Illest [Chick] Alive

So, it’s been over a month since I’ve shared with you guys, and I’m sorry. No real excuse, but… I hope you’re still down for the cause and the mission of the blog. I pledge to keep posting consistently, and I hope that you’ll continue to be a part of the conversations that begin here. Thanks for supporting. – Andrea

Now on to the topic at hand…

Last week, there was an onslaught of music to accompany the first day of November. I’m guessing everyone thought that the date looked cool on paper, and would create some type nostalgia among their fanbases. Whatever the case, there was a great deal of music to be presented on my entertainment blog TheUptownLounge, and it’s taken me the better part of a week to digest it all.

The title for most buzzed about 11-1-11 release probably belonged to Wale. His much anticipated sophomore album Ambition has already been labeled “classic” by some. But of course that doesn’t come without controversy. Wale is notoriously outspoken on his Twitter account, but for good reason. He’s got a lot of haters. Some of which are internet gangsters, and the others, are just not impressed with his music. I do not fall into either of those categories, but I do have a few questions for the D.C. native who has taken the national scene by storm.

Wale knows his fan base, and it’s apparent in the way he creates and markets his music. He’s even created a special private Twitter account dedicated to his “Ambitious Girls” (female Wale fans who’ve been inspired by his songs of the same name.) Members of the “Ambitious Girls” club receive special email and video messages from Wale himself (as well as special merchandise and advanced ticket offers for his current tour.) Business wise, that’s a smart move, but beyond that it also says a lot about how Wale is trying to stay true to himself… at least, that’s what I think.

A couple weeks ago, Wale sat down with RollingOut magazine, and shared that he wanted to be an advocate for women. In the interview, he acknowledges the fact that he is a part of the problem, (see songs like “No Hands”) but “cleans it up” with songs like “Ambitious Girl.” While I wasn’t really accepting of that statement, I understood it. We all battle a little hypocrisy in our lives. For example, on Sunday night  I watched the 2011 Black Girls Rock Awards on BET, and then turned around and supported the catty mess on Real Housewives of Atlanta. It’s all about balance, right?

We want to do what’s right, but… we all fall short in some ways. We acknowledge the err of our ways and press forward. When you know better, you’re supposed to do better, right?

Before I listened to “Ambition” I scanned over the track listing and noticed a song called “Illest B*tch.” Of course, after reading the article in RollingOut, the song peaked my interest. When I finally did get a chance to hear the album, it was one of the first tracks I played…and I liked everything about it EXCEPT the title and chorus.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to hear it, check it out here:

After listening, I was confused how I could be degraded and empowered in the same song. Maybe Wale forgot the etymology of the word b*tch? It actually means female dog. No matter how you say it, or what word you put in front of it, (be it “bad” or “illest”) it is still negative (not positive) to refer to a woman, as a dog. Many fans have disregarded this, and have been rocking to the song…even the comments on the video above are all positive. But, this bodes a problem for me. And that’s why I’d like to speak with Wale for a moment, to understand his rationale. Remember, I do like the song, but when I sing it, I simply replace the word “b*tch” with the word “chick”. If this song becomes a single, chick will most likely replace b*tch on the radio. It doesn’t change the meaning of the song… so, my question for Wale is, why use it to begin with? If the song is positive, he should be cool with calling his mother the “illest b*tch alive” too, right? Oh. Maybe not.

I understand that art is subjective, but for someone interested in being an advocate for his female fans and women in general, I think that this is a worthwhile inquiry. Am I a b*tch and a h*e, or am I a beautiful and ambitious girl/woman? I don’t believe in hiding behind the shade of entertainment. As a poet, I know Wale is aware of the strength that words carry. It’s time that we hold each other accountable…and I’m just calling Wale out. He’s not the only one, but I feel like he’s young enough and smart enough to hear me out.

What’s even worse to me than him using it, is the fact that I’ve seen people on my Twitter timeline calling themselves the “Illest B*tch Alive” like it’s acceptable. Is it? Because if it is, what’s the point of getting angry or frustrated when a man calls a woman a b*tch, or a h*e, or any other derogatory term? If we use it on ourselves, we don’t have any grounds to be upset. But since I don’t walk around calling myself or my friends b*tches…I’m not down for it.

Wale will be in Houston this Thursday. I’m going to lock down an interview with him and see if he’s really about a life of empowering women, and I will not be afraid to ask him the questions that I’ve posed here in this piece. If he’s up for the challenge, I’m ready to present it. I support Wale Folarin. I think that he’s on a mission to be a role model for young artists on the rise, and really present a positive change for our generation, and I want to help him get there.

What do you think? Am I over reacting, or are we too accepting of the way women are addressed in rap lyrics?

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