Eat It Up and Lay Wit It: Hip Hop, Cunnilingus and Morality in Entertainment

Music

25.03.2013

Eat It Up and Lay Wit It: Hip Hop, Cunnilingus and Morality in Entertainment

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Achille Devéria


A couple of years ago I was sitting with some friends in a dim, unpopular Irish bar in downtown Auckland when one of them made an announcement I'll never forget: “You know, Lil Wayne is the most feminist rapper there is.” Just like that, apropos of nothing. It was an absurd and bold claim that sounded suspiciously like trolling, but my friend didn’t say it to bait controversy. She said it because she believed it to be true for a single sincerely-held reason: Weezy rapped about eating pussy. “But that’s a terrible measure of how feminist something is!” I snorted reflexively, doubting even as the words fell from my mouth if it was.


We ripped into her argument like vultures at a carcass, offering purer examples of feminist rappers and docking points for Lil Wayne’s antifeminist flubs. She was firmly in his corner, though, so I changed tack: “Okay, wait. Even by that measure, he’s hardly the only rapper who raps about eating pussy.” She called me out on that, and I found myself clumsily short of examples, although they felt frustratingly tip-of-tongue. “Honestly, there are loads more”, I pleaded, “I just can’t think of them right now. I’ll even make you a mixtape to prove it! A cunnilingus mix!” We laughed at that, the debate cooled, and we moved on.


 I couldn’t, though. Later that evening, unable to let it go, I fired up my iTunes library. It was bugging me, because the thing is, I really, REALLY love rap. I’m a sincere and longstanding fan a near-chauvinist for the genre so it was irritating me that I couldn’t think of a single vindicating song. I figured scanning my music collection would trigger my memory; expecting to feel that eureka-level relief you get when you suddenly recall a word that you were grappling for blankly an hour ago. Uncomfortably, though, I came up empty. I trawled through gritty 90s street rap and fluffy internet-era cloud rap, DatPiffed backpack rap and torrented bubblegum rap, G-funk and yacht rap, weed rap and crack rap, screw and boom bap. I found no cunnilingus rap.


Easier just to Google, I decided, feeling vaguely disappointed and dilettante as I plugged in various permutations of “rap” + “cunnilingus” + “eating pussy” + “hip hop”. Each combination revealed, to my increasing chagrin, not much other than Weezy songs. Fuck, I thought; the taut balloon of confidence in my argument slowly deflating. Maybe she’s right.


That’s the point where I should have shrugged, turned off the light, and gone to sleep. I didn’t. I googled like a masochist for hours, turning over stones in obscure rap forums and digging determinedly through double-digit results pages. To understand what fueled my tenacious, insomniac hunt, you need to know three things about me:


One: I’m a huge fan of rap.


Two: I’m a huge fan of feminism.


Three: I have a detached academic interest in the topic of cunnilingus I’m a huge fan of getting head, too.


My friend’s argument involved a perfect tessellation of perhaps my three favourite things in life, so I cared badly about resolving it. When you’re a feminist whose life soundtrack is Dr Dre and Gunplay, you spend a lot of time justifying your tastes — both to others, and to yourself. I get pretty fatigued by the idea that hip hop is axiomatically misogynistic, and I tend to steer clear of that minefield debate (even though I have a huge stake in it) because it’s usually waged by white feminists with an entry-level understanding of hip hop and defended by male rap fans who’ll call you a cunt who doesn’t “get it” if you baulk at its most vicious screeds. It’s unnuanced and it’s a headache, because I find myself backing both dogs in the fight and being let down by each of them. This time was different, though: it was personal, it mattered to me, and I became instantly over-invested.


FEMINIST RAP SONGS ABOUT CUNNILINGUS” I googled determinedly. Then “EAT PUSSY RAP”. Then “EAT PUSSY HIP HOP RAP RAPPER CUNNILINGUS SONG FEMINISM LYRICS ORAL SEX LICK BOX”. After surveying the results, I was resolute. “I’m making this goddamn mix for real”, I decided.


And I did.


