Hip-Hop Ought to Take A Few Notes From Sesali Bowen

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I Run This is a weekly interview collection that highlights Black ladies and femmes who do dope shit in leisure and tradition whereas creating visibility, entry and empowerment for individuals who seem like them. Learn my WeezyWTF interview here.

You most likely know Sesali Bowen for her TikToks breaking down who every rap woman makes music for. Otherwise you may know her for coining “entice feminism” and writing her debut ebook on the time period. If not, then certainly you recognize her for her moniker and social media deal with that sums up the intersections she proudly sits at, Bad Fat Black Girl.

She’s breaking floor for the way in which media covers Black femmes and queer artists in hip-hop. And along with her podcast “Purse First,” she and co-host Pierre Phipps, of the homosexual rap duo Freaky Boiz, are making historical past with the primary and solely platform devoted particularly to the ladies and gays of rap.

The New Jersey-based journalist first had the concept for her podcast in 2020 whereas engaged on her ebook, “Unhealthy Fats Black Lady: Notes From a Entice Feminist.” She noticed a void in how feminine and queer rappers had been being mentioned compared to straight male rappers. There was clearly a possibility being missed, particularly contemplating the growth of feminine and queer rappers on the scene in recent times. And sometimes once they had been being mentioned, it was both in a disrespectful or minimizing manner.

“I assumed quite a bit concerning the disconnect between how I hearken to hip-hop and the way so many individuals round me hearken to hip-hop,” Bowen mentioned. “We solely listening to largely ladies as a result of there was a lot there, and having to get on the web daily and discover out about how the hosts of those different actually common hip-hop podcasts are problematic, even misogynistic, have hosts with sexual assault allegations or simply usually disrespectful to ladies on the whole.”

She recruited Phipps as her co-host, they usually launched their first season in early 2021. Bowen, who labored in publishing at Nylon and Refinery29′s Unbothered beforehand, knew her judgment across the worthiness of a present like “Purse First” was on level, regardless of an preliminary wrestle to safe funding. She acquired affirmation of that when the Pussy Rap and All of That group, based by Mikeisha Vaughn, Laja H, Robyn Mowatt and Kia Turner, gained numerous curiosity on the top of Clubhouse, the social community primarily based on audio solely.

“Purse First” launched independently, and the hosts needed to be scrappy about manufacturing, utilizing their trade contacts and Bowen’s media information to ebook visitors and promote the present.

The episodes typically embody visitor interviews with each newer and seasoned artists. Earlier interviews embody Kidd Kenn, Child Tate, KenTheMan, BbyMutha and Trina. Bowen and Phipps additionally do historic dives, together with an oral historical past of Phipp’s group Freaky Boiz. “Purse First” lately hit its 5,000-download mark, a milestone for the duo that information just about on totally different coasts. This season, they’re hoping to lean into video content material and dwell conversations to enrich their present much more. This season, which premiered Aug. 12, options visitors together with Dai Burger and Kali.

“We hope to be only a very refreshing various,” Bowen mentioned.

Bowen spoke with me concerning the significance of “Purse First,” her journey to coining entice feminism, stan tradition and her hopes for the way forward for rap.

Sesali Bowen and Pierre Phipps are hosts of the hip-hop podcast "Purse First."
Sesali Bowen and Pierre Phipps are hosts of the hip-hop podcast “Purse First.”

Congratulations on this third season of “Purse First.” To start with, “Purse First” may be very a lot historical past within the making, in the truth that you and Pierre are the primary to interrupt this floor in podcasting to shine a lightweight on feminine and queer rappers.

Can we discuss it? All the ladies which might be out in rap proper now and no person thought to do that.

That void simply speaks to how underrepresented ladies and queer folks have been in hip-hop traditionally. Discuss to me about the way you got here up with this concept and idea for a podcast.

I got here up with the concept for “Purse First” in 2020. We had been clearly within the pandemic. I used to be really nonetheless within the strategy of writing my ebook on entice feminism. I discuss feminine rap in my ebook, so I had simply been pondering quite a bit about the truth that we had a lot feminine expertise that was simply continually cropping up. I imply, Meg was dominating every thing. We had Nicki, we had Cardi, we had Latto, KenTheMan, everyone. So I’m like, “OK, there isn’t any present about this. There isn’t any podcast.” That felt bizarre to me.

