The cultural significance of singer Beyonce’s Lemonade has had me ponder the influence of Oakland rapper Kamaiyah’s A Good Night In The Ghetto. It pains me to have to feel that another example of genial Hip Hop femininity will not be, in the end, ‘important.’
Break you down
Break you down ..
Break you down ..
Unlike in R&B, women are not allowed to change the course of Hip Hop. No woman has ever been allowed to change the course of Hip Hop: not Lauryn Hill, not Nicki Minaj, not Missy Elliott, not Foxxy Brown. Just listen to influential Hip Hop radio show The Breakfast Club to understand the phenomenon. The male hosts, Charlemagne The God and Dj Envy, deliberate, legislate their opinions about Hip Hop, whereas the one woman host, Angela Yee, kindly offers her opinion sometimes as if an inconsequential congressperson.
The travesty is apparent in Hip Hop’s narratives, including its origin story. Hip Hop has no founding mothers, it only has founding fathers. The B-boys were male, the Graffiti taggers are presented males, and so were the rappers (it’s more than likely all a lie.) Women were their girlfriends, their friends, and participated with them in the making of history. History, the course of history, in Hip Hop, is that of male heroics: great song by male moves the crowd put together by male promoter after a warmup by a male DJ.
Hip hop’s femininity is a no go, a hapax. There is no such thing as Hip Hop femininity, according to many of its adherents. Hip Hop’s female rappers are ‘hard’ or synonym for male. Singing, the one thing for which no male has ever matched a woman in Hip Hop, is not considered ‘Hip Hop genius.’ Mary J Blige’s singing on “You’re All I Need” was an ‘exception’ to the rule: male agility.
In 2016, the same continues. In an age of terrible Hip Hop albums, one female rapper Kamaiyah has produced a phenomenal one, A Good Night in The Ghetto. The art of producing an entire album that is vibrant from beginning to end is rare.
A Good Night in The Ghetto, like all great Hip Hop albums, presents a title, a theme, and great songs that elaborate, creatively, on this title. It’s exactly the same thing as Jean Michel Basquiat elaborating on the title “Irony of Negro Policeman.” A great Hip Hop album will not only present a novel theme (Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)) but also novel songs.
Kamaiyah’s title is superb because of its clarity and so is her rapping. What is a ‘good night in the ghetto?’ Her elaboration, her songs, such as “I’m on,” are great narratives of festivity. “I’m on” is a song becoming wealthy through Hip Hop and, we can assume, still somewhat living in the ghetto. “Out of the bottle” is also song about partying, as most of the songs on this album are.
Her songs are not, in my opinion, the sort of songs that will have a lasting impact on our time of popular demands for a new society (they bring nothing spiritual to the table,) but objectively speaking most of Hip Hop does not. Her songs celebrate and are party songs as most Hip Hop songs. What’s worse is that she’s yet to produce a massive radio hit though her songs are well known in Hip Hop circles. The thing is that she’s produced an entire album of objectively good songs: an actual achievement in contemporary Hip Hop, comparable to a great Snoop Dogg album. It’s been widely well received by most major sites that cover Hip Hop music. However, it will more than likely be forgotten.