Music is a wonderful thing. It’s a means of integrating disparate groups and seems to come with it’s own culture, one that is blind to race due to a shared appreciation of talent. But one thing it cannot seem to look past is gender. Black artists often portray women as nothing more then interchangeable vaginas who exist solely to service their sexual needs and most audiences are now inured.
Jaja Soze (given name Elijah Kerr) is one who attempts to add colour to his music by interlacing it with themes of sexual exploitation and misogyny. He is a Muslim and a throwback 1960′s civil rights activist as well as a multi-faceted artist and his music reveals that his life has not been an easy one. He was raised in south London by his mother who by his account worked ‘day and night.’ He founded the notorious PDC street gang as a teenager in the 1980′s but a decade later gave it up to launch PDC Entertainments. The gang was known for it’s violence and drug dealing and Jaja has served time in prison. It would seem that growing up, most if not all his close allies were male and it is likely that a lot of his opinions about women were formed within this macho context. Also considering his mother’s minimal presence in the home it is not surprising that he developed no real appreciation for women.
If he had stopped with a few derogatory lines in some of his songs he probably would have remained under the feminist radar but he’s actually dedicated a whole track to his opinions. Ironically it’s called ‘Beautiful Sister’. Inadvertently, one of the most misogynistic songs I have encountered and definitely one with great potential for damage.
The scenes in the video for ‘Beautiful Sister’ flick between Jaja with a demure black women reading on a park bench and another black woman in heavy make-up and a blond wig. The woman in the wig sits preening in the mirror. It is this type of woman we come to understand, that is the object of his dissent. For clarity, I will refer to her as the ‘bad sister.’ His rap is a cappella, so one is forced to pay full attention to his words:
Dear sister, right now you’re looking confused.
You got your priorities wrong plus you’re fucking a bag of dudes
All you seem to care about is handbag and shoes
Make-up, weave, gossip and hood news
Sleeping around and complaining when the baby come
You should have thought of that when you got filled up with cum
Deep down inside your heart you’re amazing
Misguided by boobs, bum and ravin’
Come on, you’re a future mum
Plus the wannabe fug (thug) you’re with is an Uncle Tom
You deserve much more, furthermore you’re a queen
But how you are right now, you look like a fien’
Cos I can smell you from here
And it don’t smell clean
I’ll probably run away if I saw you in a wet dream
skin looks bad and your high heels look lea
That Mary Claire ain’t working
Try some Cocoa butter cream
Dear Sister without you, men ain’t shit
But we need you educated for the sake of the kids
You’re a mum, wife, lover
A mans heartbeat
If you’re lost, how can you expect your man not to cheat
I’m not saying it’s just a black thing
White women are lost too
And even though we have big problems
They have problems too
I mean look at all the role models
For the female generation
All they seem to talk about is arse and pussy penetration
We got artists like Nneka
But they show us Niki Minaj
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing,
But look at the scars
Instead of caring for their kids
They’re having sex in cars
While their baby daddy is locked up banging the bars
Dear sister, believe me I ain’t try to dis ya
Our culture needs you back, believe we miss ya
But the devil’s in your ears with that evil whisper
Take my word for it, we need you
My beautiful sister.
Two black female vocalists (Gigi Daai & Jareth) follow. They present the ‘female’ perspective in an apologetic, plaintive aria and appeal to the sisters to change their negative ways. The video winds to a close with the redemption of the bad sister. Her blond wig is off, revealing short natural hair. Her strapless dress has been replaced with a strapped one and the garish make-up is gone. She stands on display for all to see, posing modestly, a true ‘Beautiful Sister.’
Well, there you have it. The solution to all the social ills that ail the black race. I will now respond as a ‘sister’ who is keen to set the ‘record’ straight.
Jaja feels he has the required intellect and experience to determine what is ‘wrong’ with black women today but It’s self-evident that he has neither. He also feels that he has the right to ask us to change and that’s plain arrogance.
The society that Jaja advocates is one where women rarely have sex, stop raving, get educated for the children’s sake and accept sole responsibility for their welfare. And better yet, the responsibility for creating this ideal lies squarely with us women. In his view, he and his compadres are not culpable even though they are actually the ‘bag of dudes’ these sisters are allegedly sleeping with. Moreover, the standard he expects us to meet is not one of personal achievement or success where children and/or heterosexual relationships do not feature, but one that is self-sacrificial and suspiciously docile.
We are also expected to remain celibate while our ‘baby daddies’ are banged up. This conveniently bypasses the issue of why so many black men are in jail in the first place. Worryingly, Jaja uses the term “Uncle Tom” in this and several of his other tracks, so rather than encouraging young black men to respect authority and adopt a less controversial way of life he negatively brands those that do without providing a viable option.
I find it interesting that there is no suggestion that black men will provide financially for these women (and their gangsta sons) neither does Jaja offer assistance in raising the children. There’s not even an assurance of long-term commitment. All we are offered is a vague possibility that our men will stop cheating. Mmm, cost benefits don’t add up I’m afraid, Jaja.
Again, he smoothly glosses over another issue facing the black community – absent fathers. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 48% of lone parent families are Afro-Caribbean and that nationally nine out of every ten lone parents are women. In 2007, Tony Sewell, a black journalist, suggested in his Daily Mail article “Scandal of the absent fathers” that because the Afro-Caribbean community has a higher level of absent fathers than any other group many young black men lacking a father figure and male role models turn to drugs and violence. His views are backed up by several psychological studies and here we have Jaja as a classic example.
In short, the societal model that Jaja proposes is neither equitable nor reasonable. It promotes an irresponsible lifestyle while ignoring the real issues and ultimately only serves to benefit his gender’s ego. Considering the current state of affairs, in reality it is self-destructive.
Also observe Jaja’s gutter-level language. Only a true misogynist would make a point of including women of another race into a rant about his own. It is only through a close relationship with pornography that one feels comfortable with using phrases such as “when you got filled up with cum.” or come to the conclusion that “ All the role models for the female generation … seem to talk about is arse and pussy penetration.” Blatantly, he neither knows nor cares for us.
Jaja’s rhymes and catchy tunes make an effective channel for delivering this demeaning and oversimplified content to young black minds. He is doing more than just buffering existing stereotypes he is also fuelling resentment and disrespect for women. For black women it is divisive as it categorizes us into either good or bad. It demands that we limit our potential and follow a particular code of conduct in order to be accepted. It alienates rather than inspires. It is downright rude. He might believe he is empowering women but India Arie he is not. In fact, ideas like this make us a target for both physical and sexual abuse, recipients of frustrations and anger.
In a sense, Jaja’s worldview is a symptom of the many socio-economic issues that lurk below but it does not excuse it. Jaja sees himself as an educated man on a mission albeit a “a self-educated” one but it’s time he got re-educated. It’s obvious that there are certain things that you cannot teach yourself and he needs to recognize this for the sake of the community. As they say, ignorance is not bliss, it is dangerous.