Riot Grrls on the Radio: Bondage, Beats and Being the Boss

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd's piece at Pitchfork is a stern reminder that just because we usually hear watered-down versions of feminity on the radio doesn't mean we've given up. In her discussion of Kelis' new single, "Bossy", Escobedo Shepherd covers bondage, beats and being the boss in the male-dominated world of hip-hop.

True, women gaining power-thru-sex trade is the oldest theme in the book (sorry but ya can't credit Kim and FoxyÉperhaps refer to, I dunno, THE BIBLE), but that was but one facet from the whole Kelis package: still one of my fave albums ever, the uber-glossy, Neptunes-produced/written Tasty packed many love-as-food-metaphors ("Sugar Honey Iced Tea"!) a graphic marital sex romp ("In Public" with Nas, her boo-4Life), a Civil Rights Era soul-alluding hood lament ("Rolling Through the Hood"), and the best song ever possibly written about love AND socialism AND/OR Reparations ("Millionaire," with Andre 3000).

Kelis's new single was written by none other than ex-4 Non Blonde Linda Perry, who has also written songs for Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stefani and Courtney Love, and she continues to write radio-friendly songs about women with power and freedom, women with voices that have something to say yell.

On "Bossy", she's really back in business, running things with a guest spot by Too $hort-- widely known to be one of hip-hop's least abashedly sexist lyricists, tho now he's sounding a bit like a grampa next to that untenable, piggish Cam/Lil Wayne blowjob song y'all are repping. Delivering her lines in a skeptical tone like she's gonna casually smack anyone who disses her, she sets it up: That's right, she's the first girl who screamed on a track. Don't try to play her out. It's not the hottest loping beat-- the BPM lags on this Neptunes pose, though props to its Nintendo NES allusions-- but if I had a car, I would bump it loud and drive real slow.

Even Kelis' attire in the video for "Bossy" speaks volumes: she goes from bikini-clad "self-rubbing" to androgynous business-person in the blink of an eye, absorbing all the typically male hip-hop images as if to say, "Fuck that, I'm in charge."

The best part is that it won't just be us buying the single and looking for the video, because if you're like me and only just now hearing about it, you're behind the curve. The "Bossy" video is at the top of the video charts, and it probably will be for quite some time. These sort s of catchy anthem songs always are.

Only this time, the girls who are singing along are singing about their own empowerment, however unwittingly.

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