Wale has always spoken about women, especially Black women, with positive attributes in his music and interviews, but lately he’s been more than frustrated with the depictions of women in the media. In a recent conversation with Necole Bitchie, Wale explains that he purposely used a “round the way” woman instead of a half–naked one because he wanted to remember when “black women were not hyper-sexualized objects created by doctors with the sole intent to take pictures.”
Simple and to the point, and says a lot about what’s “the norm” these days. He recounts being young and seeing Lisa Bonet and Jada Pinkett (Smith) and not thinking “Sex!” the entire time. He writes:
I have honestly been sick and tired of our representation in the entertainment world. I feel like they curve “us” as a whole, then every blue moon they allow a pass for a Black person and we’re supposed to throw a party for it.
My question is: What happened to Hollywood?
I remember Lisa Bonet and a plethora of other beautiful Black women on “Different World.” I remember princess Jada [Pinkett]. I used to daydream about her. I was only in elementary school but when I first saw Jada I was in love. Nothing about this princess screamed, “Sex!” My mind was allowed to play with the idea of what lies under this fully clothed “around the way” girl. True, perhaps a child shouldn’t have such fantasies but that’s besides the point.
Black women were represented in such a way that they were not hyper-sexualized objects created by doctors with the sole intent to take pictures, just to add on even more enhancements- be it Photoshop or an abundance of makeup with a sprinkle of good lighting.
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In regards to his video with Jeremih for “The Body,” he says it hurt his heart to see a lack of positivity in Black Hollywood and didn’t want to do “casting calls via Instagram” for a model.
When Jeremih and I did a video for my single,”The Body,” it hurt my soul coming to the realization that there is hardly any positivity in Black Hollywood. Years ago I wanted to do a short movie for a single, with legendary director John Singleton. I’m not sure if he didn’t believe in me or if he plain old didn’t have the time to do it, but it never happened.
However, even if we were to do something that represented our culture, where would we start? Casting calls via Instagram? Today’s directors head straight to Instagram for their next star, with casting more or less being determined by how many “likes” a woman receives on the regular.
“The Body,” was an attempt to get us, as Black people, headed in a more elevated direction. Mariah [the model I used in the video] kind of epitomized what I felt a normal beautiful “round the way” girl looked like. These days, we spend so much time focusing on “that assssss, ” we forget how much of love’s chemistry is contingent to a beautiful face and genuine personality. Personalities that used to cut through our television screens when Jada would flex that B’more attitude in a scene. The authenticity back when there was no desire to portray women as just an over-sexualized, clay-like-body to Instagram-obsessed people!
Yes, I’m aware that my latest single is called “The Body.” I also am aware we that barely showed the body… Maybe, just maybe, I thought I could trick these dudes into looking a little deeper. And if only for one video, bring back the glory days of a more genuinely prestigious, “Black Hollywood.”
It’s pleasantly refreshing to see an average woman in a hip hop video. Will the trend catch up amongst his rap peers, or will it just be a hopeful idea embraced by only a few recording artists?