Friday, March 14, 2014

Female Rappers

There was an article last week on NPR titled "Where Did All the Female Rappers Go?"

I wrote a comment on the site, and there was a nice debate in the comments section.  Here's what I wrote:

I'm not going to deny that there is a lot of sexism towards and prejudice against female rappers, or that mainstream hip-hop has gotten cartoonishly sexist. However, Angel Haze's album was panned because it was not that good. Her lyrics, which were strong on her mixtapes, are reduced to overused flower metaphors, cliches, platitudes, and vague encouragements to overcome adversity. The album tries to mash together her fierce rapping with dance pop and it doesn't work. Haze is gifted, but "Dirty Gold" is not a good example of her talents - it's an example of the label trying to make her all things to all people and losing what is interesting about the artist in the process. And Kreayshawn is terrible as a rapper- there's a reason her album didn't sell.
You're right that Haze's album was rated lower than less lyrical rappers, but lyricism isn't the end-all, be-all in hip-hop,. That's like saying an artist is no good because their paintings aren't representational. Having a certain vibe can be just as powerful, even if the rapper isn't saying much lyrically. "Hard In the Paint" may be simplistic, but it works as a song a lot better than many so-called lyrical rap songs. Especially ones as chock full of cliche's as the ones on "Dirty Gold."
Haze is emblematic of the problem facing female rappers. It's not enough for them to be able to rap. They have to sing as well. They have to be street, but also sexy, rap as well as the boys but also be good-looking and have pop appeal. Meanwhile, a male rapper can be overweight, ugly, and do nothing but slur about getting drunk and partying with strippers and they get a million downloads.

Anyways, it led me to review two recent mixtapes by female artists.  The first was Chicago rapper/singer Tink's Winters Diary 2. 

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Brand New You're Retro

I've been enjoying a lot of the melodic punky music that has come out recently. The Joanna Gruesome record from last year is growing on me. I originally had issues with the noisy lo-finess of of it, but with better headphones the melodies come through much more clearly. They have a nice contrast between male and female vocals, loud punk elements and strong melodies.

I also like the new Bleeding Rainbow record. It is a little less punk, but still has that winning combination of loud guitars and female vocals.

I'm also really enjoying Solids' Blame Confusion, which is more grungy and less melodic.

What dawned on me in listening to them is that they all sound very early 90s. Joanna Gruesome could be on K Records. But since they are all in their twenties, them playing this music is sort of like if I had played classic rock as a kid. Or the Beatles. Which makes me feel old.

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