History of Female rappers
Hip hop has been greatly dominated by the male artists, but there have been some changes which are noticed. Salt N Pepa and Queen Latifa were tow early females who explored the style. It took some time for women to realize they could too sing like their male counterparts. They therefore explored the field as much as they could. The two early female artists opened the road for other female artists who brought change in the hip hop industry.
Rap music has slowly evolved over time to become an integral part of the American culture. This style of music evolved from the ‘Hip Hop’ culture and was mainly characterized by break dancing, a unique style of dressing and attitude, graffiti, disc jockeying and rapping which were very important expressive components of this genre of music (Rhodes238). Hip Hop has largely been dominated by male artists, with the women in this genre taking the back seat. For years women have been portrayed as sex objects and symbols, thus used as props in most of the Hip Hop music videos (Rhodes238).
As a result, for years women have struggled to thrive and receive recognition in a genre mainly dominated by males (Mervis 110).Its pointed out in the book that Vibe History of Hip-Hop had men that originally were the main consumers of this kind of music. Most preferred listening to male artistes. It was perceived as a man’s style of expression (Lights 210). Rap producers were reluctant to sign up female rappers into the rap career, for the fear of diluting the perception of the male machismo which was associated with this genre, as it was the success formula for male rappers and rap producers (Thigpen 130).
Despite this there have been notable female rappers who have been able to break into the industry, thus have forever changed the perception of women with reference to this kind of music. Rappers such as Salt n Peppa, Queen Latifah, Mc Lyte, Nicki Minaj, and Foxy Brown are just but a few of the female rappers that have captured the market. These are artists who are giving stiff competition to their male counterparts.
The early female rappers started out with ‘dis’ records on their male counterparts lyrics which depicted women in the negative light. Rappers such as Lady B, Sweet and Sour and Little Lee responded to ‘Roxanne’ a song by UTFO in the mid 1980s which talked of a stuck up girl (Mervis 109). The response to this ‘dis’ was big and enigmatic (Light 89). Salt N Pepa’s debut known as “Hot Cool & Vicious”, hit platinum record with over a million sales in record. This saw the start of a lucrative career in music producing famous hits well in to the 1990s (Rhodes 75). Mc Lyte’s debut album known as Lyte as a Rock in 1988 was able to show the talent and versatility that female rappers can exhibit and this opened up a crack in the market for other aspiring female rappers to follow suit (Gibbons 117).Queen Latifah is probably the iconic representation of female rappers.
The early female rappers struggled to succeed in a male dominated area and most of them would try fit into the male shoes and would often than not dress up in a such way that their feminity was covered up as depicted by MC Lyte’s tomboy response. Lil’ Kim became a first one to respond to male lyrics depicting women as sex symbols by using her feminity and raw sexual appeal in her music videos. Her debut in 1996 ‘Hard Core’ was a success and introduced a new brand of expression for female rappers who embraced their sexual appeal. Rappers such as Eve and foxy brown have produced high class raps integrating both her feminity side and still having a tough factor within the songs. This has made her songs sexy, sassy and appealing to a wide audience and she has sold millions of records (Gibbons, 2007).
Just like men rappers female rappers are tough and have come a long way to make it big. Black women rappers are integral and resistance voices in hip hop and in most popular music. They sustain an ongoing dialogue with their audience and male rappers about sexual promiscuity, emotional commitment, infidelity, the drug trade and black cultural history. In the early stages women’s participation in rap was hindered by gender consideration. The male rappers were more popular and successful compared to female rappers who had to put a female crew together for regular performances. Institutional support for the female rappers was at a low level and public demand favored male rappers mostly therefore causing difficulty for the upcoming female rappers (Bobo 237).
Raps about style and prestige have occasionally involved the possession of women as evidence of male power. These raps define women as commodities, objects and ornaments (Bobo 238). Some defensive and aggressive raps describe women as objects of male pleasure. In rap music women are divided into two groups. The kind to take home to mother and the kind you meet at three o’clock in the morning. Women have been expressed as unpredictable and materialistic, wanting men for their money and cars (Bobo 246)
In one of Salt- N- Pepa’s videos, a scene where police raid and arrest, made explicit the real informal yet institutionally based policing of female sexual expression. This video spoke to black women, called for open public display of female expression, assumed a community based support for their freedom and focuses directly on the sexual desirability and beauty of the women’s bodies (Bobo 249).Women rappers have a remarkable talent which is their capacity to attract large male followings. Women rappers such as MC Lyte, Queen Lattifah and Salt-N-Pepa have been able to sustain dialogue with and consequently encourage dialogue between young men and women and challenging some sexist male behavior.
Women rappers such as Salt-N-Pepa proved that rap music was not only for men, they were responsible for carving out space for female MCs in the rap business. They achieved their success by making rap music from a woman’s point of view to a population that had been carving such an outlet. By focusing on messages of female self empowerment and positive sexuality and placing female issues on the fore front (Hess 195). It was hard for female rappers to make it in the rap industry as they had to challenge not only the biases against racially oppressed groups and working-class but also the male biases and double standards that were applied exclusively to female rappers (Hess 195).
Female rappers are potrayed differently in the hiphop industry.Some use their bodies to pass a message, while some use them to attract people to listen to their music. All in all, women are still encouraged to stand out among men and perform hit hip hop songs which are embraced by many. Comparing today and the old days of Queen Latifa and Mc lyte, hiphop music among the women has advanced greatly and because of the old school hip hop music; many young women have joined the Hip hop music industry.
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Gibbons Andrew. From the streets to Academia: A librarian’s guide to Hip Hop Culture. New York: The City College of New York Press, 2007.Print.
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Rhodes ,Kims. The Evolution of Rap Music in the United State. New York: Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 2001.Print
Thigpen,Murien. Not for Men: Women Rappers are Breaking the Mold with a Message of their Own.New York. Times, 2000.Print.