‘There are a lot of women out there who think like me, who are strong, but don’t have a voice’ – Adina Howard
Best known for her 1995 single Freak Like Me which was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic (and later successfully covered by the Sugababes) and in a time and industry which was awash with male artists surrounded by scantily clad woman Adina Howard pushed the boundaries of female sexuality. She provided a spring board for other artists to come forward and act as positive role models for strong, independent women, particularly in the hip hop world, to no longer just be the bikini girls in the videos.
Watching the music video for Freak Like Me today, it seems tame now, but you have to remember this was in the 90’s when it wasn’t that common for women to talk about sex. Up to that point most women in the hip hop world like Queen Latifah and MC Lyte had a masculine edge and they weren’t used to seeing someone ultra feminine being so provocative.
This is Adina’s story in her own words talking about becoming a trendsetter for the likes of Lil Kim, Beyonce and Rihanna, working with Jackie Chan and Jamie Foxx, her relationship with Tupac and falling out with her record company. It’s also a shame to hear about the judgement she got from her peers, who, because she didn’t actually write the song (it was written by a man) claimed she a puppet for contradicting what she was singing about and branding her promiscuous and a ‘ho’.
It’s a great story, well told by the lady herself (who is very engaging) as well as some prominent industry insiders who were around at the time or inspired by her music. The song itself aside (which is the only music that appears in the film) it’s great to see anyone fighting for gender equality, asking: why should women in music just be timid and submissive when men are so sexually aggressive?
It’s a shame that more of Howard’s music isn’t used in the film, she had some great follow up singles, but I’m guessing that’s due to licencing issues. It’s definitely worth a watch though if you’re a fan on 90’s hip hop and the inner workings of the music industry.
Adina Howard 20 – A Story of Sexual Liberation is released in Vimeo on 6 May 2015