Gender and sexuality are two intertwined concepts, with a thin difference being in the social construction of each. The identification with the roles the society allocates depending on one's sex amounts to gender while sexuality is the ability to identify with one specific sex. The dichotomy in the gender roles and appreciation of sexual differences in the society has resulted to a high level of stratification based on gender. This is the case in the history of Grime music in London which began in the early 21st century. Grime music is a characteristic of electric music consisting of UK garage and jungle. It traces its history from the aspects of raga, hip-hop, and dancehall. The music entails intense and aggressive rap amid jagged electric sound. The common theme in this music is the celebration of gritty urban life. Due to its violent nature and aggressiveness, the culture of Grime locks out many women. Some commentators have defined it as a music of "boasting macho idiot rappers" (Camille, 2018 web). In early 2000, women put efforts to get inclusion in the rapping industry but it almost ended up in futility. The music society celebrates the pioneers of grime with blind eyes turned on the females who formed parts of the composition. For instance, it is easy for one to hear the acknowledgment of artists like Wiley, Chip, Kano and Dizzee Rascal. However, the women who put more than equal efforts to shine in the grime industry like Shystie, NoLay and Lioness are nowhere on the scene today. This brings us to a very important concept of identity as the society constructs it.
Hall's work of identity and Grime music.
The concept identity is wide, given that it varies depending on the societal definitions and standards. Different sociological theories underscore the role of outside sources that work to determine the identity of an individual. Symbolic Interaction Theory, for instance, argues that identity is a function self-concept and the societal judgment. This means that one cannot have a proper identity of self devoid of the consideration of what the society as to take. The concept is similar to the 'Looking Glass Self' theory of G. H Cooley (Hall & Du Gay, 1996 p275). Cooley argued that as we look at ourselves, we imagine how the others think of us. The feedback we get from these people help us to develop either a negative self-concept or a positive self-concept. Unfortunately, the society has 'weird' ways of judging people. Sex is one such characteristic that determines whether the society will respect one or not. It is also through sex that the society also forms the gender roles. The lack of appreciation of women in grime music is a clear signal that by the beginning of the 21st century, both the west and Europe were not yet ready to accept women for what they were.
The dissatisfaction of women in the grime industry traces from the historical factors around the founding of the music itself. During the early 21st century, the world was witnessing a series of economic doldrums that landed heavily on youths and women alike. It was also the time that saw the then Prime Minister Tony Blair with his Lobar Party in office (Wolfson, 2017, p1). Stereotyping against young women and gentlemen was at its all-time high, with the young men labeled as knife-wielding criminals. There was lack of opportunities due to disillusionment and institutionalization of inequality (Rymajo, &Groutm, 2016, p1). Grime music hence found a good breeding ground for sprouting. The music became the only way through which the dissatisfied people could let out their resentment.
A London- based grime artiste and a songwriter, Simbi Ajikawo gives her encounter. Her career in music began at a tender age, making her first album. However, her work could not even feature in the top 100. She had a hardcore fan base yet nobody paid attention to her music other than the fans. Her confession was that there are some male grime producers in Britain like Gigs and Skepta who have been in the industry for almost a decade yet there are boys who come from nowhere and bypass them in the market (Obbo, 2016, p1). Ajikawo admits that she is connected to her songs and instruments, her music is good.
Grime women today and the black women.
In the recent decade, the world is witnessing a paradigm shift in the appreciation of women in grime music. According to (Jones, 2017 p51), there is a mainstream in the current grime characterized by rising female stars in Europe and the West equally. Women in grime are already getting their cut with MCs like Amplify Dot and Dynamite already occupy high ranking positions in the industry. Little Simz Nadia Rose and Lady Leshurr already going beyond those who spit the bars.
A few women have risen to fame as some of the best TV anchors and MCs in the UK today. In the Scoundrel's 'You'll be dead b4 grime is," we already see the featuring of a female artist Sasha Keable (Camille, 2018 web). Among other prominent UK musician and hosts is Julie Adenunga who anchors Beats 1 and Sian Anderson who is a grime DJ. She hosts the coveted show known as "Grime Time" in Radio 1 extra. Other female figures who are doing well in the industry include DJ Rebecca Judd and Madam X. This happens so, not forgetting that there are many more women who are stars at radio productions that are related to consumption of grime music. It is important to appreciate that this is the decade that the efforts of women in grime music are receiving the highest attention in the history of entertainment. In other related news, grime journalism mostly consists if women. For instance, Hattie Collins, who is a music journalist, does her production alongside another female photographer called Olivia Rose. This has served to bring women in grime before the camera for the world to appreciate.
