Brenna Grey Mickey

@BrennaMickey

Trap music, feminism and technology.

I‘ll start with a confession: dirty rap music is my guilty pleasure. If you know me at all, this shouldn’t be a surprise. The more overtly sexual, bass-thumping and repetitive the better. Sometimes my taste in hip hop is so overly sexualized that I hope no one can hear it through my headphones.

Damn shorty look good 
and I’m thinkin bout gettin’ at her
Okay, time to whistle at her
Aye girl you make my whistle blow
There It Go (Whistle Song), Juelz Santana, 2005

No matter the occasion, I always go for my “Decade of Hype” playlist on Spotify. It’s a curated list of about 150 of my all time favorite songs, dating back to the early 2000's. Fact: I’m shamelessly begging everyone I know to accompany me to a Lil Wayne and Rae Sremmurd concert on a Wednesday night.

I work and forever try, but I’m cursed so never mind
And it’s worse but better times seem further and beyond
The top gets higher, the more that I climb
The spot gets smaller and I get bigger
Trying to get in where I fit in

Drop the World, Lil Wayne ft. Eminem, 2010

Now that I have introduced you to that layer of my onion, this is where I start to sound like a walking contradiction. Anyone who knows me also knows that I am one of those people who identified with being a feminist. I’ll admit, I was kind of bred for it, attending an all-women’s college for undergrad. Welcome to my internal battle of being a human rights activist in the streets and lover of trap music in the sheets.

Looking at me like it’s my fault
Trying take sneak pictures with their iPhone
I like independent b*tches like July 4th
Now that’s what young Harriet died for
I’m the shit with no makeup, don’t have to curl my hair up
All this booty here, mine, I’m a dollar worth a dime
Real bosses stand up, ladies throw your hands up and say
I know I’m cute I know I’m fly. You ask me why? Cause I’m the sh*t!
I’m Legit, Nicki Minaj, 2012

Confessions of a Bad Feminist” by Roxanne Gay is one of my favorite Ted Talks. Like myself she identifies with this F-word (feminist) and also comes clean about enjoying “thuggish-rap music” at a very loud volume on her way to work. “As a feminist, I feel a lot of pressure. We have this tendency to put visible feminists on a pedestal. We expect them to pose perfectly. When they disappoint us, we gleefully knock them from the very pedestal we put them on. Like I said, I am a mess — consider me knocked off that pedestal before you ever try to put me up there.” Preach. While my preference of this genre of music is strong, my ability to defend it is weak. To my core, it goes against everything I stand for admitting I love a genre of music that can be the most misogynistic types of music out there.

You love her, then you gotta give the world to her
Is that a world tour or your girl’s tour?
I know that you gotta be a thug for her
This ain’t what she meant when she told you to open up more
Yeah, trigger fingers turn to twitter fingers

Back to Back, Drake, 2015

Fortunately there are ladies that are breaking in to this male dominated field. Some might say Nicki Minaj is currently carrying her boyfriend’s (who is also a rapper) career on her back. “In Beam Me Up Scotty , she calls herself the “baddest underground since Harriet Tub.” Harriet Tubman was a pioneer in civil rights, while Nicki can be considered a pioneer in rap as virtually the only female rapper to have achieved such a high degree of mainstream success” says the website Rap.Genuis.com.

Only way to roll, 
Jigga and two ladies, 
I’m too cold, 
Motorola two-way page me.

I Just Want to Love You (Give it to me), Jay Z, 2001

Fifteen years ago, pre-Beyoncé Jay Z was rapping about the best way to contact him while he wasn’t at home, and that was to two-way page him. I want to redirect the conversation to how dated a two-way pager sounds. While I can only moderately defend my love for hip hop while wobbling back and forth on my feminist pedestal, I feel like I can make some observations unrelated to gender equality and more focused towards the constantly changing information technology world.

In 2001, having a two-way pager was considered the most cutting edge technology, I mean even Jay Z had one. And why was this the newest and greatest piece of communication technology? Because it had evolved from the pager that you would actually just call, send your number to, and hope the recipient would call you back from a land line somewhere.

Pimpin’ here’s a new way to flirt, 
listen to the two way alert

Holla Back, Fabolous, 2002

These two-way pagers were expensive, had SMS limits and no photo capabilities. Having them connect to the internet, 4G or wifi, wasn’t even a consideration. Fabalous taught me two things: 1. the wrong way to spell fabulous and 2. what communication device I should beg my parents to pay for so I could send messages to my crush (as a sophomore in high school). Don’t worry, I never got one. My first piece of personal communication technology was a Nokia 5110, equip with Snake and the ability to change the face plate. I’ve always been tuned in to movies or television’s usage of technology and how quickly you can label what decade a production was made based solely on the integration and use of technology. I remember watching reruns of Saved by the Bell and thinking Zach Morris’ phone looked like something from the stone age.

[G:] Hello?
[2:] Hello? Who is this?
[G:] Is this TuPac?
[2:] This is who?
[G:] Is this TuPac?
[2:] Yeah, it’s TuPac. Who is this?

