His and her point of view: The empowerment of women in grime music
Volunteer Charlotte Allitt discusses the difference in perspective of women within the world of rap and grime music.
When unpicking the lyrical narrative of discussions of women in grime music words such as oversexualised, derogatory, and disrespectful may come to mind. Grime artist Solo 45 has been recently jailed for his crimes against women and other headlines highlight the influential power media can have on causing violence against women. The consumption of such grime music may then have two-fold-implications for women: firstly, if correct and the media is as influential on individuals as believed, the often young and impressionable audience grime music is consumed by may potentially develop a warped understanding around what is acceptable when it comes to behaviour and discussions around women. Secondly, derogatory discussions of women create an unclear path in which women must try and navigate if they wish to consume and support grime music.
“There’s power in empowering a woman, every time I get picked up by a woman”
Mummy’s boy- Wretch 32
Seemingly the argument I’m presenting here is one of limited hope for a relationship between women and grime music. Yet there is evidence within this music to indicate how both implications can be navigated. A platform needs to be raised for these positive discussions to ensure a space for women is created within the scene. Arguably some of the best in grime such as Ghetts, Kano and Wretch 32 have lyrical moments of female empowerment. It’s these positive discussions that help unpick the mainstream media’s presentation of grime as being a source of media to tear women down.
“How many men stop their women from achieving what they can because in secret they’ve been feeling insecure”
How I met My ex- Dave
Grime artist Dave has continually shown his influential power on social and political issues via his emotive lyrical ability within songs such as “Black” and “Question Time”. What is less discussed is the moments within Dave’s work in which he explores his understanding of women’s experiences and how he navigates that as a man. “How I met my ex” highlights a young man’s internal conflict in accepting the way his actions affect his relationships with women. For an artist of that age to use his own experiences to coherently vocalise the difficulties women face in achieving equal opportunities is a testament to the positive influential power grime music can have.
“I’m begging you to get support or help if you’re lost or trapped-– I understand that I can never understand”
Dave’s track “Lesley” is chilling and encaptivating in its storytelling of a woman in a domestically abusive relationship. Despite the tragedy that underpins the story, Dave’s concluding thoughts to the song are empowering for women. The acknowledgment of the experiences faced gives a voice to women’s reality, and despite being narrated by Dave, his own voice is only presented as a message offering help. Its educating, its powerful and it is eye-opening in its message to listeners of grime.
“Ain’t nothing without a woman though
Woman to woman, I just wanna see you glow”
Woman- Little Simz
It would be neglectful when exploring the potential inclusivity for women in grime to not use an example from a female artist. Little Simz and her latest album “Sometimes I may be introverted” is a collection of intimate tracks discussing her experiences in womanhood. Her track “Woman” highlights the need to empower and encourage all women to reach their full potential without tearing others down. To be able to express this so eloquently via her music, Little Simz proves there’s a space available for women in grime. With this space being contrary to the typical harsher natured, male perspective typically assumed within grime.
It may be argued that these positive examples shown are purely just an acknowledgement of the issues women face and are not any kind of real action to change the underlying sexism within grime music. But I ask, how often have you heard people say that acknowledgement is the first step in dealing with a problem? If these profound well-respected artists can vocalise the experiences of women within their art, surely that is the first step in unpicking the sexism so often attached within grime.