Hip Hop is a major part of black culture, it is known as black people’s form of expressing themselves, their communities, their struggles and accomplishments. In the history of hip hop we have seen a number of occasions where the platform
was used to make political statements and stand up for injustice and humanity, one of the most well-known which was later developed into a movie, Straight Outta Compton is N.W. A’s powerful stand against police brutality in ‘Fuck tha Police’.
In recent years Kendrick Lamar also released a body of work which became the playlist for the #BlackLivesMatter movement, his third studio album ‘To Pimp A Butterfly’ had the leading single “Alright” with the hook “We gon’ be alright,” which was an affirmation of black life, communities and hope.
Hip Hop Music Videos:
As celebrated as it is for hip hop artists to use their platform for greater good, there is also an equally popular trend of using black women as ‘props’ in music videos. Women have become a big part of hip-hop music and images in the industry as we know, they’re always often the subject and source of provocative rap lyrics and imagery. In many hip hop videos both locally and internationally female models by far outnumber male cameos and the artists themselves, there is a lot of female bodies representing hip hop culture but little to no female voices present.
Hip Hop Portraying Females:
The issue is not what kind of videos are being made but the balance that is happening in the industry when it comes to portraying female bodies in a sexual and provocative manner in the name of “entertainment”. The portrayal of female bodies in almost every second music video is women swinging on poles, always in little-to-no clothes, some even naked and the one common factor in every video is the light skin black woman with accentuated physical features.
This is the image of a woman who young black girls grow up believing is what a woman should be because there are no alternate examples of people who look like them in the hip hop industry. Because of the visible role black women play and represent, females are easily influenced by the narrative that is built for them to try match that standard by wanting to be more ‘fair-skinned’, enhancing their physical features to achieve the infamous hour -glass figure and replacing their natural Afro hair with weaves and extensions. In other words, in black girls’ pursuit for their identity they find themselves highly influenced by the women who are both glamorized and demoralized in hip hop music videos.
We are fortunate enough to live in a time where social media has allowed people to openly express themselves and also share their opinions on social concerns which has created an environment where people are socially aware and are growing to learn and unlearn what they have been conditioned to believe. Artists are now more mindful of their responsibility and the role they play in the upliftment of individuals and breaking societal norms through the universal language that is music.
In 2018 we have seen artists release music video visuals which celebrate and embrace the natural beauty of black women, fans are appreciating these music videos because they get to see girls that look like them, with Afro hair and skin tone like that of their own. Here are some of the videos that are portraying black women in all their glory that we enjoyed:
Ari Lennox – Whipped Cream
The video is an exploration of black love and the battle with nostalgia as she relives memories from her past relationship. The visuals spot beautiful scenes of intimacy with Ari wearing out her natural hair throughout the video.
6LACK – Pretty Little Fears Ft. J. Cole
6lack has had himself quite a successful year with the release of his second album ‘East Atlanta Love Letter’. The song is once again embracing black love and shows both 6lack and J. Cole in vulnerable verbal exchanges with their onscreen love interests. Spotting some of the responses from fans in the comment section here is one from Jesse Reyers which essentially summarized everyone’s feelings towards the video; “Again, these songs that empower not only women, but human connection. They’re so nice. Not referring to women as “b*es” or “hs” but real words from the heart of someone that has been humbled by life. Truly beautiful song”.
Mahalia & Kojey Radical – One Night Only
The video reflects the emotive reversal of the stereotypical casual-sex narrative, placing Mahalia as an all-encompassing figure of empowerment, Mahalia recruited a group of real-life-friends who, throughout the visual, hold their head high and glow with confidence.
We are loving the versatility and growth in the music industry and we hope to see more of it in the future, share with us your favorite music videos in 2018 which you felt raised the bar.
Are you a fan of Hip Hop Music? What is your favourite Hip Hop song? Let us know in the comments below!