Whenever words have failed me, hip-hop was there to give me a voice.
So… Today’s the day. How’s everyone feeling? If I’m being honest, my emotions are all over the place. I’m trying to distract myself with mundane activities but find that it’s a bit difficult to focus my attention on anything other than the potential outcomes for this week. I still remember four years ago, when I sat at the bar until 4 AM watching the votes pour in. The swing states were trickling in, and the numbers were close. By the time my friends and I got an Uber, I felt defeated. I knew what was happening. As I pulled up to my apartment, I heard the boys next door cheering Trump’s name. Unsurprisingly, it was the lacrosse team’s house, which seemed to be his target audience. The privileged douche bags who could get out of any problem thanks to their skintone and their dad’s money. After a few hours of sleep, my alarm went off, reminding me that the night before wasn’t a nightmare and that I had to face the world and go to class. I felt my mind fog with sadness and the remnants of the alcohol from the night before, with the clouds and rain echoing my emotions. Cops were posted on every corner of campus, foreshadowing the disarray that was to come. And yet, it still didn’t prepare me for the hell that has been this year.
In 2008, the United States saw its highest voter turnout rate in young voters for the first time in 35 years. Celebrities of different statuses and backgrounds banded together to help campaign for the first Black president, with quite a few of those artists stemming from the hip-hop industry. In fact, Obama encouraged the use of this unlikely culture in politics, and it proved to have a strong impact. Young adults all over familiarized themselves with him through lyrics, falling in love with his charisma and optimism. Unfortunately, not everyone was enthusiastic about this introduction of hip-hop into mainstream politics. And let’s be clear, hip-hop has always been political. Whether it was commenting on racial inequality or exposing issues with authoritative figures, hip-hop has always been up-to-date with the political climate of the United States. But now, it has been at the forefront, receiving news coverage and getting noticed by politicians everywhere. And although one may disagree with Obama’s actions or beliefs, he was presidential. He inspired change. And he’s sure as hell better than what we have now. So as we get closer to the November election, I want to highlight some of Obama’s best hip-hop moments and reminisce on when we had a president in office, and not a disgusting, horribly spray-tanned piece of shit.
As you can probably tell, I am extremely invested in this year’s election. I’m typically always concerned when it comes to politics, but if you are honestly not terrified for the future of this country right now, then you are either hiding behind a veil of denial or a veil of privilege. Or you’ve simply just stopped caring, which is kind of understandable at this point. It’s been a whirlwind. And I know that this is supposed to be a hip-hop blog, but the ways in which I have been seeing politics and the entertainment industry overlap is actually pretty inspiring. Out of all of the methods I have seen to promote voter turn-out, this may be one of the most innovative ideas. President Trump has managed to worsen this country every time he opens his mouth. It’s genuinely become difficult to tell fact from fiction. So artists all over the United States have taken it upon themselves to expose President Trump’s web of lies in the new trend, #45Lies.
I decided to take a small break from my usual posts to do something I don’t usually do. This isn’t a sponsored post, but rather an event for something that I’m extremely passionate about, and that involves the dreaded world of politics. Unfortunately, at this point in time, we can’t think of politics as something that only affects the 1%, or what we hear talked about on the news at 11 PM every night. The current issues going on involve every single one of us, and that’s why this election is so important. It goes beyond a topic that is avoided on first dates and family dinners. In fact, it’s something I feel I have to talk about when meeting someone for the first time (if anyone would like to know why I’m still single). This has become a fight for basic human rights, and lives are depending on it. We need change. And this cannot happen unless we go out (or stay in!) and vote.
