“Twerk” vs. “Tip Drill”: The Clear Difference Between Empowerment And Degradation
The Internet nearly combusted due to the sheer heat emitted from the City Girls’ most-recent music video for “Twerk.” The Cardi B-assisted track, which is featured on the Miami rap duo’s November 2018 release Girl Code, samples Choppa’s “Choppa Style,” and as expected, there’s a whole lotta shakin’ going on in the nearly four-minute visual.
Comparisons between Yung Miami and JT’s new anthem and Nelly’s NSFW-video for his 2003 remix to “E.I.” (widely known as “Tip Drill”) were instantly made. While some argued that “Twerk” was intoxicating to watch—it has amassed nearly 35 million views in the two weeks since its release—it “doesn’t hold a candle” to the raunchy clip from the St. Louis hip-hop star. However, it’s apparent that the City Girls’ twerktastic video wasn’t created to be “Tip Drill 2.0,” primarily because “Twerk” celebrates a woman’s right to be sexy on her own accord — without male eyes oogling-and-ogling them.
Written in the press release for the “Twerk” video, which dropped on Jan. 16, “City Girls own the dance for themselves, rallying their troupe of women to get cheeks flying and take control of their own sexuality. Yung Miami — painted as a zebra — and featured artist Cardi B — painted as a tiger — lead a group of agile ladies on a yacht, on a beach, on a pole, even on a muscle car without a man in sight.”
As we know all too well, hip-hop videos have been oft-scrutinized for its use of women (primarily black women) as sexual objects. A**-slapping and grabbing in “Tip Drill” are some of the sexist hallmarks of the far-too-long Kareem Johnson-produced video, outside of the now-infamous moment of Nelly swiping a credit card between a woman’s buttcheeks. However, Nelly’s video is hardly the first example of misogyny in hip-hop culture, and it certainly won’t be the last.
The video for Uncle Luke’s ‘90s hit “I Wanna Rock (Doo Doo Brown)” features women stripping on stage during a concert as the 2 Live Crew member yells “Show that coochie, baby/Take it off, Take it off.” A video from this century, Tyga’s “Make It Nasty,” depicts the Los Angeles-bred MC aloofly viewing scantily-clad young women press their breasts and bottoms toward the camera and him. At more points than one, oral sex is simulated.
In “Twerk,” the women are scantily-clad as well, however, they’re scantily-clad on their own watch; as previously stated, there are no men highlighted. Additionally, Cardi B’s “Money” video doesn’t feature men either; only in the scenes featuring the Bronx rapper in a museum of her finest outfits do they appear, and one could argue that they were viewing her as a work of art, not as a piece of meat. The lack of a male presence in these videos make it a girls-only club, and with good reason. Without any men viewing them twerking and pole-dancing nearly-nude, they’re able to feel comfortable with themselves, proclaiming that “this sh*t is for us” and us alone, even without the words to say it.
For those debating.. tip drill still puts twerk to shame.
— Paige (@paigeryn) January 20, 2019
Look...millennials...“Twerk” can’t hold a candle to “Tip Drill”
While some members of society see women as sexually-subordinate, it’s certainly a breath of fresh air to view women reveling in their own sexuality and having complete autonomy over their bodies, especially in hip-hop. Many female rappers throughout the years (City Girls, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Lil Kim, to name a few) have taken it a step further. They act as both the MC and the video vixen simultaneously, reclaiming their power through their visual sexuality, and then keeping up with the Joneses by delivering the bars.
Close-minded individuals may view these women in a certain light for dressing or behaving the way that they do, however, it is their right as women to choose what they want to do with their bodies. As humans, we are multifaceted and have a right to be able to express all parts of ourselves, even the parts some people view as taboo, such as sexuality. As Cardi B wrote on Twitter when asked if “Twerk” sends the right message in this touchy Me Too-era, “I can wear and not wear whatever I want. do whatever I want…”
There’s a stark difference between playing into the male gaze through sexual actions, and performing sexual actions solely for the male gaze and the men involved. Granted, the women involved in videos like “Tip Drill,” “I Wanna Rock” and “Make It Nasty” were willing participants in the misogyny, but does that mean that it’s right to strip them down for a video recording, slap their bottoms or squeeze their breasts? Anyone who compared “Twerk” and “Tip Drill” may also have difficulties distinguishing the colors orange and peach.
It says to women that I can wear and not wear what ever I want. do w.e I want and that NO still means NO. So Stephanie chime in..If I twerk and be half naked does that mean I deserve to get raped and molested ? I want to know what a conservative woman like you thinks 🤔 https://t.co/8UBQQzO6jK
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) January 22, 2019
It’s simple to blame hip-hop for these issues, as the genre’s videos serve as documented moments of misogyny at work. However, it highlights a more prevalent issue in society: women are unable to express themselves and enjoy their sexuality because it makes others uncomfortable. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie notes in her popular essay We Should All Be Feminists, (which is sampled in Beyonce’s “***Flawless”), “We raise girls to see each other as competitors… for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way boys are… we police girls.”
The same sentiment shared can be applied not only to “Twerk,” but to examples outside of hip-hop. The Slut Walk, which calls for the end of rape culture, victim blaming and slut-shaming, is often questioned due to the in-your-face title of the annual event. We’re so used to misogyny and degradation that when we see an appreciation of the female form in society, there are difficulties distinguishing between liberation and devaluation.
Maybe this is a bit presumptuous, but why not go out on a limb to say that the City Girls and Cardi B don’t give a f**k if you like them twerking or not, because they’re not doing it for you, or their partners, or anyone else for that matter. The only people they were doing it for in this particular instance was themselves. Twerking makes them feel strong, sexy and in control, and if we’re referencing the young woman featured at the tail-end of the video, twerking makes them that schmoney. They’re allowing us to view this poppin’ new version of empowerment in the hopes that their poppin’ isn’t policed by those who aren’t used to women feelin’ themselves without a man telling them to do so.
Because, Heaven-forbid, women are sexy just for the sake of being sexy.