Push Push is a polarising figure. But why is the rapper so divisive? The shade and hype around Push-Push are somewhat of her own making, but there is a mystery mixed into the discourse around her. Over two days, and some Facebook interviewing, Push, opens up about loving hip hop when it don’t love you and speaking truth to a male dominated industry.
Here is a rapper with micro-notoriety in the entertainment industry, and competing mythologies of Greek girl gone bad, and the stripper who raps. The internet will confirm these tropes but what the world is yet to discover is an artist determined to see the scales between the sexes balanced, and femininity unfettered by fragile masculinities. Throughout our messaging Push reminds me that the year is 2016; we are in a new millennium and women are still marginalised, a glance at the line-ups of Oppi Koppi to Glastonbury will confirm this. And while whiteness is privileged, womanhood is not. So I probe about whether she has plans for world domination, callously, maybe idealistically forgetting our context, until she writes, ‘Most of history’s biggest problems stem from white people trying to achieve world domination, so let me just stay in my lane here’. A most appropriate (read woke) response to the question.
In 2004 Kanye West made it okay to be middle class, almost college educated and rap, now rappers relay their journey from obscurity to the stage without embellishing on their suburban origins. Push Push FKA Nicci Bruce was raised in Port Elizabeth and moved to Cape Town at 16. She launched her creative career as a blogger and soon realised that her calling was in making music rather than writing about it. Enter Oh! Dark Arrow, a rap group she joined with Disco Israel, Keke Mahlelebe and Matt Hichens. She credits Disco for her musical perspective, ‘ In terms of who put me on in music, it was all Disco Israel; he taught me so much about being comfortable with myself and my PE accent. The greatest rapper I’ve ever known, the first person to get through my white fragility and explain my privilege to me on the real.’
Push insists on written interviews, eschewing the urgency of the Skype or phone call, luckily, she writes well. Offering her internet inspirations while reflecting on the need to bring feminism to the creative industries, ‘It’s time we stopped letting our friends throw parties where women in music aren’t supported. It’s hard to be a Hip-Hop loving woman, when Hip-Hop doesn’t love me back, because I’m a woman’. The rampant misogyny in rap is not news, but it can create dissonance for woke fans of the genre, who consume this product that insists women are bitches, hoes, badbads, baby mommas and side pieces. Hip-Hop can be a reflection of how masculinities are performed in urban culture, making it difficult to reconcile with feminism and gender equality. However, it is also a sound sprung from African America retelling experiences of injustice and incarceration along with sudden fame and fortune. The narratives around the music are conflicting, but it remains important to challenge the heteronormative attitudes and behaviour so pervasive in popular music since it permeates the spaces that people enjoy and reimagine themselves in, both privately and publicly.
The more music offering female perspectives and personas, particularly in Hip-Hop, the better. Push Push is breaking through, telling her story of diamonds and dancing, rapped with potency and her PE accent, so fun, and so fresh.
Listen to her here