Why We Should Be Listening to the Female Voices of Hip Hop

Hip hop is uniquely powerful because it sits comfortably at the borderline between poetry and song. It bridges the gap between the two, and in turn contains the qualities of both song and spoken word.  Unlike poems (or any other word based message), music has the upper hand of getting caught in your head for long periods of time. This is a vital tool for those trying to spread a political message–– having the power to keep words in someone’s head is just about the best way to spread a political agenda. Just think, what if on the same day, at the same time, the whole world (including all the world leaders), had the chorus to Queen Latifah’s Black on Black Love repeating in their head? What about Salt n Peppa’s feminist anthem None of Your Business? Would political decision making be affected? Similar to poetry however, rap is much more lyric based than any other musical genre. Because of it’s fast paced nature, rap is able to squeeze an immense amount of lyrical content into a short two minute song. It is not tied to traditional song structures in the same way as other music often is, and in turn, rap can really pack a punch.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-4-59-25-pm

With so much political power, hip hop is the perfect art form to be leading many of today’s revolutionary movements. It reclaims oppressive spaces through its loud, commanding, and aggressive nature, creating a genre of wildly popular music. Unfortunately, most artists in modern mainstream hip hop have very little interest in women’s issues. First and foremost rap addresses racism–– a critical issue for men and women both nationally and globally. Too often however, these political anthems are not intersectional. I’m sure most of us know the feeling of thinking we’ve found a great new rap song until about thirty seconds in when the artist starts describing how he’s going to force women to have sex with him. Suddenly your foot stops tapping and you’re not feeling as empowered as you were a second ago. Of course there are countless male rappers out there who don’t do this, but I think we can agree this is an all too familiar feeling for those of us who seek out rap in our day to day lives. Which is why, now more than ever, it is time for female hip hop artists to finally have their time in the limelight.

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-4-40-58-pm

It’s interesting to note that, generally speaking, female rappers are much more likely to include political lyrics in their songs than male rappers. There are many possible reasons for this, but one of them is simply that women have to work much harder than their male peers to get the mic in the first place, so are probably more inclined to say something that really needs to be heard. Unlike what was mentioned earlier, female rappers are consistently intersectional and most songs will engage with both gender and race, rarely choosing one. One of the most common threads in hip hop by women is the idea of ownership over their own body and sexuality, two things which are often portrayed as under male control in mainstream media. There is little more refreshing to me as a woman in the United States than seeing another woman stand up, take control, get angry, and rile up a crowd all while being sexy as hell.

With all of this said, now more than ever it is time for us, as hip hop consumers, to support and nurture female rappers. They stand strong in solidarity against sexist and racist rhetoric that is too often a structure for our society. Female rappers are a triple threat: they are women, they are usually people of color, and they refuse to be silenced. They are prepared and capable to be our generation’s revolutionary leaders––if only we would open our ears and listen to what they have to say! The hip hop industry has been paving the way to produce political leaders for years, it’s now time to give these women the platform for their own voices and a fan base to support them.

So where do we begin?

For starters, tune in to Queen Beats every Tuesday night from 12-2am on KZSC, Santa Cruz. (88.1FM or kzsc.org) Next, like Queen Beats on Facebook and stay updated with what women are up to in the hip hop industry: https://www.facebook.com/QueenBeatsKZSC/

Call in! Make requests! Enjoy! We are the generation that is going to give these women their space, so let’s start now!

*artists shown in included images– top: Alphamama, bottom: Akua Naru, featured image: Soom T

(Dis)engaging Conversations: Reflections from SXSW

Six months ago, I purchased a plane ticket to Austin, Texas. I prepared as much as I could to complete my finals early, and hopped on a red-eye out of SFO.

Looking back, I would have done SXSW differently. Though my three colleagues and I suffered through minimal sleep and constant exhaustion, the knowledge we had come for was waiting inside the Austin Convention Center, each day promising new seeds necessary for the growth of our college radio, media-making minds. I must admit – I was thoroughly underwhelmed.

The music industry, from SXSW’s corporate standpoint, is dwindling. With record and CD sales at all-time lows, streaming services ripping musicians off, labels unimpressed with unfocused bands, and commercial radio promotion as calculated as a pregnant woman’s hospital-room delivery, even Tony Visconti remarked, “20 million streams equals one steak dinner.” SXSW taught me that our only solace lies not in the middle of our analog-turned-tech universe, but the extremes: from preserving record archives, to utilizing 3D printing for musical instruments and other media, we can only look to the past and the future. And believe it or not, I think that’s what college radio had figured out all along.

Unable to let go of our 30,000 LP and 45,000 CD collections, KZSC has largely solved its own problems without the help of SXSW “experts.” We will protect our archive through the elements, or whatever else could harm our sacred collection. But we will also utilize what the digital age has to offer, backing up our collection, our documents, our on-air archives, all to say: do what you will with your audio streaming services and commercial radio frequencies. College radio, as long as I can affect my predecessors, will remain live and analog on-air, but the business behind your stereo will stay up-to-date in the rapidly changing techno-21st century.

