Monthly Archives: April 2007

Imus, rap and women

Imus was fired first and foremost because he’s a racist. If he had only called the heroic women of Rutgers ho’s, he might have gotten suspended, but I doubt — unfortunately — there would have been such a brouhaha. By adding the phrase “nappy-headed” to his producer’s “ho” diss, Imus went way way too far, in most people’s minds. He added a general, obvious racist stereotype to the merely racially inflected misogyny. Big mistake.

So it’s been somewhat amazing to see the dialogue continue over the use of the word ho’s, and Imus’s comments boomerang back to the rap community. On the one hand, I think it’s wrong to blame Imus’s racism on rap; in that sense I agree with Russell Simmons. On the other hand, not even Russell can deny that many rappers have long had a problem with sexism. And since racism, sexism, and all other prejudices are inevitably inextricably linked, I’m happy to see the discussion of hate language continue.

Meanwhile, black women are taking on and tackling hip-hop machismo in other ways. The Village Voice has a fascinating cover story this week on AGs, gay women who adopt thug styles. And in her great video for “Like a Boy”, R&B singer Ciara — a woman who’s been previously sadly known to do the usual on-the-floor video grovel — struts it like a G magnificently.

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Alanis’s Humps

Alanis Morissette has apparently had it with female artists’ capitulation to male objectification in music videos, judging by her hilarious and poignant spoof of Fergie’s “My Humps,” which is a You Tube must-see. I’ve never been a fan of the jagged little pill before, but this time, she hits the nail head-on. And I don’t think she’s just dissing the younger artist as a usurper to the pop throne she once held; I think¬†she’s being¬†self-deprecating in the scenes where she has a breakdown, making fun of her own generational histrionics.

Between this and the forthcoming Tori Amos album, the women rockers of the early ’90s may be staging a mini-comeback. You go grrrls.

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Gilberto Gil

I took a little vacation and forgot to post my Herald profile of Gilberto Gil here. I interviewed the Brazilian minister of culture in Austin. He spent over an hour with photographer Susie J. Horgan and me; it was a generous and intimate encounter with an amazing man. His concert at the Knight Concert Hall March 30 was incredible. Enrique Fernandez reviewed wonderfully for the Herald. It’s not always that one gets to feel one’s job as a critic has world-historical impact, but every time I’ve interacted with Gil (or his colleague Caetano Veloso) — well, it beats talking about Anna Nicole on Nancy Grace, that’s for sure.

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