By: Irene Cohen and Ellie Mulvaney
From the start of the rap scene in the early 1970’s, the genre was catered almost exclusively towards men. Even to this day, women aren’t taken as seriously as their male counterparts despite the skill that they bring to the table, due to the lack of representation.
These women have historically used their influence to speak out on issues that prevail as unjust in our society, and to this day, work to shed light on the unspoken voices of other women, and black people, around the country.
A recent example of the media predominantly failing to consider women as serious artists was the Nicki Minaj versus Cardi B “feud” that sparked roughly 3-4 years ago. Over and over, the two were painted as temperamental and petty, though these misconceptions majorly came to be under the false standard that there may be only one true queen of rap. A fellow female in the rap scene, Megan thee Stallion, told ‘Billboard’, “Us women have always been talented. But it was a thing where there could only be one woman at a time.”
Because of the lack of mainstream female rappers, fans and consumers put these women under the type of scrutiny many men don’t have to deal with. They are less seen for their talents than for their rumored competition and scuffles, despite how true they may be. Cardi B herself said, in an interview with ‘Complex’, in 2017, “I feel like people wouldn’t even be satisfied if me and [Nicki] was making out on a freaking photo, I feel like people just want that drama because it’s entertaining.”
Regardless of the relationship of Nicki and Cardi, they were charged by the pressure to dominate female rap, rather than encouraged together, simply because of their gender and the lack of credibility given to their craft.
Certain female rappers have voiced their thoughts on the inequalities that many of them face being black women. Queen Latifah’s song “U.N.I.T.Y.” showcases this by speaking on issues such as sexism in the rap industry’s culture, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.
However, that was not the only song in which she used her platform to speak on important issues. On her song “Ladies First”, she collaborates with rapper Monie Love to advocate for the union of women, and to not be pitted against each other. They also expressed their pride and love for being women.
Queen Latifah is far from the only female rapper to speak out on social issues. More recently, Megan Thee Stallion has spoken about the injustices black women face all around the country. Megan spoke out on SNL about how Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron did not bring justice in the death of Breonna Taylor.
She later on went to say in a ‘New York Times’ opinion piece that “When women choose to capitalize on our sexuality, to reclaim our own power, like I have, we are vilified and disrespected.” She says this in reference to many judging her choice of clothing claiming she’s doing it for male attention. She says much more in this article, such as how black women’s bodies are constantly being put under a lens by the public and the media. This opinion piece covers an array of issues black women face, the title of it embodies the article very well: “Why I Speak Up for Black Women.”
Women in the rap industry have had to, and continue to, face many hardships and discrimination both in their career and in their lives. Despite this, these women rise up to become successful. Their success is incredibly inspiring to so many, especially since they are able to use their platforms to spread their beliefs and advocate for the change, for equality, not only in the rap industry, but for black women everywhere.