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It wasn’t easy, making a cunnilingus mix. No sooner had I started than an uncomfortable truth settled: few songs qualified, and I had to scrape and dig for ones that did. I also had to wade through a heap of dispiriting anti-cunnilingus sludge: rappers bleating on about how it’s beneath them, and it’s gross, and blah blah blah (DJ Quik’s “Can I Eat It” is the thickest pile of dogshit in that particular dumping ground). I didn’t want junk like that on the C-Mix, so I formulated two simple criteria for inclusion. To make the cut, a song just had to:


(a) come under the umbrella genre of hip hop, and


(b) mention or allude to cunnilingus in a non-negative way.


That was it. Piece by piece I compiled the final tracklist, as follows:


1 Azealia Banks - 212


2 Kendrick Lamar - HiiiPower


3 Lil Kim – How Many Licks


4 Danny Brown – I Will


5 J. Cole feat. Kanye West – Looking for Trouble


6 Lil Wayne feat. Jay-Z – Mr Carter


7 Khia – My Neck, My Back


8 Ludacris feat. Shawna – What’s Your Fantasy


9 N.O.R.E – Eat Pussy


10 Pig Pun – I’m Not a Player


11 Lil Kim – Not Tonight


12 BWP – Is the Pussy Still Good


13 Pooh Man – Eatin’ Pussy


14 Pretty Ricky feat. Plies – Get You Wet


15 Tech N9ne feat. Lil Wayne and T-Payne – Fuck Food


16 The Beatnuts – Lick the Pussy


17 Afroman – Colt 45


The rappers didn’t have to be male, but I deliberately skewed the selection in their favour (I was mainly interested in male rappers’ attitudes towards cunnilingus, and I was also acutely aware that Lil Kim could have hijacked the whole mix if I let her). There was no minimum threshold, so some of the tracks had only one-off, oblique or passing references to cunnilingus, while others were single-minded odes to the joys of eating pussy; squirm-inducing ravings replete with stock moans and seafood puns. You can generally pick these ones from their titles, like “Eat Pussy”, “Eatin’ Pussy” and “Lick the Pussy”. I didn’t have much patience for backtracking and fucking around, so almost-there lines like Biggie’s in “I Got A Story To Tell” didn’t make the cut:


Petiteness, but that ass fat
She got a body make a nigga wanna eat that (I’m fuckin’ wit’ you).



Nope.


There were double-ups, there were duds, and there was Afroman, but I got there in the end. With the final tracklist complete, I really did burn physical CDs for all my friends;,a personalised message scrawled on each one in blue permanent marker (“hi joe, here’s your cunnilingus mix, xoxo maddie”). It was a gag mix that I threw together pretty quickly but they were thrilled nonetheless, and we got a good laugh out of it for weeks.


I’ll be honest with you, though: I always harboured a bit of perfectionist disappointment about the C-Mix. That was partly for aesthetic reasons because, let’s face it, some of the tracks are so resolutely terrible it’s embarrassing to have them on Team Cunnilingus. I also kept thinking of better songs I could have included but didn’t (“ghhhhhhuh! “21 Questions”!”) But my dissatisfaction ran deeper than that. The C-Mix’s raison d'être was to prove my friend wrong; to show that Weezy wasn’t the only rapper holding it down for going down. And I guess, in a quantitative sense, it did that. Qualitatively, though, it was a pretty clear sign of how far we still had to go.

[caption id="attachment_6236" align="aligncenter" width="450"]dep_7780417-Intimacy “For Her”: Reciprocal sex in the Getty Images world [/caption]

Sex is a gendered issue, Y/y? In spite of near-universal agreement that sex is fun and feels nice, the backseating of women’s sexual pleasure is still a stubborn stain on our cultural fabric, and we can’t seem to get past the idea that sex is really for men. Take the world of porn, for instance, which is a steadfastly dude-centric affair for no good reason at all. On a mainstream aggregator site like PornHub.com you can find 60+ categories of porn. Fifty-nine of those are aimed at men, who can choose between bukkake and creampie, POV and BBW, or any of the other colourful and creative tabs tailored to their every whim. Women, on the other hand, get one catch-all category: “female friendly”. It’s a yawnfest full of pristine white people wearing pristine white underwear humping on pristine white sheets and gazing into each other’s pristine white eyeballs (zzzzzzzz). The condescension is palpable, and besides, this stuff isn’t for us: it’s just the softest of the stuff that’s made for men. If I’m a girl and I’d rather watch interracial gangbangs (and, really, who’d blame me) then I can; but I’ll be jacking off through a compulsory male gaze either way.


