hip hop

Women in Hip Hop Songs: Power Personified

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Hip-hop was once considered as an all-male-arena, like the many other male dominated industries. Today, however, women have arrived. From MC Lyte who was launched by Def Jam in the early 80s to the Beyonce and J-Los and Mystic of today, our women are singing, and they are singing to the heart's content! Look at rapper Paccy for instance. She debuted in 2009 and is one of the young ones on the blocks – Paccy wants to make a difference and she raps about "equality in society."

On the other hand, the audience has matured as well. The subjects that can be 'tolerated' and not deemed as gross or ugly are beginning to diminish. Even women can discuss and rap about money, glamor and physical intimacy as our society is opening up to it. It is all a part of life and after all, rapping is about life as well.

Some time back in 2010, we had 14 year old Brian Bradley aka rapper Astronomical Kid rapping, "Stop Looking at My Moms." He had candidly said that he expected other teenagers to refer to the song because having people stare at you mother is definitely offensive. The sad part is that it happens – it happens to all women. Most rap song videos have women presented as mere objects; with a man in the center and poorly clad women, in dozens, surrounding him. Such representation degrades; bringing down the self-depreciating, self-negating, underprivileged black woman even further. Even statistics show that many Black-American women believe that they have nothing more than sex to offer to a man. Rap lyrics, more often, reinstall these concepts destroying the self-worth as well.What good are we doing to our women and children if this is all we rap about? Perhaps such content can be enjoyed for a while, but there is a need for a healthy mix and a healthy culture.

The kind of "Real Music" which is evolving from ladies does not have explicit content that young listeners need to be protected from and nor is it too naive for the adult rap-fan. However, although the fan is growing to understand and accept the woman rapper, the real battle for her lies within the industry. The industry is still male dominated, still has men rapping about women in disparaging ways and it still has people who do not want to share the space. There are people who will make her look bad and there are also followers who will believe that. Above this, lie the societal norms and beliefs about the singers; with the many criminal cases and records registered against stars, there is a general notice that every hip hop world-star artist is a criminal. The woman has to break all these barriers, look ahead and make good music.

Call it battle-rap if you want,
But this is a battle that is still on;
Yes, our women have the potential to win,
Common girls, just rock-on!

Source by Louisa Putnam

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Mitchel Turner

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I’m a journalist from Oxford specializing in hip-hop and culture.