Monday, March 5, 2012

Where'd She Go?: The Absence of the Female Rapper and MC

Female emcees are treated by audiences and participants in hip-hop culture alike as trivial, salacious accessories to all that is misogynistic and chauvinist about the music.
-MC Devynity, from The Crisis
Nicki Minaj
“You a, you a stupid hoe,” says Nicki Minaj in the chorus to her laters single, Stupid Hoe, off her yet to be released sophomore album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. As a fan, I was very much disappointed by the track not to mention insulted and a bit embarassed...for her. Then again, what was I expecting, right? Her debut album, Pink Friday, was hardly any different. (Her mixtapes before that were just a tad better.) Minaj is simply getting bolder as a response to the positive feedback she has gotten from her earlier antics from her newly acquired fanbase. Her earlier fanbase can hardly recognize her from the days of her Playtime Is Over mixtape. Minaj has never produced thought-provoking lyrics. She is little more than a modern Lil’ Kim reincarnation (although she, and everyone around her, seems to be in denial of that truth).

Although Minaj has been stirring up a sense of repulsion in me as of late (including her Grammy 2012 performance), I originally gravitated towards her because of the limited number of female rappers and MCs in the mainstream hip-hop industry. No one else was there to catch my attention. Although many of her opponents would beg to differ, there is not much that is wrong with Minaj and the type of music she chooses to make, but she is proof of the problem in hip-hop today: Why is she the only popular female rapper? Where are all the other female rappers and MCs? In addition to Nicki (and similar rappers like her, such as Diamond, Trina, Khia, and Jackie-O who are below the radar), there has to be a variety of female rappers and MCs who bring to the table different perspectives of the black female.

Death of the Female MC: Hip Hop Has Lost Its Way

Lyte as a Rock, or I should say a boulder 
Rolling down your neck, pounding on your shoulders  
Never shall I be an emcee, called a wannabe  
I am the Lyte, L-Y-T-E This is the way it is, don't ever forget  
Hear the rhyme by someone else and you know they get  
All in the way, just little obstacles  
Chew em up, spit em out, just like popsicles  
Suckers out of my way, we're not on the same wavelength  
I show stability, potential and strength  
On the other hand, you are weak and unruly  
Could never be a spy, cause you're just a plain stoolie”  
-MC Lyte “Light As a Rock”
I remember bouncing my head up and down to the song “Light as a rock” as a kid. I had a Walkman and I wore that overpriced and ugly little yellow tape player out. I adored MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Salt N Peppa, Sha Rock, and Lady of Rage, and Bahamadia. They represented hip hop to me because hip hop wasn’t just a few lyrics thrown together over a tight beat. It was an expression of a generation that came before me. It was the middle ground between disco and hard core rap. And while anything can be seen as an aesthetic, hip hop was that for me as I continued to grow and come into self. I remember distinctly listening to songs such as the one above and being blow away by Queen Latifah’s “Unity”. After all, the song sent a clear message that Black women were indeed beautiful and that labels such as “bitch or hoe” could never encompass a Black woman’s beauty (rather that term was used in bullshit admiration or in a derogatory sense as a opposed to a term of endearment among females today).