My last post was difficult to get through, as a writer, an editor, a reader, and a lover of hip-hop. But it was an issue that I was passionate about that needed to be brought to light. However, I ended it by mentioning “WAP,” the Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion song that has everybody talking. Astonishingly, the lyrics that I discussed in my last post were far more accepted than two women rapping about consensual sex, something that isn’t a new trend. When I first heard the song, I was a bit taken aback. However, that’s mainly because the version I first heard edited the chorus to say “this wet and gushy.” If you know me, you know that that would make me uncomfortable no matter who sang that. I’m definitely no prude. Gushy is just a weird word. It’s like how some people react to moist, which, oddly enough, I’m a little more okay with. But once I heard the actual version, I could 100% get behind it. It was empowering and refreshing. It was fun, but it was also powerful and sexy. It felt both dominant and feminine, showing just how fierce women could be. And frankly, if you think that song is inappropriate, you haven’t heard anything yet. So this post is dedicated to having *consensual* sex, fucking, making love, whatever you want to call it, and how it’s portrayed in hip-hop.
This post requires a strong TW for rape, sexual assault, violence towards women, and harassment.
I have a special giveaway on my Instagram now!
The winner will receive:
It’s SUPER easy to sign up!
All you have to do is:
- Sign up for e-mail notifications for Spice on the Beat
2. Follow Buddha Belly Bang (Sponsored by the J Dilla Foundation) on Instagram
3. Comment Done on this post
That’s all it takes! You can also get extra entries by sharing this post to your IG story or tagging people in the comments.
The winner will be announced Friday, August 7th at 8 PM.
Over the years, hip-hop has intertwined with movies in so many ways. It was always exciting to see some of our favorite emcees like Ice Cube or Tupac on the big screen. Sometimes we see them play characters that we fall in love with, or everyday actors portray their glamorous lives. We think of NWA’s Straight Outta Compton or Eight Mile. Even Gully Boy if you want to include a bit of Bollywood. There are incredible behind-the-scenes documentaries, like Michael Rapaport’s Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, or fictional stories of neighborhood kids like Dope. But occasionally, we’ll see hip-hop music being used in movies that we don’t typically expect it in. We see it in family-oriented movies or used to portray superheroes when society has taught us that hip-hop is the villain. The genre connotates one thing, but then filmmakers use it to mean another. Often times, hip-hop can create a new dimension to the story or its characters and contributes a beautiful feeling of nostalgia and personality.
Similarly to my last blog, I have gathered a list of petitions at the end of this post that you can sign to help make the Cannabis industry more inclusive. If we want to legalize and decriminalize Marijuana, there is no reason why individuals should still be locked up due to their complexion when others can profit off of it. Please take the time to sign at least one petition.
The other day, I was running my fingers through my hair, feeling every inch of each strand. Most don’t know this about me, but I developed alopecia just a few years ago. It was traumatic, to say the least. I always loved my hair because it was the one thing that connected me more to my culture and religion than anything else. So when I woke up with a giant, striking bald spot on the right corner of my head, I was mortified. My mental health was already in turmoil, my stress through the roof. The worst part is, the more I stressed out about it, the more patches developed over time. My best friend was the only person entrusted with my hair. I would only get the bare minimum cut off during trims, terrified of losing any more of myself. The attachment was so strong that it was probably a bit unhealthy. But my hair was so much of who I was.
Just because the Instagram posts are dying down doesn’t mean the fight is over. Keep the momentum up. The changes that we need are just beginning.
*The incredible featured image is done by @nouriflayhan on IG. Please support her GoFundMe for kafala victims in Lebanon*
PSA: At the bottom of this page, you can find a list of resources to donate to, as well as other ways to get involved. I have also compiled a list of local black DMV/Philly artists that have Spotify fundraiser picks up on their page. I strongly urge you to support these artists. While media blackouts have good intentions, by not listening to these artists, you are taking away their streaming revenue. Play their music. Hear their voices.
*Also credit for the beautiful header image goes to @bymudra on Instagram*
If you’ve ever gotten a chance to check out some of Luke James’ music reviews, then you’re in luck. I’ve been following him for quite some time, and after surprisingly not much nagging at all, he agreed to let me interview him. After a few back and forth messages over Twitter, we were able to make this happen. I have a lot of love for him, so even if you aren’t into full music reviews, check him out on Twitter to get a bit of his humorous takes and honest shade. It’s super entertaining.