What’z Ya Phone Number, Tupac, 1996

So what about music? How does technology automatically date songs by dropping the names of the newest and hottest devices or software? Tupac called a girl he was trying to hook up with and she didn’t even know that it was Tupac calling her?! In 2005, according to R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet series, people were still picking up their cell phones without being one-hundred percent sure about who was on the other end, then calling the landline phone where on the other end the person answering had no idea of who was calling them.

B*tch I’ve been hot since flip phones
Running this game for 5 years
Guess that’s why my feet hurt
No Flex Zone Remix, Nicki Minaj (Original by Rae Sremmurd), 2015

Last year, Nicki Minaj claimed to have been running the rap game since flip phones were relevant, which puts us at 2010. That year, I was a senior at that previously mentioned all-women’s college. I had one of the older versions of a Blackberry, older than all of my friends, but I still was a member of that elite group that got to BBM (Blackberry Message, the former iMessage).

Trust me this information is vital
I’m trying to take the high road
I still got love for my idols
I got me a deal with Apple and I still feel entitled
Charged Up, Drake, 2015

How quickly we forget that the first iPhone wasn’t even released until 2008, and was only available by purchasing the phone for $599 and signing up for a 2-year contract with AT&T. Apple then casually sold one million iPhone five days later, or 74 days after the release, paving the path to an almost total industry take over. Twelve years later, in 2015, Drake’s first diss towards Meek Charged Up used a fully charged iPhone as its cover, software from Apple, the same corporation that signed him to a collaborative deal in the spring.

But this isn’t going to turn into one of those posts on how Apple changed the game. Trust me, as a web designer living in a developing country when the first generation of an iPad was released and Instagram was founded, I understand the struggle of trying to keep up with latest trends and devices. It’s quite literally part of my job to make sure websites and applications look good no matter what the screen size. For all of you who are numbers driven, the average screen size for a Blackberry in 2010 was 360 x 400 pixels. Currently, the iPhone 6, is 1080 x 1920 pixels (5.5 inches). Only five years later, the industry standard screen size has nearly tripled.

And I know she’ll be the death of me, at least we’ll both be numb
And she’ll always get the best of me, the worst is yet to come
All the misery was necessary when we’re deep in love
I Can’t Feel My Face, The Weeknd, 2015

With 2015 recently coming to a close, it was said to have been the year of Hip Hop bridging the gap to more mainstream listeners. Rappers like Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd and Fetty Wap are said to appeal to larger audiences and belong into a category that has been coined as genre bending hip hop. The Weeknd is so good at it, that he has found a way to make a Billboard chart topper sound like a rocky relationship with a girlfriend when it’s really about him being borderline addicted to a drug. Personally, I liked The Weeknd before his radio days, but what do I know?

W-H-I-T, it’s getting late mami, your screen saver say tweet
So you got to call me, and bring a friend for my friend
His name Kweli (You mean Talib, lyric sticks to your rib)
I mean (That’s my favorite CD that I play at my crib)
I mean (You don’t really know him, why is you lying)

Get Em High, Kanye, 2004

With Twitter and Instagram being two of the most popular forms of online communication in 2015, it’s only to be expected that these platforms start appearing in lyrics. Especially since these types of communication have made connecting with your favorite celebrity more of a reality. We went from wanting autographs if we ran into a celeb, now we aim to get a selfie together or a retweet. I can almost say with out a doubt that this wasn’t Kanye’s intention in 2008 when he referred to a “tweet” in Get Em High, two years after Twitter was founded.

Don’t you hate when you get screenshot? (petty)
B*tch that DM wasn’t for everybody (rules
I love the gram I love the gram
I’m addicted to it, I know I am
It Goes Down in the DM, Yo Gotti 2015

Now, Twitter has become so integrated in some songs that the entire track is based around the software. Whether Yo Gotti is talking about his fans direct messaging him or not it’s up to your interpretation. He dedicates an entire song to something cryptic, but also extremely awesome, going down in his Twitter and/or Instagram direct messages. All I ever get on Twitter in my inbox is spam.

F*ck hashtags and retweets, n*gga
140 characters in these streets, n*gga
Jay Z, Tom Ford, 2013

At this point I have the same unfulfilled feeling that I did after binge watching Netflix’s Making a Murder. I don’t quite have an answer or a conclusion about whether or not Steven Avery is guilty or why I prefer music that directly targets women as one-dimensional sex objects. Ideally feminism is about having the same range of opportunity and choice regardless of gender. I can also choose to listen to trap music and that shouldn’t make me less of a feminist. Just like my friend Eric can chose to be a ballerina and that doesn’t make him any less of a man. I saw a trending hashtag this weekend on Twitter, #IfTwitterWasntaThing. Well, soon it won’t be and neither will hashtags. It’s only a matter of time before Twitter becomes as irrelevant as MySpace which automatically dates another Jay Z classic. Whether it’s women or technology, my man Jay said it best, I’m on to the next one.

No I’m not a virgin, I use my cojones
I move onward, the only direction
Can’t be scared to fail in the search of perfection
Gotta keep it fresh girl, even when we sexin
But don’t be mad at him when it’s on to the next one
I’m on to the next one
On to the next
I’m on to the next one

Jay Z, On To The Next One, 2009
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