Hip Hop is a (Black) Woman

By Jaylin Paschal

I've always personified Hip Hop as a woman. It's always been something that's been obvious to me, like the way ships and storms are named after women. Never something I questioned; always something I've assumed to be true. There was never any rhyme or reason--until there was.

But Hip Hop is a woman for several reasons, beyond my obvious "duh."

Despite the characterization of Hip Hop as grungy or gritty, the culture and genre has a delicacy about it that is distinctly feminine. Rhyme and rhythm allows emcees to walk a bar with a poetic lyricism that can be attributed to the literal, physical walk or voice of a woman. Hip Hop is assertive, but graceful--the embodiment of a powerful woman.

Furthermore, Hip Hop is inherently nurturing. Testimonies like "Hip Hop saved my life" or Erykah Badu's "Love of My Life: An Ode to Hip Hop" are not coincidental in them placing Hip Hop in the role of a caretaker. There is something maternal about the culture; the way it guides you without holding your hand. Consider how many Hip Hop has taken in as her own; how many she's raised and taught, asking nothing in return. 

And to make the personification even more specific, Hip Hop is a black woman (duh). Hip Hop is resilient in the way that historically, only black women are. Like black women, Hip Hop has been stereotyped and marginalized by the mainstream. But also like black women, Hip Hop has slowly but surely infiltrated every facet of the mainstream or of American popular culture--and rather than being sidelined, it sets the standard for trends in both style and media. Despite constant criticism and censorship of Hip Hop, it will not be moved or silenced, and it certainly will not shrink itself or reduce its function to one role. Sounds familiar.

So there is rhyme and there is reason to support the personification of Hip Hop as a woman. But still, I would rather just say "duh."

Jaylin PaschalComment