Nilla: “It’s just that straight disrespect. Do you respect your mom? Do you respect your sisters? Do your respect your girlfriend or your wife? Do respect women who are in your world? And if you don’t, then that is exactly how you are going to approach any women in any industry, whether you are the CEO of a company or whether you’re working at a radio station, no matter what, regardless of the hip-hop industry. I just think how you approach women is how you’re going to approach women in hip-hop.”
Chase: “I don’t know if I agree with that. I think there are a lot of MCs who treat their ladies nice but get on the mic and start saying ‘bitches ain’t shit’ and all that kind of stuff because there is an audience for it. I think we need to talk about that audience. I mean, as much as I don’t listen to that kind of stuff. Okay, I listen to some of it, but most of the stuff I listen to is conscious.
I listen to a lot of conscious hip-hop, a lot of underground stuff, I don’t listen to commercial rap, but even so, I hear derogatory terms all the time, like ‘bitches’ and ‘hoes’ and stuff like that. And then you hear defense of that from some rappers who say, ‘You know what? There are some bitches and hoes out there and I’m just keeping it real’ but that can’t be an excuse at all. We usually only get that one side, so how come you aren’t talking about the queens and the beautiful women. We don’t have that other side of the story, I find.”
Nilla: “Not in the mainstream.”
Our Sis Sam: “It starts with the individual. It really starts with your own mind. It starts from the seed of the thought and it goes to the vibration of the words that you speak. You really have to understand the power that has and the effect it has on society. And I think you really need to correct yourself when you’re standing in front of the mirror. And first of all, if the only vocabulary you have is ‘bitch’ and ‘hoe’ and you’re a MC, then you need to go read a book because there are plenty of other words you can use to describe the type of individual that you are trying to portray without using such a limited and ignorant word. You really have to be conscious of what you think and what you say, and if you do treat the women in your life like queens but don’t do so on the mic, you’re a hypocrite. You stand for something or you fall for anything. I don’t know what to believe. I’m not going to take your words for nothing. And all you are as an MC, you’re given me your words and you want me to take that as bond, it’s not happening.”
Kool Krys: “I agree. You’re an MC on stage and you’re an MC off stage, so even as a performer, you can’t be someone else when you get off the stage, especially when your lyrics are conscious and genuine, it really comes off as insincere and fake. I think as an artist, you do have a choice, whether you are going to do the mainstream thing and your objective it to be wiling out famous, that’s one way. The other way you can go is be conscious and true to yourself and say, ‘I just want to make an impact on small audiences that grow. I think there are those black and white channels that you have to decide on as an artist, and I think the ones that decide to be famous, look at Nicki Minaj. What kind of role model is the most successful female artist for every other artist right now? Look at what she’s been putting out. It’s derogatory. It’s disappointing.”
Our Sis Sam: “She’s setting us back like thirty years.”
Kool Krys: “She keeps saying, ‘I’m setting the path for you. You girls should be thanking me.’ That’s her message to all the female MCs. Yeah, I’m gonna thank you that I have to take my clothes off if I’m going to be successful. I’m not down with that. That’s not what I represent at all, and I’m sure the girls here can agree with me.”
Nilla: “I’ll thank her for being ignorant though. I’ll thank her for not teaching me anything. But that’s because I like the more conscious hip-hop. Now, I came up listening to NWA, 2pac and Biggie, but 2Pac started getting more conscious and that fed in to my vibe. I eventually got into Talib Kweli who did tracks like ‘For Women’ and Common Sense who are flipping the switch, ya know?
I ran in to some girls this week and they were writing raps and they were calling themselves ‘bitches’ and ‘hoes’ and I had to rewind the track and be like, ‘Why are you calling yourself that?’ and she was like, ‘Well, I’m a bad bitch.’ Okay, but why is that something you are attaining to be. It’s because it’s something we’re projecting. You want to be a bad bitch who doesn’t look at the price tag and all these unrealistic things. I can only speak for myself, but I rap about what I know so when I see these young girls, it’s hard for me.
The guys even back this way of thinking up like, ‘Being a bad bitch is a good thing.’ But why don’t you find a different word, exactly like Sam was talking about. Why don’t you broaden your horizon? Go read a book. That’s not respectful. It maybe okay on the streets in your frame of reference but you have to be bold and courageous to flip the switch and try something else. It’s like swearing in tracks, you can find another word with just as many syllables. Don’t use it a crutch. Change the game because we are not fast-forwarding anything, we’re rewinding, right?
I don’t care about your wardrobe. I don’t care how many wigs you wear. What are you showing me? You want me to jump on your camp, I can’t do it.”
Our Sis Sam: “I think it comes down to lack of self identity and just trying to make it and not being sure how they want to make it just knowing that they want to make it at all costs. That’s not inspirational.”
