Funkdigi ventured out a few nights ago to attend the Images of Women in Hip-Hop panel discussion, an event hosted by the Center for Communication and sponsored by Essence Magazine and its Take Back The Music campaign, an initiative spearheaded in its January 2005 issue pages.
Essence takes on the daunting mission of not only examining the sexually denigrating images of women and offensive lyrics featured in some of today’s music, but attempts to use its magazine as a vehicle to spark this change. At the very least a sea change would need to be made in the black community (among both men and women) and popular media which dictates much of what we see.
A packed auditorium was primed to hear from the panelist. The diverse participants on hand for this panel included rappers Remy Ma and Jean Grae, DJ Beverly Bond, radio personality/writer Karen Hunter, and Essence Health Editor, Akiba Solomon. Regrettably, Stanley Crouch, who was slated to participate, did not appear due to sudden illness.
The event quickly became heated when rapper Remy Ma, 23, stated that as an artist, it was not her responsibility to rear other people’s children. Remy went on to defend artists and how they present themselves to their fans and the general record buying public. Remy Ma’s perspective seemingly centered around having credibility as an artist—a theme that would repeat itself throughout the discussion. “This is the way we (rappers) talk,” said Remy.
Jean Grae, a rapper who has yet to achieve the popular success of Remy Ma, was admittedly reluctant to participate in discussions of this type because, as she claimed, the conservation rarely leads to any solutions. It was a notion that was ultimately realized by the end of the event.
The remaining members of the panel, with the exception of Akiba Solomon, were drowned out by Remy Ma’s outbursts. The moderator, orator Thabiti Boone, held no sway over Remy or an overly charged audience. Though well intentioned, the Bronx rapper was disruptive and a cancer, destroying any real opportunity the direction less format had of hammering out solutions.
However, funkdigi commends Essence for putting this issue at the forefront of the mags pursuits. Many young women attended the event, and it was rewarding to see that there’s still a contingent out there that realize that the images that are portrayed in the lyrics and videos are doing none of us any good, including us black men, too.