Sometime last year a fellow student said something that has stuck with me ever since. While talking about music the subject of rap came up, and as he listed his favorites, I realized two things: one, I wasn’t a huge fan of any of them, and two, they were all men.
When he asked me which rappers I listened to, I answered that I mostly listened to female rappers, to which he replied something along the lines of, “I don’t think female rappers are very good.”
I understand that people have different music tastes, and what each of us believes is good is very subjective. But what I didn’t understand was what he answered when I asked him what female rappers he disliked. He could only name one female rapper, Nicki Minaj (who I happen to think is very good.)
It was astounding to me as someone who grew up hearing Missy Elliot, Eve, Lauryn Hill, and even Queen Latifah, that he couldn’t name any more female rappers. And yes, Queen Latifah used to be a rapper.
Although there aren’t many female rappers topping the charts nowadays aside from Nicki, there are a few underappreciated women who I’d like to bring attention to, so that someday a conversation like the one I had might be prevented.
A long time favorite rapper of mine is Azealia Banks, not to be confused with Iggy Azalea. You might have heard her hit song “212.” What grabbed my attention were her controversial lyrics and her unapologetically bold sense of fashion, which I would describe as mermaid meets space princess.
Although she’s mostly captured headlines because of her fierce Twitter battles with other female rappers, I find her talent much more fascinating. My most recent favorite of hers is her collab with Pharrell Williams, “ATM Jam.”
Another rapper Angel Haze is one of the most unique artists I’ve come across. From her former life in a cult, to her obsession with Edgar Allen Poe, Haze presents dark undertones in all aspects of her artistry.
Her lyrics are more like poems than most rap lyrics, but when she raps them they are sharp and aggressive. Recently she was featured on Nick Jonas’ song, “Numb.” And I found her song “Battle Cry” showcased her talent completely.
There’s an obvious distinction between the male and female rap world. Female rappers are fiercely competitive toward each other, instead of supportive. As I said, Azealia is known for her Twitter battles, including one with Angel Haze. This competition exists despite the fact that there’s so few of them in comparison to their male counterparts.
If female rappers could put their differences aside and lift each other up instead of see each other as competition, female rappers could one day overthrow male rappers.
Female rappers also face prejudice because of their gender. Nicki Minaj has repetitively been accused of sleeping with rappers like Lil’ Wayne in order to advance her career, despite her denying it multiple times.
Minaj has also faced harsh criticism for rapping about sex and also about how she presents herself, most recently in her song, “Anaconda.” However, her male peers do similar things without the same commentary. Many other female rappers face these same restrictions.
Female rappers as a group are some of the most underrated artists in the music industry. They face obstacles from the outside as well as criticism from each other. With the recent hits from the more popular rappers, I hope that lesser known women can begin to take center stage in the music industry.
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