I have spent countless hours listening to hip-hop music and more time than I’m proud to admit trying to buy concert and festival tickets. Still, I feel disconnected and left out by the community of listeners.
Music has been my biggest passion for as long as I can remember.
When I was 14 years old, I began to delve further into the art of hip-hop music, from the production to the lyricism, to the artistry — I fell in love with all of it. A great deal of my free time is consumed by analyzing the meanings and stories behind hip-hop projects, watching documentaries and interviews and attending live performances by my favorite artists.
In 2021 I flew to Miami for the three-day rap music festival Rolling Loud and attended the Dreamville Festival, an event put on by J.Cole's record label, on top of other concerts. Some of my favorite shows this past year were Kendrick Lamar and Baby Keem, Tyler the Creator and Saba.
You would think that it would be easy for me to bond with other hip-hop fans, but that has not exactly been the case.
Through my years of being a woman who appreciates this kind of music, I have noticed men consistently have not taken me as seriously as they do other male fans. In no way am I an expert on every artist and album, but I often feel belittled by the misogynistic comments that men make toward me.
On the streaming platform Deezer in 2019, 32 percent of female users listened to hip-hop, in comparison to 68 percent of male users. Therefore, as a woman, I have found myself in a niche position. When I claim to enjoy hip-hop music, I am faced with a series of questions about my knowledge and opinions of the artist. Men will often try to box me out of conversations about music, expecting me not to be as well-informed or passionate as them.
It's unfair for some men to gatekeep an entire genre from not only “fake fans” but all non-male listeners. Whether you are a die-hard fan or a casual listener, the men around me have jumped to conclusions before I can get a word out.
Meanwhile, I also have a difficult time finding other non-males who share my enthusiasm for the genre. While I am glad my friends have found their own interests in music, I often feel left in the dust. I’m either too much of a girl to listen to hip-hop music for boys, or I have too different of a music taste to connect with other girls.
Of course, there are exceptions to my dilemma. I am grateful to have a handful of men in my life who take my musical criticisms and opinions seriously.
Music is what I use to start conversations when I meet new people, whether it's pointing out their shirt or a sticker they have or mentioning it while chatting with someone. I get incredibly excited to talk about music with someone who gets it and simply wish it were easier to bond with other people who enjoy hip-hop.
Everyone should be able to listen to whatever music they like, and my hope is that these “exclusive” communities can eventually be more accepting of all their fans. For one, new fans would be more inclined to start expanding their taste, in addition to providing a sense of belonging for long-time fans, such as myself.
You would think having similar interests could foster a friendship between two people. Therefore, it pains me to feel left out, knowing I can contribute to debates and discussions about music but not feel comfortable enough to speak up.
The point is, I obviously love hip-hop.
I have a deep longing to have more friends to relate to about my favorite artists, get hype for album drops with and attend concerts with.
Whatever you find excitement in, think twice before using misogyny or other prejudices to keep people from enjoying it. Take it from me, having no community or outlet to talk about what you love can be very isolating. We all have a right to love and connect with others who share our passions.
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