Last week we discussed the legacy of Blues women, and contemporary feminists who use music as a vehicle to combat ideas about womanhood. Here, my goal is to provide an example for how I believe the legacy of Blues women is manifested in contemporary music.
Last week I asserted:
“…I don’t see any parallels between Holiday, Smith and Rainey and artists such as Minaj. She a sensationalist, overly sexualized by the industry, [and a] misogynistic (yes)…i’ll leave it at that. I would be more open to comparisons between Blues women and female artists such as Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Erykah Badu, N’Dambi, Meshell Ndegeocello, Lizz Wright, Toshi Reagon, etc. Similar to Rainey, Smith, and Holiday, the works of Latifah, Lyte, Badu, et al transcend the effort to …undermine men and women. Their music has a message, they address historical and contemporary issues, they don’t use their body/sex to sale records, and most importantly, they have longevity. I’ll end here.”
I still maintain the same position as expressed above. (However, I should also add that Minaji’s use of alter egos could be further investigated to explore the ways she celebrates serious mental health disorders/illnesses.)
According to Angela Davis (as outlined in her text, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday), Blues women’s music:
- Displayed a feminist consciousness (xi, xv);
- “Addressed urgent social issues” (xiv)—including, but not limited to, domestic violence and sexual abuse;
- “Illuminate[d] the politics of gender and sexuality in working class black communities” (xix);
- Promoted “individual sexual love” and the ability for women to choose potential partners, lovers, etc. (9-10);
- Challenged orthodox notions of womanhood—as it related to motherhood and marriage (13); and
- Promoted rivalry, alongside sisterhood.
Davis continues by providing many examples whereby she illustrates how Blues women integrated the above themes into their music.
Rather than Nicki Minaj, a more appropriate comparison to Blues women would include artists such as Erykah Badu. For me, Badu demonstrates the characteristics of a Blues woman in a post titled “Pregnant with Insults.” In this post, Badu expresses her desire and freedom to engage in relationships of her choice; she also repudiates her critics for judging her lifestyle.
In “Pregnant with Insults” Badu tells her critics where to go and what they can do once they get there! Badu’s post better exemplifies and aligns with the topics and themes addressed by women such as Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith because she challenges mainstream notions about womanhood, motherhood, and relationships with men.
Below you’ll find Badu’s post, “Pregnant with Insults”:
HOW DARE YOU DISRESPECT THE QUEENDOM
…AND MY CHILDREN AND MY INTELLIGENCE.
ive never been so disgusted in all of my life . there is no other place i used to enjoy more . i post no where else . you guys have taken an all time low , tho.
I’LL STATE MY PEACE
i am a great mother and care giver to my 2 children and to this world . my children are 2 of the kindest and happiest people i have met. I home schooled them and taught them the ways of good to the best of my ability. i am their doctor and their nurse . and even sometimes their mother and their father.
i am an excellent mother and resent all of the negative comments and insults on my character. I PUT MUCH TIME AND THOUGHT INTO HAVING AND RAISING MY CHILDREN. IVE HAD THE HONORS OF HAVING 2 HOME BIRTHS AND 2 WONDERFUL PARTNERS BY MY SIDE.
every relationship i have been in was because i loved the person DEARLY and was dedicated to us “exclusively” FOR A NUMBER OF YEARS.
the fathers of my children are my brothers and friends . we have a great deal of respect for one another and always will. WE LOVE OUR CHILDREN TO NO END. we took our own “vows” and CONTINUE TO UPHOLD THEM. AND THAT IS WHAT THAT IS .
question? WHAT IS MARRIAGE ? WHO IS THE JUDGE? WE ONLY UNDERSTAND THE EXAMPLES WE ARE GIVEN ( well sort of)
WOULD IT “LOOK BETTER ” TO MARRY AND DIVIORCE AND MARRY AGAIN ? WOULD THAT BE MORALLY CORRECT ? WHATS THE DIFFERENCE ? the government’s involvement i guess. IDEALLY , IT WOULD BE EXCELLENT TO FIND THE MAN OR WOMAN WHO FULFILLS YOUR SPIRIT AND STAY FOR EVER AND EVER ( thru sickness and health till death do us part ) AND HAVE HEALTHY STRONG CHILDREN AS A RESULT OF A HEALTHY AND STRONG UNION. (this CAN happen … we need much training , however.)
IS IT REALLY “GOOD” TO STAY IN A RELATIONSHIP WHERE BOTH PARTIES ARE UNFULFILLED , LONGING FOR RELIEF , BRINGING one another down as a result of improper training , creating BAD ENERGY AND EXPERIENCES FOR THE CHILD TO REPEAT ? (not to mention breeding deceit and anger and resentment ) SEEMS TO CREATE FEARFUL CHILDREN WHO TURN INTO FEARFUL ADULTS .
