This month for Poetry 365 we’re featuring the unforgettable second collection from Chinaka Hodge. In Dated Emcees, the Oakland-based poet, playwright, and Youth Speaks educator examines her own life through the lens of hip-hop and ’90s East Bay culture. Mixing humor and tragedy with sharp insights into systemic racism, anger, and violence, Dated Emcees was described by Dave Eggers as “an absolute powerhouse of a book… [that] deserves a wide audience, an attentive audience, an audience that wants to be astounded.” So check out this gem of a collection, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.
It’s always interesting for me to be both a hip hop enthusiast and a feminist. For obvious reasons, the two may seem totally incompatible, as much of hip hop carries some of the most noticeable expressions of sexism in music. However, there is no reason why one cannot appreciate a particular form of art while also lending it a critical eye. Hip hop, like all forms of art, is a product of its cultural and historical backdrop and is far from the only artistic genre that carries with it — often very explicitly — the sexism that is still a pervasive problem in society today. If you were to reject hip hop altogether solely on the grounds of its sexism, you might as well reject the majority of other forms of music, and some of the best known works of literature and philosophy, and most movies and TV shows, and…and — you get the point.
As the highly celebrated rapper Tupac Shakur (usually referred to as simply Tupac) was recently brought up on the blog, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on Tupac’s brief and anomalous expression of feminist values. Though the rapper generally perpetuated the sexism that is pervasive in hip hop, two Tupac songs had strong feminist messages — an interesting and unique aspect of a rapper from Tupac’s background and genre.