The rap movement spawned from the 1978 Hip Hop movement in the Bronx. This movement opened a way to discuss issues and situations. Over the years, this message has diffused and rap (or hip hop) has become a way to speak on any facet of life. This movement has spread worldwide to establish a large industry, that has become one of the biggest genres in music today.
However, even in this massive genre there lies a vocal minority: the female rap sector. This group of women accounts for a small minority to the male-dominated industry; however vocal, these women are few in numbers compared to the men. Since 2000, just 17 female rappers have made it into the top 20 of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, while more than 184 male rappers or rap acts have made it into the Top 20 since 2000 according to Newser- a true testament to the state of female rap.
The continuation of glossing over the gap in women influence in the rap industry institutes a mentality that women are worth less and equal chance proves false.
Accordingly, woman as a whole are seen as less of a rapper than men. The opportunity for a woman to achieve success as a rapper shows severe decline just due to their gender. In 2017 rapper and record label owner Rick Ross, spoke of never signing a women due to fear that he will have intercouse with her. Glaring misogyny aside, dictating a woman’s success by requiring sexual acts in response indicates the true state of the industry. Many rap artists are sexual in nature, yet, for women sexual nuances and promiscuous dress are staples for the industry. Hence, critics tear apart a female rappers act for sexual elements, yet glorify a man’s actions and lyrical promiscuity. This double standard presents itself in nearly every aspect of life, but few examples are as glaring as the rap industry.
Another attributed cause to the minority nature of the industry spearheads itself in the singular rapper nature. For the female rap industry, it is assumed that only one rapper can illustrate herself as its “Queen”, or industry leader. Mainstream society and rap culture has a singular mentality when it comes to female rap, only one can exist at one time. This becomes glaringly clear when conflicts arise like the infamous Cardi B vs Nicki Minaj New York Fashion Week fight. The charged nature of the female industry illustrates itself, unparalleled in nature, in the rap industry fighting and feuding holds a common tone but this amplifies inside the female side.
Female rappers are an important figurehead in the means of equality and feminism. These women powerfully make a stance to shrug off the competition and declare freedom from predisposed thoughts. These women, like Missy Elliot and Nicki Minaj, have successfully navigated a male-dominated industry in order to create entire empires on the coattails of their talent. These women are true testaments to the power of being a woman and to creating something new and entirely your own. Importantly, these women have paved the road to allow other artists to follow and to create music.
Flash back to 2009, when female rap as a whole was all but dead and the male rap industry was alive and thriving. Female rap demonstrates an ability to overcome misogyny and overall institutionalized racism. Female rappers deserve not only attention for what they do, but also respect for their hustle and ability to overcome their circumstances and become something great out of it.
Written by Ethan Everman