Monday, February 21, 2011

Right Back at Ya, the One Cleopatra: Lil Kim

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You can say what you want about Bedford-Stuyvesant's own Lil Kim (Kimberly Denise Jones), but she always manages to land on her feet. Even if I've cringed at some of the content in her songs, I've always loved her delivery – she’s consistently smooth, forceful and precise.

Evidently, a scholar up at Syracuse University saw the magic in Lil Kim’s artistry, as he has developed a whole English and Textual Studies course, which includes Kim’s music as a big part of the class. Greg Thomas, Associate Professor of Global Black Studies in the English Department at Syracuse University, who teaches the class, also wrote a book published in 2009 called, Hip-Hop Revolution in the Flesh: Power, Knowledge and Pleasure in Lil' Kims Lyrics. Thomas’ class is required to (read his book, I assume), watch Lil Kim’s music videos, and study her in-your-face, sometimes pornographic lyrics. I’d imagine class must be pretty exciting at times.

Here’s a description of the course:
Reading Nation and Empire: English and Textual Studies, Syracuse University English Department
Hip-Hop Eshu: QUEEN B@#$H Lyricism 
Tues., Thurs., 3:30-4:50 
Instructor: Greg Thomas 
This course on lyricism is all about Hip-Hop and, necessarily, Black life in Africa’s Diaspora. It is no less about certain “gender” and “sexuality” issues at the center of contemporary Black struggles, cultural and political. Our focus will be on the lyrical texts of one phenomenal figure: Lil' Kim, “Big Momma/Queen itch.” In place of bourgeois literature and bourgeois criticism, there will be rap audio and lyrics, oral history, musicology, folklore and spoken word, magazine articles, interviews, film and video as well as Black Studies of all kinds: Toni Morrison on the Million Woman March, Angela Y. Davis on Blues women, Carolyn Cooper and Denise Noble on Dancehall Ragga, Cheryl Keyes on female rappers, E. Franklin Frazier on the brown middle-class elite, Sonia Sanchez on Black Puritans, various scholars on Yoruba trickster-god(desse)s, Sylvia Wynter on modern sexual categories, and Ifi Amadiume on African matriarchy and pre-colonial/flexible gender systems. We'll also seriously examine recent work on state repression and “Rap COINTELPRO,” state violence not covered by corporate media. All will be critically engaged to provide ample understanding of Lil' Kim's “Queen itch” lyricism, her sexual revolution in rhyme, her very own work in the musical revolution that is Hip-Hop. 
Put Your Lighters Up, 2005
(I was impressed when Lil Kim broke out in some Spanish toward the end of the video -- check it out):




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