Or take the soul-deadening world of Cosmo sex advice. Ostensibly “for women”, these articles are usually preoccupied with maximising men’s sexual pleasure, e.g. “His 6 Secret Sex Spots Revealed!” (Balls aren’t exactly shrouded in secrecy where I’m from, but thanks anyway, Cosmo). Women are bombarded by can’t-win commands on how they can best please men: Be available! But don’t be too slutty! Be adventurous! But don’t be too freaky! Be into kinky stuff! But don’t be into weird kinky stuff! Interracial gangbangs!!?? FOR THE LOVE OF GOD NO, NO MAN WILL EVER WANT YOU.


Cosmo (and others) explicitly discourage us from communicating our own desires; always an afterthought anyway. Apparently only irredeemable, wanton sluts just open their mouths and ask for things; proper ladies hint with meek, telepathic signals like leaving Cosmo open on the coffee table. Then, without a shred of irony, our sexuality is described as “mysterious”, like a fickle and elusive leprechaun that's too much trouble to try and chase.


I could go on, but the point is simple: our cultural mainstays promote terrible, retrograde models of sex, and women’s interests are treated as secondary. So naturally a sex act that’s as overtly centred on female pleasure as cunnilingus is treated pretty dismally in our bro-centric culture. It’s routinely dismissed by internet forum degenerates (“beta move, bro”) and maligned by mainstream porn, where it’s the job of fake lesbians or a token ten-second affair to slick things up for the main events (BJ-->fucking-->moneyshot, aaand we’re done here). Well, whatever. I’m not particularly invested in what internet bottom feeders and plastic porn producers think about cunnilingus, or anything else for that matter. But listening to my favourite rappers treat it with the same disdain? That shit cut me deep.


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgJnSDwwxDg]

Microcosm of society that it is, rap has had a thorny and mostly negative history about the subject of cunnilingus. Female rappers have tended to be its most vocal and positive advocates, but historically male rappers have dragged the ball, treating it either:


  1. With cavernous silence. (This is, of course, in screaming contrast to how fellatio is treated, and more on that below.) Or:

  2. With express disapproval, because going down on women breaches the Guy Code or something (“I tell all my homies “play these hoes” / Don’t eat the pussy and play these hoes”) (GOOD RHYME BRO). And/or:

  3. With Public Service Reminders that female genitalia is disgusting, usually via eyeroll-worthy fish gags so dusty they’d make your rugby coach yawn (“you can keep that salmon sandwhich to yo' self (don’t wanna eat it)”). And/or:

  4. With caveats that it’s unmasculine and ego-shatteringly submissive (“I remember when I said I never would... swallow your pride, niggas, and eat the pussy”), to the point where it’s even used as evidence of a rival’s weakness (“Cat like you? Call you a gladiator / Give her oral, and you happy, glad-he-ate-her (stupid)”).


In sum, rappers have been as ungenerous as cat shit when it comes to oral sex. So by the time we get rappers like Danny Brown and Game rapping about going down willingly, they’re throwing showers of self-congratulatory confetti because they believe themselves to be Brave, Exceptional Men for doing so (“You go down on me, I go down on you / I wanna do all the things that your man won’t do”). The double standard couldn’t be clearer: rappers wank on endlessly about how much unqualified dick-sucking they get, but when it comes to returning the favour we hear a tirade of excuses, defensive posturing, hygiene policing, and, well, fear:


Now I'm not a deep-sea diver
But I love it when my dick's covered and smothered with saliva
Shit, might even straighten out your dentures
Because it's not just a blow job, honey, it's an adventure
But sixty-nine, and I ain't with that
I'll go to a Chinese restaurant, bitch, if I wanna eat cat
Because you gotta be brave to eat the tuna, G
So when it comes to pussy-lickin', I'm the chicken of the sea



Can we get real for a minute? Cunnilingus is ordinary. It's one of the most vanilla sex acts in the book, and anyone who’s been within cooee of an actual, healthy pussy knows that they smell vaguely and inoffensively of... well, pussy. Being willing to venture south shouldn’t exactly set your ego off into the stratosphere, so why, in our culture, do we talk about it like it’s terrifying? Have you ever seen Wanda Sykesimpersonation of pornstars who eat pussy like they’re eating live scorpions for cash? That’s what half the rappers on the C-Mix sounded like, and that was a pro-cunnilingus selection. By the time I’d listened to 120 odd minutes of puff and bluster from rappers who thought licking the odd cunt or two made them 9/11 heroes, I was practically begging for cavernous silence again.


