Ladies First
4

The Missing Episode of VH1’s "Tanning Of America": Ladies Make Noise!

All my women in the house love hip hop, and yet it does often seem that hip hop has trouble loving them back. Gangsta rap and corner boy narratives aside, even the most thoughtful, most nakedly vulnerable emcees will identify a woman—if not all women, in general—as the vessel of their frustrations and fatalism. Kanye West will punctuate his "black excellence" thesis and anti-capitalist invective with poignant misogyny. In 2014, Yeezus is state-of-the-art.

But enough about the boys.

Watching VH1's four-part Tanning of America documentary—a broadcast reconfiguration of rap executive Steve Stoute's book of the same name, published in 2011—you'd never guess that women listen to [...]

25

With the Ladies in the Back at an Odd Future Show

Late on Friday night, I joined a lot of other white people at the Highline Ballroom to see Odd Future. At the door, a girl in a Juicy sweatshirt handed out paper masks of Tyler, The Creator’s face. The image was borrowed from his self-designed Goblin album cover. There were eyeholes punched out, so that you couldn’t see the milky black irises he’d Photoshopped onto his own face, and so that every person there could resemble Tyler while they chanted “swag,” “goblin,” and “Free Earl," who needs no freeing, at the 20-year-old with a microphone and a record deal who claims not to care for his own music.

[...]
28

Selling Herself Short: The Miscontexualization of Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj was six years old in 1990, when Island Records released Lin Que's first album, "Rebel Soul." Lin herself was then only 18. She was a member of the Black Nationalist group X Clan and was known as Isis. Just a year removed from high school, she traveled the world, meeting celebrities like Prince and Diana Ross. “I got bit by that bug, you know?” Lin told me on the phone last spring. “I’m a teenager and I want to be a star—but I don’t know shit.”

What she didn’t know would eventually hurt her. By 1997, Lin had signed three additional record deals, but "Rebel Soul" [...]