Nilla: “And so they will sexualize themselves and they will pay attention and show up when guys say, ‘Yeah I’ll put you on this bill if you come home with me tonight.’ I’d rather not play that bill, that’s just me.”
Chase: “The Nicki Minaj thing though, it’s almost like she’s a character. I can almost see a little bit of the appeal because she is just so over the top, like Lady Gaga, who once again I don’t like but-”
Nilla: “You gotta respect her hustle, right?”
Chase: “You have to a little bit, and the fact that Minaj is so interchangeable and you don’t even know what she looks like because she dresses herself up like a Barbie doll and looks different every time you see her. It’s a gimmick. And there have been a lot of trends in hip-hop where artists have been able to establish themselves through gimmick, such as Das Efx. So there is something to be said about gimmicks.
The point you were just making too, Nilla, that people don’t censor themselves. I think that is something we should do. I’m not for censorship, I’m not for telling somebody that they can’t say what they want to say, especially in this music because there are so many different ways you can go, and so many different factions of hip-hop. But at the same time. I think we should stop and think before we use the n-word and before we say bitch. I’m not going to say that word anymore. I might have said it ten years ago.”
Nilla: “It’s been out of my vocab for a long time just out of respect. You won’t hear any derogatory slang come out of my mouth for anybody no matter what culture you are what land you walk, nothing, but that’s just me.”
Chase: “Sometimes it comes out inadvertently like the Lin-sanity that’s been going on. Somebody put ‘a chink in the armor’ in a headline for him and I think that was a phrase that wasn’t meant to have any racial stereotypes, so sometimes it comes out like even in a freestyle and that doesn’t necessarily negate all the good work you are doing by modeling the respect that you do.”
Nilla: “There’s a difference, right? People say, ‘I’m expressing how I feel. Those are the words I want to use’ and you’re right, we can’t take their language away from them. And I’m not going to berate you and say, ‘Use different words and educate yourself.’ I can’t make you into something that you’re not. I can only choose as a listener, as a fan, as a fellow artist too that I’m not inline with what you represent so I can’t really support that. I would never want someone to come to me and call me all sorts of names and whatnot. That’s the ‘treat somebody the way you want to be treated’ rule of thumb in life.”
Chase: “We’ve been talking about a lot of things today on this panel. One thing I did want to touch on was Jay-Z and Beyonce. They recently had a daughter and a story came out that Jay-Z was going to stop using derogatory terms for women in his music. I was like, ‘Wow, this is so awesome!’ and I know that becoming a parent changes you, it does make you grow up, but that story turned out to be a hoax. I so wanted it to be true. I was disappointed. I don’t know, how do you feel about it?”
Nilla: “Majorly disappointed. Your words are powerful, your voice is powerful, and he’s actually someone a lot of people follow. If he wears his hat a certain way, they are all going to wear their hat that way, if walks a certain way, they are all going to walk that way. They want to emulate Jay-Z and he had to the power to actually do something about that. I thought it was a little cliché, I thought it was a little convenient, ‘Oh you have a daughter and now you’re not going to say ‘bitch’ anymore.’”
Our Sis Sam: “But whatever it takes to make that enlightenment happen.”
Nilla: “And then when we found out it was a hoax, I was like, ‘Oh great, awesome.’”
Lady A.S.G: “So then your daughter will grow up to find out the words that you use in your music.”
Nilla: “She will find out that you have no respect for her or her mom.”
Lady A.S.G: “That he is calling every women that he knows a ‘slut’ or a ‘bitch’ or whatever these days that they want to call us. I mean, we’re people too. We have feelings too, come on. Just because we have boobs instead of a wiener doesn’t mean that we can’t get things done and get it done as good as anyone else or even better.”
Nilla: “I love this Invincible line. She says, ‘I want to be one of the best period, not just one of the best with two breasts and a period.”
Lasy A.S.G: “That’s a dope line. I agree.”
Chase: “I’m a teacher and I hear young boys often say that girls can’t do all of the things that they can do. And then I’ll come out and say, ‘I’m a runner’ and they know I’m fast, and I’ll say, ‘Every race I go into, I get beat by a girl,” and it’s true. I’m not the fastest dude in the world but I love to run and go in road races and invariably, there is a girl that beats me every single time.
I also bring up the terms actor and actress when teaching drama. If we are all acting and the suffix ‘or’ means ‘one who,’ which it does, then we should get rid of the term actress like we should get rid of the term femcee. I hate that word.”
Lady A.S.G: “Me too. That’s the grossest word that someone ever came up with, in my opinion.”
Nilla: “It’s just showing that you think a true MC is a guy, and that again is just frame of reference. It’s mad frustrating.”
