Before the digital age, female rappers sold entertainment in the form of music. Now they sell entertainment in the form of a public persona. An artist’s music used to be able to speak for itself. Today, multimedia platforms impose all sorts of opinions on artists and their creations that artists find themselves constantly defending themselves. Social media rants which are meant to lessen misunderstandings seem to be having the opposite effect lately. One of the most prominent examples of social media interfering with music is the circus act between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B.
The fan-fuelled conflict between the world’s biggest female hiphop artists of 2018 has been the talk of social media in these past few days. Although their “beef” seems like a sudden occurrence, the tension between them was born through media and has been brewing for several months now. As lovers of the hiphop culture, we took the liberty of dissecting the little details that brought us the big New York Fashion Week shoe-throwing moment.
Cardi B becomes the first female rapper to reach #1 on the charts without a feature since Lauryn Hill did in 1998. Hip hop fans begin to speculate on whether Nicki Minaj deserved to reach that goal before Cardi, seeing as Nicki had been breaking records in hip hop for 10 years before Cardi even appeared in the mainstream music scene.
Questions about Nicki begin to come up in several interviews with Cardi, where she repeatedly dismisses the topic and appears to be slightly uncomfortable with discussing the matter, leading the public to wonder about the relationship between the two stars.
The release of the Migos single, Motorsport, is released with an unexpected feature from both women. Social media is immediately ablaze with debates about whether Nicki or Cardi performed the best verse on the track.
This is shortly followed by a music video where both women give a stellar performance, yet they don’t appear in any of the scenes together. This awkward lack of synergy raises more questions and creates rumours of conflict between the two ladies behind the scenes.
As the majority of these rumours incriminate Nicki Minaj, she decides to issue tweets, defending herself against accusations that she is difficult to work with. Despite her efforts to clear her name, the belief that she is trying to sabotage Cardi’s success remains the main narrative of this conflict.
As hiphop media continues to demonize Nicki Minaj and criticize her character, she disappears from the public eye, taking a social media hiatus for a few weeks. Upon her return to the public, she takes to radio to explain why she felt bullied by the media and disrespected by Cardi.
“I kind of felt ambushed. This really, really hurt me because I really fully supported [Cardi].”
They appear to be finding common ground and making peace at the Met Gala.
In an interview with Howard Stern, Cardi explains: “I never was feuding with anybody, there was a misunderstanding… The thing is, it’s always little issues, but you know, fans are always gonna make it a big thing.”
Just as we start to think all is good in female hiphop, Nicki Minaj’s new album drops with countless subs and disses that sound as though they are directed at Cardi B. These subs address concerns she has expressed before about Cardi, including:
- Cardi’s aesthetic is an exact replica of hers
- Cardi’s raps are written by other men
- Cardi’s career has been curated by Atlantic Records for the sole purpose of “de-throning” Nicki.
Fans reach out to Cardi through social media for comments on the subs. Cardi does not respond.
Nicki continues to promote her album in interviews and she speaks candidly on how she no longer cares for compromising herself by forcing peace with Cardi because artists like Cardi rely on the record label to make her music good.
“It’s silly to compare me to other female rappers.”
After weeks of silence from Cardi regarding all of Nicki’s comments, they are scheduled to attend the same event at New York Fashion Week. Cardi finally reveals her stance on the matter, by taking her earrings off and charging directly at Nicki Minaj. Video footage is released of Cardi being restrained by security whilst she repeatedly yells, launching her shoe at Nicki.
Since this explosion, both women have taken full control of their beef by yelling at each other on public platforms, verbally attacking each other’s character. Suddenly, the tone of the public has changed. The main stance on social media now is that they should be keeping their composure, as fans fail to consider the role “we” have played in this disaster.
These powerful and heavily influential women are still just human beings who were manipulated into fighting each other instead of working together. Fans should assume a little bit of responsibility for pushing them in this direction. At the expense of not just their emotional/mental health, but also their music. Perhaps if Nicki’s focus wasn’t solely about competing with Cardi, her album would have had more mature, diverse and dynamic content. If we allow for two women in hiphop to be equally successful without pitting them against each other, we may benefit by receiving content with more substance.
