It’s no secret that the genre of Hip-Hop is a male dominated genre when you talk about emceeing. In many cases some Hip-Hop fans feel like women need not apply. Even here on According 2 Hip-Hop we catch all kinds of flack from our followers if we compare a male emcee and a female emcee. One debate in particular that stood out is when we ask who was more lyrically skilled between Tupac and Lauryn Hill. Lyric for lyric if you know both artist’s work you would think that would be a legit debate. The responses were jaw dropping as people were saying things like “don’t disrespect Tupac like that” and “you can’t compare a female emcee to a male emcee”. Why not? Lyric for lyric if you’re nice on the mic you’re nice. This got me thinking, does the Hip-Hop community take female emcees seriously? I also wonder about the ghostwriting double standard. In Hip-Hop if a female emcee has a ghostwriter it’s almost expected, but if a male emcee has a ghostwriter then they are considered a fraud. So what is a woman’s place in Hip-Hop? Even if a female emcee has the ability to be a top 10 emcee will she ever get that consideration? For many people MC Lyte is considered to be the female GOAT emcee. Is MC Lyte a top 20 emcee on an overall list?
Unfortunately we haven’t really experienced a female emcee in Hip-Hop give us multiple consecutive classic albums. If we named the top 30 Rap albums of all-time would there be a female rap album in that 30? We can’t count The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill because let’s be honest, that an R&B album not a rap album. Album for album Missy Elliott may have the strongest catalog of any female we’ve seen in Hip-Hop. As much of a Missy fan that I am I will admit that on a grand scale Missy is not known to be a beast of an emcee on the mic. So what is it about female emcees in Hip-Hop that seems as if they are still fighting for that level of respect? I personally believe that many times in Hip-Hop women are objectified through lyrics and visuals to the point that many fans of the genre don’t want to hear anything that a female emcee has to say on the mic. We’ve seen the objectification of the female emcee take form when Lil Kim and Foxy Brown hit the scene. Although they both were game changers in the sense that showed that a woman could rock the mic and not have to dress like a guy, they also pushed the objectification of women in Hip-Hop to the next level.
Lil Kim’s “Hardcore” album would be considered a classic to many but it’s hard to say if that album pushed female emcees forward or pushed female emcees back. Now record companies could see that they could sell sex with video models in video and with an actual woman on the mic. The female emcee started to become to be about who was wearing the least amount of clothing not who was the nicest. Of course there were exceptions to the rule in the form of a Lauryn Hill, who has never been accused of having a ghostwriter. But Lauryn never really gave us a true rap album. Although females in Hip-Hop have always been slightly overlooked there were a good amount of female emcees in the 80’s and even more in the 90’s. Around the 2000’s we started to experience a bit of a drought when it came to female emcees in Hip-Hop. It got so bad that people felt that the BET Awards should have done away with the Best Female Hip-Hop Artist category. Seems like Missy won that award like five years in a row and then Nicki Minaj won it like seven years in a row.
Do people really want to hear female emcees on the mic? Why hasn’t the public demanded that they hear more female emcees on Hip-Hop outlets? Granted there are a bunch of female emcee out there that are nice and doing their thing but it seems that the mainstream can only hold a few female emcees at one time. The few female emcees that the mainstream holds are more times than not at each other’s throats for that number one spot. We even saw it when Cardi B took to social media to celebrate being nominated for BET’s Best Female Hip-Hop Artist Award at the BET Awards. Hours later she had to get right back on social media to address all the hate that she was getting for people calling her a stripper saying that she wasn’t a rapper. Cardi B brought up a valid discussion, we don’t label male rappers drug dealers when they make a transition out of their previous life and into rap music so why would we do that to a female rapper that was formerly a stripper? Being a stripper is not illegal.
There clearly is an unwritten rule in Hip-Hop that women should know their place. There are very limited female DJs in Hip-Hop that aren’t just being used as eye candy on the wheels and there are very few female emcees that get major mainstream success without showing their bodies. It seems like the female emcee has to show a little skin to be in. In the spirit of Hip-Hop expression women have something to say as well. The female emcees that do have a message normally end up singing so that their message can be received. The ground work that Salt n Pepa, Roxanne Shante, Queen Latifah, & MC Lyte laid down is now being carried on by Nicki Minaj, Remy Ma, Cardi B, Young Ma, & Rapsody. Somehow female Hip-Hop let Iggy Azalea slip in. But as Pop as Iggy is (no pun intended) we have to admit that Nicki Minaj has made her fair share of Pop records and it can be argued that Nicki Minaj is a Pop artist just like Iggy. In the grand scheme of things it seems like the female emcees tend to branch out and do other things or move to another genre of music. So in conclusion, what is a woman’s place in Hip-Hop? Anywhere but on the mic, so it seems.