International Women’s Day was March 8th and I think I missed it with all the time changes and date lines and nonsense. However, I got to celebrate it at a Lorde concert and that was amazing. I’m going to try to add some people and tracks I have not written about in the past…so I will leave Madonna, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé off for now. Here are some tracks to listen to in honour of International Women’s Day and all year long.
White Stripes: The Hardest Button to Button
I love Meg White’s drumming. Her raw drumming style bordered on primal and defined the 2000s. I think this track best highlights her explosive style that would just burrow a hole into your chest. There is nowhere to hide in a 2 piece band and her drums gave White Stripes’ tracks a solid spine to hold them together. She was an amazing drummer that I think is underrated and overlooked when we look back at music during that lo-fi era.
Bikini Kill: New Radio
Famous for “calling all the girls to the front,” Bikini Kill took the male dominated genre of grunge punk and gave it a big middle finger to the face. Kathleen Hanna once said that you make your band first and then learn how to play instruments. What I love about Bikni Kill and the Riot Grrrl movement is how it harnessed anger against the patriarchy into a laser like weapon. Every scream by Hanna is another surgical strike at all the men who said that she needed to be more lady like. Bikini Kill paved the way for bands like L7, Billie Eillish and any other women who go against patriarchal norms.
Dolly Parton: 9 to 5
You knew she was coming. Dolly has sung about divorce, domestic violence, how men are stupid jackasses for underestimating her because she is blonde and the patriarchal double standards in work. Dolly has never shied from talking about gender inequality and the equality gap in the work force not only made for a feminist laden song, but also a huge crossover hit. However, she is not the only country icon kicking the patriarchy in the ass….
Loretta Lynn: The Pill
In 1975 Loretta Lynn had a song all about women’s contraception and how she is not an object for pregnancy. This is a song about women’s agency not only over her body, but also over her sexuality. She is not cryptic either…”Miniskirts, hot pants and a few little fancy frills / Yeah I’m makin’ up for all those years / Since I’ve got the pill.” Not only was this song ahead of its time in 1975, but I think some Republicans in certain states may even ban it now.
Queen Latifah: U.N.I.T.Y.
Hip hop has always been a male dominated genre with the objectification of women being the norm. Artists like Queen Latifah took that head on and that is especially evident in her track U.N.I.T.Y., which calls out domestic violence, calling women bitches, sexual harassment and treating women as lesser people. Moreover, she is one of the original intersectional feminists when she talks about the intersection between race and gender throughout this track. Sometimes Queen Latifah gets lost when talking about early hip hop, because Missy Elliott gets a lot of love, but she is amazing and paved the way for countless women rappers.
Salt-n-Pepa: Let’s Talk About Sex
In the 90s there were not a lot of women rappers, let alone all women rap groups. There are rap groups with a single woman member, like Sista Souljah in Public Enemy or Gangsta Boo in Three 6 Mafia, but not a lot of all woman groups. Not only that, but an all woman group talking about sex and how women can control their own sexuality…..unheard of. I have always loved Salt-n-Pepa…and did I mention that Spinderlla is the best hip hop names ever….
Gangsta Boo: Where Dem Dollas At
Memphis’ own Gangsta Boo unfortunately passed away this year, but her impact on hip hop is timeless. Her aggressive delivery and bars about money, sex and power were high points of early Three 6 Mafia tracks and laid the groundwork for artists like Lizzo, Cardi B and Stallion who mirror her take no prisoners bars and aggressive style. I hope Gangsta Boo is not just a regional Memphis icon, but her music is celebrated throughout hip hop.
Janelle Monáe and Erykah Badu: Q.U.E.E.N.
Janelle Monáe broke the world when she teamed up with hip hop / soul / R&B icon Erykah Badu for the track that would take intersectional feminism to 11. They took electro funk to the top with singing about pride in being a black woman and pride in being LGBTIQA+. It is about not taking on people’s labels and knowing that you are a queen. This is an incredible track that everyone has to listen to.
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