Hip Hop Makes Room for “Tampons and Tylenol”

While some women are shy about their periods, rapper Genesis Be has taken the stage and boldly proclaimed “my flow so heavy, so I guess I need a tampon.” If you’re in the market for a song to add to your dance, workout, or period playlist, this artist is one to check out. In her latest song, “Tampons and Tylenol,” the New-York based rapper discusses the power of womanhood, something that, surprisingly, highly mainstream female artists wouldn’t dare.

Because of hip hop’s misogynist view of women, female rappers must negotiate their sexuality every time they pick up a mic. It’s no secret that mainstream hip hop and women have had an abusive relationship. The recurring theme “bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks” has rung through hip hop’s discourse since, and even before, the 1992 release of Dr. Dre’s iconic song “Bitches Aint Shit.” This song, as well as countless others over the last two decades, have equated women to sex, zoned in on their vaginas, and denied humanity to anyone who does not confidently check the box marked “Male” on their legal documents.

These normalized ideas of womanhood in the music require women rappers to enter into an oppressive dialogue that demands their prostration in one way or another.  The “bitches ain’t shit” ideology even leaks into Nicki Minaj’s songs, and that same phrase is the first line of the hook of “Beez in the Trap,” from her latest album. Minaj, as well as many of her mainstream female counterparts, have adopted the dehumanizing ideas of hip hop and tend to focus on the exact same topics as male rappers: money, “bling,” hoes, and drugs.


Yet, Genesis Be takes the road less traveled, discussing topics that are not usually part of the hip hop agenda. In her “declaration of women’s power,” as Genesis calls the song, the NYU graduate equates the surge of her menstrual flow to the brilliance of her rapping ability, and the power of womanhood. And she does it all with a live beat and kick-ass lyrics.

The catchy, move-and-grove song discusses a different kind of woman who is powerfully sexy, yet not objectified. As the song goes, “She got a lot of ass, but also got a lot of class. Work two jobs, go to class…she a boss.” Genesis Be portrays the type of woman who works towards her goals while having fun and partying at the same time. She talks about a whole woman, not just her sexual parts. In addition, this woman Genesis raps about has sexual authority, unlike the woman of commercial hip hop, whose only role is to “bust it open,” and spread her legs at the male and/or female rapper’s command. Instead, Genesis describes a woman who has her partner in the palms of her hands. This woman keeps “them boys feinding” and decides when and with whom she will have sex.

The video is just as entertaining as the song, featuring Genesis and some friends enjoying themselves in outfits that range from everyday attire to unicorn costumes. At the same time, it is difficult to miss the tools Genesis employs to promote female empowerment and acceptance of diversity. A raised fist with pink liquid pouring over it appears at the beginning of the video, which can be interpreted as a pink version of menstruation. Her symbolism displays the power of both the menstrual cycle and of the MC’s lyrical flow. In addition, the video features women of various shapes, sizes, and color, straying immensely from the usual one-dimensional hip hop video vixen and embracing the beauty of diversity. While Genesis keeps a casual, yet playful appearance, other women in her video vary in clothing styles, once again playing on the themes of sexual authority and diversity. While a few of the dancers in the video have on provocative club-attire, others rock t-shirts and sneakers, which gives the audience a range of women’s styles. They are sexy, chic, casual, sporty, and unique.

Genesis Be gives hip hop and its fans another option— another view of women (Gasp! It can be done). In place of the traditional object of a man’s pleasure that is hackneyed in commercial rap, Genesis Be’s song and video present various women who have their own unique style. She brings the humanness of women back to hip hop, widening the scope so that the discussion focuses on a whole woman, and not just what’s between her legs.

In addition to the song and video, the innovative underground artist has recently completed her album “Jenesequa,” and is looking to release it later this summer.

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