Coochie Conjure pt 2: Fresh Pussy Juice

What do the feminine faces of rap teach us about society’s attitudes towards black women?

As we delve deeper into the science of conjure and examine the mechanics of manifestation can the internalized misogyny of hip hop remain unchecked for much longer?


I used to be a Nicki Minaj fan. My mistrust of her came from her inability to truly be *for* women. I know that’s not her responsibility but fanhood works in two directions: we, the consumer, stan for the artists and the artists respect the fans. Disrespecting the fans is why people don’t fuck with Lauryn Hill anymore but I digress. Nicki’s arrival in hip hop came at a time where there was a huge void in the industry. Nicki and Drake both arrived on the scene around the same time. Had either of them come just 4 years earlier they most likely would not have had the careers that they have today.

Lil Kim was dormant after serving a sentence for perjury. Eve had recently gotten married to a billionaire. Missy Elliot was battling health issues. Foxy Brown was under the radar. As the star femme on Young Money, Nicki Minaj was seen as the savior of lady rap. I’m not denying her star power, her sensuality or her ability to deliver a sick verse; she bodied everyone on Kanye’s “Monster” before her debut album even came out but her ability to go pop was largely because of the precedent that Lil Kim had set. Minaj’s inability to properly give credit where it was due was where The Queen Bee openly expressed her displeasure of Minaj’s rise to fame. I will never shade Nicki’s work ethic because she worked hard to put herself at the center of rap during the rise of her career but Lil Kim definitely gave the blueprint that Nicki was able to follow to a T. Kim even paved the way in regards to referring to herself as the “Black Barbie, dressed in Bulgari” on “The Jumpoff”. Nicki Minaj collaborated with Barbie doll-maker Mattel in 2011. A side by side comparison of Minaj’s 2007 pose shows a direct homage to Kim’s “Hardcore” album cover. 

Over the years the beef between the two has escalated to nasty levels, with each of them taking shots at the other on records and during interviews. The whole ordeal was a mess but the overarching theme was clear: femme rap thrives on scarcity. The “there can only be one” mentality is dangerous and hurts women. The notion that one woman has to or can be the savior of femmes in hip hop is divisive and simply untrue. Biggie isn’t Tupac isn’t Jay-Z isn’t Nas isn’t J. Cole isn’t Kendrick; all of these rappers can and do exist as a collective. Nicki Minaj dominating for so long isn’t proof positive of her superiority to other women in rap at the time but more so is a byproduct of hypermasculinity and the lack of femme visibility in hip hop culture. 

 

Enter Azealia Banks. The rapper broke out with “212”, a simple black and white music video where the rapper displayed incredible wordplay and sing-song hooks over a danceable house beat. Her verbal talent was indisputable, however, where Minaj excelled at masking the views that could counteract with her bottom line, Banks let it all hang out. Her Twitter rants and beefs with several established rappers drew ire from the hip hop community at large. Her projects (EP “1991”, mixtape “Fantasea” and her debut album “Broke with Expensive Taste”) proved that she was a formidable wordsmith and musical creative but unlike other polarizing artists like Kanye West, Banks was canceled and essentially pushed out of the cipher without truly getting on the way her talent alone should have taken her. Being vocal, loud and steadfast in her views made her a hip hop pariah. While I don’t agree with all of Banks’ commentary, delivery or views, her messiness isn’t exclusive to her. Plenty of male rappers have expressed problematic views and were still embraced. Banks didn’t have the protection of a crew (see: Lil Kim and Junior Mafia, Remy Ma and Terror Squad, Nicki Minaj and Young Money) furthering the notion that a femme artist not only needs a masculine cosign but their protection as well. If hip hop is being touted as a man’s game then Banks was never going to win because she wasn’t playing by the rules. Had she had that layer of protection maybe, just maybe, her career would’ve taken a different path. None of these things exist in a vacuum and while Banks has not made herself into the most palatable or even likable character in hip hop we should not forget how 50 Cent came on the scene; guns blazing, with his debut single “How To Rob” and started a beef with Ja Rule, of all people, that ended Ja’s career. 50 solidified his place as the asshole of a new generation and his pettiness has never impeded his success but his masculinity has afforded him a layer of protection and empowerment to be, arguably, the biggest troll in rap. 


Banks’ arrival on the scene came at a time where social media was starting to play a huge role in public perception and brand sustainability. Couple colorism and desirability politics and we can clearly see that Banks, as a dark-skinned femme, was never going to be afforded the same privileges as Nicki or Kim. When Banks openly admitted to lightening her skin and going under the knife, it was already too late for her to be redeemed by the public: she was too angry, too dark and too messy to be fully embraced.

 

While Nicki continued to reign there were incidents where her influence was showing signs of slowing down. Remy Ma came home after spending 8 years at the  Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women following the shooting of an associate. While Remy isn’t the most prolific rapper, her appearance on Love and Hip Hop NY, as well as her loving relationship to husband Papoose, endeared her to a new generation of fans. She spoke candidly about Minaj’s attempts to stop her bag and salt her reputation. The two spent a little time going back and forth, exchanging diss records and stirring the pot. Remy’s tone and presentation didn’t exactly make her as palatable as Minaj and ultimately Remy came away from the beef no bigger than she was when it began. 

