Lupe Fiasco has never been afraid to go against the grain and challenge social norms, injustices and even our nation’s president. But now the conscious emcee is challenging listeners to dissect and reevaluate the term “bad b—ch” with his new video, “B—ch Bad.”
“I just wanted to have a conversation. It was more to just put it out in the world and see what happens,” Fiasco said when he premiered the Gil Green-directed video yesterday on MTV’s “RapFix Live.”
In the clip, Lupe explores the parallel experiences of a young boy and a young girl who are separately exposed to the term “bad b—ch” in hip-hop and the long-term effect the phrase has on them as they get older.
“B—ch bad, woman good, lady better, they misunderstood,” Lupe raps on the hook.
Lupe pushes the envelope even further by incorporating images of a “rapper” and a “bad b—ch” playing into their sexualized stereotypes and eventually breaking into tears as they find themselves in the humiliating act of wearing black face. The video ends with a tribute to late actor Paul Robeson and all other entertainers who have had to wear black face.
“I think it’s something that’s very subtle — the idea of it, the ‘bad bitch’ — it’s very subtle but it definitely has some destructive elements to it,” Lupe said. “It has some troubling elements to it. Especially when you look at who it’s being marketed towards. That’s why we put the children in the video.”
Near the videos end, one child is left with a positive outlook on the phrase, while the other looks at it negatively.
“Even if we don’t come to a definition about it, even if we don’t come to an agreement about it … it’s definitely something that I think we should talk about because it’s so prevalent in our culture right now,” Lupe said.
Though, we’re sure that everyone will have their own opinion about the phrase and the power we give to words, it’s worth examining the limited roles and identities that hip-hop and society at large allows black men and women to take on.
In a culture where young black men are expected to be uneducated, emotionless, hyper-masculine thugs and entertainers, and black women are expected to be loud-mouthed, hyper-sexualized, subservient side pieces to black men, it’s worth it to question the power of hip-hop’s language and whether or not kids growing up in the culture can see beyond those limiting identities and be open-minded men and women, free to choose whatever they want to be.
But Lupe’s not alone in his assessment female stereotypes and empowerment. Watch the “B—ch Bad” video here and check out some other feminist-themed songs below. – nicholas robinson