No Type: Trap Feminism Pt. 2 by Sesali Bowen, at Feministing 9:00 am / 24 October 2014
I’ve been thinking a lot about trap feminism and what it means since I first wrote about it in January. In this introductory piece — which was mostly a purge of initial ideas that I had been bouncing back and forth with friends — I identified some of the makings of trap feminism which included an acknowledgement of women as participants and contributors to hip hop and trap music, active agents over their sexuality and bodies, and conscious players in informal/non-institutional financial transactions. Reflecting back now, trap feminism can be applied much more broadly. Today I find myself thinking about trap feminism as a tool used to identify liberating themes in trap music and facets of it’s surrounding cultures. As a means for critical feminist engagement, it is important to understand that there aren’t any perfect examples. (It’s worth noting that I haven’t exactly found any perfect examples of feminist texts either. *sips tea*) More importantly, as mentioned in the first piece, it is a great opportunity to challenge the idea that trap music and culture are uniformly anti-feminist/oppressive.
One new track that I’ve been doing some internal theorizing about has been Rae Sremmurd’s “No Type.” This fall banger, produced by Mike Will Made-It is currently making it’s way up Billboard charts. The central line of the song, accentuated by a perfect base drop is: “Ion got no type. Bad bitches is the only thing that I like.” In contrast to tracks like 5 Star Bitch, which uptake the task of defining an ideal woman to the tee, Rae Sremmurd is rejecting a subscription to any one kind of woman. While I don’t think they are producing materials for a body positivity campaign, they are creating a space to broaden personal standards of beauty and attractiveness within trap culture. As someone who has done the hip hop feminist work of perverting and redefining the term “bad bitch” — mainly expanding the terms meaning beyond the parameters of physical aesthetic — I can’t help but identify this track as an affirmation.
Beyond physical dating and sex, the track includes some lines like “I make my own money so I spend it how I like. I’m just living life, and let my mama tell it, n***a I aint livin right” and “Keep your 2 cents. Take your own advice. I’m just living life. Like I live twice.” The two members of the the group Rae Sremmurd, are brothers aged 19 and 20. They represent a demographic of young adults who are able to make decisions on behalf of their own lives, but are still susceptible to ageist disenfranchisement and unwanted parental intervention. In this context, these lyrics can be seen as resistance to such power relations. If we were to apply a thesis to this track, it would be: I’m doing my own thing — which includes using my own measure of attractiveness selecting partners, using my purchasing power as I see fit, and engaging in whatever leisure activities I choose and am able to pursue– and I need you to respect that.
Along similar lines, popular Memphis rapper Yo Gotti urges a different kind of individuality in his new track “Errbody” (the visuals for which address the appropriation of Black culture by white people).
“Everybody getting money.
Everybody say they from the hood.
Everybody real. But they not boy
Every chick say that she a bad bitch.
Everybody on Instagram looking like they mad rich.
But they not.
Everybody say they started from the bottom now they at the top“
This song address the false projection of wealth and status. He even tackles the issue of barsexuals. Here, Gotti joins Rae Sremmurd in a rejection of homogeny for those who participate in hip hop and trap culture. Both of these songs are laced with trap feminist themes in the broader sense of the term. It speaks to youthful nature of trap culture (Migos refers to it as a “young n***a lifestyle”), in addition to its capacity to resist (and simultaneously set) social trends, and resist opposition and oppression. This, in addition to a critical eye on the role of women and the femininity, are strong pieces of trap feminism.
Sesali imagines her conversations about trap feminism playing out like any good trap artist’s mixtapes. You can expect a part 3, 4, 5, etc.