On A$AP Rocky, Lipstick Shades, and Colorism in Hip-Hop

But for real, for me, I feel like with the red lipstick thing it all depends on the pair of complexion. I’m just being for real. You have to be fair skinned to get away with that… what do dark skin girls have that you know fair skinned girls cant do… Purple lipstick? Naw, that looks stupid on all girls!

A$AP Rocky, for the Coveteur

A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky

Yes, I know this is just someone’s opinion, and it probably shouldn’t bother me as much as it does. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I am certainly not depending on A$AP Rocky for fashion advice.

I think it has more to do with the fact that I know from personal experience that dark-skinned Black women are constantly told that things don’t look good on them, that they are ugly, or that they are not as desired as much as light-skinned or White women. And rap & hip-hop is a reflection of society, so of course this is reflected in song lyrics and interviews. Here are some examples:

“That’s why I like chilling with women who like women
Light-skinned Asians, Jamaicans, and white women
Indians, Italians, Haitians and Puerto Ricans,
They be itchin’ for they chance and waiting on me to freak ’em.”

– T.I., “Let’s Get Away”

“Chocolate is her skin-tone,
Make a n***a say, “f**k a red bone!”

-Lil’ Kee feat. Javon Black, “My Baby”

“Used to be black girls was the baddest s**t, you know what I mean? Spanish, J-Lo be poppin’ … white women are poppin’ right now, man. They f*****g poppin’. Imma just be real.”

-Wacka Flocka Flame, in an interview with SOHH.com.

There is plenty more where that came from. Check out this documentary (I haven’t watched it yet, but will hopefully this weekend), Complexion Obsession, about the abundance of light-skinned women in rap videos and as the objects of desire in rap lyrics.

Now, A$AP didn’t straight up say he preferred light-skinned women, so I’m not pinning that on him. But telling dark-skinned women that they can’t get away with something that light-skinned women can’t get away with? Assuming that dark-skinned women care what A$AP Rocky or any other man think about their lipstick? Assuming that dark-skinned women (or any women at all, really) make all of their fashion decisions based on men? I’m not here for that. And I definitely believe there is a connection between A$AP’s advice and hip-hop’s preference for light-skinned women.

And I’m not the only one! Click here, here, and here to see Azealia Banks’ feelings on the matter. By the way, Banks released a signature lipstick with M.A.C. last September called ‘Yung Rapunxel.” She’s infamous for purple lipstick in particular.

Lol @ asap rockys lipstick advice.

Lol @ asap rockys lipstick advice.

That comment was so hurtful. Like hurtful beyond measure.

That comment was so hurtful. Like hurtful beyond measure.

Also, he’s just straight up wrong. When it comes to red lipstick, you just have to find the right shade. Check out this blog post on how to pick the right lipstick shade.

Colorism is complicated though. How much of this obsession with light-skinned Women is rooted in self-hatred?

There will be more on the colorism in hip-hop later on the blog, so stay tuned!

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You Should Know About: Azealia Banks

Azealia Banks

Photo Courtesy of ListenNewMusics.com.

WHO: There’s a new female rapper/singer in the game and she’s spitting her way into the hearts of today’s hip-hop fiends. Azealia Banks, a newbie from Harlem, is the new up-and-comer in the music industry. With the exception of her Youtube tracks “Seventeen” and “Gimme A Chance” under the moniker Miss Bank$, she dropped her first official single, “212” last year featuring a beat from Lazy Jay. After that came “Liquorice,” a catchy tune with a spanking-fresh music video where Banks boasts about attracting White boys despite having dark skin. Banks sings on the hook:” Can I catch your eye sir / Can I be what you like? Yeah… / I can be the right girl / Tell me if you like your / lady in my, my color / can I be your type? Yeah…”

Banks’ debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, is due in September on Interscope/Polydor Records. Although many people refer to her as a rapper, she prefers the term “lyricist.” She wrote on her blog:

“I never was…. and as soon as I started paying attention to b******t urban media, I started getting myself in trouble. From now on I’m a vocalist, and will not be associating myself with the “rap game”… or whatever the f**k that means…”

WHY: The quote above may be referring to her highly-publicized confrontations with White female rapper Iggy Azalea. XXL reports that in April, Banks tweeted, “How can you endorse a white woman who called herself a ‘runaway slave master’? Sorry guys. But I’m pro black girl. I’m not anti white girl, but I’m also not here for any1 outside of my culture trying to trivialize very serious aspects of it.”

Unfortunately for Banks, race is always going to play a part in her career. A Google search of Azealia Banks and Iggy Azalea will bring up plenty of interviews with Iggy about her beef with Banks, and her word is backed up even more by her rap mentor T.I., who signed her to Grand Hustle Records in early March of this year. But Banks doesn’t shy away from the controversy. Racialicious’ write up of Azealia Banks as the Crush of the Week points out, “Sexual braggadicio? Check? And hold on…did she just check Diplo and his I’m-not-an-cultural-appropriator-because-I-date-the-women-of-color-I-take-credit-for a** (and any other white person who thinks they get a Racism Pass because they sex it up with folks outside their race)? Totes check.”

WHEN: Banks’ album is due in September, but if you can’t wait that long, stay tuned for her mixtape Fantasea, to be released on July 4, and check out her 1991 EP, released May 29.

WHAT ELSE?:

Azealia Banks – “Slow Hands (Interpol Cover)”