Supply: Courtesy of Kennedy Heart / Kennedy Heart
It has been greater than 50 years for the reason that daybreak of hip hop and a number of other many years because it started dominating the worldwide music panorama. And similar to in nearly every little thing else that’s vital in advancing tradition and nations – schooling, coverage, enterprise, know-how, medication – girls are continuing to be underappreciated and infrequently discriminated towards on this transformative style.
A latest offense got here as I used to be excitedly scrolling by an e mail I obtained asserting the lineup of the Kennedy Heart’s Fall 2021 Hip Hop season. Targeted on the Heart’s For the Tradition artists-in-residence – the legendary Philadelphia group, the Roots – the programming included music, literary and cultural occasions that includes Black Thought, Questlove, Rakim, KRS-One and Slick Rick, amongst different male creatives.
Earlier than I’d even gotten by the entire e mail, I used to be texting screenshots to my women – all of whom have served as influential journalists masking leisure, tradition, information, social justice and extra for the reason that Nineties. I used to be planning a visit to DC in my head, wondering if we could align our busy schedules, when abruptly it struck me:
There was not one feminine rapper within the lineup. Right here we go, I assumed. I wasn’t even actually indignant, simply disappointed as usual by the therapy of ladies (and within the case of hip hop, principally Black girls) throughout all industries.
After poking across the Heart’s web site and discovering some historic proof of gender variety of their hip hop programming, I used to be nonetheless bothered by no women hip hop artists being included within the fall 2021 line up. So, I known as Simone Eccleston, the Heart’s director of hip hop tradition and modern music, and requested her what was up.
“Our fall season was about launching our For the Tradition residency. The spring season will see a broader plethora of programming which encompasses each the Roots residency, in addition to deliberately curated and designed applications for which girls are on the helm,” mentioned Eccleston, who initially was not capable of share the spring line up. However when she was, it felt like somebody dropping the high joker on your ace in a spades smackdown.
When you haven’t but heard, the Kennedy Heart simply introduced a hearth spring hip hop season, which is centered round Black girls. Along with the return of DJ Beverly Bond’s Black Girls Rock Fest for the third yr in a row, 2022’s programming will characteristic occasions by a brand new partnership with Issa Rae’s visionary manufacturing firm HOORAE and from music icon MC Lyte’s I AM WOMAN: A Celebration of Girls in Hip Hop.
BGRFest expands on the BGR Awards, which has honored women in hip hop like Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah and Spinderella, and attracts world luminaries from former First Woman Michelle Obama to Regina King and Janet Jackson. In March, the three-day competition will embody the Rock It Like a Woman! live performance, an inaugural collaboration with the Nationwide Symphony Orchestra, empowerment speaker and DJ collection, and a tribute by singer Ledisi to Nina Simone.
The four-day HOORAE x Kennedy Heart Takeover competition will spotlight music, comedy, movie, tv, and the talent of Black creatives, together with the presentation of “A Sip” with Issa Rae. MC Lyte’s I AM WOMAN occasion honors the genius, variety, and energy of feminine emcees, whereas uplifting the creative contributions of ladies throughout generations by that includes Remy Ma, Da Brat, Tierra Whack, Monie Love and Yo- Yo.
“After I discuss concerning the spring season as a ravishing testomony to the genius of Black girls,” mentioned Eccleston, “and to the expansiveness of their creativity and to the methods they function cultural catalysts and create area for communities to be seen and represented, you’re going to see that.”
Eccleston, who has led the Heart’s hip hop programming since 2017, was a wealth of data, noting examples of the “breadth and depth” of the contributions of ladies “administrators, playwrights, journalists and students” to, not simply the hip hop programming, however to that of the Heart at massive.
Supply: Courtesy of Kennedy Heart / Kennedy Heart
She listed a 2017 theatrical manufacturing on the Heart by hip hop artist-turned playwright and now Marvel Studios/Disney+ head screenwriter for “IronHeart” Shenaka Hodge and the Heart’s a number of years of internet hosting the DC Hip Hop Theatre Competition, based by the Apollo’s government director Kamilah Forbes, who in 2018, introduced a multimedia model of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “Between the World and Me” on the Heart.
Eccleston included amongst these girls leaders the numerous contributions of the 5 girls on the Heart’s 23-member Hip Hop Culture Council and herself for example of gender inclusion.
“I don’t essentially concentrate on numbers, however I concentrate on influence,” she mentioned referring to the gender stability on the council. “For us, it’s pondering not about numbers, however about depth and with the ability to create deep conversations, with the ability to spotlight the vital scholarship round girls within the tradition and vital writers within the tradition after we take into consideration girls like Joan Morgan and Kierna Mayo.”
“Every of those girls has contributed programmatically, both by curating or taking part in applications. They function invaluable assets to me, by way of thought partnership. Total, we’re higher due to them…As we work to getting again to regular ranges of programming, we’ll undoubtedly see an elevated presence of ladies on the council.”
This will likely be excellent news to Dr. Aria S. Halliday, who was shocked that the Kennedy Heart did “not have any girls rappers in its fall 2021 line-up particularly after the run that Black women rappers have had up to now two years,” mentioned the assistant professor within the Division of Gender and Girls’s Research on the College of Kentucky.
“Persevering with to domesticate new relationships all through the neighborhood of hip-hop because it expands will likely be essential to shake off the male-centric, misogynist, homophobic, and transphobic tradition that has proliferated in it and within the U.S. largely. I’m excited to expertise what the Kennedy Heart will provide transferring ahead. I imagine these choices can shift the tradition in additional inclusive and generative methods.”
Eccleston has been on the case: “After we are wanting on the arc of a full season from 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020 after which what will likely be 2021-2022, there will certainly be a dynamic and profound presence of ladies within the tradition being celebrated right here.”
The Heart’s spring hip hop season is proof that they’re making measurable progress on their journey to becoming more inclusive of their programming. I’m right here for it – and, hopefully, my women and I can get our schedules aligned to be in D.C. for it this spring.