Rapper Mikel Ameen Changing The Genre’s Status Quo With Female Empowerment Lyrics

mikel-ameen

Hey Ladies, we’ve got a new man for you to swoon over. Not because of what he looks like on the outside (duh! around here we value more than just physical appearances) but because of a powerful message he is sending to a community that doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to women.

UK rapper Mikel Ameen has been making headlines across the pond for his statement that he wants to make more music that empowers women. Say whaaaaaaatt!!?? Yeah we know, sounds weird coming from a black male rapper’s mouth, but it’s time for a change and we’re glad Mikel is stepping out from the crowd.

His latest single is called Martina Luther Queen, which is a song about women who own their womanhood.

“My song ‘Martina Luther Queen’ is about empowering women who are loyal. Women who are respectful and that’s what is about and that’s why there is a need to see a balance in what’s represented in music. So it’s not a war against pop music. I like to make music that represents all aspects of life – whether that is talking about a queen or something else. I’ve seen both so why only talk about one? And I hear too much of one side and not the other. So I’ve taken it upon myself to show a balance of what people want to see,” he said.

So why is this so revolutionary? Because if you look at the history and popularity of rap and hip hop culture, sure it addresses racial tensions and cultural divides that have been ongoing in America (especially right now!) it seems to be often at the expense of women. Instead of using women as the objectified props in his music videos and lyrics, Mikel is showing them as his sisters and fellow equal humans alongside his message to empower the youth to stand up for what they believe in.

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Naming the song after the well-known Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, was intentional, because he wanted to promote equality in music and give people a message that isn’t always found in other genres of pop music.

“I’ve noticed that sometimes hip-hop doesn’t appreciate women – even from a female perspective. Often the songs are degrading. The single is a female empowerment song. I wanted to make a song that women could ‘turn up’ to but was also uplifting at the same time,” he told Young Voice in the UK.

“As a man, I’ve always felt a responsibility to uplift females. Because when they are uplifted, that’s when they can empower you, as a man. It’s a yin and yang kind of thing. Having close female friends has helped me understand the mind-set of women in general. It’s allowed me to be more open and connect with them on a deeper level. As men, we can overlook things, but it’s made me more in-tune with women’s emotions.”

It’s not something we hear from men in the hip hop and rap world, but it is a very timely message. But it’s kinda easy to see why the London-born rapper wants to elevate the discussion and content surrounding rap music. He cites his three biggest musical influences as Michael Jackson, Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur, in a video for his recent Kickstarter campaign.

All three of those icons sang songs, wrote lyrics and used their performances for a message greater than that of just self-promotion. It was about increasing awareness, finding an issue, and most of all changing the status quo of the culture around them. When you look at the biggest selling artists today (Beyonce, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga etc etc) it’s admirable to see a few of them actually going beyond the self-indulgent fame and reaching “across the aisle” to use their status for something important.

For Mikel, the notion of using music as a vehicle to drive social change has been bred in him from an early age. His dad, Bilal Ameen, is a respected youth worker and has been engaging with the younger community with his charity, the African Caribbean Development Foundation for the last 30 years. Mikel runs the youth development programme, Get Familiar, as part of his dad’s charity.

“Whether it’s in my music or through my community projects, my message is the same – it’s all about changing the world. I want to let people know they have the power to create the environment they want.”

Tupac Shakur’s lyrics were often peppered with the injustice that the black communities in America faced against white law enforcement. And while his songs were written almost 20 years ago, late 2014 saw a spate of white policemen shooting young black men which created unrest in the United States.

As for rap music being a genre normally off limits to women in terms of being a source of power, women like Nicki Minaj have changed the representation of women in a big way. She has been controversial, outspoken and unapologetic in her imagery, but the underlying message has always been the same, that if it were a man doing the same thing, no one would blink an eye lid.

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Bob Marley’s entire back catalog was about challenging the rules put upon people for their skin color or race. Prejudice and oppression, especially of black people in the Caribbean and in America were big topics for him and today he is one of the biggest icons not only in Reggae, but in popular music because of his affinity toward a message, not fame.

While Mikel Ameen may not be as familiar a name as Bob Marley (yet), his foundation is the same as those of the greats. But his message aims to unite men and women in the struggle against oppression, that is the difference. We don’t often see that in rap, hip hop or any other genre. Women do their thing for empowerment, men do their own for their communities.

He started a movement called the World Changers where he wants his fans and people in his music circle to use their platform to change the world around them. Martina Luther Queen for a start challenges the notion that women can’t be powerful and create a social change. Essentially he is swapping out the male name for a female one to show people gender is not a barrier, and women can do this too.

Another legendary social change icon who fought for equality for black people, Nelson Mandela, once famously said that separately, people are weak. But when you come together as one, you become a more powerful force than anyone can come against.

These are the types of conversations that need to transcend the gender boundaries, but be inclusive in a big way. Want to see how rap culture can be changed when it harnesses the power of strong women beside men? Want to see what it looks like to see a rapper acknowledging that women are equal and empowered beings? Check out Mikel Ameen’s Martina Luther Queen:

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