Decorated with the chandeliers of sexism, prejudice and mediocrity, women in hip-hop have long been victim to a glass ceiling within the music industry. Historically, the sexual exploitation of women’s bodies has overshadowed and minimized their work as artists, reducing them to sex symbols with the ability to rhyme. Sex sells and women have paid the price.
Fortunately, Princess Nokia has arrived with a sledgehammer in one hand and patriarchy in the other. Taking a swing at the glass ceiling that has long hindered the success of many female rappers, Nokia is one of the industry’s few MCs whose music reflects her feminist ideals.
Born Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, Nokia is an Afro-Nuyorican (a descendent of the Puerto Rican diaspora raised or living in New York City). Her diverse and unapologetic background is reflected throughout her self-released EP 1992. In her single Brujas she raps:
I’m that Black a-Rican bruja straight out from the Yoruba
And my ancestors Nigerian, my grandmas was brujas
And I come from an island and it’s called Puerto Rico
And it’s one of the smallest but it got the most people
A champion for the acceptance of women’s bodies, Nokia uses tracks like Tomboy to celebrate her “lil titties” and “phat belly” and single Young Girls to remind us that young women are “patrons of the Earth” that “need their own respect.” Music plays a significant and cultural role in our lives, easily influencing the youth. Using her platform to exercise her intersectional feminist stance, Nokia is making serious waves within the music industry serving as a role model to marginalized adolescents.
She acknowledges the micro-aggressions women of color have become victim to in regards to their hair on her single Mine. She sends a reminder to her listeners in the song’s outro:
Please do not ask me or any Black or Brown women if our hair is real or not
If it’s a wig, a weave, extensions, braids, don’t fuckin ask
It’s very rude, it’s extremely personal to be put on the spot like that
How we choose to wear our hair is our personal choice, ok?
We bought it, it’s ours, so have some manners and keep your curiosity to yourself
“Harlem live in my veins, I swear to god, I was born a fuck up”
In an industry obsessed with image, Princess Nokia’s authenticity is what leaves her unparalleled. Losing her mother at a young age, and escaping a broken foster care system at 16-years-old, Nokia is undeniably the personification of the “rose that grew from the concrete” cliché.
In a society where women are seen as inferior, Princess Nokia is rewriting this false narrative through the celebration of womanhood, individuality and acceptance.
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