Hip-Hop has been a major influence within the black culture for decades. It serves as an outlet for an artist to express their opinions, desires and emotions. Hip-Hop and its culture emerged in the 1970’s when block parties became increasingly popular in New York; especially among black youth. The early beginnings of Hip-Hop consisted of a styled music companied by rapping, a rhyming speech that is chanted. As Hip-Hop became more popular and develop it expanded its elements introducing DJ’ing/Scratching, break dancing, graffiti writing and beat boxing. As Hip-Hop evolved, many artists flourished creating popular songs and gaining huge fan bases across the country and world.
“Y’all see, how these bogus niggas, try not to notice the dopest bitches, Approaching with good intentions but focusin’ on the riches.” – Da Brat “Ladies Night Remix.” Women were indeed involved with shaping the culture through graffiti, break dancing and rapping. Unfortunately, as rap became industry’s highest grossing genre of music female’s achievements were overlooked. Just as DaBrat discusses in the lyric above; rap became more known for its obsession and infatuation with wealth and popularity. Within the Hip-Hop culture women have been sexualized and seen as accessories. Female rappers have had a tough time breaking through the sexist glass within the rap industry.
Sex sells in today’s society, and rappers often display women in their lyrics and music videos as objects. Rappers treating women as their own collector items, is the way many believe they should go to display their success. The “hottest females” in their videos, often half-naked and dominated by the man. This gives off the illusion that this is how women should be treated and what success looks like. Women have made their presence more known within the Rap industry over the last decade. Female rappers use unique rhythmic technique, witty lyrics and strong delivery to dispute the sexiest influence that is prevalent in our society. Female rappers focus on the promotion of women’s importance, demands for equality, and the need for the support for each other. Many women enter the rap industry for self-expression, but another major reason was to show off their skills with rapping.
Gender roles have been a barrier within society that have belittled women and has created a picture on how women should look, act and be involved in. Women are constantly moving away and tearing down the stereotypes about female artists in a male dominated tradition and redefine women’s culture and identity from a black feminist perspective. In Queen Latifah’s 1993 Grammy award winning song U.N.I.T.Y, she argues against the sexual objectification of black women “That’s why I’m talking, one day I was walking down the block, I had my cutoff shorts on right cause it was crazy hot, I walked past these dudes when they passed me, one of ’em felt my booty, he was nasty I turned around red, somebody was catching the wrath, Then the little one said (Yeah me bitch) and laughed.” Tricia Rose in “Black Noise” discusses that female rappers should not be limited to the regard of male rappers and misogynist lyricists “but also in responses to a variety of related issues, including dominant notions of femininity, feminism and black female sexuality.”
In many cases reality is defined by a masculine idea, Culture is learned and taught. The process of discovering categories from similarities and differences in people’s behavior is more meaningful for feminist research than trying to discuss the difference between men and women or male or females, because the social construction of gender and sex already give the sense that there are differences among them. There isn’t much of a difference within the rap industry and what is discussed in songs today between men and women. Just as the male rappers denigrate or objectify women, the female MC’s do the same toward men. An example of this would be Nicki Minaj’s song “Get on your knee’s” she raps in the song “I’ll be back at 11, you just act like a peasant, I want you on all fours / And before I let you walk, you gotta show me how you crawl / If you want it all.”