lewd” and claiming that it disrespected women, after attempting to profit off of it by oversexualizing herself. Nobody asked her to twerk her nonexistent ass while wearing booty shorts and Jordan’s, but she did it anyway. And despite her bullshit apology, this whole scenario is still quite irritating. So I decided to put together a piece showcasing all of the different ways in which hip-hop music, and male rappers, in particular, celebrated and championed women.
In Politics, Society, and Hip-Hop.
“Me and all my peoples, we always thought he was straight. Influential mother fucker when it came to the business. But now, since we know how he really feel, here’s how we feel.”YG
I struggled with deciding if I should make this post simply because I was worried that I would offend someone or that people wouldn’t want to read something politically fueled. But with the election picking up, I decided to say fuck it. I want this blog to be personal, vulnerable, and 100% me, and to edit out this part of my life would mean that I wasn’t being genuine. Everything that I post is opinion-based and from my perspective, so even if you do have a different perspective (and even if I do get aggressively passionate about this), I’m not saying that this is the right answer or the only way things should be. However, I do draw a line at hate, racism, misogyny, and inequality. Additionally, because I do feel that over the past few years artists have stepped up to the plate and been a sense of comfort as we have witnessed our country regress, I would like to do the same. During these times of darkness when I felt pessimistic, hip-hop, in particular, has been a safety blanket by reminding me that I’m not alone.
And how it got a place in hip-hop.
Picture this: You’re in a dark, sweaty, crowded bar with a lot of drunk white people and a DJ who only seems to have an abundance of Travis Scott songs. Next thing you know, you hear an “exotic” yet familiar instrument that sounds like it may have strings or possibly bells, who really cares when you’re this drunk? In case you actually are wondering, the instrument is called a tumbi, but I digress. Suddenly, the song starts to become more recognizable as you hear Jay-Z’s distinct voice yelling over this insane foreign-sounding beat. Hands are thrown up with absolutely no rhythm as fingers start to enclose in a movement similar to potentially screwing, or unscrewing (depending on the direction I guess), a light bulb, causing the dance floor to go wild.
“My definition of hip hop is taking elements from many other spheres of music to make hip hop. Whether it be breakbeat, whether it be the groove and grunt of James Brown or the pickle-pop sounds of Kraftwerk or Yellow Magic Orchestra, hip hop is also part of what they call hip-house now, or trip hop, or even parts of drum n’ bass.”Afrika Bambaataa
Throughout high school, I could often be found in the band classroom with one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Peter Perry. Whether I was helping him test different ideas for his dissertation, organizing sheet music, or playing percussion for one of his many band classes, I was always in that one room at the back of the music hall.
Hopefully we can figure it out together..
My whole thing is to inspire, to better people, to better myself forever in this thing that we call rap, this thing that we call hip hop.— Kendrick Lamar.
At 23 years old, it is definitely difficult to put into words why I love hip-hop so much. A lot of people tend to be surprised by my knowledge of the genre, especially when they take a look at me. I remember being 16 years old and arguing with a guy in one of my high school classes because he claimed that Drake beat Common in their rap beef (let’s be honest now, Common calling Drake “Canada Dry” was enough to end it all). I also remember waiting four hours to see him speak at my university, only for a guy to accuse me of only being there because I thought Common was sexy (which I definitely did, but among other things). However this guy didn’t even know who De La Soul was and once I named every single Common album he shut up pretty quickly.
I was always scared to be a woman in the music industry, especially the hip-hop scene. I knew how easy it was to be swayed by artists, or how difficult it was to deal with sexual harassment. Hell, I’ve had my fair share of both of those. But I also realized that I could use it to my advantage. To make myself memorable. Between my age, race, and gender, I like to think that I can offer a different perspective, especially among the older, money-hungry executives in the industry.
I’m not sure if that’s actually what contributed to it, or perhaps if it was just luck, or maybe even strong networking, but I have been blessed with meeting some of the most talented artists in Philadelphia. From painters to DJs to MCs to producers, I never could have imagined myself lucky enough to talk these beautiful creatives’ ears off about my love for hip-hop, let alone just to be in their presence. And I am so appreciative for their kindness and support because my goodness, once I start talking, I don’t know how to shut up (especially if I have a few drinks in me). So I guess I started this blog to give them a breather, and to give myself an imaginary audience. If you do choose to continue following my blog, then welcome to my chaotic mind full of pointless rap facts and romantic musical dreams. If not, then that’s alright too, I’m sure there are plenty of other blogs out there that are more up your alley, although I do like to tell myself that you’ll be missing out.
- Don’t Let Your Mind Bully Your Body
- New Single-Allura’s World “Bad Bitch Energy”
- “There’s A Lot of Children in Afghanistan, But Little Childhood”
- Opening The Wounds To Find Our Deepest Beauty
- Album Review – Ali Cashius Jr’s ‘Flight Club’
It’s a question I get asked often..
Although I think I’m still trying to find the right answer.
Not often do you find a 23 year old Indian girl who can talk your ear off about Hip-Hop. I get asked all the time, typically with a tone of shock and wonder, “Who are you?!” when I find myself rambling about my favorite MC’s, and often times, I have to stop and ask myself the same question.
It all started when I was the age of 15. I was sitting in the car with my older brother, who always knew anything and everything about music. I envied that about him, especially as I had to follow in his footsteps and attempt to live up to this musical passion. But I was lost. I could never connect with it the way he could, and I hated myself for it. That was until Common’s “Heidi Hoe” came on. I know, suddenly this story is not quite as cute and romantic. In fact, it was the final line in the song that caught my attention: “There’s a party in your mouth, bitch, and everybody’s cumming”. To my poor parents who are probably reading this in absolute disgust, yes, this is the line that made me curious about Hip-Hop. It was so crass, and yet so simply genius, that I was amazed. And I had to learn more.
From there, I dove mostly into Common, of course falling in absolute love with “The Light”, but also with his other classics such as “Be”, “Come Close”, and “I Used to Love H.E.R.”. I wrote papers on his music and learned every single one of his albums. Through him, I learned of the amazing J Dilla, who shaped my work ethic and passion, as well as the Soulquarian movement, which became the era of Hip-Hop that I could mostly relate to. It became my fuel in life, bringing me to the city of Philadelphia where my life and passion for music was just beginning.
- Don’t Let Your Mind Bully Your Body
- New Single-Allura’s World “Bad Bitch Energy”
- “There’s A Lot of Children in Afghanistan, But Little Childhood”
- Opening The Wounds To Find Our Deepest Beauty
- Album Review – Ali Cashius Jr’s ‘Flight Club’