Marry Me Is A Hip Hop Salve for Black Women
When we talk about spaces that are undeniably exclusive to black women, it goes without saying that there is a clear shortage. And if I had to think of a space, hip hop would certainly be one of, if not the last places I look.
Hip Hop is usually a space where black women are used as ornaments for music videos (second only to expensive cars), or receptacles for semen and disrespect. To say the least, in this arena we are viewed disposable and replaceable objects as opposed to human beings.
As hurtful, as these realizations are I still listen to hip hop. I was raised on it. It’s a part of who I am. The trend has even started to carry over into R&B with these new age singers. So what am I supposed to do, switch over to country music? Nah fam. Now I know there is alot of debate around this issue. Where men say “you don’t want to be called (insert derogatory name), but you be the same one dancing to (insert any popular rap song). To which I always argue, what’s the alternative?
Since these spaces in hip hop are so few and far in between, I wanted to highlight this song called Marry Me by David Banner f. Rudy Currence from his latest project The Godbox. Not only is the melody of this song delicate and beautiful (I totally see this being the next big proposal song), but the lyrics are equally thought provoking and enchanting.
The song intros with, what we later find out is the chorus:
They say I’m an urban myth
They say black men don’t exist
Prove ‘em wrong, won’t you marry me
There is an indemnity in the lyrics that provide hope to black women (like me) who undoubtedly want to marry a black man. The non existence of black men,for the most part, is not such a black and white issue to the women who want to date them. According to the CDC (2011), leading cause of death for black males age 15-34 is homicide. Which means just surviving death alone can put black men in the category of an urban legend.
Then we have to wonder about the ones who cheat death, betting their lives and winning. The second part of the chorus further unweaves this complex fabric:
They say I’m nothing but a stat on a sheet,
But here I am on my bended knees
Prove ‘em wrong, Won’t you marry me
The previous lines speak to incarceration rates of black men which as of 2013 is approximately 25% of their overall population in the United States. To give this more perspective, presently, there are almost 750,000 black men incarcerated in the United States. That figure is more than the entire prison population of India, Argentina, Canada, Lebanon, Japan, Germany, Finland, Israel, and England….COMBINED. (Moore, 2015)
Based solely on the staggering numbers of death and incarceration the ratio of black women to men would seem almost uncountable. Furthermore, for the ones that are alive, free, and successful, based on the ratio one would think that black men might not want to get married at all. At least in the realm of hip hop, the promiscuous player is portrayed so frequently, even for men that are openly married or in committed relationships. The open area of rhymes lack the recognition of black women unless it’s their mother or daughter. But the unimpeded desire for a genuine relationship (not cut buddies, situationship, baby mama) is rarely if at all mentioned. So where does that leave us? Who does the needed work of romantically loving us? For all these reasons this track is a breath of fresh air!
In one line he dissevered the space for black queens only:
We can jump the broom
Jumping the broom is symbolized in African American weddings as a tradition carried on from slavery. During the eras of slavery, when blacks had nothing but each other and a few household items, they would jump over a broom stick to edify their marriages, without the modern day symbols like rings. The importance of this line can be easily be missed, while humming to the rhythm. These few words solidify completely that this song is specifically for black women. And we appreciate the freedom to relish in this space etched out solely for us.
In the midst of the worship of the worthiness of black women, two simple lines are uttered that bridge the institutionalized gap between black men and women:
I know you been hurt
So let me the one to put you first
Simply put, our pain is being acknowledged. Whether or not he is the person that caused it, he is recognizing it and offering to help us unpack it. This is no small deed for black women, especially because of the toxic nature of black womanhood, which is seen in our strength. We are perceived to be able to accept more pain and for longer periods of time, due to our “unbreakable” spirit. Many times it is overlooked in Hip Hop culture, but this song is a black woman’s long awaited salve in the genre of hip hop. It doesn’t erase it all the aggressions but it’s a start.