The fascinating occurrence, however, is that up to this decade, there is still parity in the appreciation of black women and the white women. In all these records, the number of women who are making landmarks in grime music is still a fad. A comment from Wardah Sempa, an editor at Link Up TV once stated that;
"We can all see that a lot of the female managers are white, a lot of the editors are white," she says. "You rarely see a black woman managing an artist in the UK in the urban industry - but when you do, it's amazing. I feel like, this year, women are killing things, especially women of color. It's going the right way. Nothing is going to happen overnight" (The Guardian, 2018 web).
This statement indicates how the black women still have a long way to go to achieve the full realization of their dreams. To make the matters worse, there are concerns that the bleak future of women in the grime industry is as a result of the deliberate efforts by the male MCs and journalists to sideline the black women during the shows. Specifically, the complaint is that the black female journalist cannot afford professional access to someplace like their white female counterparts. A comment from a black female journalist who sought unanimity stated that "Grime is built more like an aristocracy than a nation. That's why they cut out black women" (theguradian.com, web). This is worrying trend because the indication is that there is systematic racial segregation accompanied by sexism.
According to Hall & Du Gay (1996, p275), identity is not a characteristic that is static and formed from biology. It is a movable aspect that only depends on history. It stays with us for as long as we exist. As such, the current stalemate in the grime music society is not a naturalistic problem but, a creation of human beings who are the main players. As noted above, the commentaries by some of those who testified clearly indicate that some busybodies within the industry are working hard to ensure that the female black musicians do not succeed. Hall insists that our identities can shift about depending on the dominant circumstances. This is, indeed, true given that at some point during the early 21st century, not a single woman made headlines in grime music. However, the reality has changed such that today, many women are music journalists DJs, and even show hosts. This is the effect of what Hall calls a contradictory identity. It is an identity that keeps shifting from time to time.
Globalization is playing a major role in shaping the identities in the current century. This is the kind of change that characterizes the late modernity. The late modernity allowed female artists to shine in music but, with segregation of black women. For the women of black skin to fully immerse themselves in Grime music, they need to engage in social revolution as Marx suggested (Steger & Carver, 1999 p25). A social revolution that is uninterrupted can easily trigger a social change that is long lasting. The rationale is that the new ideologies override the old obsolete ones which then disappear before they ossify.
The celebration of grime music in the UK is a matter to reckon with given its position in the definition of identity. In the wake of racial and sexual activism of the 21st century, the UK was wallowing in the hangovers of sexism as depicted in the way they treated female artists of grime music. However, in the last decade, there have been a number of women who record success in grime music industry. As this takes place, there is still a problem of identity as the black women still cannot afford the similar reception that the white counterparts are receiving. The foregoing confirms structural functionalist theorists who argue that the society has a significant role in shaping one's identity (Kingsbury & Scanzoni 2009 p198). According to Marx's ideology, the society can only change this if the oppressed wake up and resist the dominant oppressive ideology before the ideology becomes strong.
Camille, C. (2018). Women in Grime: More than MCs. [online] LAPP The Brand . Available at: https://lappthebrand.com/2018/01/women-grime-mcs/ [Accessed 9 Feb. 2018].
Hall, S. and Du Gay, P. eds., 1996. Questions of Cultural Identity: SAGE Publications. Sage.
Jones, R.E., 2017. Music, politics and identity: from Cool Britannia to Grime4Corbyn. Soundings, 67(67), pp.50-61.
Kingsbury, N. and Scanzoni, J., 2009. Structural-functionalism. In Sourcebook of family theories and methods (pp. 195-221). Springer, Boston, MA.
Rymajo, R., &Groutm, V. 2016. The women who shape grime. Accessed on 4th December 2017. Retrieved from http://mixmag.net/feature/the-women-who-shape-grimeSteger, M.B. and Carver, T. eds., 1999. Engels After Marx. Manchester University Press.
The Guardian. (2018). Why black women are still a minority in the grime scene. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2018/feb/09/black-women-still-minority-grime-scene [Accessed 9 Feb. 2018].
Wolfson, S. 2017. Rap and the gender gap: why are female MCs still not being heard? Accessed on 4th December 2017. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/09/rap-gender-gap-why-are-female-mcs-still-not-being-heard
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