A Brave Step for Mainstream Rap: Webbie’s “Independent”
If you have seen popular music videos recently, you know that women are often wearing little clothing and dancing provocatively around men. The lyrics to these songs can be just as oversexualized, if not more so. Although there is no shortage of music featuring women in these second-class roles, there is a brave new popular rap song and video that goes in a new direction.
That song is “Independent” by Webbie. Despite the fact that the song focuses mainly on material objects (i.e. money, flat-screen TVs, and cars), the overall message of the song is that independent women are strong and can take care of themselves. It is refreshing to see a male artist unabashedly come out with a music video that depicts women in a positive light. My favorite line in the song is:
She’s got her own house, she’s got her own car, two jobs, work hard, you a bad broad.
The song’s music video has a similar empowering message. The video shows women in classrooms studying current events and dreaming about their futures. Women are shown as doctors, business executives, and even the first African-American woman president of the United States.
Although this music video has empowering aspects, it still isn’t ideal as far as representing women goes. Women are still shown wearing small clothing and dancing for the camera. I would prefer that women’s breasts weren’t popping out of their clothing when they are in a classroom, but at least they are in a classroom and not a bedroom. I would also prefer that women weren’t shown as dancing objects in music videos, but the camera isn’t focused solely on her gyrating hips — instead, it is focused on her face.
Is Webbie’s music video the answer to all of our prayers for positive images of women? Maybe not, but it is definitely a step in the right direction.
If you want to let Webbie know what you liked about “Independent” and encourage him to make more music videos like it, send him a message through his MySpace page.
Ashley Yee has worked with elementary-school-aged kids for more than three years and will be a graduate student this coming fall. As a former About-Face intern, Ashley strongly believes in empowering girls and women through educating them and boosting their self-esteem. Ashley worked on the About-Face Yay Scale campaign in July 2008.