On Saturday I dropped by the Historical Society of DC to watch the third screening of Hip Hop Cinema, starring Counting Headz, a documentary exploring hip hop culture through the lens of female hip hop artists in South Africa. The name of the film derives from the notion that every time one of these artists performs they find themselves counting the number of women in the audience on their hands.
MC Chi, Sistamatic, Smirk, D-Unik and fellow African sisters touch on an array of topics: male dominance in hip hop, traditional roles of women in their societies, the media’s drive to portray female artists as mere sex objects and motherhood They also express their love/hate relationship with hip hop, an art form that has simultaneously enabled these women to express themselves yet has also tested their identities again and again.
The film’s highlights for me were:
• The crew of African artists commenting on how women baring their skin in traditional African communities differs
from images of “Tits and Ass” in hip hop music.
• After a particularly impressive freestyle shown in the film the crowd responded with applause and cheers.
• The film oddly using Fergie of Black Eyed Peas as an example of women in American hip hop.
• The commentary on juggling being mothers and their hip hop lifestyles. Smirk, a prominent graffiti artist, explains
that “things can grow as they take the backseat.” Then she reveals her intentions to create a children’s book in a
Following the screening, a panel discussion featuring local DC artists RA The MC, Carolyn Malachi, Porsche 911 and Abeer Emcee. It became clear that the film’s subject matter resonated with the musicians on stage as well as the audience.
At the event, I had the pleasure of meeting Kimani Anku, one of Hip Hop Cinema’s lead organizers. The upbeat Anku is committed to exposing local hip hop acts, fostering community development and educating people about hip hop’s borderless reach. Anku and friend Brandon Felton’s partnership with the Historical Society of DC stemmed from taking initiative on ideas bounced around during a brainstorm session. The duo also are chief architects behind solSource, a promotion, marketing and artist development company that thrives on getting deserving independent art and music much needed spotlight.
Below is a video from Godessa, the only all women hip hop crew in South Africa. Personally, I am not a fan (to put it lightly) of the chorus but the rapping has tropical appeal and the video is entertaining. The Powerpuff girls have some competition.
Godessa- Mindz Ablaze