Originally published in full at Don’t Panic Online.
The cultural implications of a cross-stitched tribute to Rick Ross are murky, but DIY versions of popular rap lyrics are one of the most common trends on sites like Etsy.
Combining these two radically different art forms alters the tone of both. In many ways, rap is a declaration of mostly-male identity which emphasizes dominance, presence, and style. Cross stitching, needlepointing and otherwise crafting these lyrics strips the music of it’s original spirit, making it simple, making it ironic. The repossession, repackaging and reselling of this identity by a predominately white audience could be considered condescending.
On the other hand, this juxtaposition of the two starkly different arts could arguably enhance both. The complementary colours theory is one of art’s most basic: placing a colour adjacent to it’s opposite on the colour wheel emphasizes the essence of each. The same could be said for these DIY rap creations. The contrast created by stitching raps may make the tone of each stronger and clearer. Stitching Rick Ross’s “everyday I’m hustling” in pink thread over a tumble of flowers makes visible the stark contrasts of tones, and clarifies each. By taking these lyrics and this craft out of their original context, it emphasizes both the words of the music and the style of the stitching.
It’s also interesting that this music has found an audience in the women it so frequently disparages, and that those women have glorified the message in a traditionally domestic and feminine art form. It’s no secret that rap culture objectifies women, using them as status symbols, and revels in misogyny. By flipping this trend and owning it, the women making this art could be achieving a triumphant satire. Can anything take the sting out of “bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks” quite like sewing it in eggshell blue thread next to a pot of flowers on a throw pillow?
that’s-th-th-that’s all folks!
laissez les bon temps rouler,