Check It While I Wreck It : Black Womanhood, Hip-Hop Culture, and the Public Sphere by Gwendolyn D. Pough

6959c343b15c9a6.jpg Author Gwendolyn D. Pough
Isbn 9781555536077
File size 2.32MB
Year 2015
Pages 256
Language English
File format PDF
Category music


Wreck It I e l i h W t I k Chec .......................... 10566$ $$FM 03-15-04 12:37:21 PS .......................... 10566$ $$FM 03-15-04 12:37:22 PS ........ ........ ........ ....... t I k c e r W I e il h W t I k c e h C Black Womanhood, Hip-Hop Culture, and the Public Sphere GWEN D O LY N D. POUG H Northeastern University Press Boston Published by University Press of New England Hanover and London NORTHEASTERN UNIVERSITY PRESS Published by University Press of New England, One Court Street, Lebanon, NH 03766 Copyright 䉷 2004 by Gwendolyn D. Pough All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Members of educational institutions and organizations wishing to photocopy any of the work for classroom use, or authors and publishers who would like to obtain permission for any of the material in the work, should contact Permissions, University Press of New England, One Court Street, Lebanon, NH 03766. ‘‘Woman Poem’’ from Black Feeling, Black Talk, Black Judgment by Nikki Giovanni, copyright 䉷 1968, 1970 by Nikki Giovanni. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Inc., William Morrow. ‘‘I’m a Hip Hop Cheerleader’’ by Jessica Care Moore from Bum Rush the Page, edited by Tony Medina and Louis Reyes Rivera, copyright 䉷 2001 by Bone Bristle, LLC, Tony Medina, and Louis Reyes Rivera. Used by permission of Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc. ‘‘Memorial’’ from Homecoming by Sonia Sanchez, copyright 䉷 1970. Used by permission of Broadside Press. ‘‘Queen of the Universe’’ by Sonia Sanchez from Black Scholar, copyright 䉷 1970. Used by permission of Black Scholar. ‘‘I’ve Got to Use My Imagination.’’ Words and music by Gerry Goffin and Barry Goldberg, copyright 䉷 1973 (Renewed 2001) Screen Gems-EMI Music Inc. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission. ebook ISBN: 978-1-55553-854-5    --  Pough, Gwendolyn D., 1970– Check it while I wreck it : Black womanhood, hip-hop culture, and the public sphere / by Gwendolyn D. Pough. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index. ISBN 1–55553–608–5 (cloth : alk. paper)— ISBN 1–55553–607–7 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. African American women—Social conditions. 2. Hip-hop—United States. 3. Rap (Music)—History and criticism. 4. Popular culture—United States. I. Title. E185.86 .P666 2004 305.48⬘896073—dc22 2003021869 For my mother, Donna Pough Words can never begin to express how much having you in my life has meant to me. You are my inspiration and my main source of encouragement. I love you. .......................... 10566$ $$FM 03-15-04 12:37:23 PS .......................... 10566$ $$FM 03-15-04 12:37:23 PS . . . . . .C o n t e n t s ..... 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ...... ...... ..... List of Illustrations Acknowledgments ix xi Introduction Hip-Hop Is More Than Just Music to Me: The Potential for a Movement in the Culture 3 Bringing Wreck: Theorizing Race, Rap, Gender, and the Public Sphere 15 My Cipher Keeps Movin’ Like a Rollin’ Stone: Black Women’s Expressive Cultures and Black Feminist Legacies 41 I Bring Wreck to Those Who Disrespect Me Like a Dame: Women, Rap, and the Rhetoric of Wreck 75 (Re)reconstructing Womanhood: Black Women’s Narratives in Hip-Hop Culture 103 Girls in the Hood and Other Ghetto Dramas: Representing Black Womanhood in Hip-Hop Cinema and Novels 127 Hip-Hop Soul Mate? Hip-Hop Soul Divas and Rap Music: Critiquing the Love That Hate Produced 163 You Can’t See Me/You Betta Recognize: Using Rap to Bridge Gaps in the Classroom 193 Conclusion Imagining Images: Black Womanhood in the Twenty-first Century 215 Notes Select Bibliography Index 223 245 255 .......................... 10566$ CNTS 03-15-04 12:37:25 PS .......................... 10566$ CNTS 03-15-04 12:37:25 PS . . . . . .I l l u s t r a t i o n s ...... ...... ...... .... following page 74 MC Lyte Queen Latifah MC Lyte and Queen Latifah Missy ‘‘Misdemeanor’’ Elliott Foxy Brown Monie Love Trina The Inc. .......................... 10566$ ILLU 03-15-04 12:37:28 PS .......................... 