Women of The REACH Festival Drop Knowledge

Ill Camille, Mumu Fresh, DJ Beverly Bond and Angie Ang (left to right) at the REACH Festival

By Dikembe Wilkins, Howard University News Service

Washington– Recognizing the large role that women have played in the development of hip hop as a genre, The REACH Opening Festival featured a panel called “Culture Talk: The Future is Female” to explore ways in which women can participate in the genre on a larger scale.

The REACH Opening Festival featured De La Soul, Pharaohe Monch, Large Professor and even an appearance from the legendary Q-Tip and in the midst of the mirriage of performances there was “Culture Talk: The Future Is Female.”

A discussion featuring DJ Beverly Bond, Mumu Fresh, ill Camille and the moderator Angie Ang, spoke about various topics relating to women in hip hop on Saturday, Sept. 14 at the Kennedy Center. 

Throughout the hour long talk, several issues such as the resurgence of female emcees, the importance of Lauryn Hill, and the lack of respect the female emcees received in comparison to their male counterparts were broached.

ill Camille, an emcee, was able to speak in depth about how her music was able to reach acclaim and notoriety without being commercial. Her album, “Heirloom,” was named by NPR as one of the most important albums of 2017.

Ill Camille, rapper, performing at the REACH Opening Festival.

“I never usually played on the more commercial platforms but that’s just the power of the underground, when it’s real it’s gon’ get through,” said ill Camille.

“I’m not top 40, you know, I don’t know if y’all’ve heard of ill Camille next to a City Girls song on the radio but that’s okay.”

Staying true to your sound and message became the theme of the conversation. “I’d like to see women be more fearless,” said Mumu Fresh, an emcee, when asked of her expectations of today’s women in hip hop.

Mumu Fresh, rapper, performing at the REACH Opening Festival.

“I would love to see us — have a song for every emotion, every day of the week, every experience we have, I just want to see us branch out and be more honest with ourselves and be fearless in how we show up in the world.”

Following that statement, Angie Ang of WKYS mentioned her confusion with the song “Act Up” by the rap duo City Girls which was written by male rapper Lil Yachty. 

“Even women artists are writing, or, singing or rapping from a man’s perspective.” and “Women repeat it, we sing it and then I found out Lil Yachty wrote it for them,” she said.

“Y’see and then you’ll ( referring to women in general) call that women empowerment, but how? How Sway?! How? Even down to what we consider sexy,” Mumu fresh adds.

fresh then brings up the idea that what many women deemed “sexy” was actually created from the perspective of men

“Make up your own rules for sexiness.” 

“If you don’t think I’m sexy the day after I deliver my baby… I don’t need you.”

DJ Beverly Bond followed with “It creates a culture where now, women are buying into what they think is this empowering message and sometimes that means altering their bodies and over glamourising every moment that they can. Thinking that they are not enough, feeling uncomfortable in the skin, and the body, and the hair and it’s just that creates insecurities at very young ages, so that’s of concern, especially if these messages are male messages being spit through women.”

DJ and creator of Black Girls Rock, Beverly Bond at the REACH Opening Festival.

Bond is weary that the next generation or culture curators will take that message to heart without learning of other forms of empowerment. 

“That’s just one form of empowerment but there are many.”

“Music features soul,” said Bond, “Art and our artists have a responsibility to feed our spiritual need and if we stifle that art then we’re stifling not just the artist but also the people that need to receive it.”