You may not have heard of hip hop producer Ebony Oshunrinde. Stop! Don't rush to Wikipedia because you feel out of touch. We often don't know the government names of many artists to whom we regularly listen and there's nothing wrong with that. What's surprising to me is that you may not have heard of Ms. Oshunrinde's nom de plume Wondagurl, either.
At just 16, this young woman has garnered production credits on Jay-Z's game-changing album "Magna Carta Holy Grail," a feat that men twice her age would gladly sell their souls to the illuminati to accomplish. Say what you want about Jigga, but producing anything for a multi-platinum recording artist is a big deal, especially if you're a woman.
While I was watching regrettable late-night TV recently, an interview caught my attention: Ultra-conservative Florida Senator Marco Rubio discussing his admiration of the music of Tupac Shakur and NWA.
This isn't breaking news; Rubio has been openly discussing his love of hip-hop since a December 2012 GQ interview. To be clear, Rubio says he only knows about Wu Tang from The Dave Chapelle Show, which I am pretty sure is the main reason why Chappelle stopped doing that show in the middle of its third season.
It's entirely possible that Rubio is just pandering to a younger crowd by proclaiming his love of rap. It's no secret that the GOP has high hopes that Rubio will be their Barack Obama in 2016. Obama loves Jay-Z, so maybe Rubio's banking on dropping Tupac's name to win youth votes.
We've already established that we're fans of Little Jackie 'round these parts, but we've never singled the Brooklyn duo out for adoration. Remember how excited we all (er...I hope it wasn't just me...) were when Jay-Z informed the planet that "ladies is pimps, too"? Imagine an entire album of lyrics like that, but better, sung by a lady, surrounded on all sides by a slinky R&B voice and bouncy, brassy soul instrumentation, and you're imagining something pretty close to Made4TV, the 2011 (and, sadly, most recent) album by singer and songwriter Imani Coppola and producer Adam Pallin. Now, to gently break it to Jay that there's a new sheriff in brushing-shoulders-off-town?
Brooklyn's been home to rappers from Foxy Brown to Mos Def to Notorious B.I.G. The New York City borough is such a hotspot for hip hop that the shout-out "Where Brooklyn at?" is a staple in rap songs. Plus, each year Brooklyn hosts an annual hip-hop festival where rap royalty such as Q-Tip, KRS-One, and De La Soul have performed. Given the borough's historic ties to hip hop, why is a petition circulating to convince a new club in Park Slope to showcase "indie" music rather than hip hop? Evidently, the neighborhood's been gentrified so much that black people are no longer wanted there, even though Park Slope was once a mostly African-American and immigrant 'hood.
Jay-Z is arguably the most successful hip-hop artist in the world. He owns a sports team, created a clothing line, ran a record label and then started his own, and last year beat Elvis Presley as the solo act with the most Billboard 200 hits. This year, he decided to add "author" to his long list of titles. Decoded is part memoir, part argument in defense of hip-hop, part lyrical analysis of his work, both well-known and unknown, and part printed self-aggrandizement with expensive-looking art design to match—like a microcosm of hip-hop itself. (But with more avant-garde black-and-white photography.)
Can'tstoplisteningtoDessa! The only woman in the highly acclaimed underground hip hop collective, Doomtree, Dessa brings a literary beauty to hypnotic rhythms that left me (re)examining the super old and super problematic feminist consensus that hip hop, even what comes from woman artists, is too caught up with rampant sexism to see outside that bubble. Conscious hip hop, thy name is woman!
Yesterday, one of hip-hop's rising stars, Nicki Minaj Tweeted something that caught my eye:
A rumored lesbian (or bisexual, depending on who you ask), Nicki is not "out," but took to Twitter for this random piece of knowledge, which only furthered my curiosity about her and how it relates to closeted women in the hip-hop community. As the "First Lady" of Lil' Wayne's Young Money record label, she recently admitted to feeling a lot of pressure, being a new artist.