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Detroit is returning the feminine principle to hip hop

Ambiance interviews DSSense. STEVE FURAY PHOTO

Ambiance interviews DSSense. STEVE FURAY PHOTO

By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Given the enormous catalogue of violent street stories and misogynist lyrics currently flooding the radio and video airwaves, any casual listener would believe that hip hop as a culture is limited to masculine bravado and female sexualization.

However, a new wave of Detroit artists and activists are challenging this stigma upon hip hop culture. In honoring feminine principles, those timeless qualities of individuals and societies that help define greatness, another narrative can be found.

Love, compassion, patience, nurturing, intuition, beauty, wisdom — these are just some of the graceful qualities of the feminine that need to be restored, and many artists and community builders in Detroit know that hip hop can be a forum to initiate a necessary social healing.

On May 14, 5e Gallery’s The Foundation, a weekly celebration of women in hip hop, celebrated its four-year anniversary at Tangent Gallery with a lineup of many of the cities most talented women in hip hop. The event was the perfect forum for a discussion about ways to help return feminine qualities to the communities.

Featured performers that evening included jessica Care moore, Invincible, Mae Day, Lola Valley, Mahogany Jones, Insite The Riot, DSSense and ‘Nique Love Rhodes, but it was the conscientious dialogue that gave true life to the event.

“Women in general,” said ‘NiqueLoveRhodes, “be comfortable in who you are and use your voice to do something positive and powerful that’s going to impact your community and the people who hear what you have to say.”

Hip hop as a culture was developed by the founders, including Universal Zulu Nation’s Afrika Bambaataa, as a tool for developing the spirit and consciousness of people. An urban alternative to the conditions of poverty and despair that act as a plague in our modern cities. Many believe these are the qualities of the culture that got lost as corporate-backed rap music turned materialistic.

“If parents knew what real hip hop was, I feel like they would be more involved with their children,” said B-girl MaMa, a dancer, educator and member of the Hardcore Detroit dance crew.

Materialism is a direct symptom of a condition of being out of touch with those core qualities that make up the feminine principle. Women become objectified, and men lose value for the families and the community. Children are left without positive role models in their development.

“It really goes back to that feminine presence,” said Insite The Riot, “and just that nurturing consciousness in hip hop that I think is missing commercially.”

Commercial rap music currently relies heavily on a formula. The lead artist exhibits a story of their own of redemption from poverty and struggle to gain material wealth through their own hustle, whether through illegal activities or through the music business itself. The emphasis is on the individual male, mostly ignoring the support of the women who back them.

“We must appreciate that the feminine principle is the manifesting principle,” said Bryce, a male hip hop artist and supporter of 5e Gallery’s The Foundation. “Everything comes through the feminine, so for us to be honoring the feminine, it’s only right for us to be able to get back to the fundamentals of hip hop culture. The fundamental principles of hip hop culture being community building.”

In order to return hip hop to the feminine principle, the current architects of the culture — like this new wave of artists in Detroit — must work as diligently as possible to spread the message. That means creating their own outlets through the media, live performances and educational forums to deliver these concepts.

“Hopefully, there will be more women that are a little more industrious and that they aren’t waiting for radio to create an image that they should follow, the stencil that they should trace,” said DSSense, who is considered one of the best of the city’s current roster of rap artists. “And hopefully, more of the underground is coming to the forefront and becoming more mainstream with our images, with our subject matter. Hopefully, it’s progressing to a more positive, a more aggressive, if need be, style from the ladies.”

The return of this feminine grace to hip hop culture is proving to be in the best interest of all who are invested in seeing the arts grow, men and women alike. Hip hop is now a main ingredient in so many aspects of society, from arts to education to community activism, that the new leaders need to set the best example for future generations.

“We need to be responsible, take responsibility people,” said Bgirl MaMa. “Don’t sit back and think somebody else is going to tell them what’s real and what’s not, it’s up to us, it’s up to you, it’s up to everyone to be sure they’re responsible.”

5e Gallery’s The Foundation will now be held every Tuesday evening at The Untitled Bottega, located at 314 E. Baltimore, doors at 9 p.m. and cover is $10.

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