I assumed quite a bit concerning the disconnect between how I hearken to hip-hop and the way so many individuals round me hearken to hip-hop. We solely listening to largely ladies as a result of there was a lot there and having to get on the web daily and discover out about how the hosts of those different actually common hip-hop podcasts are problematic, even misogynistic, have hosts with sexual assault allegations or simply usually disrespectful to ladies on the whole.

And I’m like, so that you imply to inform me we acquired all of those bitches that’s making more cash, making higher music, doing larger offers, and the one present that they’re speculated to respect and look as much as, to go sit down and speak to folks about their work is abusers and predators? I began to place collectively a pitch, and I felt actually strongly about it and I knew that I needed Pierre to co-host with me as a result of, to start with, Pierre humorous as hell, but in addition Pierre is famous in his personal proper, as one of many Freaky Boiz.

The place does the title “Purse First” come from?

So that truly is so humorous as a result of lots of people affiliate “Purse First” with… apparently Bob the Drag Queen has a track known as “Purse First.” However the saying, the complete saying is “purse first, ass final.” I assumed it was only a common Black colloquialism. It’s like some shit that your grandma will inform you while you get your first grownup boyfriend. However apparently, it really is a saying that originates in intercourse work, particularly pimp tradition. Which is smart that I grew up listening to that as a result of I’m from Chicago. Chicago, Detroit, pimp tradition is only a large factor there.

So, it was similar to a Black colloquialism, purse first, ass final. So I preferred that as a title for the present as a result of I really feel like that’s actually the vibe of the femme rap that we’re getting. It’s actually about being in your bag. It’s about placing the cash first. It’s about simply actually attending to it. Additionally as a result of we’re very intentional about not asking our visitors about their relationships. We don’t ask these salacious-type questions. We don’t spend numerous time doing that. We actually do put the primary purse first and the ass final.

I really like that y’all make it some extent to not ask these people who they’re sleeping with or courting. Even the truth that y’all had episodes explicitly saying why y’all is not going to be masking any extra of Megan’s taking pictures. Are you able to communicate to the significance and objective of that?

I take into consideration the truth that a present like “Purse First” not current earlier than we did it as being problematic and poisonous. We hear all these tales about how ladies within the trade, these males really feel like in the event that they’re not going to sleep with them, they’ll’t get their options. So it comes to some extent the place you must acknowledge how sure behaviors are literally contributing to a dangerous and a poisonous tradition.

Megan has explicitly said in so some ways, she actually simply dropped an album known as “Traumazine.” She is attempting to inform us over and over how traumatic it has been to not solely have skilled violence from this individual, however then to must relive it continually, to be principally flat-out known as a liar as a result of folks don’t really feel like she has given us sufficient element about each single factor about her and Tory’s relationship or what occurred that evening for us to imagine her. She particularly informed us that it’s hurting her.

Additionally what she has particularly mentioned is that numerous the media protection and ways are originating from a particular plot to defame her character. So it will get to some extent the place if you happen to leap on each information chew that comes out concerning the case, at what level are you contributing to her hurt? So for us, and I feel for me and Pierre, because it pertains to the case, we’re prepared to perhaps be mistaken in the long run however to do the correct factor within the meantime if it signifies that we’re not contributing to that noise.

Yeah. Particularly contemplating how typically we find yourself trying again on historical past and saying, “Rattling, we fucked up this story. We should always have listened to Robin Givens. We should always have listened to Dee Barnes. We should always have listened to so many individuals.”

Sure, precisely. However then on the flip facet, I really feel like one of many issues that folks discover on “Purse First” is that Pierre is the tremendous Barb. However I’m extra so a disgruntled Nicki fan. I’ve numerous issues with numerous the issues that Nicki does and says, and the way she handles issues.

