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March 11

Women Of Rap

By Ella Miista
Ahead of Angel Haze's London gig tonight, we're spending the day celebrating female rappers. Rhyming ladies aren't quite as popular as they were in the 90s. Their popularity peaked in the decade leading up to Lil Kim's platinum album in 2003. The next album this successful came from Nicki Minaj in 2010. Okay, so there was a hiatus. Surely things are looking better now? No. Four years later Nicki is still an exception to the rule. We've been hearing since 2012 how things will change. Remember the craze when Kreayshawn & co took the world by storm? Well, we weren't shedding excessive tears for the delay back then. You know, because we're content never ever listening to Kreayshawn again. But, it's still worrying. Rap music is as popular as ever and there talented women are out there. How come it's still predominantly male then? MC Lyte throws in the air the costliness of a female rapper. It's the idea that whereas a male rapper can perform as he is, his female counterpart is first and foremost a black hole of makeup and expensive clothes. It sounds made-up - can hair extensions really tear holes into Universal's budget? But be as it may, the simple notion is reducing women to their appearance. You know, as if their talent and skill wasn't as important or impressive. We could talk about women using their looks to distract men from guarding their wallets but it's still exploitation. One way or another, it's sending out the wrong message. Of course for the time being this role reversal is to a large extent rhetorical. Hip hop industry strives on degrading women. They're the centre of lyrics and music videos; their role being that of a disposable sex object. If you consider this, it isn't that big of a surprise there's no interest in endorsing female artists. But, there's no reason hip hop couldn't be something empowering for women. It was for the black and Latino youth in NYC in the 1970s. It's not like record labels were fighting over publishing rights back then. Much like it was 40 years ago, artists need to create the space for this empowerment themselves. By the looks of it, change is on its way. Nicki isn't a lone (female) wolf in the (male dominated) world of rap anymore. From the outspoken Azealia Banks to the less known Ruby Ibarra, there are plenty of talented girls upping the ante in the boys only game. Though major labels aren't backing them all, their popularity is growing. Maybe 2014 won't be the year when rap revolution will be televised, but perhaps 2015 will be. We're definitely heading there. We've chosen some of our favourite songs by female rappers below. Here's to a future where narrowing it down to ten will be much harder. Nicki Minaj - Massive Attack ft Sean Garrett Azealia Banks - 212 Angel Haze - Werkin Girls Ruby Ibarra - Game Up Jean Grae - Kill Screen Queen Latifah - Just Another Day MC Lyte - Ruffneck Salt-N-Pepa - Shoop Missy Elliott - Work It Lauryn Hill - Doo-Wop (That Thing)
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