I must live a very sheltered & cozy little life (with no TV) because I'd never even heard about Nelly's Tip Drill video until today despite it coming out in 2003. I have the feeling there are much more horrible videos out there but this is by far the most soul destroying I've ever seen. I'm not about to enter in to the well worn debate surrounding the objectification of women in hip hop videos and porn - and the fact that the line between the two is rather blurry in this video. Don't watch it if you find women inventing new ways to degrade themselves & men finding new ways to delude themselves upsetting.
I'll own up - when I first moved to London aged 18 I kept getting scouted for music videos etc and I went to a couple of auditions. I showed up in about 18 layers of clothing which I refused to take off and barely looked up or smiled - needless to say I decided it wasn't for me pretty quickly.
There are so many things that upset me about this video...but the main thing is the combination of the lyrics and the normalization of black women as cheap, vacant sexual beings and the fact they'll allow themselves to be seen as such. On camera. I'm sure there's reasons for it but I'm not sure they translate across the Atlantic...A friend told me recently about her 5 year old mixed race niece asking her why there weren't any brown princesses, and also that she'd been jiggling her bum to music as little kids do and her mother proclaimed "that must be genetical!". The thought of that little girl ever seeing the countless videos of this nature fills me with dread. Who exactly is going to explain to her why only brown girls seem to be in these videos, why these women would want to do it, and why she shouldn't do it. I just found myself welling up at the thought.
Where are the strong female voices in 2008 who provide a healthy counterbalance to this crap? Where are the Ursula Ruckers, Sarah Jones', Lauryn Hills, Erykah Badus, Missy Elliots, and Jill Scotts of the last 5-10 years? I've been listening to Janelle Monae's Sincerely Jane a lot lately and some of her lyrics sprang to mind -
Teacher, teacher please reach those girls in them videos
The little girls just broken Queen, confusing bling for soul
Danger, there's danger when you take off your clothes, all your dreams go down the drain girl
Are we really living or just walking dead now?
Or dreaming of a hope riding the wings of angels
The way we live
The way we die
What a tragedy, I'm so terrified
Day dreamers please wake up, we can't sleep no more
Janelle is one of the few truly inspirational current female singers I can think of who doesn't sell herself sexually despite being a raving beauty. I've put this up before but it's going back up in case anyone hasn't seen it -
As my own little counterpoint I'm going to give you a download link to Your Revolution by DJ Vadim & Sarah Jones - "your revolution will not happen between these thighs..." and post up the sadly ever relevant (12 years after it was first made) What They Do by The Roots.