I’m very snug addressing the issues that I don’t essentially like about the place Nicki’s profession goes or a few of the issues, and I can say that, yeah, and I nonetheless assume she is the queen of rap, and I nonetheless love her, and I nonetheless know what drew me to Nicki and I can nonetheless critique her. I really feel like that’s what it actually means to take feminine artists severely. It’s not simply stan tradition. However it’s additionally not being dismissive of what their actual experiences are, and there’s an area for us to carry them accountable. So I actually respect that Pierre and I deliver our honesty.

And I’ve been nervous about that due to the way in which stan tradition is. So it’s like, the second I say something dangerous about Megan, then folks assume that I don’t like Megan, once I’m actually an OG hottie. I’m the one who put numerous you bitches on Megan.

What did you develop up listening to?

Trina, who we additionally had on Season 2. That was the dignity of all honors.

I used to be positively sneaking and listening to Lil’ Kim’s “Arduous Core” album. I like Whole quite a bit, but in addition I acquired to offer a shoutout to the Spice Ladies, as a result of I really feel like I used to be of that technology that was very set as much as respect ladies who had been slightly rebellious, if that is smart. Scary Spice was one among my first popular culture idols. Even anyone like Kelis owes numerous their alt woman swag to Melanie B.

I listened to Future’s Youngster, after all. I really actually preferred Missy quite a bit. Cunning Brown. I beloved Cunning; that “Damaged Silence” album was my shit.

You coined “entice feminism” and wrote a ebook about it, your debut ebook. What was your journey to the time period like?

So the primary time I ever really mentioned “entice feminism” was in 2012 on a street journey with my homegirl. We had stopped at a relaxation cease and noticed the lacking woman posters, and numerous them had been Black ladies. We had been speaking about how what’s really actually loopy is that numerous these ladies are most likely within the intercourse commerce proper now, most likely working on the behest of a Black man. We had been having an trustworthy dialog about the truth that numerous the abuse that Black ladies expertise simply on the planet occurs by the hands of Black males.

However we had been additionally speaking about how this concept of pimping is supposed to look so attractive in sure contexts. We’re simply chopping it up, however I had simply completed school, I had a gender research diploma, so I had a feminist lens to consider issues. I used to be a scholar of bell hooks, a scholar of Joan Morgan, a scholar of Audre Lorde. In order we had been speaking about all of this however actually whereas blasting Lil Wayne, “The place the Money At.”

It was like, that is what we all know the truth to be for Black ladies, and that is how we take care of that, and that is how we’re conceptualizing and internalizing our expertise at this very particular intersection of being younger and Black and of a technology the place entice music and entice tradition is on the forefront. But additionally when folks discuss Black womanhood, they’re not typically speaking about Black ladies from the hood. They’re often speaking about college-educated Blacks or Blacks that grew up round white people.

As I began writing about it, I actually put it up in opposition to sure soundtracks. So it was like, OK, if you happen to hearken to this Yo Gotti track, is it attainable that there’s a feminist theme on this track if you happen to hearken to it from a sure context? So it began with how can I recontextualize actually the music that I’m listening to as a result of I’m interested by the ladies within the songs as an alternative of simply listening to what the n***a is saying on the track. I’m interested by the lady that he’s speaking about and what her perspective can be versus simply taking what he’s saying.

Then I began to know it as a approach to simply validate the experiences of Black ladies from the hood as a result of I feel that oftentimes we solely discuss them and we by no means speak to them. We observe the issues that they do and generally culturally applicable the issues that they do. However we don’t see the worth in really how they dwell.

It’s not a coincidence that yearly we have now to have some dialog about how y’all are culturally appropriating, Black ladies aesthetics, Black ladies’s language.

Completely. It happened to your term, too.

Proper. And let’s be clear on which Black ladies y’all are appropriating it from and let’s be clear about what it means to offer anyone like JT, who was actually in jail for fraud, for her to be one of many greatest artists, however for us to nonetheless be doubting why the individuals who shot Breonna Taylor have to go to jail for it.

It was this dissonance the place it’s like, the ladies who’re really residing within the hood, we don’t give a fuck about, however we need to seem like that and we need to sound like them. We need to speak like them. However, yeah, in order that was form of the evolution of it. I imply, entice feminism has been at this level a 10-year venture.

