Identity Crisis: Behind the Music

Posted: January 5, 2011 by Jay Rasean in Kasual

I would usually start of by saying something like “As of late “ or “Lately” to begin talking about the current situation that’s been on my mind. But this current situation in particular has been going on for years, is something I know all of you are quite aware of.

Today I happened to pick up a copy of the Daily News, and on the cover was female rapper Foxy Brown. Apparently, Foxy is in the news yet again because her Manager has ceased to manage her, just another stop on the spiraling downward trip that is her music career. Anyway…to be absolutely truthful, I didn’t even read the whole story. For me, the story…the bigger picture…was the picture itself. The picture used to accompany her specific headline, was of Foxy with this “oops” smile, brown skinned…and with blue eyes? I’m pretty sure Foxy doesn’t have naturally blue eyes. If she does, that’s cool…I still have a plethora of other examples to help exemplify my views throughout this post.

The question of the evening…

Why Is it, so many black people believe in order to be attractive, they have to look less…Black?

I’m light skinned, my family is light skinned (for the most part) but in no way do I feel superior or feel that any of my dark brothers and sisters need to be light skinned to be accepted.

Aside from Foxy, there are countless others who strive for the sub-cultural dream of being light…or being WHITE. Some people change their lifestyles and strive to distance themselves from their own blackness. They may change the way they talk, walk, dress, or begin disassociating themselves from other black people. This transformation PALES ( like that pun?) in comparison to the physical transformation that takes place amongst the black community. Some famous black people that have amazingly turned white without the presence of vitiligo are; Nicki Minaj, Sammy Sosa (Dominican..but black nonetheless), the Late Michael Jackson and the new generation’s MJ, Lil’ Kim.

The point I’m trying to make goes deeper than a transformation with the purpose of becoming white. I feel as if many people believe that being white, and being sexy and beautiful are synonymous.
They are not.

There are many beautiful black women out there. And I must say, in being light skinned, I am a victim of the constant “5 o’clock shadow” I notice a lot of dark skinned guys have little to no stubble…Dark Skinned 1..Light Skinned 0…lol

Back to what I was saying…

The Foxy’s, the Kim’s and the Nicki’s all have undergone many modifications in order to be more sexy. Not to say that plastic surgery is solely a problem relevant to black women, but the issues in respects to plastic surgery involving women of color, are deeper and more complex than a New Jersey housewife wanting bigger breast to please her husband.

The three aforementioned women are all female rappers who are successful artists in the world of hip-hop. Hip-Hop creates an outlet for many young, creative and sometimes poverty stricken individuals to achieve greatness and significant social recognition. Aside from the positive nature of hip-hop, there are aspects of criminal recollection and traces of obvious masculinity, misogyny and sexism.

Because Hip-Hop is seemingly a man’s game, women who wish to partake in this industry must be highly skillful to participate. Female rappers are placed under a microscope and even then, are often overlooked due to the fact they are unable to specifically relate to the abundance of male listeners. Many fans, as well as music industry higher ups sometimes overlook skill, and instead focus on physical appearance.

“Nicki Minaj has set the bar so high that whoever the new female rappers is, and I’ve heard one or two females so far and they’re horrible and I’m real hard on female rappers, seriously. I ain’t with the bullsh*t, don’t come too hard, you gotta be sexy and look like Nicki Minaj and sh*t. She got it.” –Sha Money XL (Senior VP of A&R at Def Jam)

This is a quote from an actual music executive saying self image is VERY important if you are a female rapper and you wish to succeed…basically,you must have an ass like Nicki Minaj, dress sexy and say outlandish shit. Not my opinion, but seems to be the current formula in the music industy, and is working.

Self image or Self Perception is something that is very important to everyone, more importantly women. The media perpetuates these ideals of being attractive in order to be relevant. The reason why people, famous or not, strive to alter their appearance is because of others opinions. People see themselves, as other see them, as demonstrated in the “Looking Glass-Self theory” a concept developed by Charles Horton Cooley. In this theory, Cooley explains how people develop a sense of self, complied of  the several points of views of other people. In this case, the media is the “looking glass” in which many people use to look at themselves.

As far as black female rappers are concerned, In our commuities black identity is something that can be confusing as it is. When you incorporate the desperation to look sexy with the lack of strong sense of self, you get an outcome much like lil kim’s.

Women in the public eye that are expected to be sex symbols go through many changes, minor and drastic in order to stay in the fantasies of men. Many changes are made on a quest for” beauty” whether its Kim’s bleached skin, blond weaves and wigs or Foxy’s blue eyes.

Although Nicki Minaj has made many changes to her body that are specific to the black culture…a BIG BOOTY!…that doesn’t take away from her altered speaking voice, minor changes to her facial appearance and the overwhelming truth…she wants to be a Barbie, a white, plastic, doll.
In my personal opinion, the physical attributes of a female rapper are irrelevant when it comes the music. The size of her ass or her complexion have little do with me maintaning a constant head bop and earning a spot on my mp3 player. Having something nice to look at doesn’t hurt while I’m listening some ill lyrics, but please do not reconstruct yourself for little old me, just make good music.
I often wonder what Sammy Sosa or Lil Kim was thinking when they began to undergo these drastic changes in their appearance. Didn’t they learn anything from Michael Jackson? ( may he rest in peace ) In light of his major achievements and unequivocal fame, he was still regarded as a strange individual who was constantly scrutinized by the very people who he decided to transform for.
I just hope people, including myself, will strive to alter the current opinions of an attractive self image, not just for the famous people like Nicki and Kim…but the younger people and the generations that will follow ours.
( Funny pic i’d like too add)
  1. LOVE IT! You are absolutely right.

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