by Megan Ambers
My mother was a fan of the sounds of Anita Baker and Luther Vandross and growing up she was strict about the music I could listen to. On the other hand my father loved rap, and because of him I grew accustomed to Tupac and Dr. Dre. At the time Hip-Hop felt sinful. Between the curse words and the topics-I knew if my mother found out what I was listening to I would be in trouble. But at the same time, I believed that if it was bad for me to listen to it then I was missing out on something amazing.
As I grew older my mother loosened her restrictions on the music that I could listen to, thankfully so. By the time I got to middle school I was listening to Juvenile, Lil Wayne and The Big Tymers-artists whose music would not have met my mother’s approval years prior. I was enamored by their music and the bounce sound created by synthesizers, drum machines, heavy bass, Mardi Gras Indian chants and call-and-response routines. Not to mention the gold grills and their accents intrigued me as well.
In high school, everything I took in was influenced by Hip-Hop. Aside from listening to the music, I spent a lot of time watching films like Juice, Save the Last Dance and Dangerous Minds-all movies influenced by the culture in some way, shape or form. In a matter of years I went from being restricted from Hip-Hop to something like a full on ambassador. By the time I reached my senior year in high school I was an expert on the culture-the music, fashion, etc. Not to mention I mostly surrounded myself with rappers, musicians and spoken word poets. It felt safe. It felt like home. And through Hip-hop I felt alive.
I became so entangled with the world of Hip-hop that I wanted to share exactly how I felt about it to everyone. As a result I pursued a career in music journalism, where I realized that despite the number of women in media that loved Hip-Hop as much as I did, our opinions were are often passed over in favor of a man’s. The misogyny that my mother didn’t want me listening to in the music didn’t only appear in my favorite songs, but also in journalism. My breadth of knowledge on all aspects of Hip-Hop didn’t stop me being overlooked to do certain jobs and interview certain artists. But through this realization emerges an important truth: I’m not the only woman who feels this way. I’m not the only woman who has had these experiences. And, if I’m not alone, I am certain that this time I am not the one missing out on something amazing. They are.