Look: I’m being snarky and sweeping, because there were exceptions to the trend. It’s just that inconveniently for me, the most glaring one was Weezy. Lil Wayne raps about eating pussy in a league of his own, and he always has. His volume of output on the subject is enormous, but he doesn’t just rap about it often: he raps about it enthusiastically, generously and without caveats (You know I'm nasty, excuse my behavior / Let me just taste ya, we can fuck later). He neither apologises nor congratulates himself for being willing to do it, and he’s remarkably unaffected by the hangups of his peers (I suck a pussy, fuck a pussy, leave it there / Long hair? Don't even care). He skips the hygiene policing and generally steers clear of fish jokes clearly spending more time around real female genitalia than male locker rooms and sounding all the better for it. Best of all though is his level-headed, fair’s-fair approach to reciprocity which, in the wake everyone else’s stinginess, made me feel slightly more human to hear:


She kiss me mine, and I kiss hers back
If she a bad bitch, she deserve that



Simple as that! How stupid did I feel? Weezy was way more feminist than I thought.


[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EBvFA3HUgA]

Fast-forward to 2013. (Hi! Welcome to the future!) You’ll know, if you pay attention to this sort of thing, that pussy-eating rappers are prolific now. If you don’t, take my word for it, because I do: rappers these days quip about eating pussy with abandon; the qualifications and caveats are diminishing on a daily basis; and it’s not limited to weird kid outliers anymore. The jury’s in on pussy eating, and K-Dot, SchoolboyQ, Danny Brown and Game are decidedly pro. So are YG andTyga. So’s Action Bronson. And 2 Chainz. And Future, and Yelawolf. And LilB. And Kevin Gates. And Drake. I’ll stop the tedious listing, because fucking everybody is on board: it’s weirder now to be a rapper who doesn’treference eating pussy than to be one who does. The zeitgeist has well and truly shifted, and now rappers are cheerleading for pussy-eating. So what caused the shift?


Basically, Lil Wayne did. He wasn’t the first to rap about cunnilingus by a long shot: female rappers like Lil Kim and Trina were early and oft-derided advocates, and there’s always been the odd male rapper who’s not entirely anti. They didn’t make it popular, though; and Weezy F. Baby did. He’s been rap’s most open, consistent and caveat-free cunnilingus champion for years, and he had enough serious rap cred to actually make it catch on (NB: I’m talking about his influence during the second half of the last decade here; think of the era leading up to and including Carter III). When the rap game consensus was anti-cunnilingus, Weezy didn’t give a fuck. He was like the first kid who jumps off a rock into water, and then all the other kids see that it’s safe and fun and they start jumping off too.


Others rapped about eating pussy sometimes even quite charitably but no-one made it a stance like Weezy did. That stance changed the whole game, and all of a sudden rappers had permission to reveal their penchants for pussy-licking; to expose the reciprocal and mutually-rewarding sex they were probably having all along. And I appreciate that. A couple of years ago I was sitting in dim, unpopular Irish bar in downtown Auckland baulking at the idea that Weezy was a feminist, and now I feel a little pang of affection every time his name is mentioned.


lil-wayne-tongue_0


I know what you’re thinking. How can I laud Weezy’s feminist streak without acknowledging the other hopelessly problematic ways that he raps about womens bodies? Well, don’t worry: I can’t, and I won’t. There’s no dismissing or minimising a line like “beat the pussy up like Emmett Till”, and while it might seemlike a last-ditch grab for attention from a flailing, once-great rapper, it’s the inevitable end-result of a trajectory Weezy’s been travelling for years: beating the pussy up like Rodney King in 2008, like Larry Holmes in 2010, like Rocky Balboa in 2011 and like Klitschko in 2012, all to little or no fanfare until now. And it’s strange that we would collectively blanch at Weezy’s Emmett Till line when we ignored him, say, “beat[ing] that pussy ‘til it bleed like Apollo Creed”; or even why we’d single Weezy out in particular when much-adored Earl is out here rupturing cunts and new rap darling Kevin Gates is fucking women so hard their doctors need to stitch them back up. To single Weezy out is to scapegoat a waning industry vet for his lyrical excesses while everyone else gets a hall pass to continue gashing up pussies in a gruesome, ante-upping race to the bottom.


