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Roll Deep thoughts

13 Sep 10 | Re: Sexism in music

I remember my dad remarking a few years ago that he found a lot of the prevailing hip-hop or RnB music sexist. Not because of the lyrical content, which he didn’t pay much attention to, but because so many songs seemed to share the same format of rapped verse, sung chorus. To his eye and ear, each of these songs with a deep-voiced man rapping and a woman or a higher-voiced man singing was made up of a disctinctly masculine and a feminine component - and the masculine part always seemed to be the dominant one.

I didn’t entirely agree with this, although it is true that songs tend to be {rapper} feat {singer} and not the other way round, and it is true that male and female rappers often tend to present a tough, gruff image while singers tend to show their softer side. However, I’m reminded of the remark all these years later by Roll Deep.

Roll Deep are a bunch of rappers, all men as far as I know, who we are told have been pioneering the underground UK grime scene for some time. I haven’t heard any of their music from their life as underground pioneers, but I imagine it was somewhat inaccessible like most grime tended to be (Alexis Petridis’s comment about Dizzee’s early stuff sounding like being mugged in an amusement arcade is rather apt). Now, though, they have bagged themselves two number one hit singles by making very commercial pop. These tracks are basically female-led electronic pop songs, except with the various male members of Roll Deep doing distinctly pedestrian raps in between the sung bits. Here are links to the videos:

Roll Deep feat Jodie Connor - Good Times

Roll Deep - Green Light

The first one isn’t that objectionable, since the female vocalist who sings all the good bits is sometimes credited, and the male-delivered line about high street bopping is at least memorable. But the second one is a massive dog’s dinner of gender relations. For a start, the singer (Tania Foster, for the record) isn’t credited at all, ever. What’s worse, in the video, between predictably leering shots of depersonalised female RnB dancerbots, each male member of the crew gets his name on screen while he mimes to his barely adequate fifteen-second ‘rap’, but Foster’s name stubbornly refuses to appear. Without her, the song would gave got about as much mainstream attention as anything else Roll Deep have done in the last five years, ie none, and if it’s representative of their rapping ability then they don’t deserve any attention either. So why not give her the credit that is due? These clowns with their laughably adolescent rapper names should either be realistic about how much they actually contribute to ‘their’ tracks, or go back to making clonking grime-based mumblings that no one wants to buy.

Bidisha, if you’re reading, this one is an actual injustice. Please feel free to let rip.

Posted by THE BARON DE B---- at 18:33

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