What has been your greatest remark that has been perhaps shocking for you inside the previous 5 years or so of this rap woman renaissance that we’re in?

I assume it’s not shocking on reflection, however the factor that stands out to me and is most disappointing, which is that it’s so apparent how we put feminine rappers out the hood however then as quickly as they get slightly little bit of success, we need to throw them in a leotard and a few efficiency tights and hurry up and make them a pop star.

They do this with ladies in a manner that they don’t do with males. No one is forcing Lil Child to be taught no fucking choreography. Why y’all acquired these ladies working so arduous? And so they lose their authentic sound. That’s the factor about it. Girls could make hood music, too.

I see ladies like Glorilla come up, and the primary prayer I say is simply let it cook dinner slightly bit. That’s actually simply what I’m seeing with each rap woman once they begin to cross that threshold, once they signal that dotted line that will get signed or actually begin getting these numbers, it’s a right away transition right into a pop lane.

I simply want extra folks would sit with what which means, that we’re continually attempting to make Black ladies extra palatable in a manner that we don’t do with Black males.

Season 3 of "Purse First" premiered Aug. 12.
Season 3 of “Purse First” premiered Aug. 12.

What’s your hope for hip-hop on the whole, particularly in relation to the Black ladies and Black queer people in hip-hop?

I simply need to see extra of this. I need to not lose this momentum and likewise hold diversifying. Each rap woman don’t must look the identical manner. Each rap woman don’t must sound the identical manner, they usually don’t all must be pop stars. There’s worth in hip-hop. Hip-hop is the worldwide… the No. 1 style for a cause. So we don’t must all be doing the identical factor.

Who’re your prime 5 proper now?

Glorilla. KenTheMan. I’m a hottie, so I acquired to say Meg. I do know what she’s able to. Oh, I really like Kidd Kenn. And I even have to offer a shout-out to Caresha, as a result of I really feel just like the narrative when Metropolis Ladies first got here out was that everyone is aware of JT is the lyricist of the group, however I really feel like Caresha has really actually been strengthening her craft. I really feel like she actually has been studying and attempting to be like a greater performer. It’s really been actually dope to see her evolve as a result of Caresha really is low-key an it woman, and he or she actually has that star issue and I really feel like she working for it.

In the event you had been one of many rap ladies, who would you make music for?

This can be a trick query, which is humorous as a result of I low-key am a rap woman.

Lots of people don’t know I dropped a mixtape. It’s on Apple and Spotify. So I really feel like I make music for the ladies that needed to make their dumb mistake in order that they might earn their OG standing. Actually, I make music for the large sisters and the large cousins of the pal group.

And I make music for the ladies that really feel like, “I’m past that stage in life the place you want validation from different folks.” The women who actually really feel like, “I don’t care how you’re feeling about me. I understand how I really feel about me.”

With that mentioned, why are you that woman?

As a result of I’ve been that woman and at all times might be. I’m actually simply that woman as a result of I feel that I’ve at all times had my very own set of requirements and my very own targets, and I actually stand on them. I simply don’t let numerous shit break me from that. I’m very unshakeable, and I don’t say that to be cocky or boastful or cliché or something like that, however I actually really feel unshakable.

I actually discovered that you simply actually have to face in your shit, and while you do this, you’re immovable. Who can inform you something? When you recognize that you simply’ve achieved the work, when you recognize you can stand on what you imagine in and stand on the way you was raised and stand on what your values and what your integrity is.

I’m that woman as a result of I at all times prioritize being an actual bitch over being a nasty bitch. I can say that.

What would you like your legacy to be?

I hope that my legacy actually entails simply actually championing and persevering with to rejoice Black ladies. You understand what I imply? I hope that I play an element in normalizing that, that we actually can simply love Black ladies the place they at. We don’t must ask them to go on a femininity journey. We don’t must ask them to look a sure manner, to be formed a sure manner. We don’t must ask them to do nothing. We will actually simply love them the place they at and respect them the place they at and regard their humanity the place they’re. I hope that me with the ability to play any half in conversations that transfer us towards a world like that could be a legacy that works for me.



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