Tuesday, September 29, 2009

With Motivational/Feminist-ish Songs

For the past hectic month or so, I've been living on some of these songs.

"Working in the corner  Peaking over shoulders  Waiting for my time to come   Working in the corner  One day to the other  Butter for my piece of bun   Stepping a stone and I'm all gone  Give me the tone  and I'm all gone  Yeah, I'm walking by the line  Not here, but in my mind   I'm working a sweat, but it's all good  Breaking my back but it's all good  'Cause I know i'll get it back  Yeah, I know your hands will clap   I'm working,  I'm working  To make butter for my piece of bun   And if you say I'm not okay with miles to go If you say there ain't no way that I could know  If you say I aim too high from down below  Well say it now 'cause when I'm gone  You'll be calling but I won't be at the phone   And I'm hanging around 'til it's all done  You can't keep me back once I had some  Wasting time to get it right  And you will see what I'm about" 
It really helps to hear this kind of "wel,l screw you if you think I can't do it" song when you've been repeatedly told that you do too much, and you're always doing things that people think that you can't do.
Here's a live version with Robyn on YouTube (Embedding function was removed). I especially love how her voice is so sweet, yet her attitude is so irreverent.

I was reading an article on how the first generation of female rappers' feminism is different than the second for my media studies research methods class when I found this song:

I would say that I love 90% of the music video (except the scene where it seems like a man tries to sexually assault a woman, and then she ends up beating him up...what?), but 100% of the lyrics. Here are some of my favorite lines.

"It ain't a man's world. No more sugar and spice (And everything nice)."
Powerpuff Girls are cute, and I did watch it often :D, but no.

"Now I can bring home the bacon, fry it in the pan

Got to break my neck just to get my respect
Go to work and get paid less than a man
When I'm doin' the same damn thing that he can"
One of my biggest fears for my the future career path.

"When I'm aggressive then I'm a bitch
When I got attitude you call me a witch"
To quote Tina Fey: "Bitch's the new black," and you should get used to it.

The next one somehow I can't find the lyrics online anywhere, so I am going to try my best to transcribe it. The song is so jazzy. It's incredible.

Oy. She sings too fast. I am just going to try to capture the best parts.

"I knew I had to go through somewhere to get where my destiny had in store.

So I planted my feet, stuck out my chest, and got to stomping.

But I skipped the drama, and any other distractions, and I think I've got the winner right here. Sing it along with me if you dig it.

I've been waiting a long time for this. I've been waiting oh so long for this.
Knew I was about to give it, but then it's back to the beginning.
And if you want it, you can have it; you've just gotta stick with it.

Just 'cause you got what it takes doesn't mean that you ready.
No, you won't get where you're supposed to be without integrity.
I know that you mistake the detour for a shortcut, but you just might end up taking the scenic route.
You got to know where you're going before you can figure out how.
Once you can do all of this, stick to the plan, it's important.
And one day you'll have the winner like this."

Ahh it's so good! The melody and the lyrics make up an instant mental pick-me-up, at least for me anyway.

The last two are slightly awkward, because mainly the first one is about a woman courting a man with a big ego, which in turns reveals her own huge ego, but there are inadvertently too many sexual innuendos, and then I couldn't help but wonder if she can use her confidence somewhere else, like work. And the second one is a woman talking how she's the best...but in the context of that's the reason why a man should pick her as a mate....

But I do love me some Mary J. Blige and Beyonce sassy songs: Upgrade U is also one of my personal favorites, and not just because she gets to dress up and act like Jay-Z in her music video, but because it's all about making your partner an equal. It does make me uncomfortable that apparently the way to do that is to buy him designer clothes and luxury cars, and through other consumption of goods... Ah media studies. You have simultaneously ruined me and opened my eyes at the same time. Anyway, back to the song.

I don't like the version with Kanye not because I think he's a pompous ass (C'mon, guys. It's how he sells himself. Chill out.) but because I feel like then it takes away the focus from the woman. Anyway, there is a chuck-load of quite explicit connections of comparing a man's ego to his reproductive organ:

"It's too big
It's too wide
It's too strong
It wont fit
It's too much"

Whatever. We're all adults here. The other parts of lyrics are more about female empowerment.

"Some call it arrogant
I call it confident

I walk like this cuz I can back it up
I talk like this cuz I can back it up"

Why shouldn't a woman be proud of her achievements? Why shouldn't she talk about what she's able to do if she has the capabilities? I am not saying that we should overestimate our limits, but being well aware of one's own abilities and having the confidence to communicate that to others and asking for what one deserves is important.

Here's Mary J. Blige's "The One."

First of all, she looks amazing for her age, but again, the song is about a woman courting a man because she thinks that she's worth it. And it's just slightly awkward to pair her with Drake, who's like, what, 20 years younger? Just sayin'. Anyway, best line right here: "I ain't saying that I am the best, but I am the best." So true, Mary, so true.

Ah I just realize this turns out to be a continuation of my fascination with black sassy women as well. Oh well.