Post Title: Funky Fresh Crew Presents: Is Fetty Wap a Hip Hop Feminist?
Student A: In the article, MC Lyte Says Fetty Wap Is a Hip-Hop Feminist; J. Cole, Not As Much, by Natalie Weiner, whether Fetty Wap is a feminist is discussed. In the video attached to the article, MC Lyte, explains how so. In the video, (at what seems to be a hip-hop conference for women), a woman questions if hip-hop can be for women and if there are hip-hop feminists? MC Lyte believes so, and explains how there are hip-hop feminists such as Big Sean and Kendrick Lamar. One, she speaks enthusiastically of is Fetty Wap. She believes that he goes beyond the norm by objectifying, commodifying and degrading women in his lyrics/music. What I thought was really powerful was what MC Lyte said about the power music has globally. How your words can travel across the hemispheres, and one must hold responsibility to the words you sing/rap, etc. Within the sphere of hip-hop, I couldn’t agree more with what MC Lyte said, “You win the challenge when you’re able to get your message across without degrading your sister” (Weiner). I think her argument of uplifting artists like Fetty Wap is essential to prevent further degradation of women, especially Black women in hip-hop. We can love women without degrading them, and we can start by encouraging artists like Fetty Wap.
Student B: In Natalie Weiner’s MC Lyte Says Fetty Wap Is a Hip-Hop Feminist; J.Cole, Not as Much, Weiner talks about MC Lyte’s statement when regarding Fetty Wap being “the most feminist artist in hip hop” at the moment. I for one was surprised because after Fetty Wap’s very public videos cursing and threatening to abuse his “baby momma” “Lezhae” I wouldn’t have expected MC Lyte to vote Fetty Wap as one of the most feminist artist. I also feel like some of Fetty Wap’s lyric and videos perform masculinity and do not always speak to feminist views. In Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” he says, “I’m like, “Hey, what’s up? Hello./Seen your pretty ass soon as you came in the door/I just wanna chill, got a sack for us to roll/Married to the money, introduced her to my stove “” (AZLyrics). I feel these lines don’t speak to me as feminist hip hop work. But I can understand why MC Lyte would state he works on projecting some feminist ideals. At times Fetty Wap can be seen as a feminist but I feel his work is a lot like the “cool pose”, it starts to send out a message but does not do enough in my opinion. In MC Lyte’s discussion she talks about how Fetty Wap has a unique way of presenting and performing his ideas, and I completely agree. I feel he is a mainstream artist who speaks about strippers, girls and money, but not in a way that is always disrespectful. There are lyric where it seems Fetty Wap provides women with agency to do the things they feel they need to do (cooking, helping with drug sales, strriping, etc.), but at the same time Wap gives in to mainstream stereotypes about the lives of rappers/drug dealers and their “trap queens”. The question this then brings to my mind is, can an artist be a feminist but still sale to the mainstream music industry/public? Lyte also brings to light how artist like Common, Tailb Kweli, Big Sean and Kendrick Lamar have and continue to demonstrate/perform their love for women and their feminist ideals. These artists are perfect examples of artist who speak about women positively (in a direct way that isn’t found through metaphor, double entendres, etc.). Mc Lyte really spoke to me when she spoke about needing a hip hop community that is not just “rockin for the block”. She stated hip hop artist need to take responsibility for the lyrical content and messages they send out to the world, and I couldn’t agree with her more!
Student C: I think that this article touches on a lot of the things we’ve been talking about in class. In the video someone on the panel asks if you can be a hip hop feminist. I think that yes, of course you can be a hip hop feminist, but the bigger question is what does that feminism include/stand for? This reminded me of the article we read that talked about a feminism that includes the gray areas, and talks about situations that most people feel need to be black or white. One thing I liked about this video is when MC Lyte said that hip hop is meant to be challenging and provocative. She says you win the challenge when “you’re able to get your message across without degrading your sister”. I like this a lot because as an audience member it is more interesting to listen to songs that go beyond just sex/money/power all the time. It is so much easier to write about those things than it is to write or create art on something much deeper and personal. As for Fetty Wap, if you look at some of his most popular songs like 679, No Dayz Off, or Trap Queen, they don’t necessarily degrade women, but I don’t feel like they necessarily lift them up either. However, I think compared to some other artists he has done a fairly good job of how he portrays women in his music. MC Lyte ends with saying that if we show these artists (Fetty, Kendrick, Common, etc.) that they are going in the right direction and that we support them, they will be able to grow because they realize that their words are actually affecting people. I think that is an excellent point to be made. For many of these artists their careers are just now taking off, so they still have a lot to learn, and we as the consumers have more power than we think.
Student D: This article directly reminded me of the discussion about the “Million Man March.” Yes, it is important for men of color to mobilize and uplift themselves, but it is equally important for them to recognize and respect women of color to unite under the oppression they face in this country as opposed to further causing disparities amongst one another. MC Lyte discussed how hip hop is meant to be provocative which I agree that music can be sexual and fun, without being degrading and misogynistic. Fetty Wap is a fairly next artist, his first real hit song was “Trap Queen” which made it to the Billboard Hot 100 in May 2015. I do not think Fetty Wap’s music necessarily uplifts or empowers women but I would agree that it is still great music that is better than most male artists, especially artists who are just coming out and so new to the scene. Most male artists try to “make it big” by using drugs/sexy/money/power and of course, women. However, Fetty does not delve into these topics as hard core as most hip hop artists and rappers. If we continue to admire artists like Fetty and Kendrick Lamar who are slowly but surely making more progressive and less degrading music, then hopefully they will continue to get more bold in their lyrics and music. However, I do disagree with MC Lyte that I think J.Cole is a phenomenal artist. Yes, he has some hyper sexualized songs such as “Work Out for Me” but every artist has songs that people may view as problematic. J. Cole does take on bigger picture issues in songs such as “Crooked Smile” and “No Role Modelz” and has done great things for his hometown, such as renting out his childhood home to single mothers. Just like MC Lyte said we should not overlook Fetty just because some of his songs are more widely provocative, I think we should definitely do the same for J. Cole who does have lyrics that pertain to social issues he and his community face. At the end of the day, every artist is going to be sexual and have sexual content in their music. If we shy away from them for that sole purpose, then we will have no music at all. Instead, I think we should highlight the more progressive music J. Cole makes, as opposed to turn away from him completely.
Student E: This article sparked my knowledge and reminded me of what we have been discussing in class about the black male in Hip Hop. It is so important for men in Hip Hop to not only use their music to entertain but also realizing the importance of women without using misogyny. It was interesting to see that Fetty Wap is considered to be “a feminist in Hip Hop”. This was interesting to me because Fetty has done a few things that have disrespected women but not always. The interpretation of some of his music may be misunderstood however, it does not mean Fetty always means to disrespect his women. Going back to the discussion we had in class about “cool poses” I believe that is what Fetty Wap represents. MC Lyte discusses other mainstream artist who speak about women in a respectful and honorable way. Trap Queen, is not really degrading however it could be, to me it is not because he speaks on he will never let go of his women, however the examples he uses within the song can be a little misunderstood of his intentions. I love how she focuses on making sure that Hip Hop is community instead of it being how it is today, where we rather hurt others through misogyny and violence to get a point across. It shocked me that MC Lyte said that J.Cole was not considered “feminist” although his music does not always represent women, he represents the social issues that we do not speak on today and he is not recognized for his thoughts. Again it depends on the audience and/or whoever is listening to this music is interpreting it.