The XXL Freshman cover was released a few days ago and as usual, the internet imploded as people expressed their rage about their favorite upcoming rappers not being acknowledged and about how they felt the list was composed of nothing but ‘jellybean rappers’. One of the arguments that stood out to me the most was about how the list failed to include any upcoming female MC’s. I personally didn’t think much of it, as I know that their haven’t been any upcoming female Rap artists in the past year that have gained any major notoriety or buzz. What stood out to me the most were the people who opposed the need for female MC’s, as they felt as if female MC’s weren’t worthy and just weren’t as good as their male counterparts. This stood out to me, because it appears to be a reoccurring narrative in Hip-Hop.
More often that not, I hear people speak out about their refusal to listen to female MC’s for their belief that women shouldn’t rap or that women who rap aren’t worthy of their time. It both confuses and infuriates me, because we’ve seen countless women ascend to the status of Hip-Hop royalty and deliver classic after classic. Lauryn Hill’s lyrical display on the Score is still unmatched, Lil’ Kim’s hardcore persona on Hardcore matched that of Hip-Hop legend Biggie, Missy Elliot‘s entire career was based on her continuing to push the bar and raise the envelope on how creative Rap artists could be, Eve’s “Love is Blind” delivered a heart-wrenching story about the harsh truth and ugly result of domestic abuse that reminded us how powerful story telling can truly be and Nicki Minaj’s performance on “Monster” reminded us that if they aren’t careful, an icon(or two) can be out-rapped and verbally assaulted by a rookie. These women and countless others have defied all odds broke down the barriers that society and more specifically Hip-Hop has set up against them and proved that they were just as good and often times, better than their male counterparts. With as much evidence as we have as to how great female MC’s can be, it makes me wonder why we still attempt to belittle and undermine them?
I think about Iggy Azalea, the criticism she received/receives and wonder if she would receive the same if she was a man. Granted, I don’t think she’s the most lyrically gifted rapper we’ve ever seen, but she’s also far from the worst. I’d even go as far to say that she can hang with more than half of her male counterparts. No, she not on the same level as Joes Bada$$, Cozz or Logic but she’s by far better than Lil Yatchy, Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug, and the multitude of other male rappers that we let get by because “Hip-Hop is about more than just lyricism”. Although this is a statement I agree with, it seems to be one that we only grant to male MC’s. We as a Hip-Hop community(at a point in time, me included) have tried to bully and push her out for simply making music that was fun. As I reflect on it, I feel as if she only got this treatment because she’s a woman.
In Hip-Hop, we’ve historically only allowed a select few women to ascend to a level high enough to rival, outsell and outrap their male counterparts. If we don’t think a woman has what it takes to develop into a legend, we either ignore them or boycott them. We expect our female MC’s to be as hardcore as the men, but when they get too tough, we begin to say they aren’t sexy enough. When they get too sexy, we begin to slut shame them and say they’re selling sex in order to be noticed(although a large portion of rappers, especially male rappers make it their business to detail their sexual conquests). It makes me think of of a Nicki Minaj quote where she says “When you’re a girl, you have to be everything. You have to be dope at what you do but you have to be super sweet and you have to be sexy and you have to be this, you have to be that, and you have to be nice. It’s like, I can’t be all those things at once. I’m a human being.’ ”.
Female rappers are held to an unrealistic standard of what an MC should be and are very rarely allowed the opportunity to just make music, but even when they are allowed to do so, they face a level of criticism that their male counterparts avoid. I don’t know what will be the change in this way of thinking or if their will ever be one, but I know that their are some talented female MC’s on the come up. Tink, Rapsody, Azealia Banks and Angel Haze have all released some incredible projects recently. All having different styles, they all share one thing, they’re talented MC’s.