In a small room of the DOMMO Cultural House, UW students and professors, Ecuadorian community members, and four feminista hip hop artists gathered for the 2018 Feminista Encuentro. Professor Michelle Habell-Pallan began by thanking everyone for coming and introducing the artists of the night, Ana Cano aka Black Mama, Taki Amaru, Cayetana “Caye Cayejera” Soloa, and Jeka Libre. Each feminsta artist then took time at the mic to introduce themselves, their work, and gave us a glimpse into their political and personal motivations as artists. Black Mama began by acknowledging that we, as students, have been talking and learning about feminism and politics, but this would be a night to see what they do for a living and see what they do for the struggle. Taki took the mic and thanked everyone for the opportunity to share her experience as a rapper and to use her music and message as a channel to share the dream and reality of being Runa. Caye acknowledged that she speaks in Spanish because she comes from a colonized country. She also recognized the students and professors in the room and said that the world of academia has a responsibility to not forget about the past or people and experiences that are so often undervalued. Thus, those within “the academy” must question where information within the academy comes from and realize that equally, if not more, important information comes from social work, education, and people in the streets. Jessica aka Jeka Libre finished off the introductions, saying how happy she was to share her hip hip because it is her way of expressing herself and expressing what so often remains unheard. They all mentioned how important our present day is in the modern feminist movement, and as we continued with the discussion, the heaviness and progress of these womens’ careers became even more evident.
The question and answer discussion session began, and when asked how we can strengthen the feminist hip hop movement, Black Mama talked about how commercialized the hip hop industry has become. Consequently, the artists and the music itself have been managed without thinking of the artist or even the public. She said that of course you want to show your art, but at a certain level you cannot continue without being paid in money. Because of this, they have started hosting and organizing concerts with women artists and treating them very well. They want to create an industry where, regardless of femininity or masculinity, artists and music are respected and treated well. Caye then began speaking on hip hop as medicine, but the issue of capitalism and industrialization in music continued. She said feminist hip hop artists are trying to find a balance between getting compensated fairly and politicizing her art but not letting it become industrialized or merchandized. Her motivation is not commercial, it is political. Until now, we have not had a feminist perspective of viewing or producing arts, so it has been under the control of the patriarchy. Because of this traditional means of production and consumption, creating places for women inside the hip hop industry is necessary in order to popularize a feminist way of seeing art.
Group Name: BroadeningMindAbroad