July 2017 archive

On Sexism in Entertainment, Rick Ross Could Learn a Lot From Queen Latifah

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Photo: Screenshot from SwaysUniverse on YouTube

I never know what I’ll hear when I leave YouTube on autoplay. Yesterday, while completing some work, I left a playlist running in a background tab. The first interview I heard was rapper and label owner Rick Ross on The Breakfast Club. He told DJ Envy, Charlemagne and Angela Yee about his role in a new VH1 television show ‘Signed,’ in which recording artists can compete for a chance to have their careers further developed. Before you read on, let me admit to a struggle in reckoning with my love of rap music versus some of the harmful ideas some of the music perpetuates.

When Angela asked Ross about the general prospect of him signing women to his own label or working with women to develop their rap careers, Ross’ response indicated that he hasn’t signed many women rappers because he thinks he’d need to have sex with them after spending money to develop them. My mouth dropped open.

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Angela Yee posing a question to Rick Ross. (Photo: screenshot from Breakfast Club Power 105.1 FM YouTube)

Ross’ comments reminded me of a lyric in which he rapped about the idea of putting molly in a woman’s champagne without her knowledge. That lyric resulted in writer and organizer dream hampton advocating for Reebok to drop Ross from his endorsement deal (which they eventually did) saying:

While we do not believe that Rick Ross condones sexual assault, we are very disappointed he has yet to display an understanding of the seriousness of this issue.

I was glad to see dream hampton confront Ross’ lyrics then, but I think Ross has a certain level of ignorance about sexism and rape culture that might only improve with intervention from his own friends and much more education. Rick Ross’ comments made my stomach turn, but I found inspiration in the next interview that autoplayed — it was was Queen Latifah on Sway in the Morning.

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Latifah speaking on Sway in the Morning. (Photo: screenshot from SwaysUniverse YouTube channel)

Latifah stars in the Will Packer and Universal Studios film ‘Girls Trip,’ which earned an estimated $30+ million during its opening weekend this July. Colorlines’ Sameer Rao reports that the raunchy comedy is headlined by four Black actresses and was crafted by a Black creative team. That team included multiple women.

When asked by Tracy G about her thoughts on how to succeed despite sexism in the entertainment industry, Latifah said she knows many men who have contributed to her life, but that you’ll “face obstacles no matter what you do.” Part of the problem, Latifah said, is people try to limit what they think women can do in certain fields.  She encouraged women to be prepared for what may come, but to identify, and stay close to people who respect you:

“What I don’t think we should do is limit ourselves in any shape or form. When you find people that you can connect to, who will support you […] those are the people you need to keep in your life.”

Latifah went on to describe her relationship with her business partner Shakim Compere as one of mutual, intellectual respect. Watch the full interview below.