In the span of 50 years, hip-hop has evolved into an incredibly diverse genre, sparking debates between old-school and new-school enthusiasts. Yet, amidst all this transformation, the woman's perspective in hip-hop hasn't fully found its place. Despite the presence of prominent female rappers throughout hip-hop's history, contemporary fans often struggle to embrace women discussing their sexuality. It's a glaring paradox, where those nostalgic for "old-school hip-hop" with its music videos filled with women somehow can't appreciate tracks like "WAP" because it's not a male rapper delivering the message. This hypocrisy and misogyny persist in an industry where artists like Doja Cat, Saweetie, and Megan Thee Stallion face criticism for the same themes that Future, Lil Wayne, and Eminem were celebrated for. While women consistently top the charts, it's evident that they still have a long journey ahead to carve out their space in the genre.
Here at home, an all-women hip-hop collective already began doing that two years ago.
Founded by Ashwini Hiremath (who goes by the stage name Kranti Naari) in 2021, Wild Wild Women is a group of visionary artists and activists who are reshaping the conventions of art and music. Their collective journey revolves around exploring the intricate experiences of women in society and integrating these narratives into their creative tapestry. Believed to be India's premier female hip-hop ensemble, the group features four exceptional rappers: HashtagPreeti (Preeti N Sutar), MC Mahila (Shruti Raut), JQueen (Jacqulin Lucas), and Pratika (Pratika E. Prabhune), two break-dancers — FlowRaw (Deepa Singh) and MGK (Mugdha Mangaonkar), and grafitti artist Gauri Dabholkar.
A distinctive feature of Wild Wild Women's music is their linguistic diversity. They seamlessly switch between Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Kannada, and English in their songs; creating a vibrant narrative of voices and cultures. Their discography is both a commentary and a critique of the patriarchal order. Raja Beta by Kraanti Naari and Prabhune talks about the disparity in the bringing of boys and girls. Where boys are coddled well into their adult lives, young girls have the responsibility and even the accountability for men's behaviour thrust upon them. Game Flip, speaks about how women are turning the tables and flipping the game, be it through their music or even in real life. Uddu Azad is about breaking the chains of expectations that society binds women in; enabling them to assert their place in society. Doing Okay comments on navigating life as a woman; being objectified and undermined but despite this excelling in a culture that is designed to keep us down.
Beyond music, the collective has a broader mission: to dismantle the deeply ingrained patriarchal structures that permeate the music industry and Indian society as a whole. Their music serves as a powerful medium to address critical issues such as mental health, women's empowerment, and gender biases. Notably, their recent track, Uddu Azad, revolves around mental health conversations, shining a light on an often-neglected subject. One of their tracks, focused on Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), gained recognition when it was used for an awareness program in rural Rajasthan by the international NGO, Save The Child Foundation. Together, they have also organized cyphers and distributed sanitary pads to empower other women and encourage them to showcase their talents across rural Mumbai.
In a world where gender stereotypes persist, Wild Wild Women are breaking barriers and challenging norms, not only as musicians but as agents of social change. As they continue to navigate the complex landscape of the music industry, their unwavering commitment to empowering women and addressing societal issues through their art makes them pioneers across India's hip-hop scene. Wild Wild Women are not just artists; they are advocates for a more inclusive and equal society, using hip-hop as their powerful voice of change.
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