Hip Hop in Climbing: Part VIII

This article also available as a podcast here.

Meet the Talent: Snousha

Image from heysnousha.com/aboutme

Snousha (she/her/hers)

“My name is Snousha. My handles are @apaupersguide.health and @werkovheart. My work is featured here. I am a freestyle artist in addition to penning poetry. My MC names have shifted so much over the years for privacy concerns and creative evolution.  I began as a performative artist in elementary school. My school featured students with A.R. points on the morning announcements. It was at that time I joined the television production crew for the morning announcements. Later in middle school I joined VPA Chorus. My chorus teacher was amazing. We sang songs in different languages in order to sharpen our skills. Hip-hop I initially rejected. It reminded me too much of my chaotic community. In high school this changed when a friend introduced me to his own music and other artists like Nas and Drake. I turned my focus away from rapping and got back to poetry. I supported a local poet Shelby Birch and fell in love with the spoken word movement. Later I opened up for Andrea Gibson! Hip hop came back into focus my 3rd year of college via a good friend, Irie Givens and what later came to be N.E. Bodied Entertainment. We would jam out to pencil drums and saxophones and classical beat boxing, critique album drops, and of course drag each other by the edges. Freestyle is spontaneous, but as with all disciplines can be improved.  

   Some of my favorite artists are Lauryn Hill, Megan thee Stallion, Sa Roc, DJ Screw, Boosie, Chance the rapper and Beyonce. 

   I recommend anyone interested in hip hop 101 check out The Get Down on Netflix. 

   I enjoy heights and extreme sports. I began tree climbing using double rope technique in 2013 as part of tardigrade research. Since then I have done free climbs, enjoyed Adventure Courses and ziplines, scaled mountains, free climb trees. Recently I tried rock climbing while in Haiti.  It was riveting. Lately I’ve been climbing mostly mango trees. 

   I have the desire to film a music video while I am tree climbing. But typically I am prioritizing crew safety. So that opportunity has not yet materialized.

   I love film festivals such as the Sarasota Film Festival but I am new to the world of Climbing for the Outdoors. I have not been to Reel Rock, BAMFF, or No Man’s Land. I appreciate you bringing these to my attention. It’s an exciting landscape!

   In response to No Man’s Land, I appreciate that they are using their platform to be truly inclusive by setting boundaries on what is permissible entertainment. As a black female climber, climbing is one of my escapes. I’d hate to have my safe space violated with racist imagery. Hip hop is a black African American artform. The same way that Salsa is Spanish and Odori is Japanese. Of course there is room for growth. 

   I question the sincerity and integrity of the Hip Hop Gone Wild video, not because white people lack authenticity. But because it sounds like a limerick set to a beat and the choreography lacks discipline and creativity. I cringed listening because it’s not good. Hip hop is not just rhyming words. There’s rhythm, cadence, and history. When the discipline is ignored it’s obvious. If you are not a hip hop artist why make a hip hop video? Why not Irish step dance, bachata, reggaeton? It’s the common theme of suburban white kids usurping other cultures tackily. The absence of black people shows that black people are an afterthought. 

   Frustrations in hip hop — male gatekeepers. For years studios have been a “boys only” club. Climbing is largely white in North America. I’ve faced hostility although I charged that to an individual’s own insecurities. I have also had wonderful amazing climb teams with helpful white climbers. It depends on the team. By contrast, climbing in the caribbean I am met with a positive response. I am allowed to embrace my femininity and still be respected for my skill. Also I do not feel in competition with men. Whereas in the U.S. men have used their physical bodies to take up space.

   I believe that the onus is not on black people to single handedly interrogate and dismantle oppressive systems. It is great when allies bring awareness to emotionally exhaustive situations that are racially harmful. Hip Hop was invented by Black American people. This is a known fact. Ignoring this fact is like saying sushi was created by Texans. It’s a form of racial erasure. 

   I don’t know any other MC climbers but I would like to meet them!   My work is available on heysnousha.com.”

Book available on Amazon

Any other thoughts on the film? “Obviously you [filmmaker] thought it was cool. It reminded you of your cousin at Thanksgiving doing nonsense: ‘that’s so cute’ or whatever, you know I’m not mad at you for that specific thing but that just shows you need to have diversity on your panel…Why is that whatch’all gravitate towards? That concept could have been so great in a different way.”

Would you like to elaborate on your access comment? “Even the access I talk about in my response, the gatekeeping too with studios in general…I know so many people with studios who literally just don’t provide access in a way that’s quid pro quo…Part of that too is that you have access to all these resources and you choose to make garbage with it. It’s very frustrating….And that’s kind of frustrating too cuz like for me I feel like all these agencies, a lot of them are predominantly white male in my experience and even if they didn’t have an issue with me having a Hip Hop video online, how would that reflect in terms of how they would respond to me? How is that going to affect my career? Versus a violin (which is really cool, I’m not hatin’ on violins). I don’t even feel comfortable putting my own work out as someone who actually does those things because I recognize that’s not how structures work in a male dominated organization. And that’s just; it is what it is. And that partition is important in that regard.”

Snousha, do you feel you get support as an artist? “There isn’t the support for female artists that are performing (in general; there’s like a competition). It shouldn’t exist you know, but there is a competition. And so simple things like just having someone record me is a huge deal. I’m always willing to do that for someone else because I know it’s that important, especially as a beginner. While I am thankful I have photos and evidence of the work that I’ve done, it’s kind of frustrating in that regard….one of the questions [provided to me by the author] was have I ever climbed and did a video: I’ve always wanted to do this but how are you supposed to film yourself?”

You can find Snousha’s work at heysnousha.com

4 thoughts on “Hip Hop in Climbing: Part VIII

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