The Fe-Male Within: Ventriloquists, Tricksters, and Cyborgs as Inappropriate/d Femininities of and in Black Female American Gangsta Rap

The IUP Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 64-81, January 2010

Posted: 27 Jan 2010

Date Written: January 27, 2010

Abstract

This essay analyses black female American gangsta rap as a radically historically specific phenomenon arising in the urban milieu of the early nineties in the US. It takes into account lyrics, performances and visuals (music videos) of female gangstas, not as singular component parts, but as patterns of interference that are cross-linked and thus shape up as provisional, never finished female gangsta body. The femininity of this amorphous body will be described as made by inappropriate/d others appearing within gangsta rap, namely ventriloquists, tricksters and cyborgs. Subjects of analysis are Bo$$ and her album Born Gangstaz (1992), Mia X and her album Unlady Like (1997), Lady of Rage and her album Necessary Roughness (1997), and Lil’ Kim and her album Notorious K.I.M. (2000). Since the notion of inappropriate/d femininities allows for acknowledging the mutual pervasion of (gendered/stereotyped) borderlines, it offers a reading of gangsta femininities’ critical potential that contests both current interpretations of female emancipation as oppositional stance towards men, and of gangsta rap as a male dominated domain.

Suggested Citation

Engel, Elisabeth, The Fe-Male Within: Ventriloquists, Tricksters, and Cyborgs as Inappropriate/d Femininities of and in Black Female American Gangsta Rap (January 27, 2010). The IUP Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Vol. 2, No. 1, pp. 64-81, January 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1543116

Elisabeth Engel (Contact Author)

Free University Berlin ( email )

Van't-Hoff-Str. 8
Berlin
Germany

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