Rapper Rick Ross went on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club show recently and was asked why he has never signed a female rapper to his label Maybach Music Group. His excuse? It would just be too easy to have sex with them.
You know, I never did it because I always thought, like, I would end up fucking a female rapper and fucking the business up... I’m so focused on my business. I just, I gotta be honest with you. You know, she looking good. I’m spending so much money on her photo shoots. I gotta fuck a couple times.
It is unfortunately not surprising that a label exec like Ross would expect sex from the artists he signs (or, in this case, doesn’t sign), especially now when the longstanding misogyny of powerful men in music is becoming more transparent in cases like Dr. Luke, R. Kelly or LA Reid. But Ross’s comments about spending so much money on photo shoots for female artists are particularly interesting.
The number of female rappers signed to major labels has been steadily dropping since the 1980s. When NPR interviewed MC Lyte—the first woman with a solo rap record on a major label—about this topic in 2014, one of the reasons she offered for the decline was the fact that signing women is risky because of the costs that add up concerning their looks: hair, makeup, photo-shoots.
And this has long been the excuse. “That’s why labels only release a new female MC every few years,” former Vibe editor-in-chief Mimi Valdes said in 2007. “They’re just too damn expensive!”
“Women are viewed differently because we cost more money, number one,” Nicki Minaj’s former manager Debra Antney told Vice in 2014. “A guy could look like Cyclopes’ twin and get up there and make it. He just throws on a T-shirt and some jeans and he’s fly. For us, it’s the whole glam squad—the hair, the makeup—all these things that you have to have.”
The whole thing just seems like a snake eating its own tail: you have to be professionally gorgeous to be a successful rapper, but then your gorgeousness apparently makes your male bosses want to have sex with you, and then that’s bad for your career. Seems like a good way around this would be to see women rappers as actual artists with agency?