HIJABS AND HIP-HOP

TEXT: ISADORA SCHAPELL ('17), STAFF MUSIC EDITOR

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF SANDY ALDIERI OF PERCEPTIONS PHOTOGRAPHY

If not for Method, I probably wouldn’t have journeyed to Beckham Hall at nine on Saturday. I tend to associate the space with lectures and school dances, not Saturday night concerts. When I got there, I thought my expectations had been met. There were people sitting in clusters on the floor and others scattered in chairs on the sides, sipping coke and idly checking their phones, nothing too exciting. 

The first performer, a queens-based rapper who goes by MissUndastood, presented a clearly political interpretation of the evening’s theme of Muslim women’s voices in Hip Hop. She was wearing a long sleeved floor length dress and a bright pink head wrap. The first and most musically ambitious song was “One World.” Which repeated the line “one world, one god, one family”. Throughout her performance she expressed the difficulties of being a Muslim female artist. The most shocking moment of the evening was her reinterpretation of “Teach Me How to Dougie” as “Teach Em How to Cover”, an ode to Muslim women’s ability to be both modest and stylish. Her music wasn’t very good, but MissUndastood did have a boatload of confidence and sass backing it up. Her performance certainly fit the expectations of an “interesting” cultural experience.

The headliner of the show, Meryem Saci, took the stage in a “Same Shit Different Saddam” tee shirt. Her songs covered a standard fare of heartbreak and lust, but she really shone when she was performing the songs particular to her experience. At 13, she and her mother fled Algeria amidst the civil war. She fled to Canada as a political refugee. She learned English and found her voice through hip-hop and rap. With a giant blond afro and a Mariah Carey-esqe vocal range, Seci is the embodiment of a hip-hop front woman. She sings like Lauryn Hill and struts like Janelle Monae. She put on a crowd raising show that got people sitting on the sides to stand up and sing along.  

 It’s unfortunate that the general Wesleyan community doesn’t come to show like this, that it is considered a niche performance. It was a great hip-hop show; it wasn’t great because the artists were women or Muslim. It was great because the songs were well written and interesting and because the performances were strong and passionate. Once we move beyond being impressed that women from different cultural backgrounds can make good music in an American male dominated genre, and then maybe we can see these artists as they want to be seen. As hip-hop artists who should be filling the dance floor on a Friday night.