“Shake it!” - Explicit Music Videos and ZimHipHop’s Relation With Sexualized Content

 By Takudzwa Kadzura 


Authors Stephens and Phillips (2003) argue that the basic stereotypes applied to black women historically, ‘‘Jezebel, Mammy, Matriarch, and Welfare Mother," form the basis of the modern more sexually explicit and demeaning portrayals of black women as ‘‘Freaks, Gold Diggers, Divas, Dikes, and Baby Mamas’’ in rap music today. In fact, they argue that despite the availability of a diversity of images for black women, the substance of media portrayals has not changed over the past century.

And ZimHipHop is not spared either from this cultural malaise.

We could have easily let it pass. Our valiant efforts to profusely inform and enlighten readers on the Zimbabwean hip hop industry have always avoided popularity gimmicks. Risqué music video snippets are some of those clickbait techniques and we can affirm that they really work! Popularity.

This piece attempts to highlight the pros and cons of nudity in the Zimbabwean hip hop space. The lines separating authentic, creative content and publicity stunts are very thin when it comes to the arts industry. Clout chasing techniques barely contribute to the creation and maintenance of a respectable brand.

However as human beings we stand justified to whatever type of content we subscribe to. The all-mighty and omnipresent Internet is that democratic, after all, it’s your phone and data. Why would anybody bother?

Covid-19, Increased Screen Time, and Desperation for Attention [Online]

With Covid-19 restricting physical ups and downs esp in urban dwellings, staying glued to these eye-souring screens has saved many from the dreaded abyss  called ‘boredom'. This pandemic, as heartless as the devil, has destroyed and rearranged industries.

As if a blessing, it has boosted the rise of new creative artists and socialites on the internet streets. Businesses have also stepped up e-commerce competence to stay profitable. Nobody has an option.

But what is it that people particularly Zimbabweans like most on the internet? What spreads faster?

Over the course of the COVID – 19 era nudity stands out as a top seller. The arrow immediately points to the Njuzu debacle which once broke the internet. Prior to these new noisemakers we’ve had Vimbai Zimuto, Tiara Baluti, Bev and the likes who have salvaged a living from producing sexually suggestive content. Not forgetting Yolanda Cream and other new vixens on the scene.

In a nation where basic commodities are ridiculously priced, daylight corruption and several abuses reported daily the citizens cannot fail to hunt for those videos and pictures. Dare to expose a celebrity’s sex life and watch how congested the internet gets. It’s a bigger chaotic convergence than Harare’s rush hour traffic. We could go on and on. Perhaps, humans need a break after all and shag off the burden. You are not a pervert to go on Instagram or Facebook for such juicy leaks.

Sex, Cultures, and Conservative Societies

And back to our beloved game, the raps and its daughters and sons. A genre with so much talent yet so broke and for years, rejected by the industry gatekeeping vultures. How has this genre fared with sexualized content? One of hip hop’s pioneers in Zimbabwe Desmond Chideme stunned the internet with a leaked sex-tape of him and popular socialite Pokello a decade ago. He was to cement presence via lyrical prowess in the aftermath so he could capitalize on the fast-spread and far-reaching popularity. Whether that was intentional or unfortunate, incidents like this one add to a couple of clout chasing techniques which artists can or have done to hog some limelight.

Sex remains a closed door affair of two responsible adults and in (religious) Christian societies like ours though sometimes hypocritical, it is frowned upon when you introduce an audience. It is morally offensive.  Who knows what would have been for him without such a showstopper?

What we know with certainty is Zimbabwe’s internet crowd craves for these and yes, Stunner Da Des and Pokello are still bombarding the timeline with high definition pictures and selling products. In as much as the internet forgets can we say the same about the respect lost? If you give a damn.

Sex Sells! The ‘Decadence’ of Commercialized Hip Hop  

Hip hop across the globe has arguably the most sexualized content in the music and arts. Scantily dressed black women are a mainstay in the visual presentation of rap music videos.

