For as long as I can remember, hip hop has been my favourite genre of music. However, it has often been criticised for objectifying women in lyrics and videos, and music, like many industries, has been historically male-dominated. Today, there’s a new generation of female rappers changing the narrative for women in hip hop, and hopefully in society more widely.
Through lyrics and visuals, women are claiming power in their relationships, expressing their sexuality and showing pride in being financially independent. Finally, women can find the genre less aspirational and more inspirational.
For years (in my lifetime at least), the female hip hop space was dominated by Nicki Minaj. She was the one who kept me interested in the genre, along with Drake, who in my opinion is the ultimate feminist male rapper. (Just listen to songs like Fancy, Make Me Proud and Nice for What.)
The New Generation
Then along came Cardi B. She started her career as a stripper and is now one of the biggest hip hop artists in the world. Her debut album, Invasion of Privacy is probably the most feminist hip hop album I have ever listened to. She was criticised for choosing to be a mother when her career was just taking flight. In an interview, she said that she did not want to deal with having an abortion. Her parenting is constantly criticised and mocked online. When is society going to stop shaming mothers with careers?
The artist who has had the most impact this year is Lizzo – she’s had everyone singing that they’re “100% that b*tch,” – even Hillary Clinton. Her album Cuz I Love You is filled with self-love and power anthems such as Truth Hurts, Juice, Good as Hell and Tempo. Also, the girl can twerk AND play the flute simultaneously.
Real Hot Girl S***
Megan the Stallion inspired everyone to have a Hot Girl Summer. While being a skilled rapper, she is also studying towards a degree in health administration. Her lyrics are very sexual at times, but I think they’re empowering. If you’re a hip hop head like I am, you’ll know that she is an extension of Lil’ Kim or Trina. Girls should be able to talk about and embrace their sexuality in their own terms, and Megan encourages that through her music.
The most exciting thing about this new generation of female rappers is that there are so many options now. Thank the internet. For more conscious-based rap, listen to Rapsody, who recently released an album dedicated to iconic African American women. There is also Young M.A, an openly lesbian woman, who could out-rap any of her male counterparts. What stands out the most about Rapsody and Young M.A is that they’re not hypersexualised in the way that Nicki Minaj and Cardi B arguably are. The genre has diversified so much that it has given them space to be their authentic selves. To me, that is what hip hop is about.
Two artists I also find fascinating are Doja Cat and Rico Nasty. Not only are they lyrically genius but their fashion and videos are visionary. They made a song together about boobs that gets me hyped every time. And it also has a body-positive message.
Jermaine Dupri has referred to this new generation of female rappers as “stripper rappers,” simply because some of them rap about sex and money. How hypocritical.
Feminist or not?
None of these artists claim to be feminist role models, or even to be feminist, but these female rappers are changing the narrative in a massive way. Hip hop is the biggest genre in the world right now, so it’s only right that more women are part of the movement. Whether it’s music, fashion or corporate, women need to be in these spaces as equals.