Ohmigosh, rap music is just horrendous! Back up the truck, Bon Iver fans: society is horrendous. You can turn on the TV at 7 o’clock to find a free-to-airshow spewing more vile misogyny at you than an entire decade’s worth of rap, starring an actual, famous abuser of women, and that barely warrants a peep either. Or you can rip open a special “risque” sealed-section of Cosmo where you’ll find, amongst stick figure diagrams of people fucking and giggly, juvenile cock puns, the same stone-age rape myths and abuse-abetting narratives some dinosaur Republican farts out every year, except they’re regurgitated under the guise of sassy-savvy, “luv u hun x x” advice for women. The rap world isn’t uniquely or especially misogynistic; it really, truly isn’t. It’s just a hyperbolic microcosm of all the hostile and fucked up ways we talk about women in our culture more generally, and it’s scapegoated for this reason (amongst others). Haughtily washing your hands of rap while continuing to blindly engaging with everything else is a very dumb response to the problem.


But there’s an equally dumb response down the other end of the spectrum, and that’s to deny that there’s a problem at all. You can be sure as hell that if a person (especially a female person) dares to question the ethical content of a song or a TV show, a band of crywanking fans will pop up, ‘splain to her about how you can’t “moralise” art and you shouldn’t take entertainment so seriously, then pop back down like the argument’s over. DONT APOLOGIZE 4 UR ART was the rallying-call of high-drama Eversons fans during last year’s ‘Harlot’ mini-scandal, and fawned-over rap blogger Noz pulls a textbook example here (albeit with icy-cool aloofness rather than all-caps squealing). When asked if he has any thoughts or feelings about Rick Ross’ languid, casual lines on Rocko’s “U.O.E.N.O” about raping someone, his response is and I’m paraphrasing, but only just “I don’t give a fuck because it’s an amazing song, and artists owe us nothing but great art.” It’s a cop-out argument with dusty, underexamined premises, but it gets rolled out by defensive fans from every genre all the time.


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Here’s the thing: were allowed to enjoy problematic things. We don’t have to purge our iTunes until it’s sanitised of everything but Fleet Foxes and there’s no more point in living, but nor do we need contort ourselves into logical pretzels to defend rap’s worst aspects. We can consider those problematic aspects and decide that we’re still not going to write-off our favourite rappers, but if we don’t even look at them, if we sweep them under the rug printed MORALITY-FREE ZONE, then they fester and breed unchecked. And what does the dialogue about rap look like then? The same twenty white boys agreeing and re-agreeing that Illmatic was a great album and DJ Screw was important and Kendrick Lamar has a technically spot-on flow, forever? And if we insist on narrowing and dehumanising the conversation about rap, then where’s the room to talk about the moments when it inspires and uplifts us? If we can’t admit that rap sickens and disappoints us from time to time, then how can we fully appreciate the moments when it’s good and kind and real? And why on earth wouldn’t we want to? Rap replicates a host of wider societal discussions and discontents in miniature – the little victories, the constant disappointments, the irreconcilable contradictions. You wouldn't curate the messy world around you into nothingness, so why do it to what you listen to?


It matters that Weezy evokes violent imagery to rap about women’s bodies, and as rap fans we should be dealing with that openly and undefensively. But we should also be considering how Weezy’s most vile and inexcusable lines sit incongruously amongst his otherwise generous and progressive approach to women and sex. We should be crediting Weezy for making it okay for rappers to be open about eating pussy; for single-handedly making the rap game a slightly more tender and sexually-adventurous place. We should be acknowledging how, even though he continues to fuck up and flub along the way, Weezy carved out a space in hip hop for women to feel included and sexy and valuable. That matters too. 

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