Lasy A.S.G: “We don’t need labels. The labels are what hold us back, but despite those labels and whatever they want to put on us, it doesn’t matter, we’re gonna beat through it anyway. Look how far we’ve come. In 1950 women weren’t even allowed to vote. In 2012, we’re out there protesting-”
Our Sis Sam: “And we had a female running for president.”
Lady A.S.G: “Exactly, this goes from Europe to Asia to North America. It doesn’t matter where you are. I see a lot of pictures up on the Internet now with everything that it going on in Egypt with the war and I see a lot more females than I’ve ever seen before. Pictures of females raising their fists, they’ve got some weapons there too, just like the guys, they’re fighting for their freedom and that’s what we do as MCs, we’re fighting for our voice too as females. We can do anything and maybe even do it better.”
Chase: “I agree. I hate that it’s 2012 and we have to talk about this. Why are women still seen as second-class citizens, especially in rap music? It makes no sense to me whatsoever.”
Nilla: “It makes people comfortable. You’re only comfortable if you can push someone down and know that you’re above them, even if it’s just in your own head.”
Our Sis Sam: “We’ve been living in patriarchal society for how many years, millennia?”
Nilla: “Exactly. North America just runs that way.”
Our Sis Sam: “Yeah, from religion, which is the original form in which you are brainwashed as to your values and what your belief system should be and the standards of life, down to sociological, and even educationally. And the opportunities that are offered to you in the corporate world. You get paid less to do the same job as a man. In every single level of society, we are still being ruled by this patriarchal mindset. And until there is a flush through generations where women are being respected in the household and those values of respect and equality of women are being taught to the seeds and every generation that comes up, that is still maintained.
Until people realize the power of a woman and how we are the creators and nurturers of society, and how we undertake tasks and how we contribute to things, we may not do things ourselves but we are the hands behind the scenes making things happen and being supportive and comforting. We are the ones making the moves and giving the knowledge to the men who can’t figure things out, if that is the scenario, if not doing it ourselves.
Until that shift happens in our society, and it starts in the home, it starts with the individual. that reflection will not be made down the line into hip-hop.”
Nilla: “And they say too, that if you educate a girl within a village, it benefits the entire village because she’ll pass on that knowledge and she can do more with her knowledge than educating a little boy, and I’m not saying don’t educate the little boy. It’s proven that we are the nurturers and that we lift everybody up and that we carry on tradition. We are the neck if they are the head. Somebody’s got to hold you up.”
Kool Krys: “With that said, I really want to bring up something that is very much parallel to the hip-hop and pop music industry, which is the porn industry. When you look at the rise of the Internet and how easy it is so access porn for young guys. I saw a CBC special on this last week and it blew my mind. It has completely ruined their ability to have healthy relationships with women and their mothers and see women as equals because they are really portrayed in a very hyper-sexualized manner and I think that hip-hop does not do anything to aid that on a mainstream level.
But we have to not just talk about the mainstream. There are people in the communities that are influencing young boys and girls and there is a lot of great things that female and male Canadian hip-hop artists are doing. So I think we really need to focus on what women are doing and not how people think women are acting. I think as MCs and as promoters, we need to bring that community together as much as possible, despite all of the things that are against women in general, across the stage, across the workplace, across every environment. It’s not just hip-hop. It’s everything. It’s our mindset as a culture.”
Nilla: “I think girls, just in general, need to be cooler with each other. I mean girls will fight each other faster than they’ll fight anyone else. So I mean we’re not even standing united
Lady A.S.G: “I have to be honest. I have way more guy friends that I have girl friends. It’s not because I’m a tomboy. I usually have a hard time getting along with most girls. I don’t get my hair done or do the whole makeup thing every day. There’s nothing wrong with that. It just ain’t my thing. Just being a female, people expect you to always look a certain way, and act a certain way, and talk a certain way, and that’s one of the reasons I do hip-hop, I don’t want to be that way and that is how I tell people I don’t want to do it. I am me, hear me roar.”
Nilla: “But they think it’s an asset. People have told me, ‘Why don’t you dress up? Why aren’t you wearing heels or scandalous clothing?’ Well, I’m not comfortable in that. ‘Well, that’s an asset that you have. That’s how you’re going to get more fans. It’s a dude party at every hip-hop show’ but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to go an appeal to your porn senses and physically appeal to your eyes before your ears are inline with what we’re are doing.”
Our Sis Sam: “I think the unity amongst our sisters is really important. We’re quick to tear down Nicki Minaj or anyone that is portraying women in a negative light that we don’t agree with. I think a better approach would be to say, ‘Clearly our sister is a little lost and she needs some sort of direction and be assured of who she is as a woman.’ And who better to guide her and nurture her to that than her fellow sisters. Rather than tear each other down, we should be more supportive and help each other and maybe share our knowledge because we see something that maybe they don’t see yet. And we have to have faith that maybe they will see the light one day.”