“My tribe is a quest to a land that was lost to us”Riz Ahmed – The Long Goodbye
If you’re in my inner circle, you know that I struggle with my cultural identity quite a bit. I did touch on this a little in Screwing the Light Bulb, but I’m going to expand on this a little more. I stopped feeling comfortable in Indian clothes around the same time that I stopped feeling accepted at Indian parties with my parents and their friends. I felt out of place, and I remember carrying that feeling with me to college as I would walk around with my best friends, knowing I looked nothing like them and feeling the eyes of the Desi kids staring at me as if I felt like I was better than them. But I didn’t. I just felt unaccepted. Hip-hop became my safe place, becoming so much of who I am today. But I still felt a similar sense of not belonging, the way I stupidly feel with my white friends who love my culture and don’t even notice the color of my skin, or the Indian kids that in reality, don’t even pay me any mind. These insecurities may be stupid and in my head, but they’ve caused me a lot of internal turmoil nonetheless.
Sure, things are absolutely crazy right now. Animals are roaming the streets, the environment is the only thing thriving, cities are going on their first full month of quarantine, tornadoes are wreaking havoc, and it is absolutely impossible to find toilet paper anywhere. But did you see that RZA vs. Preemo though?!
I’ll be honest. I had a lot of trouble figuring out what to write about. When I first created this blog post, I literally titled it, “Well What Now…?”, a title that I’m sure I’ll reuse in a month if I am still sitting in my pink polka-dotted childhood bedroom. I am lucky if I get up earlier than noon these days. I’m stuck, tired, and frustrated. Every day gets more exhausting than the last, and I honestly couldn’t tell how much time had gone by since my last post. Was it one week or two? What day was it today? Time has been blending together, and it is beyond uncomfortable. But for the artists who have used this time to create content for everyone else to enjoy, I am so very thankful. Because I know how hard it is right now. And because without you, I don’t know what I would do. Every day I go for a walk around my lake. It takes a bit of energy to convince myself to get up and do something, but the minute that I plug in my headphones and select shuffle on my Spotify is the minute that I can be transported away from all of the bullshit. I’m able to smile and enjoy the sweet bliss of some of my favorite songs, imagining I’m with my friends or at a fun bar.
I’m not 100% sure how to approach this post seeing as I’ve been feeling quite numb for a while now, so I do apologize if it’s all over the place. But music has been the one thing to keep me going, so I may honestly be making this post more for me than anyone else. But I hope that it’s able to give you all something to take your mind off of what’s going on in the world, even if just for the few minutes that it took to read this. Please, no matter how discouraged you feel, do not let go of your creative outlets. Paint, make music, do what you can to feel a sense of comfort, because I promise, it will inspire others as well.
This is the second part to a two-part series called Homosexuality in Hip-Hop. If you haven’t already, please read part one here.
In the first part of this series, we took a step back to look at how homosexuality was viewed in hip-hop for years, and how it’s slowly but surely progressed. While a lot of it was due to progressing views overall as a nation, some of those conservative ideas have still held a lot of people back. The big difference now, however, is that artists are using their voices to advocate for this cause, no matter what sort of response they might receive.
Is it finally accepted?
This will be a two-part series discussing homosexuality in hip-hop. Honestly, it was just getting too damn long.