Let’s stop accepting cheap entertainment at the expense of our culture. Let’s demand respect for hiphop. If we don’t respect ourselves, who will?
by Zani Tsabedze
Many fans of SZA are drawn in, not just by her beautiful music but by what she represents. Her success speaks volumes about where we are in our culture. She speaks for the mentality of young women and expands our perceptions of beauty. My appreciation of SZA began quite later than most. I started to really listen to her music only in February 2018 and I found her quite intriguing. She is what mainstream media would label “edgy” because she breaks the mold of mainstream RnB. The further I looked into her art, the more I appreciated the little things that separate her from the rest.
Her lyrics say it exactly how it is. In a culture where women are shamed for being open about their sexuality, SZA sings about hers in a non-vulgar, yet brutally honest way. She also reminds girls that it’s healing to open up about relationships and experiences that you’ve learned from.
While RnB singers rely on hourglass figures and tight clothes to stay relevant, SZA frequently stunts on us with baggy jeans and oversized T-Shirts, teaching girls that tom-boy style doesn’t make you any less of a woman. It is important for young girls to see that ones femininity can always shine through, no matter what she likes to wear. We don’t have to sacrifice our comfort in order to feel beautiful.
She balances out the complexion representation in an industry where light-skinned women propel ahead based on the misconception that the lighter complexion is more palatable to a mainstream audience. Show business executives are often reluctant to invest as much into dark-skinned women because they are deemed to be less marketable. SZA breaks those rules and we are grateful to Dr. Dre for giving her the opportunity to.
Bringing Originality Back.
Her music deviates from the mainstream sounds and the structure of her songs don’t follow the formula of the typical RnB song or ballad. Her verses vary in length and she changes key more frequently than I have heard anyone ever do, making her music feel almost improvised and led entirely by emotion.
She is fearlessly creative and her bravery is inspiring. She liberates me as a writer to say what I really think and I believe she does this for countless other women. We look forward to seeing her continue to grow and challenge the status quo.
by Zani Tsabedze
The Oceans’ franchise has gone back a few digits, allowing for another trilogy with all new characters. We have the 1960s original Ocean’s 11 starring Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and more, followed by the Steven Soderbergh remake from 2001 that became a trilogy (Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13) starring George Clooney, Brad Pitt and more. Ocean’s 8 is the introduction to another complete Ocean’s trilogy with a female cast. It is not a remake of Ocean’s 11, but rather a spinoff and a continuation that extends the story of the conman Danny Ocean (played by George Clooney) by focusing on his younger sister and the influence that he had on her life.
Debbie Ocean has adopted some of her brother’s bad habits and proves that intellect and eye for detail runs in the family. She mirrors his personality from the very beginning of the film when she partakes in the same interview he had to take before being released from prison, giving similar answers and taking her performance even further with some emotional manipulation tactics. Just like her brother, she goes right back to her old ways with a master plan to steal a heavily guarded item worth a gazillion dollars. She puts together a team of skilled women that could use a few millions in their pockets and they proceed to try stealing the said item.
As far as heist films go, we’ve seen it all at this point. There aren’t many new directions one can take with this genre now so it is quite refreshing to see a group of women execute a heist, as its not something we get to see often. Not only are they smart and not over-sexualized, as Hollywood often portrays women to be, but they are also multifaceted and relatable.
All the acting was great but I especially enjoyed watching Cate Blanchette, who I think I’ve even developed a girl crush on for her performance. Time is really her friend, she is just ageing like wine.
Of course, as a Rihanna fan, I was personally most excited to see Riri play 9 Ball, the master hacker. She didn’t have too many lines but she looked fire in those faux dreads and her performance was fun to watch. Not too little, not too much.
I will admit that there were moments in the movie that felt kind of slow. Some scenes dragged on a little and would have been more impactful if they were shorter. However, this is the same way I felt about Ocean’s 11, so it is in keeping with the way the originals were made, which is respectable.
This addition to Steven Soderberg’s Ocean’s trilogy honours the style of its prequels by maintaining the same style and pacing. It is well written; taking advantage of all the possible perks that would come with having an all-female heist crew. The comedy is subtle yet impactful and the characters are multi-faceted and authentic. Judging by the execution of Ocean’s 8, we will be seeing more of our girls in the upcoming movies and I am so here for it.
Instead of a casino, they are stealing from the Met Gal and the whole execution of the Gala is very convincing with all the celebrities and designers. Fashion lovers will thoroughly enjoy the cameos and the glamour. You may also be slightly distracted, watching this movie places so much emphasis on celebrities at the Met Gala if you know that Rihanna actually hosted the real life version of this same event this year. She dominates this event every single year so we know that her character in the movie is the sole reason they couldn’t include her in the staged Met. It amused me a little. But then again, I’m quite easily amused.
