I didn’t expect to buy True Mendous’s CD The AutisticLibrarian today. In fact this week I had expected to be buying David Bowie’s 25th album Blackstar when it comes out tomorrow. However heading back to New Street Station today I encountered a busker whose poetry disrupted this week’s purchasing plan.
Hurrying along I caught the sound of a female rapper and she had my attention. I was ready to go and throw down a few coins when I saw she had a couple of CD’s for sale. I had no idea which to go for but listening to her as I hovered I decided either would make an interesting listen. As it happens I went for the debut mixtape, released in 2014, and left the most recent release the Whormonal Moodswings EP (which is available on i-tunes).
True Mendous is another of the talented young black female rappers I am discovering make up an important part of the Birmingham music scene. The vocals on this mixtape are as beautiful as the lyrics are hard. Her poetry tackles subjects such as the sex trade, child abuse, drug use, same sex relationships, unrequited love and teenage pregnancy in a head on way. Listening to this you realise you are encountering a hard core, urban, twenty-first century, feminist text.
It’s not an easy listen but at the same time it is one which captures your attention. The story that unfolds within the 17 tracks is shocking and challenging. It has the same power that Eminem’s Stan did in that sense. Thus, in some ways there is a retro feel to this, yet in other ways it is fresh and different.
Now that freshness might be because since coming to Birmingham I have been rediscovering hip hop through artists such as True Mendous and Lady Sanity. However, I think that it is something else breaking through. In a world where there is so much debate about feminism and what it is and in a world where white middle class feminist narratives have tended to dominate this music gives something different. It shows how there is a new wave of young black feminism breaking through. This is the feminism/ womanism which comes not so much from the academy as from the street.
So do I recommend it? Yes, get hold of her music and be challenged by it. Oh and if you are wondering about the Bowie CD, I may still get it but not this week. I'm enjoying discovering truly new music too much.