So what would I have done differently? I would have asked these panelists and moderators about us: where does college radio stand on your radar? Are we simply a means to your end, or are we as on the map as we think we are? This next weekend, I will be traveling to Southern California with a car full of UCSC students to attend the University of California Radio Network Conference. California college radio junkies will discuss what matters most to us, and through this problem-solving, restate what we’ve always known: we are on the map; we are on your phone apps and your online web stream; we are on your radio dial, and we’re not going anywhere.

Written by Shay Stoklos

New KZSC merch is here!

It’s here! It’s finally here! During our Fall Pledge Drive (now through October 20th) you can pledge to the Great 88 and receive our new special edition KZSC shirt and a new take on our old favorite KZSC “peel slowly and see” design: a tote bag!

Our new tee shirt comes in a navy blue, with contrasting white and orange print to display your love of KZSC. The design is a nod to a legendary college radio station in NYC that provided early exposure for what became some of the biggest names in hip-hop. The design is printed on a 50/50 blend that won’t shrink!

shirtwebfrontshirtwebback

And, we’re bringing the tote bag back! A canvas bag with our beloved Andy Warhol/Velvet Underground-inspired banana slug shows off both your love of music, and appreciation of the Santa Cruz banana slug. The 11-inch, over-the-shoulder handles and 15.5″ x 14.5″ x 7″ size allows you to haul your LPs, CDs, cassettes, groceries, or any other items! Rep your favorite local, non-commerical, community radio station everywhere you go.

totewebfronttotewebback

Make a pledge now to KZSC online, or by calling (831) 459-2811 to show your support!

Fall Schedule is a Go!

cover-fall-2016

Lots of great music, news, and community creativity is on tap for KZSC’s fall program schedule. We’ve got everything from Minimal to Metal — and that’s just our Monday lineup!

We’re live now with this line up, through January 15th, 2017. We’ll mail out copies to all of our donors from the past two fundraisers, thanks! Don’t forget, the Fall Fundraiser that starts Tuesday October 11th – show us you care about creative community radio with a donation!

If you want to print your own copy now, here’s a link to a nicely formatted pdf version.

 

KZSC’s Fall Schedule [Oct 3 2016 through Jan 15, 2017]

 

Hear The Zombies interviewed on KZSC

On September 7th, Carol from KZSC’s Test of Time and Keith from Moon Majoon spoke with 1960s pop legends, The Zombies. It was hours before their show at The Catalyst with Bruce Sudano opening that they visited our studios. The Zombies regularly get named, alongside The Beatles and The Beach Boys, as the having the best songs and vocal harmonies of the 1960s. In the interview they speak about how those other two bands’ studio innovations directly benefitted the recording of The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle.

Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, who together represent more than 100 years of professional musicianship, also share the story of the founding and dissolution of the Zombies and traced some of the impact that British jazz and choral music had on their songwriting and performing. We also learned what it was like to work with the infamously tyrannical director Otto Preminger, and how the Zombies stood up to him.

Programmer of the Month: Art O’Sullivan

The Golden Road’s Art O’Sullivan moved to Santa Cruz to attend UCSC as an alternative academic experience, but the ocean, redwoods and counterculture kept him here. Upon first listening to KZSC, Art was drawn to the alternative music, talk and special format programming.

He started programming The Golden Road on June 18, 1997 as a 30th anniversary celebration of the Monterey International Pop Festival–the same festival that made stars of Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Ravi Shankar and Otis Redding. Art’s musical taste ranges from A to Z (The Association to Frank Zappa); he loves The Grateful Dead, classic rock (Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones, Dire Straits), blues (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix, early Fleetwood Mac), hard rock (Midnight Oil, The Who), and punk rock (The Clash, forever). He likes to feature upbeat and melodic songs, live performances, and long jams on The Golden Road, every Wednesday from 3 to 6 pm this summer. He also appreciates jazz, folk, Celtic, African, Brazilian and Caribbean styles.

As a writer, an editor, and an animal rights advocate, Art has written PSAs for KZSC about animal welfare, and other issues close to his heart. Art has also contributed to the Metro alternative newspaper, covering topics such as The Grateful Dead archives, the 10th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s passing, animal welfare, cats, and the invasion of Iraq. Art was on the air, programming a show called Earwax during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Art’s columns, criticism and commentary in Metro Santa Cruz won an award from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and he was voted the third Best Writer in Santa Cruz by Metro readers in 2005. He’s traveled extensively, making friends on four continents–Art is pretty sure the world is round, and “Love that’s real will not fade away.”

– Abraham

Photo: Hypnotica Studios Infinite