Do you think you could honestly count how many times you heard the word “faggot” in rap songs? That is probably one of the most notorious insults in rap disses, used by some of the most prolific hip-hop emcees including Common, Tupac, Blackstar, Kanye West, Method Man, and Eminem. But where did this start? And for what reason? Was it actually a sense of deeply rooted homophobia, or was it just because everyone was saying it? Was it because it rhymed and sounded catchy, or was it because there was hatred and embarrassment tied to liking people of the same gender? In 2020, we FINALLY have openly gay hip-hop artists such as Tyler, the Creator, Young M.A., Syd, Frank Ocean, and Lil Nas X representing the LGBTQ community. But due to ignorance, stigmas, and intolerance especially among minority communities, it took many many years of extremely hurtful, cruel, and foul lyrics to finally get to that point.
Part 1 to my women in hip-hop series can be found here or on my homepage.
In the first part of my series celebrating the beauty that is womanhood in hip-hop, I talked about some of my favorite instances of which men advocated and praised women in the most poetic of ways. In this part, I will be talking about some of the actual women who helped shape hip-hop into what it is today, not just for female emcees but for the culture as a whole.
This is going to be a multi-part series discussing different aspects of women and feminism in hip-hop music.
I think one of my biggest reasons for writing this post is to respond to one of America’s number one culture vultures, Miley Cyrus. I grew up adoring Hannah Montana. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that this same pop princess decided that she wanted to take a stab at hip-hop music. After failing miserably even while showing off her whole ass, she decided that hip-hop music was no longer fit for her, deeming it “lewd” and claiming that it disrespected women, after attempting to profit off of it by oversexualizing herself. Nobody asked her to twerk her nonexistent ass while wearing booty shorts and Jordan’s, but she did it anyway. And despite her bullshit apology, this whole scenario is still quite irritating. So I decided to put together a piece showcasing all of the different ways in which hip-hop music, and male rappers, in particular, celebrated and championed women.
In Politics, Society, and Hip-Hop.
“Me and all my peoples, we always thought he was straight. Influential mother fucker when it came to the business. But now, since we know how he really feel, here’s how we feel.”YG
I struggled with deciding if I should make this post simply because I was worried that I would offend someone or that people wouldn’t want to read something politically fueled. But with the election picking up, I decided to say fuck it. I want this blog to be personal, vulnerable, and 100% me, and to edit out this part of my life would mean that I wasn’t being genuine. Everything that I post is opinion-based and from my perspective, so even if you do have a different perspective (and even if I do get aggressively passionate about this), I’m not saying that this is the right answer or the only way things should be. However, I do draw a line at hate, racism, misogyny, and inequality. Additionally, because I do feel that over the past few years artists have stepped up to the plate and been a sense of comfort as we have witnessed our country regress, I would like to do the same. During these times of darkness when I felt pessimistic, hip-hop, in particular, has been a safety blanket by reminding me that I’m not alone.
And how it got a place in hip-hop.
Picture this: You’re in a dark, sweaty, crowded bar with a lot of drunk white people and a DJ who only seems to have an abundance of Travis Scott songs. Next thing you know, you hear an “exotic” yet familiar instrument that sounds like it may have strings or possibly bells, who really cares when you’re this drunk? In case you actually are wondering, the instrument is called a tumbi, but I digress. Suddenly, the song starts to become more recognizable as you hear Jay-Z’s distinct voice yelling over this insane foreign-sounding beat. Hands are thrown up with absolutely no rhythm as fingers start to enclose in a movement similar to potentially screwing, or unscrewing (depending on the direction I guess), a light bulb, causing the dance floor to go wild.
“My definition of hip hop is taking elements from many other spheres of music to make hip hop. Whether it be breakbeat, whether it be the groove and grunt of James Brown or the pickle-pop sounds of Kraftwerk or Yellow Magic Orchestra, hip hop is also part of what they call hip-house now, or trip hop, or even parts of drum n’ bass.”Afrika Bambaataa
Throughout high school, I could often be found in the band classroom with one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Peter Perry. Whether I was helping him test different ideas for his dissertation, organizing sheet music, or playing percussion for one of his many band classes, I was always in that one room at the back of the music hall.
Hopefully we can figure it out together..
