An example of MC and hip-hop graffiti artist Binx's art work (courtesy photo)

Local hip-hop show puts the focus on female MCs

  Women have been a part of hip-hop as far back as 1976, when Ntozake Shange dropped her "feminal" poem for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. More recently, artists like Missy Elliott, Lady Pink, and Queen Latifah have traversed the globe. The most contemporary B-girl manifesto came courtesy of Joan Morgan in 1995.

Morgan's essay "Fly-Girls, Bitches, and Hoes," began with an open letter to hip-hop, which she depicted as an abusive boyfriend. "Things were easier when your only enemies were white racism and middle-class black folk who didn't want all that jungle music reminding them they had kinky roots. Now your anger is turned inward. And I've spent too much time in the cross-fire, trying to explain why you find it necessary to hurt even those who look like you. Not to mention a habit called commercialism and multiple performance failures and I got to tell you, at times I've found myself scrounging for reasons to stay."

At about the same time, author Bell Hooks weighed in with "Misogyny, gangsta rap, and The Piano," an essay with an even more on-point analysis: "When young black males labor in the plantations of misogyny and sexism to produce gangsta rap, their right to speak this violence and be materially rewarded is extended to them by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Far from being an expression of their 'manhood,' it is an expression of their own subjugation and humiliation by more powerful, less visible forces of patriarchal gangsterism."

Binx, a female MC and Houston native, was first drawn to hip-hop graffiti in 1996. The 27-year-old mother of two will make her San Antonio debut on Friday, January 23 as part of "Wisdom Understanding Wordplay," an all-woman hip-hop show organized by Culture Sound Records. For Binx, the misogyny often associated with the genre is a common occurrence.

"I face it everyday," she says. "That's nothing new. That's in every situation that I'm in because I'm a woman and yeah, it's in hip-hop." As a lyricist however, she chooses to appropriate the art form for more noble ends. "I try to really bring up women. A lot of my message is to younger women that maybe don't have an influence that is necessarily good in their lives. I speak about immigrant rights. I speak about police brutality. I speak about being a mom, being a sister, being everything. It's gonna be more about the energy I bring as a woman. It's positive and nurturing."

Wisdom Understanding Wordplay
Illogic, Binx, Lady Lunatik, Billye, Chi, Uncut, Sureilis, DJ Raymel
Friday, January 23
The Lounge at Avenue B
1033 Avenue B
Angelica Cristina Ratcliff, aka Illogic, arrived in SA almost three years ago from Chocolate City. The 26-year-old poet and former MC describes herself as an avid fan and supporter of hip-hop. "When I moved to San Antonio and had a chance to see how the scene is here, and how vibrant and diverse the crowds are, I just wanted to do my part to help it thrive."

Illogic then created "The Venue," an urban-themed radio show on KSYM that showcased local musicians and discussed topics affecting the underground. In addition, she formed Vessel Entertainment, a company that assists artists with music promotion, publishing, and distribution. These days, Illogic is focused on her upcoming performances and the topic of sexism merely hovers in the background.

"Women have to struggle with everything everyday, not only in hip-hop but at our jobs, they've got the whole glass-ceiling thing, and just the way society looks at us as a whole. Hip-hop is not excluded from that, because it's a microcosm of society."

Ultimately, her resolve echoes that of Joan Morgan circa 1995. Like Illogic, Morgan recognized the inherent injustices reflected in hip-hop, but also saw it as the most powerful cultural tool to surmount those injustices: "So, Boo, I've finally got an answer to everybody who wants to talk about the incongruity of our relationship. Hip-hop and my feminism are not at war but my community is. And you are critical to our survival." •


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