 

Around this time Cardi B. began to bubble. The Bronx stripper turned Instagram celebrity arrived on the set of Love and Hip Hop NY as an unknown and left a star. Watching Cardi’s rise to fame was a true witnessing of coochie conjuring in regards to getting money quickly. Never one to hold her tongue or tone down her delivery, Cardi’s brand of realness resonated with folks. She never shied away from speaking on her life as a stripper and when asked about the work she had done to become a success, in and out of the strip club, she spoke frankly about the things she had done to her body and the spiritual workings her family had done to protect her as well. 


A lot of people (men and male-identified women mostly) derided Cardi’s overnight celebrity and her stripper past was routinely brought up to shame her. However, it’s nice to note that while Cardi never denied her past it seems only women in hip hop have to be haunted by it. Several rappers have pasts that include but aren’t limited to, drug dealing, theft, murder, and even rape. Some have even fabricated entire personas as entertainers such as Rick Ross who postured himself as a drug kingpin when in actuality he was a corrections officer. In my opinion, a stripper who actually lived that life is more valid than a wannabe hustler who was an agent the prison industrial complex.

But Cardi’s arrival on the circuit brought forth new conversations around how women in rap (and black women at large) deal with their male counterparts. Cardi’s relationship with Offset, to me, has always been a growing elephant in the room. How can a woman who literally scrapped and worked her way to the top of the charts feel that her successes were incomplete without a man by her side? On her record “I Do”, Cardi raps about being able to leave a man on read, his balls on blue and putting her phone on airplane mode so none of his calls come through. However, her real life experiences with Offset depict a different side of Cardi that is deeply rooted in the feminine performance of sexuality and compliance for male approval. 

This double consciousness is one that we, as folks who enjoy rap, need to address. If we are witches, conjurers, spiritualists, healers, priests and priestesses then we need to be consciously using our modalities to not only manifest access to resources, fame and power. We need to be aware of the spells we cast in our day to day lives. While I enjoy Cardi’s music, I can’t help but feel a way as I read articles and watch clips about how she has done the most to keep a man. In the past our foremothers have used their power to keep men from straying, keep them tied to them and keep them from leaving their families. Cardi has openly discussed the ways she has dealt with infidelity and even went so far to interfere with her menstruation cycle in order to have sex and keep her man “interested”. However, the world that our grandmothers and great grandmothers existed in was not the world we live in today. Your grandmother’s willingness to “keep” a man was a direct response to the time she lived in: a time where without the security of a husband she would be without access to resources, shelter, and the societal privileges that marriage afforded her. As we step into the future and unprecedented freedoms of womanhood at large we need to keep it a buck with ourselves: the ways of survival that were necessary even 50 years ago are no longer needed today. If we are to embrace the power of Coochie Conjure we need to be actively building a world where being true to ourselves and our strengths is commonplace. We cannot center men in this mission because men are not at the center of our survival. We are.


Even the way we deal with our bodies and sensuality needs to be addressed because while I have named this series Coochie Conjure, I do not feel that being sexually active has anything to do with producing the results of performing sex magick. You can be just as powerful alone, moreso even, than with a partner who does not bring forth their best in their relationship with you. Being able to call on sensuality and seduction when the situation requires it is an art. Being able to use that power to manifest the results you desire is powerful as fuck!

 

The same way that Lil Kim endured open abuse from Biggie while going on to become an icon in her own right, we have to wonder who she would have been had she not been subjected to his violence and her lack of self-esteem? If Kim had been more secure in who she was as a dominant feminine force, both in image and on record, would she have gone to the lengths she did to change almost everything about her appearance? Who would Nicki Minaj be without the cattiness? Who would Cardi be without constantly fighting for Offset’s attention and fidelity? Who would Azealia be if she could stop hexing herself by speaking negatively on everyone who was achieving the fame she talked herself out of?


The root of any good working is knowledge of self and the ability to see a situation for what it is. You cannot conjure what you are unable to see. Being able to get what you desire in spite of the odds is what makes magic so enticing to folks but that is a shallow way to view conjure and our potential as workers. We should be striving to achieve our highest potential and the best possible version of ourselves. That type of work requires dedication to self in spite of what society dictates. It means not settling for less than what we fully deserve. It means not letting anyone, not ourselves, not our choice of partner, not the world, tell us that what we want is unattainable. We deserve the very best and to get to the best we need to deal with the deepest parts of our shadows and confront them. We have to make amends with the parts of our psyche that tell us that we expect too much. That we are too powerful. That we are intimidating. We have to reject people, places and things that show up ready to diminish our light. We have to be willing to use our magic to heal and elevate even if that means we will experience seasons of isolation in order to achieve it. We have to be prepared to show up on our journeys confident that within us is the power to attain what we desire, waiting for us to show up and step unapologetically into our greatness. 


That’s that real shit. That’s true Coochie Conjure. 

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