I've said it before, and I will say it again and again, as long as it's relevant. What is up with female rappers?
Who told them that they either have to whores or lesbians to get on the mic? It's giving us all a bad name. I googled "female rappers" and this is the first image that popped up.
Now, I'm speaking generally here. I'm a female. I am not a whore. I am not a lesbian. I rap. But going to various shows, poking around online, and from my own knowledge of history-- I'm kinda an anomaly. And not the cool kind, like NeYo in the Matrix. Think about the female emcees that you know who were not using either sex as a weapon (or as validation) or who are not gay. Having a hard time, huh? The list, sadly, is very short.
If you look at female rappers as a microcosm of black women, the same way that often Hip Hop is looked at as a reflection of the young black experience, the implications are even worse. That's why I can't allow myself to do that. The alternative implication is just as depressing to me as a music lover, because it suggests that the average woman doesn't really involve herself in Hip Hop. And if Hip Hop is a culture and the tell-tale vehicle for the young black experience, or this agent of freedom and expression, and women are not really involved...it becomes warped, one-sided and eventually, untruthful.
Ask the average, thinking female who her favorite rapper is right now and I'll bet my red sport Neon that she says, Common and/or Lil Wayne (sometimes in reverse order). Common because after he appeared on Oprah he magically, instantly, moved out of the underground realm and into the forefront of what many critics and casual observers believe Hip Hop "should" be. This is all almost 15 years after he started his career, but who's counting?
Common is a safe bet. He's good looking, doesn't degrade women, but doesn't come off as overly soft of gay himself. Most guys think he's dope, so he's validated that way, and he's in movies now, so that doesn't hurt either. He's commercial but authentic. Kind of like Mos Def (which is why white people love him), but I digress.
Lil Wayne is a favorite because he's force fed to mainstream radio, tv and magazines--this of course, came after dudes gave him the final ok when the Carter dropped. Wayne expresses a certain vulnerability that women, no matter how silly it seems, are always attracted to. He's renegade sexy, but clearly still has some issues/problems, that most women are itching to "solve." Plus, he publicly dates women and then doesn't bash them when the relationship is finished like 50. He's always searching for a good woman-- and that directly goes against the "homies over hoes" motto that pervaded mainstream rap for years. Wayne makes women feel wanted by him for more than only sex (and yes, I'm aware of, and have seen, his lovely "P-ssy" song performed live). I'm just giving you what the perception is. He's the guy that you know is a good dude and has a "good heart," but just can't seem to meet the right woman to fully bring that side out of him... making him an ideal fantasy man. It's complicated, I know.
I said all that to say that, women for the past 12 years or so, have been excluded in many ways from Hip Hop and the two artists that I mentioned above have done a decent job of making them feel involved. Now, I got into a discussion with one of my boys who does marketing for a major. He suggested that women don't go out of their way to find rap music that speaks to them, and that it's therefore their fault that they say there isn't any good, non-degrading music to listen to. I disagree. As a woman, why would you go out of your way to find "good" Hip Hop, when the genre (meaning the folks who operate it) has done everything in it's power to isolate you from it? From the misogyny-- and that includes subtle misogyny-- to the utter male domination (including engineers, executives, rappers, writers, editors, producers, etc.), what incentive does the average woman have to go searching for this hidden treasure of "good" Hip Hop? Especially when she can turn her head a little to left and find soul/R&B artists like Raphael Saadiq, Van Hunt, Anthony Hamilton, Trey Songz, Mario, Usher, Maxwell and whoever else who have no problem making her a musical priority? She has none.
Which brings us back to the initial point- with the bulk of women completely shut out of, or disinterested in Hip Hop, what remains are an influx of female emcees who are either badly scarred and searching from a man's validation through their sexuality and women who feel connected to Hip Hop because in some ways, due to it's own against-the-grain nature, rap music embraces their non-conformist identity. So what happens to the few of us who either neither searching for a man's validation and don't love Hip Hop mostly because it soothes our dissent from mainstream? I'll tell you what-- We're told that no one "gets" us. Or, we're told that we don't exist.
And this is my constant battle.