My whole thing is to inspire, to better people, to better myself forever in this thing that we call rap, this thing that we call hip hop.— Kendrick Lamar.
At 23 years old, it is definitely difficult to put into words why I love hip-hop so much. A lot of people tend to be surprised by my knowledge of the genre, especially when they take a look at me. I remember being 16 years old and arguing with a guy in one of my high school classes because he claimed that Drake beat Common in their rap beef (let’s be honest now, Common calling Drake “Canada Dry” was enough to end it all). I also remember waiting four hours to see him speak at my university, only for a guy to accuse me of only being there because I thought Common was sexy (which I definitely did, but among other things). However this guy didn’t even know who De La Soul was and once I named every single Common album he shut up pretty quickly.
I was always scared to be a woman in the music industry, especially the hip-hop scene. I knew how easy it was to be swayed by artists, or how difficult it was to deal with sexual harassment. Hell, I’ve had my fair share of both of those. But I also realized that I could use it to my advantage. To make myself memorable. Between my age, race, and gender, I like to think that I can offer a different perspective, especially among the older, money-hungry executives in the industry.
I’m not sure if that’s actually what contributed to it, or perhaps if it was just luck, or maybe even strong networking, but I have been blessed with meeting some of the most talented artists in Philadelphia. From painters to DJs to MCs to producers, I never could have imagined myself lucky enough to talk these beautiful creatives’ ears off about my love for hip-hop, let alone just to be in their presence. And I am so appreciative for their kindness and support because my goodness, once I start talking, I don’t know how to shut up (especially if I have a few drinks in me). So I guess I started this blog to give them a breather, and to give myself an imaginary audience. If you do choose to continue following my blog, then welcome to my chaotic mind full of pointless rap facts and romantic musical dreams. If not, then that’s alright too, I’m sure there are plenty of other blogs out there that are more up your alley, although I do like to tell myself that you’ll be missing out.
It’s a question I get asked often..
Although I think I’m still trying to find the right answer.
Not often do you find a 23 year old Indian girl who can talk your ear off about Hip-Hop. I get asked all the time, typically with a tone of shock and wonder, “Who are you?!” when I find myself rambling about my favorite MC’s, and often times, I have to stop and ask myself the same question.
It all started when I was the age of 15. I was sitting in the car with my older brother, who always knew anything and everything about music. I envied that about him, especially as I had to follow in his footsteps and attempt to live up to this musical passion. But I was lost. I could never connect with it the way he could, and I hated myself for it. That was until Common’s “Heidi Hoe” came on. I know, suddenly this story is not quite as cute and romantic. In fact, it was the final line in the song that caught my attention: “There’s a party in your mouth, bitch, and everybody’s cumming”. To my poor parents who are probably reading this in absolute disgust, yes, this is the line that made me curious about Hip-Hop. It was so crass, and yet so simply genius, that I was amazed. And I had to learn more.
From there, I dove mostly into Common, of course falling in absolute love with “The Light”, but also with his other classics such as “Be”, “Come Close”, and “I Used to Love H.E.R.”. I wrote papers on his music and learned every single one of his albums. Through him, I learned of the amazing J Dilla, who shaped my work ethic and passion, as well as the Soulquarian movement, which became the era of Hip-Hop that I could mostly relate to. It became my fuel in life, bringing me to the city of Philadelphia where my life and passion for music was just beginning.
In honor of this year’s monumental election, Ali Cashius Jr, recruited the help from West-Coast rapper Ras Kass to shine a light on issues that go far beyond political parties; one that shows the need for reformation in our country’s government as hundreds of thousands of people are ignored due to their race, financial situations, and communities. In their latest track, “Love Me,” the two artists join forces to illustrate just how difficult it is for those in impoverished neighborhoods to feel loved. This goes far beyond politics and demonstrates how due to years of systematic racism, people growing up in poorer areas struggled more with love and acceptance from their families, relationships, government officials, places of education, and more.