10566$ ILLU 03-15-04 12:37:28 PS . . . . . .A c k n o w l e d g m e n t s ...... ...... ...... .... A lot of people in my life have helped me get to this point. A young girl from Paterson, New Jersey, does not typically make it to the point of publishing a book with an academic press, let alone getting a Ph.D. and a tenure-track position, without some help along the way. Many people have offered me encouragement and advice. And I will try to acknowledge as many of those people as I can. First, I would like to thank God. I know that I have been blessed, and I can never give enough glory to God for shining a light on my life. I want to thank the ancestors who paved the way and whose shoulders lend me height and allow me to soar. My family has been my source of inspiration and strength throughout my life. I want to thank my husband, Cedric Bolton, for understanding when I had to write and for being my biggest cheerleader. I know that I’m loved, and I hope you know that I love you too. I want to thank my mother, Donna Pough, for modeling to me the true nature of perseverance. You raised me right, Mommy. And you did it all by yourself. If I become even half the woman you are, then I know that I’ll be more than most. Jennifer Pough and Mingo Coleman, you guys are my favorite couple, and that’s not just because Jennifer is my sister and we grew up together. Jennifer, we are only eleven months apart, so I cannot remember a time in my life when you were not there. Thanks for being so supportive, and I hope that I have always been as supportive to you. Cassandra Pough, Michelle Pough, and Tashina Pough are the best sisters I could ask for. We didn’t grow up together, because Jennifer and I were a little older than you were. And I know you probably felt like you had three .......................... 10566$ $ACK 03-15-04 12:37:32 PS Acknowledgments mommies growing up. But I hope you know that you are loved. My nieces Ashlee and Zaria Coleman bring joy to my life and help me to put things in perspective. I love being your auntie. I want to thank my own aunt, Deloris Reed, for being a caring and giving person. I will never forget you taking me to college freshman year and bringing my things to Boston when I started my master’s program. You are a wonderful aunt and an even more wonderful person. I would also like to thank my father, John Pough, who passed away on May 4, 2003. I’ve always loved you more than you knew. I want to thank my in-laws, Ruby and Ervin McCloud and Priscilla Bolton. Thanks for welcoming me into your family. I also want to extend my love to family not mentioned by name but dear to my heart. Thank you to all my aunts, uncles, and cousins. There is really nothing like good friends and colleagues, and I’ve had more than my fair share. There are lots of people who are not related to me but who have been like family. I want to thank the following friends and colleagues for varying degrees of support in getting me to this major milestone in my life. As this book project was extended from work begun in my dissertation, I would like to thank my dissertation co-advisors, Susan Jarratt and Cheryl Johnson. You were wonderful mentors and friends. Thank you both for your guidance and love. Jennifer and Peter Springer, words cannot begin to express how much your friendship has meant to me. Those wonderful Bajan meals helped a sister make it through graduate school. I love you guys. Lily Payne, Latisha Nwoye, Carmiele Wilkerson, Kim Dillon Shively, Tammy Kernodle, Elaine Richardson, Lisa Albrecht, Yolanda Hood, and Rod Ferguson have been wonderful friends and colleagues. I also want to thank the University of Minnesota Department of Women’s Studies, especially Eden Torres, Richa Nagar, and Jigna Desai. I also want to thank the University of Minnesota Department of African American Studies, especially Keletso Atkins and Rose Brewer. The Summer Institute on Scholarship, Black Women, and Africana Studies Research Center at Cornell University was an amazing experience in the summer of 2002. I want to thank James Turner for having the vision to make that happen. And I wish to thank the New Sage Scholars Collective, which grew out of that institute. We’re the next generation. xii .......................... 10566$ $ACK 03-15-04 12:37:32 PS Acknowledgments Y’all ready? I want to thank the Theta Upsilon chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, particularly the dynamic line of nine that pledged in the spring of 1990, but most especially Kimmie Clark and Antoinette Young. I want to thank Rachel Raimist for allowing me to use her wonderful photographs. And I want to thank the people at Northeastern University Press, especially former acquisitions editor Elizabeth Swayze, for believing in this project, and current acquisitions editor Sarah Rowley for continuing to believe in the project and helping me through to the end. The following University of Minnesota offices offered support for the completion of this project: the College of Liberal Arts, the Graduate School through the Faculty Summer Research Fellowship and McKnight Summer Fellowship, and the President’s Multicultural Research Award. I want to thank Lois Williams and the Copyright Permissions Center at the University of Minnesota for helping me obtain permission to use the poetry and trying to get permissions for rap lyrics. Finally, I want to thank Hip-Hop. Without Hip-Hop, I would not have a book to write or the mind-set to write it. Hip-Hop gave me a culture and a language. Memorizing the lyrics of my favorite songs and writing my own rhymes introduced me to literacy I could feel. In the words of Nas, ‘‘save the music y’all.’’ Much love and peace. xiii .......................... 10566$ $ACK 03-15-04 12:37:33 PS .......................... 10566$ $ACK 03-15-04 12:37:33 PS Wreck It I e l i h W t I k Chec .......................... 10566$ HFTL 03-15-04 12:37:35 PS .......................... 10566$ HFTL 03-15-04 12:37:36 PS ...... ...... ...... ...... .... Introduction Hip-Hop Is More Than Just Music to Me: The Potential for a Movement in the Culture In Rachel Raimist’s groundbreaking film about women and HipHop, Nobody Knows My Name, singer Leschea belts out a song about how Hip-Hop is more than just music to her. She does not just sing about Hip-Hop or even just sing over Hip-Hop beats. In the film she conveys how she lives the culture, and it is more than just music.1 Keeping Leschea’s awareness of the culture’s influence in mind, there are a few fundamental things about the founding moment of Hip-Hop culture that we need to know if we want to begin to envision the possibilities for change today.2 First and foremost, we need to understand what Hip-Hop is. To summarize, Hip-Hop started in the early to mid-1970s in the South Bronx and has since come to span the globe. It is a youth movement, a culture, and a way of life. Hip-Hop is the culture; rap is the music. What are the implications of doing an academic analysis of HipHop culture and rap music? For a long time I thought I would never write an academic piece on Hip-Hop. I loved it too much; it meant too much to me. Now I know that I love it too much not to write about it, theorize about it, look critically at it, and think about not only what needs to change but also how to make that change happen. I believe that we need to think about the whole of Hip-Hop culture in all of our interrogations in order to fully ap- .......................... 10566$ INTR 03-15-04 12:37:39 PS Introduction preciate Hip-Hop as a youth movement and ultimately to recognize the political potential within it. Rap music is a part of Hip-Hop culture, but there is more to Hip-Hop than rap. Rap music—along with graffiti writing, break dancing, and deejaying—is one of the founding elements of HipHop culture. Each of these elements has had its time to shine. And each has experienced moments of co-optation and exploitation by the mainstream. In the early days of Hip-Hop the DJ reigned supreme, and soon DJs were called upon to play in posh disco clubs where most Hip-Hop kids could not even get past the velvet ropes to gain entry. Then graffiti writing became popular, and the graffiti writer was literally taken off the streets and subways, planted in art galleries, and heralded as the next big art find. This co-optation of graffiti culture happened even as the graffiti writers faced their most intense period of repression, with city officials declaring war on them and going to extreme measures to catch and punish them. Next, break dancing gained wide success. Break dancing found a higher level of exploitation because it made it all the way to the big screen, capturing the public eye in films such as Beat Street (1984), Breakin’ (1984), and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo (1985).3 But it is rap music that found the most success as a commodified and exploited element of Hip-Hop culture. Quite frankly, rap music was easier to co-opt and exploit because the production costs of an album are far less than those of a film, and it’s easier to produce and sell thousands of rap records than one piece of graffiti art on canvas. Rap—like other forms of Black music that went before it—was ready-made for capital gain.4 An excellent visual representation of the moment in which HipHop experienced the kinds of conflicted moments of intense popularity and equally intense co-optation and commodification described above can be seen when we look at the film Wild Style (1982).5 This Hip-Hop film traces the early days of Hip-Hop and shows how each element contributed to the initial founding moment. The film, set in the South Bronx, showcases the beginnings of break dancing, rapping, deejaying, and graffiti writing. It pays close attention to the art world’s courting of young graffiti artists and shows the conflicted nature of this courtship. In Wild Style we 4 .......................... 