Being a woman who enjoys (okay, adores) pop culture means that I have to ask myself a lot of tough questions. Like, should I be offended by Katy Perry’s boobs? And should I be offended by Katy Perry’s songs? And how do I feel about Katy Perry?? But also some things that aren’t related to Katy Perry, like: Should I be listening to Lil Wayne?
I don’t pretend to know much about hip hop. I’m a little white girl from the country who grew up listening to Reba McEntire. But I do love hip hop, because I have ears and I enjoy things that sound good. I only really started listening to Lil Wayne because of my deep, undying, slightly creepy love of Drake. As you probably know, Lil Wayne and Drake are best bros and guest on each others songs a lot. So kind of accidentally, I ended up listening to Lil Wayne and loving him. I mean, there’s a reason why he’s so popular. He’s funny, he’s clever, and he’s talented. But he also consistently refers to women as bitches and hoes (not to sound like the punch line to a joke told by your grandfather) and makes sexual references that sometimes border on the violent (and are, almost certainly, misogynistic). Whereas Drake’s music is often talking to women and never makes me feel like an other, there’s never any question that Lil Wayne is making his music for men. I mean, I love this song, and I really love this song, but my God. Like, I get it. Lil Wayne has sex with women he does not love and then he leaves them even though they want him to stay. I’ve got the message. She Will, which is notable because DRAKE, is insanely quoteable (I am constantly thinking to myself, “I tried to pay attention but attention paid me”), but Lil Wayne says things I would not even be comfortable quoting here.
And then there’s How to Love, which might as well be titled, “This One’s For the Ladies.” It includes lyrics like:
When you was just a young’un your looks were so precious
But now you’re grown up
So fly it’s like a blessing but you can’t have a man look at you for 5 seconds
Without you being insecure
You never credit yourself so when you got older
It seems like you came back 10 times over
Now you’re sitting here in this damn corner
Looking through all your thoughts and looking over your shoulder
See you had a lot of crooks tryna steal your heart
Never really had luck, couldn’t never figure out
How to love
Well, that sounds nice! I’ve been listening to this song all summer and I imagined this backstory for the song where Lil Wayne knew this girl when he was a kid (maybe like a family friend?), and then she grew up and got really pretty, and also maybe she went to college and traveled abroad (“had a lot of dreams that transformed into visions/the fact that you saw the world affected all your decisions”) and now Lil Wayne is just realizing how great she is! That is totally a song that Lil Wayne would record! Except no it isn’t, Kerry. Get real.
This (honestly kind of disturbing video) tells a weird story that’s pretty at odds with everything else Lil Wayne’s ever said or sung. A woman has a baby and brings her up in an abusive household. As a result, her male role model is in prison, it’s implied she’s sexually abused, she ends up wearing ripped fishnets and making out with a dude on some steps, which results in kids, which results in stripping, which results in prostitution, which results in HIV. Yes, HIV.
On the flip side is the other outcome of this situation, where the (original) mother removes herself and the baby from abuse, the girl grows up to get some great bangs, does well in school, wears glasses and talks to a dude on some steps, which results in cosmetology school, which results in graduation, which results in pregnancy, which I guess is a good thing because everyone seems happy about it and anyway it’s certainly better than HIV.
This all seems okay, until you think about everything that Lil Wayne represents. As H. pointed out to me, this video shows that Lil Wayne clearly understands that, for many women, stripping is a career choice forced on them by severe economic hardship and socioeconomic inequality, as well as deep-rooted sexual dysfunction. And yet Lil Wayne is known for dropping huge loads of cash on strippers. Maybe Lil Wayne is going to some sort of magical strip club where all of the women there love expressing their sexuality through stripping, because I guess those theoretically exist (maybe?), but probably it is more of a situation like this.
In Wayne’s World (joke alert), men hold no responsibility for bringing up their daughters or being good role models. It is the mother’s responsibility to get her daughter away from abuse; where is the video telling men not to abuse their wives, or daughters (or, for that matter, any woman, including strippers)? In this world, women have to make all the decisions and ultimately take all of the blame for everything that goes wrong, be that abuse, pregnancy, or HIV.
So I guess Wayne’s World is the same as real life. Good to know.
I’ve been organizing my thoughts for a post on why I think Drake is a feminist and why he’s, by far, my favorite rapper. Stay tuned for that if I can ever get my shit together. I’m probably not going to stop listening to Lil Wayne because I still watch Roman Polanski movies and look at that scumbag, but at the very least I’d like to focus more of my attention on female-positive rappers.