Posted tagged ‘gender roles’

The Top Ten BET Un:Cut Videos (C.A.T.T.L.E.)

July 6, 2010

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.

It’s hard to believe it has been only four years since the demise of the hour of programming known as BET Un:Cut. The last block of exclusively “underground” and “independent” music on a major basic cable network, its absence has left a booty-shaped hole in the hearts of Hip-Hop and female anatomy aficionados everywhere. Since RapReviews just re:uped the BET UN:CUT SYMPOSIUM PODCAST I did with Adam Bernard two years ago (FREE DOWNLOAD! A MUST HEAR! RING THE ALARM!) I’ve decided to offer a little extra credit with my countdown of the top 10 BET Un:Cut videos of all time.

Be warned, this is the first post in the history of this site I have to declare a state of NSFW in order to do the subject matter justice. Welcome to the land of a thousand asses.

10 ) Lil Jon & the East Side Boys – “Bia Bia”

The original incarnation of BET UN:CUT was to allow the more explicit major label videos that had to be toned down for prime time to air completely unedited. Back in 2001, this was among the show’s first staples. Resembling a David Fincher film, Jon conducts a carnival of urban macabre while controversially wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt. I remember this video being the topic of choice of Ms. Pfeiffer’s sixth period Spanish Class as Amy Johnson would reference it all the time.

9 ) Waxamillion – “No Panties on the Dancefloor”

Sometimes these videos speak for themselves, which is perfect for moments like this were I am at a complete loss for words.

8 ) Crazy Al Cayne – “T&A”

“T&A” is an interesting entry in the Un:Cut canon as it’s among the first fully self-aware videos that aired in the 3-4 AM time-slot. After a string of successful parodies, popular radio personality Crazy Al Cayne decided in 2004 to finally shoot a video for one of his original compositions “T&A.” I remember Cayne himself posting teaser clips of the video for several weeks before it finally aired and having the final product far exceed my seventeen-year-old expectations.

7 ) Murs f/ Shock G & Humpty Hump – “Risky Business”

The heyday of BET Un:Cut occurred simultaneously with that of the modern indie-rap movement, so it’s only natural that the two worlds finally collided. Along with the Dilla-Madlib collaboration “McNasty Filth” shocking a nation of rap-apologist “conscious” coffee house college freshmen, the most successful of all these crossovers was Murs’ “Risky Business.” While Aesop Rock’s “Easy” was the first video from independent powerhouse Definitive Jux getting regular play during the channel’s standard rap video hours, Murs teamed with the Digital Underground frontman to crash parties across all camps and campuses.

6 ) Top Secret – “Dollie”

When I say BET Un:Cut would play a rap video of ANYONE from ANYWHERE regardless of quality, I really really really meant it. Case-in-point, Top Secret’s video for “Dollie,” a tribute to breasts that looks like it was shot on scotch tape through a Game Gear. Following the success of the song, the group attached a disclaimer to the front claiming it was a comedy video. Unfortunately for these Tommy Wiseaus of rap, it’s a notice that would never air.

5 ) TIE – Joker the Bailbondsman f/ Bizzy Bone – “Uh-Huh”

Labtekwon – “Uhnnn Huhnnn”

While I find putting “ties” in Top Ten lists to be cheating most of the time, I just couldn’t justify this as the definitive Un:Cut list without including both of these videos for no other reason than that they share the same name. First, Alaska’s favorite son Joker the Bailbondsman’s follow up to his original Un:Cut classic that has the most obvious use of stock footage in music video history that was propelled by the charisma of the then almost-completely insane Bizzy Bone. This was right when music video censorship started to get extreme, so the catchiness of “money in a ziploc bag” got relegated to after hours enjoyment.

The latter, from Baltimore rapper Labtekwon is another case of local icon striking national exposure through a veritable buffet of ass.

4 ) The Team Uncut – “Time For Freakin”

At the height of my 14-year-old “I only like lyrical rappers” phase, I used to loathe this video for every reason I love it now. I remember playing some Tony Hawk Dreamcast and always pausing to scowl at the TV when I heard that “bau-ba-bau-baup” bassline kick in. Another one of the early staples, it boggles my mind to this day that something this obscenely amateur got national television time several nights a week for five years. From the “I just got this camera, check out the cool stuff I can do”-esqe cleavage zoom-in to the “check out how funny my crazy friend is” edits to the “I really mean it!” facial expressions of the artists to the “BON-GOOOOOOOOS!” there’s an insane level of so-bad-it’s-so- good-it’s-back-to-bad-again-to-back-to-good-to-great at play that in a pre-YouTube world gave us the all exactly what we needed.

3 ) Mighty Casey – “White Girls”

2 ) Black Jesus – “What That Smell Like”

Game got real. If you ever channel-surfed past an episode of Un:Cut, chances are you’ve seen both of these videos. Adam and I go super in-depth on both of these on our Free BET Un:Cut Symposium Podcast (which you should download) so I’ll just add here that when the story of humanity is written and it’s time for the next great species to write the chapter on BET Un:Cut, these will be the two videos given as shining examples of human triumph. Those two and…

1 ) Nelly – “Tip Drill”

Yes folks, chances are the reason you’re reading this right now and the absolute pinnacle of mankind’s achievements can be found at 5:37 and 5:56 when a credit card gets run through a girl’s buttcheeks. I’m sure some of you out there are deconstructing that as some sort of allegory for the Bush Administration or what Hip-Hop went through over the past decade. I don’t care. What I do care about is how at once point there was a programming block set aside to where such things could be aired on television. It was a nightly magical moment during my formative years that to-this-day shapes my perceptions of women and the world around me. Thank you Mom & Dad for bringing me into this world. Thank you BET for bringing this program into my life. Thank you God for the divine touch that made it all come together.