10566$ INTR 03-15-04 12:37:40 PS Hip-Hop Is More Than Just Music to Me glimpse the beginnings of Hip-Hop’s dilemma: staying true to the art form inspired by the youth culture or embracing mass culture and moving on to success outside the culture. While the film portrays the graffiti world and issues of commodification, by the end of the film, in the big Hip-Hop show in the park, graffiti provides the backdrop and rap takes center stage. The film closes by suggesting that it is the rap element of Hip-Hop culture that will take the culture to the level of worldwide success. The association between Hip-Hop and rap often results in people collapsing Hip-Hop and rap without fully realizing that Hip-Hop is the culture and rap is a form of music that comes out of Hip-Hop culture. Talking about Hip-Hop as a culture, not just in terms of its connection to rap, sets the stage for a wider understanding of HipHop as a youth movement and as a cultural phenomenon that encompasses a variety of genres. Thinking about Hip-Hop as a culture and understanding the founding elements allow us to better understand the ways in which Hip-Hop has grown and includes other elements. In fact, even the musical component of Hip-Hop has grown and encompasses more than just rap music. We can now talk about ‘‘rock/rap,’’ ‘‘Hip-Hop soul,’’ ‘‘rapso,’’ and ‘‘Hip House.’’ In terms of expanded elements of Hip-Hop, we can now talk about ‘‘raptivists’’ and ‘‘Hip-Hop activists,’’ ‘‘Raptors’’ or Hip-Hop actors. We can also now speak of a Hip-Hop cinema, which encompasses everything from documentary to drama, comedy, and spoof. There is also Hip-Hop-inspired literature and poetry. Hip-Hop beats back the majority of the commercials shown on television. And various forms of rapping can be heard in commercials. The areas in our contemporary society touched by Hip-Hop are so vast that it is sometimes difficult to look at contemporary U.S. popular culture and distinguish between what is Hip-Hop and what is not Hip-Hop. In fact, with recent ventures such as Russell Simmons’s Def Comedy Jam and Def Poetry Jam, one could joke that you could throw def in front of anything and see a Hip-Hop influence. Rappers are constantly coming out with new clothing lines, and ‘‘urban wear’’ in most circles is code for what is considered to be Hip-Hop gear. The culture has indeed permeated all aspects of society. I mention this to underline that 5 .......................... 10566$ INTR 03-15-04 12:37:40 PS

Author Gwendolyn D. Pough Isbn 9781555536077 File size 2.32MB Year 2015 Pages 256 Language English File format PDF Category Music Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Hip-hop culture began in the early 1970s as the creative and activist expressions — graffiti writing, dee-jaying, break dancing, and rap music — of black and Latino youth in the depressed South Bronx, and the movement has since grown into a worldwide cultural phenomenon that permeates almost every aspect of society, from speech to dress. But although hip-hop has been assimilated and exploited in the mainstream, young black women who came of age during the hip-hop era are still fighting for equality. In this provocative study, Gwendolyn D. Pough explores the complex relationship between black women, hip-hop, and feminism. Examining a wide range of genres, including rap music, novels, spoken word poetry, hip-hop cinema, and hip-hop soul music, she traces the rhetoric of black women “bringing wreck.” Pough demonstrates how influential women rappers such as Queen Latifah, Missy Elliot, and Lil’ Kim are building on the legacy of earlier generations of women — from Sojourner Truth to sisters of the black power and civil rights movements — to disrupt and break into the dominant patriarchal public sphere. She discusses the ways in which today’s young black women struggle against the stereotypical language of the past (“castrating black mother,” “mammy,” “sapphire”) and the present (“bitch,” “ho,” “chickenhead”), and shows how rap provides an avenue to tell their own life stories, to construct their identities, and to dismantle historical and contemporary negative representations of black womanhood. Pough also looks at the ongoing public dialogue between male and female rappers about love and relationships, explaining how the denigrating rhetoric used by men has been appropriated by black women rappers as a means to empowerment in their own lyrics. The author concludes with a discussion of the pedagogical implications of rap music as well as of third wave and black feminism. This fresh and thought-provoking perspective on the complexities of hip-hop urges young black women to harness the energy, vitality, and activist roots of hip-hop culture and rap music to claim a public voice for themselves and to “bring wreck” on sexism and misogyny in mainstream society.     Download (2.32MB) Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia of the Movement, Music, and Culture [Two Volumes] Rock Trivia Madness: 60s to 90s Rock Music Trivia & Amazing Facts That’s The Joint!: The Hip-hop Studies Reader Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip Hop Rebel Music: Race, Empire, And The New Muslim Youth Culture Load more posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *