7 Profound Quotes from The Grapevine S4Ep15
This week, The Grapevine gave us another riveting discussion on the Pop Culture phenomena that influence our day-to-day lives. The crew deliberated on the topic of ‘Culture Vultures’ and whether their presence within the margins (and often times the forefront) of Hip-Hop Culture are disadvantageous to the progress of the Black Community. Moderated by the programs lovely host, Ashley Akunna, the round-table representatives constantly bounced thought-provoking statements about our current social climate off of one another. Everyone at the round table was so on point this time around! There was never a single moment of inertia, but rather a perpetual momentum of well-founded criticisms of society at large. Let’s discuss the most profound quotes from this week’s episode:
“[It’s] not Black women’s fault. There’s a difference when it comes to Black men giving White women opportunities. It takes a MikeWill to make a Miley [Cyrus], it takes a Lil’ Wayne to make a Chanel West Coast, it takes a T.I. to make an Iggy [Azealia]. When Black women work with these women, it is a course of survival in an industry that is gate-[kept] by Black men.
This is quite a profound statement on the part of Latasha. Hip-Hop Culture is first and foremost Black-American culture. Black women men have equally contributed to the performance, development, and progression of Hip-Hop culture in all its iterations from fashion to rapping and singing to dance, yet Black men are de-facto gate-keepers of this innately gender neutral culture. As gate-keepers of the culture, Black men have the responsibility of protecting Hip-Hop from harm or irresponsible misuse, but current trends have proven the opposite. Black male Hip-Hop leaders, generally, have not upheld the sanctity of Black America’s most legitimate institution. Instead, prominent leaders of the culture, like Lil’ Wayne, promote non-Black female artists who use Hip-hop as a proxy for social flexibility, (and in some cases even racial passing) rather than an artform that they practice with respect. Black women have little say in how that phenomenon plays out, because they have for the most part been shut out from gaining power and influence within the culture. This is evident in how few female rappers are household names v.s. the hundreds of male rappers. Yet, many black women in the culture work as songwriters for white and racially ambiguous female artists like Bhad Bhabie and Ariana Grande. Many just go with the flow of recent trends in order to either stay relevant, or to stay monetized by the industry.
[YesJulz] is privy to a conversation that has nothing to do with her…and the reason she can say these things is because her team has been feeding it to her[…]She is a Black man’s cum receptacle. She is there for the reason of…making [Black men] feel better about the place they have in our society
This statement may sound harsh at face value, but it is all too true. Uchechi’s words are profound, because they are brave enough to call things as they are. YesJulz’s Black contemporaries, mainly cis, heterosexual, and male, encourage her audacity to make such callous remarks, because they have a vested interest in being associated with a ‘down,’ White woman who speaks on Black issues. The poignancy of Uchechi’s words highlight the fact that many Black men do not have a good self-image and must associate themselves with women who do not care about their best interests in order to have even a slight semblance of self-esteem and self-worth. This, however, is a facade.
Hip-Hop is a $700 billion industry, yet we have yet to produce one Black male Billionaire from it, let alone a Black female one…we are lying to other Black folks that we are the man…YesJulz [became] an accessory in that trope to pretend that you have the power…[she] also helps bring a mainstream je ne sais quois to the operation…[this notion that] Hip-hop needs a white audience.
Wilson builds upon Uchechi’s point by extrapolating the economic rationale for why Hip-hop’s ceremonial gatekeepers promote White and racially ambiguous women as artists rather than Black women. His argument really resonates with the round-table, because he succinctly and effectively breaks down the Capitalist influences on how the Hip-Hop industry operates. In order to build a solid and fully sustained fan-base, Hip-Hop moguls appeal to America’s majority racial demographic — Whites. Record label figureheads are incentivized by the White community (and their dollars) to have White artists with an urban sound. All the superficial, ‘cool’ elements of Black music without the depth. Just how they like it. In addition to that, since whiteness is approximate to power in America’s woefully racist society, Black Hip-Hop leaders have the added benefit of looking more attractive to their loyal Black male fans. The closer in proximity they are to conventionally attractive White women the more opulent they are. Women like YesJulz and Bhad Bhabie are therefore trophies that have been well-earned. And so the cycle of White worship continues.
Black women are not given access [to their own culture]
Donovan always has the keen ability to get right to the crux of the conversation at hand, and he does it almost effortlessly again with this quote. The reason why this conversation is so pressing is because while non-Black women are being given passes into Hip-Hop, talented Black women are being prohibited from telling their stories and creating new narratives within the culture. This is detrimental to the progress of the Hip-Hop artform, because it virtually silences authentic, homegrown voices from contributing to their own cultural relic. This is painfully egregious and unfair to Black women, both artists and consumers. The topic of Culture Vulturing is not trivial or innocuous. It is important, because it delves into the territory of cultural genocide. That is serious and urgent like a muthafucka.
When you see a white woman who can do everything that a Black woman can [it is more palatable]…it’s a reward system of [white women as trophies]
Jameer reiterates the consistent theme of the discussion — that White women are seen as trophies in the Black Man’s endeavor towards liberation and success. It is quite clear at this point of the discussion that White Supremacy has a hold over the way Hip-Hop has transformed in recent times. The prosperity gospel that Hip-Hop’s proverbial ministers are preaching to its Black male audience clearly portrays White womanhood as the ultimate prize. These rappers tell the Black community that a true sign of wholeness as a Black man is to have a White, female partner — like the white men they aspire to be. The upliftment of White and racially ambiguous women as the new faces of female rap is consistent with the sermons these emcees constantly deliver.
[Cool] is a resource that our Capitalist system has extracted from the Black community, and used it to make money from…when they can get that ‘cool’ and someone else is imitating us, they’ll take that too.
Ayesha articulately points out that the foundation of the Hip-Hop industry’s self-inflicted wounds are capitalistic. Profit, rather than pro-Blackness and Black Pride, is the new change agent that drives Hip-Hop forward. Because Capitalism and whiteness are so intimately interwoven with one another, naturally, Hip-Hop has begun to propel many White Faces to the forefront. Coolness, a natural resource of Black America, has always been preyed upon by White industry people since the days of the Blues, Jazz, and Rock n’ Roll. Hip-Hop is the new cultural artifact that White America seeks to commodify and subsequently dominate if the right precautions are not taken by the Black community.
[Black men] are the biggest movers and shakers [within Hip-Hop]…when it comes to the image of these things.
This closing quote was simple and yet very significant to the main point of this week’s episode. Though Black men are not the main owners of the Record labels that control the music industry, they are the leaders of the Hip-Hop aesthetic. This power grants Black male Hip-Hop leaders influence over the artistic direction of the culture. If they do not wield this power wisely, they choose to sacrifice the legitimacy of their culture for a relatively paltry profit and empty accolades. This is indicative of more pressing erasure that is yet to come. This is cultural suicide. This must change.
Moral of the Story:
When you replace female Black rappers with outsiders, you degrade Hip-Hop. The artform cannot reach its full creative potential when integral parts — Black women — are excluded. Culture Vultures dilute the authenticity of our music. Hip-Hop is our history, our present, and our future. Take it seriously.
Many important things were said in this week’s episode of The GrapeVine. To watch the full video please click here. Also, do not forget to support this channel by donating. The Black Community desperately needs nuanced and open discussions like this.