Long snubbed, women of rap break old molds and claim their due
Long stereotyped as a boys’ club, not least for its braggadocious lyrics and objectification of women, the rap world has seen a bevy of female stars reclaim their space.
Over the past decade, diverse talent has climbed up through hip-hop’s ranks, as women shun old ideas about what makes their acts marketable and the internet opens new avenues to stardom.
Women were prominent players in rap’s formative years – Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, Foxy Brown, Lil’ Kim, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott and Queen Latifah – and left indelible marks on hip-hop’s DNA.
But the 2000s saw women pushed aside, with labels fumbling to survive as illegal music downloads began upending standard procedure.
“The industry took a nosedive – when it came to cutting the costs of everything, of course women were the ones who felt it the hardest,” said Kathy Iandoli, whose recent book God Save The Queens details the trajectory of women in rap.
By 2010, the number of women rappers hovered at around three, according to the documentary My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women in Hip Hop.
Women who did get a break were pigeon holed as either hypersexual or tough lyricists, with the industry often pitting them against each other, perpetuating the idea that only one rap queen could rule at a time.
“Napster ... created a very strong underground,” Iandoli said of the pioneering music-sharing service. “It set up the ability to create a career in a way that had never been done before.”
She is “cautiously optimistic” the growing guard of women rappers is here to stay.
She said “women work smarter” and are more strategic in their bids to get ahead.
“The ethos is different – when you’re buying into an industry where you know the odds are against you, you have to move differently than the guys.”
“I don’t think there’s a single woman who takes for granted her ability to get in the room,” Iandoli continued.
“This didn’t happen by chance, it happened by hard work.” – AFP
GIRL POWER. Megan Thee Stallion, left, Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, right, are among the women making waves in the rap world.