The intellectualism espoused in the origins of this genre connote black youth empowerment as the base-phenomena. However, with time, hip hop has developed and its wings have outgrown its vicinity.

This has been in line with the hegemony of capitalism where money is worshipped over the intrinsic dignity of human existence. Where art is captured by elite interests to sell ideas and products – materialism/hedonism/consumerism.

Hip hop is now extreme, carefree and uncensored because the aim is to portray things as they are. And to push agendas and narratives that do not create radical youths. Expression is purely an outpour of everything consciously and sub-consciously – whether via deep passion or a desire for money and recognition.

In contrast our cultures aim to groom morally upright generations. However with the advent of the internet at everyone’s doorstep, the African contextual moral authority as a pillar of social cohesion is waning. In as much as we praise artists for adding vibes into our lives we cannot ignore how they have helped vices sneak into our homesteads.

Talk about dress, language and different forms of violence propagated in modern music particularly hip hop. As a people we have accepted music with its vices on the basis that individuals have a conscience to choose between right and wrong. A close interrogation into the scenes behind production of dirty music videos has given us an insight about sexism, misogyny, objectification, consumerism/materialism, and immorality with serious repercussions.

Women are either totally, partially, or semi- nude in some music videos and likewise, impacts the life of young girls and their later perceptions of womanhood/femininity.  What type of body must she have? Of what value? Where does she stand amongst men? And so forth.

Studies have established that in hip hop, videos perpetuate the continued assault on the sexual integrity of black women’s bodies.

Nudity in Zimbabwean Hip Hop  

The premise of this article is borne in light of the recent video series released by popular hip hop artist Crooger which are Kurunga, Munhu weMunhu and Simudza Gumbo. He has done so with the able aide of Kikky Badass, the goddess of too-much-sauce as spelled by her bio on social media.

Her presence on the hip hop scene is not in any doubt as she has amassed a couple of accolades to laud her rapping skills. The two are managed by Zimboy, a prominent music promoter and founder of Chimurenga Arts Festival. This mere investigation is enough to allege that they have done a market research and found their niche. Of women shaking and twerking their bodies with barely anything covering their bodies as if there is nothing to lose. There is nothing to lose if you have the money to convince a vixen to trade her dignity. This is hip hop. We rise from nothing to something. To something that we unfortunately remain unbothered to trace its effects.

Nowadays people on social media are entitled to hustle however they want and in this concrete jungle it is the bad asses who come on top. The videos have done relatively ‘okay’ judging by the current state of hip hop. As if reacting to naysayers Crooger has defiantly cleared the air out whilst on the other side Kikky lashes back at those who criticize her risqué behaviors. The fate could have been different for the later given her flexibility on the mic. You can refer to her Megatron challenge and dancehall song One One. Maybe things could have been different considering the local music landscape. You remember when she featured in Enzo Ishall video as a vixen and how that got immediately outclassed by raunchy dancer Beverly Sibanda? Many have been impressed by her verse on Simudza Gumbo but the majority of music listeners will never know because they simply do not want the ass shaking.

Quoting a scholarly perspective fron OBJECTIFICATION OF WOMEN IN RAP MUSIC VIDEOS by Jamie O. Broadnax, Johnson (2014) gives an explanation on the definition of what and who is a video vixen in the music industry as she writes: “The video vixen holds a special place in American society’s underbelly. Good hair, firm breasts, round ass, slim waist, and pouty mouth, - she is beautiful according to the European and African American standards. She is both reprimanded and applauded for her roles as the model, the part-time prostitute when necessary, the vixen who steals married and taken men.”

In a nutshell, hip hop unlike an academic institute or sporting activity you cannot have set prohibitions on certain elements chosen by the artist to reach their targeted audience.

Yes, there is room for clean music and there is also room for sexually demeaning content.

And artists should always be wary of the objectification and misogyny rooted in this kind of niche. So should the audience.

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