"Yankin" is an articulation of female power thatchallenges the ideology of the commercial music establishment.
Lady's male counterpart is not demanding or controlling; she is. You might say she wears the pants in the paradigmatic relationship. From the first hearing of the song's refrain, Lady makes it clear that she is the dominant sexual power. Her male partner is forced to submit to her, as she declares "my pussy be yankin, got this nigga feelin' hypnotized." In an emulation of typically male sexual bravado, Lady boasts about her sexual stamina, "look like you tired, I suggest you pop a pill or two/you gotta keep up, when I make this thing do what it do." Indeed her power over her partner is so great that she suggests he may be utterly unprepared, "you think you want it but you don't really want none." Like male rappers, Lady is concerned with being pleasured as much as she is concerned with being an adequate pleasure-er. She makes clear her sexual demands, "I see that magnum rapper, nigga that's the perfect size," while at the same time she brags about her ability to deliver maximum pleasure: "I hope you strapped for this incredible ride/look at my hips they got a hell of a grind/I started slow so you can relax your mind/Cause once I finish, you gonna be out of yo mind." Unlike her female counterparts, specifically Nicki Minaj and Beyonce, she does not require male validation, "you ain't gotta tell me, I know this pussy be yankin'." She is acutely aware of her own sexual power.
Neither Nicki Minaj nor Beyonce, two of hip hop's leading women, challenges commercial music's gendered status quo the way Lady does. Nicki Minaj asserts her dominance not over men but over other women; she is concerned with being the best woman in the service of men and not with being serviced by men. In her song, "Shitted on 'Em," Nicki Minaj proudly announces "All these bitches is my sons." Bitches, being a gendered term, refers to Minaj's female rivals. Like a mother over her children, Minaj claims superiority over other women. Later in the first verse of the song, she raps, "if I had a dick I would pull it out and piss on 'em." She not only claims to be better than other women but also concedes that only if she were a man could she truly claim power over women. This lyrical thread can be seen in Minaj's other works. In her verse on Big Sean's Dance (Ass) Remix, Minaj is again interested solely dominating other women. "Wobbledy, wobble, wo-wo-wobble, wobbin," she begins, "Ass so fat, all these bitches' pussies is throbbin'/bad bitches I'm your leader." There's no ambiguity there; Minaj stakes her claim as leader of women. And yet, conspicuously absent is any attempt to assert some kind of power over men.
Beyonce, who as the respectable female ambassador of hip hop to the rest of the world is tame compared to Minaj and Lady, articulates an idea of female empowerment albeit within the framework of a male-dominated society. Indeed, Beyonce's Run the World (Girls) transmutes the genuinely subversive kernel of female power into a sanitized and benign kind of platitude. Of course, we know girls don't run the world. Women represent only 19.3% of national
legislative seats across the entire world. The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which maintains a
|Beyonce's song is purged of gender politics. The chained men in Lady's|
video are replaced by seemingly random animals in Beyonce's.
By claiming, erroneously, that girls run the world, Beyonce supports and legitimates the unjust and unequal status quo. Despite all her posturing and declarations of female strength, Beyonce is an apologist for male-dominated society. In Girls (Who Run the World), she sings "to other men that respect what I do/please accept my shine." Still desiring male validation and acceptance, Beyonce doesn't truly want a society run by women, nor does she want real gender parity. Instead, Beyonce is satisfied with sexism with a human face, so to speak. Girls (Run the World), like most of Beyonce's ouvre, promotes the nominally empowering, apolitical message. But implicit in the lyrics is an acceptance, and even reinforcement, of the sexist status quo.
Lady is the most daring female rapper in the world because she appropriates the male language of sexual domination and promotes a vision of a female dominated society. But by using the same images and words as male rappers do, she is pushed to the margins of contemporary popular culture. It's time for the mediators of culture - radio hosts, MCs, and even artists themselves - to promote a genuinely powerful female rapper who is willing to confront our misogynistic society on it's own terms. Influential DJs, like Funkmaster Flex, Cipha Sounds, and Peter Rosenberg should take the lead and give Lady the respect and air-time she deserves.