Yesterday my sister breezed into town like she usually does- with little warning, staying for only a few hours, landing somewhere that required a map and a long drive, and accompanied by a crowd. My sister, Jilchristina, is a production person. She tours the country and the world with famous musicians like Naughty by Nature, Missy Eliot, Queen Latifa working as a production manager in her spare time. Spare time because, yes, she he has a day job too- some big whig position in one of the largest mixed race organizations in the country, I-Pride. That's right, my sister is BIG-TIME.
Being an artsy, nerdy type who doesn't drink, smoke, or sleep with men (even famous ones), I have never craved the rock star, rap music limelight my sister lives in. So it was with some reluctance that I made my way to the House of Blues last night to hang with little sis. I wanted to see her but was not particularly interested in seeing her stars or the entourages that accompany them. Being only vaguely familiar with the headliner she was the tour manager for- QTIP- I knew who Tribe Called Quest was at any rate- and having become somewhat rap-cynical after witnessing the steady decline of defeat of rap and hiphop by commercialized misogynistic, internally racist, downputting (instead of uplifting) rap in recent years, my expectations were not high.
I am after all old-school. Or maybe I am just old. Whatever you call me, I remember when Run-DMC came out. I remember listening to KRS-1, NWA, and other positive voices and feeling hopeful. I remember discovering MCLyte, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, Salt N' Pepa and thinking yeah! some women droppin knowlege.
In recent years, I have come to distance myself from rap despite my previous admiration for the art. I just have no time for men who objectify women, have videos full of half naked ladies thrusting their hips and butts into the camera. I have no time for lyrics about men's sex drives, sexual desires, and the fantasies they have about women who act like sex-slaves satisfying their every erotic whim. I am sick of hearing men call women hoes and bitches and talking about them exclusively in terms of their reproductive organs. Brotha, PLeeease!
There are so few women rap artists out there these days. There is so much rap that is degrading to women. Black people are the most musically inventive, original, inspired artists in the United States, if not the world. So why are men hogging the mike? And why are men dogging women? And why isn't there more music and rap about changing the world?
Don't get me started!
But Qtip and Common are old school and also conscious. Their music is not misogynistic. They don't define their manhood through the oppression of women. While standing off stage in the wings with my sister listening to his show last night, I heard him spout out some positive lines about women. Refreshing.
Though I am no performer in the way that musicians and spoken word artists of his fame are, I can recognize the flow when I see and feel it. I know what it is like to get into your audience and to get caught up in the energy exchange. I know what it is like to take strings of energy and use them to pull your audience toward you, with you, along for the ride. I miss that. I am reminded in going to hang out with my sister of my need to get back out there- perform more. Get more gigs! Here I go!