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Sidewalk Review: Say My Name

September 23, 2009


Boys listen up. Girls have something to rap about too. The premise of the new documentary “Say My Name” follows female musicians as they discuss topics such as female representation in music to motherhood. Director Nirit Peled examines the female MC’s of the past and today’s break out artists.

Peled examines the history of female hip-hop starting with Sparky Dee and Roxanne Shante to current Estelle and Erykah Badu. Perhaps the most telling moments are when the lyricists pull back the curtain of what is seen in music videos and the real life they lead. Chocolate Thai – pictured above – shares her story of getting pregnant while young and what that has done with her life choices.

For someone like me who is only vaguely familiar with most of the names and history of female hip-hop, the documentary was perhaps more compelling because it helped explain a world that I wanted to know more about but had no opening into understanding.

The stories are of drug use, teenage pregnancy, choosing to not mostly undress for music videos and the consequence of demanding to be listened to and not gawked at, all intermingle as Peled cuts back and forth across the country and globe with interviews of these women.

The film was shot over five years and has astounding interviews with women who have fought the mold they are forced into, for some it has paid off (Queen Latifah) and for others, they remember the good-ol-days when they had a record. But, what this documentary does tell us is that not much has changed for these female artists even though they keep fighting the system.

“Say My Name” plays Sidewalk Film Festival at 3 p.m. on Saturday at the Young and Vann Building.

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