HOW MANY OF YOU GREW UP IN 2 PARENT HOMES THAT WERE MISERABLE AS FUCK ? OR 2 PARENT HOMES THAT WERE NOT PERFECT BUT WORKED? HOW MANY GREW UP IN ONE PARENT HOMES WHERE THE MOTHER WORKED HARD TO MAKE SURE YOU WERE CARED FOR BUT SHE WASNT QUITE HAPPY? HOW ABOUT A HOME WHERE THE FATHER WAS THE MAIN CARE GIVER AND DID THE BEST HE COULD -LACKING NURTURE? HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE A SIBLING THAT HAS A DIFFERENT FATHER OR MOTHER? DOES HE OR SHE MEAN LESS TO YOU? HOW MANY OF YOU HAVE MORE THAN 1 MOTHER OR FATHER OF YOUR OWN CHILDren ? HOW MANY OF YOU HAD /OR / ARE PARENTS RESPONSIBLE ENOUGH TO MAKE GOOD DECISIONS FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR CHILDREN ,THAT DONT QUITE FIT ANY OF THESE DESCRIPTIONS? HOW MANY OF YOU STAY IN UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS FOR FEAR OF GOING TO HELL? HOW MANY HOS OUT THERE … THAT HAVE KIDS TO GET A PAYDAY? HOW MANY PEOPLE GETTING THEY ASS KICKED AND ARE FORCED TO SUBMIT CAUSE YO MAMA GOT HER ASS KICKED? THEN WHAT is CORRECT?
how about this:
I PRAY WITH MY CHILDREN I FEED THEM GOOD FOOD THEY RESPECT PEOPLES DIFFERENCES THEY TRAVEL THE WORLD WITH ME THE KNOW WHO THEY ARE THEY ADORE THEIR FATHERS AND ARE LOVED BY 2 PARENTS OR MORE - OR TWO OR MORE SETS OF LOVING GRANDPARENTS THEY CRY THEY GET HURT THEY GET SICK THEY HEAL
THEY ARE real
THEY ARE NOT AN IDEA or a TOPIC AND NEITHER AM I . I AM ALIVE . I AM BEAUTIFUL WOMAN. I AM A GOOD WOMAM. I AM GROWING I AM COMPLETE WITH OR WITHOUT A PARTNER AND WILL ALWAYS BE AND I HAVE DREAMS OF A FAMILY STRUCTURE ALL OF MY DREAMS DO NOT COME TRUE AND DESPITE ALL OF THE PAIN IN MY LIFE … IN MY MOTHERS LIFE … IN MY GRANDMOTHERS LIFE WE HAVE ALWAYS ENDURED AND THERE IS SO MUCH JOY TO BE EXPERIENCED. I NEVER HAD A FATHER AND I DONT KNOW WHAT THAT FEELS LIKE - BUT MY CHILDREN DO , AND THEY LOVE THEIR ‘PARENTS’ .
WE ARE THEIR CHAMPIONS .
live how you want . follow which ever pattern YOU like . MY CHILDREN WILL BE LEADERS and they will not ever be slaves to this society’s failing idea of morality. THEY OWN THEIR MINDS AND THEIR DREAMS.
BIRTH CONTROL lol … could have 10 babies instead of 2 .
I LOVE CHILDREN AND I WILL HAVE AS MANY AS GOD WILL GIVE ME .
I AM VERY HEALTHY AND RESPONSIBLE AND SO ARE ALL OF MY PARTNERS
I CHOSE THEM WISELY AND SOBERLY .
ALL GOOD BROTHERS .
your opinions lack experience and are not only careless but also very uninformed and immature.
nothing is sacred here . and i see why.
if i loose you as a fan because i want to continue to have children then F*CK OFF… WHO NEEDS YOU ….CERTAINLY NOT ME … KICK ROCKS … CALL TYRONE … PACK LIGHT …. BITE ME
i have defended myself here ON THIS SITE and hurled a few insults .. but only in response to your insults of my music , my clothes , my lyrics , my hair , my being a woman , my spirit, my choices of partners…. these have all been on trial here . and i continued to support the energy of this place .
this is to all the okay players / REAL HUMAN BEINGS hiding behind screen names in order to insult one another and who ever else you will.
geeeez… i had to say something i am so sad for parents who try , today guys enough is enuf.
dont judge to quickly , OKAY PLAYER?
i know you are having fun , but what if it were you and your children? my son is 10 . my daughter, 4 .
and if this post is not clear kiss my placenta.