We give BET Un:Cut a Five out of Five.

So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

Female Rappers in 2010: The Reality of “Equality”

March 15, 2010

Academy Award nominee Queen Latifah wants "U.N.I.T.Y."

If stand-up comedians in the 80s taught us one thing, it’s that men never ask for directions. If female rappers in the new millennium have taught us anything, it’s that when it comes to giving women direction, they’re just as scared. As frustrating as airline food, the gender-bias that once plagued the oft-misogenistic genre of rap music has spent the past decade morphing into some mutant subversive institutionalized sexism. What was once a glass ceiling has become a glass cage with female rappers going from being seen as novelty acts to just being novelties. An overcorrection-caused car accident of post-Rawkus guilt, the present result is ladies’ night becoming the one evening Hip-Hop goes to bed early.

For all the heat the likes of Lil Kim and Foxy Brown have caught in recent years, it’s seldom mentioned that they were both parts of some pretty incredible songs. Such revisionist history, downplaying the importance of the actual music in favor of an unspoken morality, has been the catalyst for the lessened role of female rappers today. 15 years ago the dominant female voice in Hip-Hop was an overtly sexual one. While it did clear a path for women in the industry and could be deconstructed as a feminist equal-rights endeavor as women were freely able to express sexuality as much as men were, it suffered a backlash in the late-90s and that backlash is why there’s so few good female rappers today. Sexuality suddenly became a negative and women who even slightly differed from this path (involuntarily lead by Missy Elliot) became seen as “positive” without really expressing any positivity, just an absence of a “negative influence.”

More than anything, this forced female rappers to (more than any other group) have their “message” become most important and the actual act of rapping/making good rap songs took a backseat. Suddenly any female who wasn’t rhyming about sexual conquests and reached mere adequacy over a beat became heralded as a “Great FEMALE Rapper.” It’s a double standard that has been detrimental to this day. Look at a tremendous talent like Jean Grae who balanced doing disturbingly well crafted social issue songs like “Taco Day” alongside female-masturbation tales like “Hands On Experience” and was both critically respected as well as commercially viable and versatile enough to be the one to carve the dope modern female rapper niche in the marketplace herself and tragically got pigeonholed by an audience and industry that wanted her to just be a female Talib Kweli. It’s a man’s bland world.

The giggity-gender bias of siggity-sexism has to stiggity-stop!

To better maintain estrogen levels, rappers need to think globally and act locally. I’ve spent time at many Hip-Hop open mics around the country and have noticed a disturbing trend amongst the reactions to female participants. If a female rapper is completely awful, she’s met with a polite golf clap and the night moves on. If she comes back at the next installment and is just *slightly* better, she’s then showered with praise as if she’s finally got *it*. This hinders the creative process and artistic progress as the female rapper in question now believes she has perfected her craft. This results in her output’s quality plateauing and then opens the door for her to put on any gaggle of female friends of equal or lesser ability to be embraced in the same way. Now the prospects of ulterior motives from male observers come into play and the circle-of-dishonestly spins again.

There was an article that came out two summers ago about “why are there no female rappers at Soundset” or any number of (their words) “supposedly progressive underground hip-hop festivals” and the answer straight up is because THEY’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH. The reason they’re NOT good enough is because they’ve been told they were good enough for a long while now and nobody wants to tell them different. I’ve long believed that most underground rappers whether male or female are just a few honest friends away from making some incredible music, but while most criticism of males is written off as “haters,” females tend to have others preemptively writing off these critiques with an ingrained belief that “female rappers come under more fire” (they don’t) and now even the most novice of Gyno-American* steps to the mic with an unwarranted feeling of entitlement.

How many of you thought this group only existed as a Chris Rock punchline on the SNL "I'm Chillin'" sketch?

The best female rappers of all time (such as MC Lyte and Rah Digga, both of which I’m a long time devotee) are the ones who came up in the hardest of all-male environments and crafted their personalities to be more than either “the girl who has sex” or “the girl who doesn’t have sex because she’s too busy reading books or something.” It’s staggering how many she-rappers right now think bragging about themselves having a flat-chest or any semblance of sexual standards somehow makes them more Hip-Hop than thou. All this does is further enforce stereotypes by suggesting in order to be an exception to the rule one has to be the complete opposite. It’s a self-defeating mindset that attempts to craft an identity based on who someone isn’t rather than who they are. That being said, there are a growing number of female rappers now in NYC, New Orleans, Minneapolis etc. who seem to know the difference between “a great female rapper” and “a great rapper” and are striving for the latter. It’s a trend I hope continues to the point where its no longer a trend and a rapper’s gender becomes less of a definition and more of a dynamic.

I’d like to take a sec to say this jam here is dedicated to some of my favorites –



So until next time…Let’s Agree to Agree!

*A term I’m using for readers who believe the fairer sex is more than a “man” or “male” with two extra letters.