‘It Was All a Dream’ Shows the Work of a Nascent Rap Feminist


hampton films herself in a brainstorm with The Source associate editor Kierna Mayo and tries to chart when misogyny became so “overbearing” in the music. “We just have to be careful to analyze it wholly,” Mayo says of hampton’s pitch. When hampton hosts a roundtable discussion and photoshoot (attended by now-defamed executive Russell Simmons) with rappers Nikki D, Boss, LeShaun and Hurricane Gloria, the women break down, as hampton writes, having to be “three times as good” in the face of hip-hop’s sexist double standard.

“Ain’t nobody at this table right here scared of being called a bitch,” says Nikki D, Def Jam Recording’s first signed female rapper. “You can call me a bitch all you want to, but you know what you can and what you can’t do with me.”

In one studio session where Big, bathed in red light, raps lines of what will become a feature on Pudgee tha Phat Bastard’s “Think Big” and freestyles a joke about a “rap rapist,” hampton appears from slightly off to the side to say, while laughing, that she’s offended by the joke. Even more telling, there is a scene about an hour in where Big scolds a young Lil’ Kim, his Junior M.A.F.I.A artist and girlfriend at the time, about her attitude and not taking pictures. While Kim ignores him at first, Big leans over and lifts up a chair, an action that makes Kim visibly flinch. It’s no more than a minute, but it’s a glimpse of the unspoken dynamic of their relationship, one that Kim would later speak on as being violent, caught on camera by hampton.

During an interview with Guru, hampton follows up a question to the rapper-producer about rap fantasies with a counter about the very real virulence towards women in the rhymes. “Why do n****s wanna kill bitches?” she poses to him clearly. Guru’s expression never changes but he lets out a small laugh as a brush-off. He then flips the question, rationalizing that maybe “bitches wanna kill n****s”; that there’s women who “don’t have their sh** together” and makes the distinction that rappers aren’t talking about women who are intelligent with ambition.

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