Long snubbed, women of rap break old molds and claim their due

The Citizen (KZN) - - City -

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

Pic­tures: AFP

GIRL POWER. Me­gan Thee Stal­lion, left, Nicki Mi­naj and Cardi B, right, are among the women mak­ing waves in the rap world.

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