We've posted about the lack of female rappers before, and yesterday, Jonah Weiner had a story on Slate in which he wrote, "Today, female rappers are flukes on the charts, and exactly zero women were nominated at this year's BET Hip-Hop Awards and VH1 Hip-Hop Honors. What happened?" Word. Sure, Queen Latifah has a CD coming out in the fall. But the rap charts are fueled by testosterone, and it wasn't always so. In the early days of hip-hop, there was room for female MCs; it wasn't such a boys club. Weiner argues that women have been so marginalized in rap music that they're basically a joke:
When we hear the word rappers, we think of black males; they're what feminists would call hip-hop's unmarked category. This makes tough going for pretenders outside of this category, and it's meant that many of the identities that female comers have carved for themselves—Boss' gangsta bitch, Kim's badass nympho, or, recently, Lil' Mama's lunchroom alpha girl—have registered as one-offs or fads. (We see the same thing with white rappers, whether it's the Beastie Boys' nerdy boogie or Eminem's white-trash horror-core.)
A couple of weeks ago, NPR's Farai Chideya spoke to Spinderella and YoYo about the dearth of female rappers in hip hop. Yo Yo said, "I think that hip-hop has not been allowed to grow up… It's not getting better." As for Spinderella, she mused: "I think women need to really take advantage of the moment — the lack of females that are mainstream right now allows for someone else to come and snatch it up." Unlike pop or rock, hip-hop has always been the voice of the streets, raw words with an un-Photoshopped, un-censored swagger. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Why should the boys have all the fun? In a spirit of celebration and reminiscence, here are some of my favorite hip-hop tracks with women at the helm:
Salt n Pepa, "Push It"
Yo, yo, yo, yo, baby-pop/Yeah, you come here, gimme a kiss/Better make it fast or else I'm gonna get pissed/Can't you hear the music's pumpin' hard like I wish you would?/Now push it/Push it good/P-push it real good
Monie Love, "Monie In The Middle"
Brother what is with you, you can't take a hint?/I need to shove a splint between your eyes for you to see/You and me were never meant to be/Your homeboy likes me, I like him, too, get out the picture/I get your point but I'm not rolling with the punch/I scrunched up the letter you wrote me in lunch
Missy Elliot, "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)
I got my umbrella/My finger waves these days/They fall like Humpty/Chunky/I break up with him before he dump me/To have me? Oh yes you lucky
Lauryn Hill, "Everything Is Everything" (Also "Ready Or Not")
I philosophy/Possibly speak tongues/Beat drum, Abyssinian, street baptist/Rap this in fine linen/From the beginning/My practice extending across the atlas/I begat this/Flippin in the ghetto on a dirty mattress/You cant match this rapper slash actress/More powerful than two Cleopatras/Bomb graffiti on the tomb of Nefertiti
Queen Latifah & Monie Love, "Ladies First"
I break into a lyrical freestyle/Grab the mic, look into the crowd and see smiles/Cause they see a woman standing up on her own two/Sloppy slouching is something I won't do/Some think that we can't flow/Stereotypes, they got to go
MC Lyte, "Ruff Neck"
I need a ruffneck/I need a man that's quick and swift/To put out the spliff and get stiff
Missy Elliott: "Lose Control"
I've got a cute face/Chubby waist/Thick legs in shape/Rump shakin both wayz/Make u do a double take
Lil Kim, "No Matter What They Say"
If I was you I'd hate me too/Louis Vuitton shoes and a whole lot of booze/Every other week a different a dude and other crews/I make offers nobody can refuse/You might even see me on the channel nine news/I get paid just for laying in the shade/To take pictures with a glass of lemonade/My rocks shine like it was dipped in Cascade
Additional tracks: Eve, "Who's That Girl"; M.I.A., "Galang", Bahamadia/Roni Size, "New Forms". Oh, and Trina's couplets in Trick Daddy's "Shut Up". Feel free to let me know if I've missed anyone. Ladies! I Can't Hear You! No, Really, I Can't Hear You! [Slate] Ladies Of Hip Hop Tell Their Side Of The Story [NPR]