This idea of this post came up from an innocent tweet that I posted on my account. “Who are your top 5 AFRICAN rappers based on LYRICISM and FLOW alone?”
Bunch of names were floated. Most actually fit the description. Some? Not so much. But out of the many answers I got, not a single female was mentioned as part of the list. Not even one. “Why?” I asked. “Are there no lady rappers or is the industry so male dominated? Or are lady rappers just lazy?”
Someone said that the females are lazy. One other person said that females are afraid of the game so they don’t put themselves out there as compared to the guys. Another said that female rappers are not as controversial as the guys. They never call each other out or start “beef” with each other. I also saw someone say that females use their looks and bodies to promote their records and another simply just said that the rap game is for the men. Something that I found extremely sexist. (Not a rapper but I caught a feeling)
While all these may be valid reasons to whoever was presenting them, have you ever asked yourself what challenges the female rappers are faced with in an industry that’s very male dominated? What’s their story? What are they going through? We’re quick to label them as “lazy”, myself included because in our minds all we can think of is, “You’re talented. To an extent even more than some of the guys but why are you inconsistent?” This has crossed your mind. Am I right?
Well let’s put it this way. There’s this issue of hyper sexuality. Today’s industry is focused so much on what an artist looks like before they hear what they have to offer. You’ve heard of people saying things like, “You look like a star…” or describing someone as an “easy sell” (to corporates, fans etc)…
Let’s take it some years back. Back in the 90s, female rappers were judged solely on talent. Look at Lauryn Hill… in her single Doo-Wop (That Thing) she’s talking about this very same thing. She didn’t have to show up on stage in a close-to-nothing outfit grinding and twerking to sell. Heck, she didn’t even have to have the now popular “fat ass” to break charts and sell records. What came out of her mouth was what we cared about. MC Lyte dressed like a dude for most of her rap career to the point she admitted that guys weren’t even hitting on her. Was she a great rapper? Absolutely! Oh, Missy Elliott? Left Eye? Eve and Foxy Brown to an extent? Catch my drift? What these women were in the 90s, how they presented themselves and how they managed to sell records will not catch on today. Today’s industry is pegged on hyper sexuality and a lot of sexism. That’s a fact.
It’s really tough being a female in the game and being unwilling to compromise so it’s almost as if to ask, if you can’t sell, why release music? Studio sessions cost money. Video shoots and other logistics. That’s all cash. There’s no way you’re going to spend money somewhere you don’t see returns or make profits. You know what I mean? That’s when we get to labeling them as “lazy” or “inconsistent” without thinking about how different times are now.
This may be the major issue but I’m not gonna rule out the fact that there aren’t even enough female rappers in the first place. Think about it, how many can you name in say, 30 seconds? As much as I wanna blame everything on a crooked, sexist industry, end of the day, these female rappers are still lacking. That’s a problem. If they were many enough and were constantly putting out work that could compete at par with the guys, then we’d not have to mention this. I really wanna say people aren’t giving female rappers space but where are they so they can shine? Opportunities are endless. Corine of HBR does The JumpOff Freshmen every year since 2013 and so far there have only been two females. Baby T and Cashy. Baby T has released so many records over time, some I liked and others not so much but she did her thing. Still is and hopefully will continue to.
Cashy literally disappeared though. This is a conversation I had with her before when she was a Freshman in 2014 and only she knows whatever happened in those two years but she recently announced new music coming soon… We’ll wait for that and then probably judge her from here moving forward. I just hope whatever she releases will make us forget there was a blank period she didn’t feed us anything. Cashy is ifted. Whatever demons she’s fighting with need to be put to rest so she can release more and more music.
Then we have some female rappers who are, should I just come out and say inconsistent? Xtatic is really dope. Really really dope but she’ll drop a project and then disappear. Like, she’ll drop a fire mixtape, be all over the media doing a tour to promote her tape and then poof! Gone. Where does she go during this period? I’d love to know. What’s she usually doing? On her website she said that she’s planning to drop her project (yet to be decided whether a mixtape or album) Social Xperiment in April and that she’d be releasing audios and some videos on a weekly basis but so far, I haven’t seen anything. What’s the hold up? Why won’t she tell us, as Hip Hop fans, that this is what’s happening but tape drops on *definite date*? That way you know you’ve gotta wait just a couple days but it’s coming. No word from her as yet. Whyyyyyy???
P.S. Had a lengthy discussion with Xtatic about this, how she made ground in an industry that’s male dominated, Sony and her issues with the label, her calling herself an upcoming act etc. Look out for that exclusive next week!
Of course we’ve got people like Noti Flow who can’t rap or sing but insist on making music regardless much to our displeasure. What she’s good at is just sparking controversy and riding the wave. It’s like she settled for us talking about her; whether we’re saying good or bad things. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? If she really wants to rap, why not practice? She doesn’t even need to write her own lyrics but at the end of the day, what are you really saying? If she can get it right (and this would need a miracle), maybe she can be that bad b**** she really wants to be (minus these cheap attention seeking stunts)
Sugar who’s currently signed by Phoenix has new music out, Tema Methali which is okay… For the longest time she was rapping over other people’s beats like say, a popular Nicki Minaj beat etc. Problem is, her lyrics weren’t adding anything to my life. However, I watched her on the Coke Studio Cypher and thought either she’s been practicing on her writing a lot more or she got somebody to write for her. Either way, as MDQ would say, “If you work on something it’ll get good. If you keep working it’ll get better and better… this industry is not a monopoly.” Hopefully she keeps working on her skills as a rapper. We need the dopeness.
That being said, shout out to the Baus Lady. She isn’t a hardcore rapper and she may not be on everyone’s list but she has mastered her art. She knows her strong points and how to deliver. Her latest album dubbed MDQ Upgraded was released on radio and you as a fan could listen to the whole show dubbed iConcertHBR. If you have no idea what this is, Google is your friend.
Muthoni Drummer Queen
Female rappers (even those who haven’t been mentioned here), we wanna support you but give us something to support and be consistent with your craft. Fans, let’s be quick to embrace DOPE female (and male) acts on the come up (and even those killing it in the game currently) but may we remember that criticism doesn’t make you a hater. Substandard won’t cut it worldwide. Let’s not settle for that.