Living in a 3rd world country and seeing the 1st world through television and the internet can easily give one the perception that life out there is better than what we’re living. Shows like Sex and the City always had me fantasizing about living in New York and Rom-Coms with British leads made me think there would be nothing better than moving to Britain and settling down with a dreamboat like Jude Law.
Moving to the UK was very exciting. I was finally going to live the life I had romanticized throughout my teen years. But, no amount of research could have prepared me for the culture shock I experienced in the beginning and I could never have predicted all the ways that I would have to grow. All the new experiences taught me so much about what the world had to offer but most importantly, they made me truly understand what my home country has to offer and to really appreciate it.
We live in an environment where it’s normal to understand multiple languages. To say we take it for granted would be an understatement. We have one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. We are constantly confronted with different languages and customs. There is no room for complacence in South Africa when it comes to accommodating other cultures. We’re very good at it because it’s all we know. Even with the current sensitivity of our racial climate, we have a common ground where our cultures blend and become something authentically South African.
One of the perks of having so many cultures is the array of food options that we have. There is no shortage of options. Most of my homesickness came from missing the flavours of home. Our heavily melanated nation has a talent for making the tastiest version of everything from buffets and home cooked meals to snacks and take out. International franchises such as McDonalds and KFC are more flavoursome in South Africa, and our original franchises like Steers and Chicken Licken are unmatched by any other original franchises I’ve eaten at elsewhere.
Sunlight is a better antidepressant than I realized. Grey skies are romantic in short spans of time. One or two weeks of grey skies won’t really affect ones mental health as much as it will when you’re experiencing it for the majority of the year. Depression snuck up on me in the UK and it took a while to understand that I had to make a conscious effort to make up for the lack of natural vitamin D in order to stabilize my mood and feel like myself again.
There is no simple way to explain it. The ever-celebratory vibes of South Africa are to be experienced, not explained. We are a loud and electrifying nation that doesn’t need a festival or big-budget event to bring together an absolutely lit crowd of people. We can give life to any situation.
We are not perfect and we may have a lot of work to do on strengthening our economy. But we are a strong and resilient people with a ruthless sense of humour. I miss our people deeply whenever I’m not there and I wouldn’t have known just how special the country is had I never left. My goals went from wanting to see the beauty of the world to wanting the world to see our beauty.
by Zani Tsabedze
Colorado – USA
I’m tempted to say Colorado is one of the most beautiful places on earth! It’s scattered with mesmerising natural features such as the Rocky Mountains, the Garden of the Gods, hot springs, and an edgy art scene that makes one consider if they could produce a Mona Lisa one day.
I spent three weeks in Colorado discovering that: hiking in the snow, eating scones (Biscuits) with bacon, egg, and mushroom sauce and learning about the history of native Americans are the perfect ingredients to a great holiday
Doha – Qatar
If you find yourself thinking about what you’d do if you won a million Rands, I’d suggest you stop dreaming and go to Doha!
Qatar was my first intercontinental trip, and at 18, having grown up in a township, I never knew there were parts of the world that were this breath-taking. This city made me discover what wealth and opulence embodied and inspired me to challenge everything I thought was real. Seeing 17-year-olds drive Lamborghinis and Ferraris, waking up to skyscrapers that dance with the clouds and tasting food that had real gold shavings gave me a feeling I have never been able to replicate. During this trip, I promised myself that I would always be curious about wealth and more importantly what life outside of my country is like.
Harare – Zimbabwe
Going to Zimbabwe was the longest, shortest distance of my life, although only meant to be 12-hours, the drive double and become a whole day event. The drive, however, was symbolic of the trip, I came in expecting very minimal from it, and it exceeded my expectations.
Zimbabwe’s rustic nature has preserved a beauty about being African, that filled me with pride whilst there. The Zimbabwe Museum of Human Sciences, gave me an opportunity to engage with a history that centered on highlighting African origin and our spirit instead of focusing on oppression, it was liberating. Visiting the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare and learning about Shona roots, African art and where we as a people originate made the trip a love letter to my African-ness and inspired me to devote myself to empowering Africans.
by Gigi Ngcobo