A few weeks ago I would have thought that the words hip hop feminism could be in no way functionally and honestly combined. When I first think of connecting the two, the immediate image that comes to mind is of the typical, mainstream rap video: A black male at the forefront surrounded by lighter-skinned women, scantily clad, being extremely sexual. This mainstream image of hip hop could not be farther from feminism if it tried. It continually puts women down and perpetuates the view of "black women's sexuality that suggest we are perverse, insatiable, accessible and available at a ghetto near you (Durham). This version of hip hop is all about the image and taking things at face value, or the face that's put forth. Deviating from the mainstream hip hop, there is clearly some difference. Other artists, such as the women we saw in class, MC Lyte and Queen Latifah, choose to use hip hop as a vehicle for social criticism. This is where hip hop feminism becomes a legitimate concept.
Looking away from the mainstream hip hop, there are other current hip hop artists embracing hip hop feminism, male and female. I'm not a Minneapolis native and still consider myself a In the Twin Cities, I see this most with the Doomtree crew, and specifically one of its members; Dessa. Dessa is a well rounded UMN graduate with a degree in philosophy. She's not your typical hip hop, ghetto girl. She's articulate, literate and part of a more recent wave of more conscious hip hop, under the Rhymesayers label that is partly responsible for many of these artists from the Twin Cities, as well as Seattle and other locations. She is aware of her position and novelty as a women in hip hop, but doesn't rely on it. Her lyrics are more literary than sexual, and often with feminist or social justice driven themes. Dess has built a career on quality writing and musicality instead of relying and exploiting her own sexuality to drive her career. Along with her career as a hip hop artist, she also teaches at McNally Smith College of Music and has even published a book of poetry. She has also been involved in numerous local charity and benefit events. Her involvement with these other things while maintaing a career in hip hop exemplifies the empowerment and intellectuality of hip hop feminism.