Tomorrow is the Afro-Punk Festival! Huzzah! I haz excite!

Janelle Monae

Who I am most excited to see is of course Janelle Monae. I love her music, I can hang with my friends Kellindo and Nastassia, all is spiffy all around. And did you know she recently became the new spokesmodel for CoverGirl? Here’s the video for that:

Ain’t it neat? She is very adorbs! Also she is coming out with a new album called “Electric Lady”  Annnnd here is a performance of “Electric Lady”

Straight Line Stitch

Aw man, I automatically liked them because there’s a Black lead vocalist and they’re metal so it’s ultra rare. Their music is great! Alexis, the lead vocalist, is super nice and so is the rest of the band when I had the opportunity to interview them for Afro-Punk. This time I shall not be as derpy as all get out.

I really like their music video “Conversion”

“Black Veil” is ridiculously outstanding, and has been the best use of braids for headbanging, ever.

Erykah Badu

Dude. Dooooooooooooooooood. Everybody grew up to Badu on the radio. She a Black music staple and a legend. This is the first time in my life I’m really seeing her and it’s not through a medium such as the radio or a magazine cover. I still remember hearing the song “Tyrone” back in middle school.

Lupe Fiasco

Now, that’s outta the way I’mma feature Lupe Fiasco’s newest video, “B*tch Bad”.

Now, I have words about this. This vid is probably why Lupe will possibly be the only well-known emcee I actually like. Look at the site for the video! I’m very happy with the video, absolutely ecstatic. It’s no secret that Black Witch leans heavy towards womanism/feminism. I wouldn’t feature some of the works I have such as Busty Girl Comics or writing the piece I did about sexuality if I didn’t strongly feel that gender equality is important. I mean, Ida B. Wells is my hero, much more than Susan B. Anthony ever will – dude, Wells stunted heavy on Anthony when it came to race and women’s rights. To hear a rapper – a Black, well-known, male rapper who was raised in the hood – to speak actual womanism*, to actually go, “Eeeh, there’s something very wrong with this picture. Lemme illustrate,” and do a good job at that is exceedingly rare. Nas has tried but even he has dropped the ball through the floor a few times and occasionally left it there whereas Lupe has been rocking it like nothing at all. Lupe did show me that not all rappers are interested in being the 21st century Mantan after all with just his first album Food and Liquor (oh, and F&L II is due out in September) so I knew that this was going to be good. And it was.

Lupe is very much on the right track with this video because mainstream hip hop has this thing about women that is pretty degrading, which does in turn speak on itself. The video displays what can be easily described internalized racism that are traced from pretty bigoted theories that date back to the 1800s – wait, no further than that, 1600s – that does affect the freedom of sexuality and self perception that Black Women still don’t really have today. I mean, the video vixen is just the late 20th/21st century reboot of the Jezebel/Jungle Bunny stereotype.  Slave masters used that stereotype to justify raping their female slaves: that they’re already hypersexual creatures so it doesn’t count as rape and since they’re not really people, it’s not really cheating on the wife, who is going to unleash her own special hell on the Black female slave for being a “threat” even though she isn’t really a threat, more like a captive victim in a very jacked up situation. Colonizers did the same, believing it would render what they’re doing as having harmless fun. Internalized racism means that the Black woman is seen through a hypersexualized lens, regardless if she is Mrs. Obama, Gabby Douglas, the random lady walking down the street going to the market, etc etc. The assumption is that that the Black woman or girl in question is overly kinky, not really a person and her buxom body isn’t that way because of genetics but because she’s a natural slut (and if she doesn’t have one, just imagine it or say she’s not “Black enough”), she’s got to have it and she won’t be vanilla about it. This idea is mega amplified in mainstream hip hop through the video vixen, the woman who is supposed to represent a female body but objectified. She can be a teacher, doctor, nurse, politician, anything but operates on “rap music video logic” in that she’s somehow always horny and it’s usually due to the rapper, or simply because men exist period, even if the woman was gay (which is another trope, the lesbianism trope). According to this logic as well, a mini skirt or booty shorts means the woman is an avid kinkster and she’s giving automatic sexual consent – y’know, like how Travyon totally showed automatic racial consent to Zimmerman about being stalked and murdered through his hoodie.

The hypersexualizedtrope is problematic because of the basic saying, “You can’t be it if you don’t see it” and if your image and self-perception is related to your sexuality constantly and not within your control at all (the Jezebel stereotype wasn’t created by Black women), it forces Black men and women who simply just wanted to watch media that featured them and not White people for once to consume and believe these hateful and minstrel stereotypes. And trust me, they are minstrelsy at their finest, hence why Lupe Fiasco put it in the video.

Ah, the minstrel show. White readers, this is one of the reasons why minorities get rightfully pissed, rightfully fast when your folks think slathering tanning lotion or motor oil on their face and a curly wig on their head is a good idea. Everyone else, this is why we ought to be rightfully pissed, rightfully fast when Whites think Brown/Black/Yellow/Redface is a good idea, especially for movies. The Spike Lee movie Bamboozled is about minstrelsy and how the effects still live on today, it’s similar to “B*tch Bad” so if Lupe got you scratching your head, I highly recommend that movie.  For those who are familiar with the minstrel show, you can see it soooooooooooo vividly in mainstream rap. Good god, it’s so vivid. Even Nas pointed that out in a parody rap video starring rap duo Shuck and Jive.

