Jean Grae takes her name from a mutant superhero in The X-Men [does that deserve a sic?], but the world depicted on her remarkable debut is recognizably life-sized. It's a place where self-professed players string along vulnerable women with honeyed words coupled with manipulation and emotional abuse, credit-card bills pile up, good men die for no reason, and mothers are a last bastion of strength and solace in a an unforgiving society. It is, in other words, a world far removed from the hedonistic fantasyland of most hip-hop, and a terrain listeners will likely recognize as their own, which is a big part of the reason Grae's album is being released on a tiny independent label instead of a monolithic major. Hip-hop has a way of marginalizing nonconformist rappers into a handful of familiar personas, particularly women who refuse to play the role of either gangsta bitch or sex kitten. But within those margins, there's often tremendous artistic freedom, and Grae revels in it on her debut, using her outsider position to level a thorough critique of hip-hop's misogyny and materialism.
With the release of her current album, Attack of the Attacking Things, emerging talent Jean Grae offers an alternative to today's female rapper, but she doesn't have a problem with those femmes that revel in sex and fashion.
"I don't really think I'm trying to redefine [the female emcee]. Who I am is who I am. I've never really looked at it as being a female emcee. I happen to be an emcee. I rhyme. That's it, point blank," said the 25-year-old. "I wouldn't say redefining [because] that's a lot of pressure there."
Still, Attack of the Attacking Things addresses thought-provoking topics like male/female relationships, the Black community and the state of the hip-hop scene.
If you're Flash-capable, try Third Earth Music's site while you're at it.
Grant Morrison is the current writer of New X-Men for Marvel Comics, and has had a few things to say on the imagery/ideology of superhero comics infesting mainstream (popular) culture. Really. You can look it up.
About the U.S. definition of "World": someone mentioned the "World Broadcast Premiere" of RHPS on ecto a few years back (ok, it was about a decade, but I'm not thinking about that now), and some readers in New Zealand and Australia made polite coughing noises. It was necessary to remind them that when someone in the U.S. says "world," they mean the important parts of the world. Namely, the U.S.
Also, and this should come as no surprise:
Not a word, kd.
Not. . . a. . . word.