Lil girls talk back to Lil Wayne

In 10 years, will Lil Wayne join Jay Z and come to regret his misogynistic lyrics?

Lots of people are talking about the “Open Letter to Lil’ Wayne,” a song written by two 9 and 10 year old girls known as Watoto From The Nile who call out the rapper on his misogynistic lyrics and disrespect towards women. Check out the video:

The description under the video reads:

Letter to Lil Wayne” is a candid evidence of official from Watoto From The Nile. Growing bushed and fed up with the unceasing humiliation of Negroid women exclusive of Hip Hop music, they vocalise their  views and opinions on this melodic track.

Constructive Criticism, Backlash and Impact

The Crunk Feminist Collective offered some insightful questions and thoughts about the video. They point out some contradictions and points of confusion, while acknowledging that one text cannot cover all points and that there is power in little black girls speaking up!

Often when individual artists are criticized, there is a flood of defensive backlash from the artist and his/her fans. Reading the youtube comments will give you a taste of it.  A quote from feminist Robin Morgan puts these moments (backlash and all) in perspective for me: “It’s not about blame, but about responsibility; not about guilt, but about change.”

Lil Wayne may or may not take responsibility or change– but the truth is, this Open Letter asks this of all of us. By talking back, Watoto From The Nile remind us that we all have a role to play in this picture– if we indeed love our people, and specifically our women and girls.

A Media Literacy Moment!

As an advocate for media literacy (the ability to access, analyze and create media) I appreciate that this song raises critical questions about authors, audiences, responsibility and representation. For example:

  • Should authors be responsible for the messages they disseminate?
  • Do these representations and messages matter?
  • How do different audiences interpret these messages and representations?
  • Who benefits from these messages? Who is harmed?
  • Why are these messages so dominant?
  • What is the role of parents?
  • What enabled these girls to talk back in this form?
  • What does it mean for us to re-represent ourselves when we are unsatisfied with the ways others represent us?

Many of these questions can be applied to so many texts– which is important, because clearly Lil Wayne is only one rapper, and part of a larger issue.  While the girls focus on Wayne, this song creates an opportunity for us to acknowledge and challenge an industry and society that constantly reinforces misogyny (hatred towards women).

What questions do you have? And how do you think this video can be used to incite change?

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About Nuala Cabral

Nuala Cabral is an educator, activist, filmmaker and co-founder of FAAN Mail, a media literacy and activist project based in Philadelphia.
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