So, you could see it coming heavy in “B*tch Bad”. Why, the chain the rapper is wearing, if you look closely, is a minstrel blackface character. It’s all so similar to how the mainstream rapper and the women around it are depicted. How they pose is similar, act is similar, dress (in accordance to the times) is similar, everything is so similar, you sometimes wonder if a Klansman is running all this. At least see a little “Paid by Mitt Romney for President” stamped on there somewhere. I mean, geez. And this is for a genre of music that is so strongly defined as “Black Music”, like rock is supposed to be “White music” though Blacks created that genre too.  You could google “Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers” – man, just trace the history of Rock back and you’re going to run into us. This also shows the racial alignment of musical genre is problematic in itself.

Music is a pretty big deal because you can learn about different cultures and perspectives that way. Hip hop was supposed to be the verbal newspaper of the people, so to speak. It was the only way to talk about what was actually going on in the hood because our voices are so heavily marginalized in media. We’re not all fatherless gang bangers on the fast track to the jailhouse because we don’t know no better due to not listening to White folk. Nope, that’s not the case at all, I can attest that from personal experience and so can Lupe. We’re living proof, if anything. Hip hop gave us a voice, theeeeeeeen record execs got to the genre. Rough on their White cultured ears, they figured they could package all that Black rage, shine it up pretty , insert Black stereotypical plots so it can be “crossover friendly” like drug wars and broken homes and all they have to do is sit back, collect checks. Granted, that’s pretty different from what usually happens, which is when Black folks create a genre of music, White folks like it but know they’d like it better without the negroes in it, apply White-Out and out comes a genre that looks removed from its roots. Examples: Rock, blues, jazz, pretty much whatever we get our hands on and sounds good. With hip hop, it’s too strongly Black. Very hard to White-Out, the Blackness would still bleed through. Since kids in the hood are already looking like the bad kids that America was so busy telling everyone about, why not just make them stereotypical so it would be easier to sell to the wider (and Whiter) audience? White kids don’t want to hear about how they’re oppressing and ruining lives of children in the hood through their privilege, nah, they want something like The Arabian Nights where in some off distant place is the Hood, where there’s fast money, fast women, fast living. To feel so “gangsta” though having zero idea what that means and that it’s not a very cheery thing to experience while growing up. At all. And this is hip hop, which rap is a part of, displaying a fragment of Black culture and that fragment wrought through every super racist idea that the Western world has about us and then displayed as if this is all the culture is and has to offer, not just hip hop itself. In turn, this is consumed by everyone, Black, White, Latin, Asian, everyone, and creates a cycle where people, namely Blacks, become what they see because it’s almost they only thing they can see which stars them and thus consume it. The cycle for everyone else is that it fuels their culturally-induced belief that this is actually how Black people are and thus justifies their racism and fear. So here you have a race acting out because someone who looked like them for once was doing it and all these other races who are believing they are not at all wayward in their thinking because look! They really are like that! Wow, what porch monkeys, the other races think and express.

Yeah, you can see how problematic that is. I mean, a 17 year old armed with only snack foods is dead because of this cycle. Zimmerman was fed all his life through media and his experience that Black is evil so even a harmless kid with snack foods seemed like a King Kong threat. And that’s ignoring the fact Trayvon also consumed some of the same media and thus showed that while he was alive. No ,Trayvon wasn’t thinking of being a thug but I can bet that he has acted out some of what he has seen simply because that’s the media he watched, no conscious thinking. So both have experienced pretty racist media painted as general entertainment, consumed it roughly the same but interpreted it differently because of their racial and cultural backgrounds and boom, one is dead and the other is awaiting trial after a chance meeting.

Also, it’s problematic because “Black” music seem so limited in subject matter where as “White” music seems to be about as broad as the ocean when you judge what plays on the radio. “Black” music/mainstream radio stations just talks about guns, drugs, phony oppression and misogyny whereas “White” music/mainstream radio stations seem to be able to talk about that too but among other subjects and is looked on pretty favorably. That pushes the stereotype that Blacks are sub-humans that don’t know anything except how to rape/have sex with everything in sight, how to only be violent about base matters and not have significant thought forms whereas Whites are simply well-rounded and fully developed human beings perfectly capable of complex thought and theory.

Lupe Fiasco’s video “B*tch Bad” is a video very sorely needed because honestly, this kind of nonsense needs to stop. I left hip hop a long time ago because of it, it’s simply offensive when it says it’s the voice of the Black people when really it’s just the voice of straight Black misogynists. Misogyny, and hypermasculinity as a whole, is bad for everyone all around because how can there be solidarity if I can’t even be respected as a human being? It makes the concept of Black solidarity seem incredibly fake and an absolute joke. I mean, it sounds like a good idea, can’t wait to see it applied but it never will if Black women aren’t seen as equals and if we keep practicing the same tropes just to save media execs money on the burnt cork.


Next week is Ask Black Witch! If you have questions, please send them in!

Ask Black Witch Submission Form

There are various ways to ask a question besides the submission form, just send them before next Friday. Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated. See you at the Festival!

*Womanism is feminism with the more realistic intersections of race and class included.