For my project, I am interested in potentially working with the song “Gatekeeper” by Jessie Reyez, or “Bad Girls” by M.I.A. Both of these songs would give me plenty of material and information to explore and further research, all while having to do with a subject matter that is significant to me personally.


In Jessie Reyez’ “Gatekeeper” the Colombian-Canadian singer-songwriter exposes some intimate and personal details regarding her experiences as an up and coming artist, with a certain music producer. In her song, Reyez sheds light to the #MeToo movement, as she shares her own encounter with sexual assualt and emotional abuse, in a very direct and necessarily explicit way. The thing that initially intrigued me about this particular song, was the fact that I have regularly listened to this artist before, yet never heard of this song. Upon reflection, this is something that I am really curious about, as I have known of Jessie Reyez for many years now and have never known about her experience with abuse and assault. Getting to dive deeper into this song would allow me to simultaneously learn more about Jessie Reyez, and what brought her to where she is today. Additionally, this song will challenge me to do research beyond just the lyrics, as the song is decently repetitive (with great purpose) and does not initially give away the entire meaning of the song upon first listen. This song will directly challenge me to not only research more about Jessie Reyez, but also the #MeToo movement, and the social climate surrounding the song. Furthermore, Reyez does a great job of utilizing her song to reveal explicit elements of her personal stories with her abuser in order to challenge the notion that women must sit back and accept the manipulation and abuse from the men in their lives. This directly relates to the entire goal of the #MeToo movement, and gives Reyez the platform to use her voice and fight back against the horrible things this man did to her. 

In terms of where the song will lead me, it is not only the song itself that provides great insight into the overall political movement of the piece. Along with the song, there is a powerful music video, and a short film titled “Gatekeeper: A True Story” that was released alongside the track, giving further context to the lyrics of the song. The combination of all 3 of these will provide great insight into the genre of the song itself, as all 3 evoke a serious emotional response, something that is incredibly common in R&B / Soul music. This emotional response is initially what drew me to working with this song, as I am someone who is super passionate about providing people with the platform to fight back against things or people who have previously held them back. Some may say that I am a “raging feminist” but I would phrase it as someone who wants to see women be treated with the same dignity, respect, and appreciation as men. With that being said, I believe that working with this song would allow me to permeate that passion into productive work, work that can help me be provided with an even greater understanding. 

The other song that I have proposed is similar to an extent, but also quite different. M.I.A’s “Bad Girls” is about women taking power back for themselves, with a theme of liberation. Much like Jessie Reyez, M.I.A utilized the politically charged song to expose the oppression of women, and to dive into how their liberation does not necessarily make them “bad girls.” In a very similar fashion, “Bad Girls” both through its lyrics and its music video refer to the Womens to Drive movement in Saudi Arabia. This was a campaign organized by women in Saudi Arabia, as prior to June 2018, women living in Saudi Arabia were prohibited from driving motor vehicles. This illustrates the impact of the song and the way in which it is politically charged to address something way beyond the seemingly superficial level of the title. This song will be challenging for me, as it is a little older, and the lyrics themselves are not as telling as Jessie Reyez’ song, forcing me to really dive deeper into my research, and learn more about women’s rights and movements going on in other countries. Within the song and video, M.I.A does a fantastic job of petitioning for the freedom of women, and creates an influential anthem for girls who do not want to play by the atypical societal rules. 

In terms of where this song will lead me, I am confident that the song will push me to explore more about the Saudi Arabia Women’s to Drive movement, along with other potential movements the song can doubly represent. Furthermore the song itself is very on par for what typical M.I.A songs sound like, being pretty consistently politically charged, beat-heavy rap style music. This element of the rap genre and what the song itself actually sounds like is what initially drew me to the song, in addition to the fact that throughout my early club soccer days this was all my team would listen to before games. This provides even greater relevance to that idea that it was our pre-game song, as it is an ultra anthem for female empowerment. As a result, there is a personal connection to this song that will keep me intrigued throughout the 10 week process, and with my newfound understanding, it just means a little more. 

As far as some of my concerns for the project, I think I will need to just let myself go completely and allow my curiosity to drive my research. I know sometimes the fact that I am a perfectionist and am always searching for a “correct answer” can hold me back sometimes, but I am eager to get started with this whole process. The only other real concern I have for this project is my lack of time during the soccer season, but I am confident that with the skills I have developed throughout the years I will make it work! 

Natalie Nevins