Women and Rap Music

Women and Rap Music Do they Mix ?

Rap music, a trademark of the hip-hop culture, is generally a man’s world. Ask anybody who the most famous rap artists are and Jay-Z, Eminem, Drake, Snoop Dog, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Tupa Shakur – all male names – are on top of the list. Consequently, most rap music fans are males too, but not all. The truth is that many ladies are also into rap music. They actually listen to them, have them in their playlists, and can even rap along to the music. As with any male-dominated interests, being a female rap-music lover is almost always met with brows raised, or worse, chuckles. Men can’t seem to accept that women can seriously be interested in rap music, and if so, are thought of as just trying to impress a guy. Words like, “oh, that’s cute of you!” and “You like rap? Oh, come on!” or “that’s a good way to attract a guy!” are some of the common reactions ladies would get from confessing to their love for rap.

The thing is, men do not have an ownership of rap music. It’s insulting for women to be judged as trying to impress a guy, or trying to be wife material, just because of her love for a type of music that men naturally gravitate to.

Some of my lady friends have actually bought, listened to, and do a mean rendition of some of the most popular rap music out there. I honestly find it amazing when they do it, because, yeah, I admit to being not much of a fan, but I can appreciate a good rap every now and then. And when it’s a lady that’s dishing it out – way cool! For someone like me whose only knowledge of rap music is limited to Kanye West (and all because of Kim Kardashian), seeing the passion with which these lady friends talk about the latest in the rap scene, playing rap music while driving to work and actually seeing them come fully alive under the spell of the music, I can appreciate that indeed this genre does not only appeal to men. Men should not have a monopoly of rap music, and therefore should not judge women who are as much into rap as they are.

The labeling of which kind of music appeals to a specific gender is obsolete. As much as men should not be judged negatively if they like romantic comedy type of movies or love songs and ballads or pop music, in the same way ladies must be given the respect for liking and patronizing rap music. Gender equality rules must apply even in this area. We cannot discriminate others or label them or put them in a box just because their preference does not align with what you think is appropriate for their gender. Because, who knows what trends the future holds? We might be seeing a number of Queen Latifahs taking over the rap music scene! More and more female artists could be writing rap music at this moment without our knowing it, and eventually producing new albums for every rap fan – male and female – to enjoy.

The Story Behind the Rappers

Hollywood is filled with artists whose crafts have been honed by life’s hardships, injustices, and challenges. Undeniably, the black women in hip-hop have had more than their fair share of these; yet, in spite of the hostility of this male dominated industry, they have carried their song, their message and life-story on their backs and have emerged victorious in their careers.
Here are four female rap stars that Hollywood can benefit well from telling their stories of struggles and success in the hip-hop industry.

1. Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah is among the few female artists who has the boldness to speak her own words. She is famous for rapping about issues that promote women’s importance, the need for equal treatment for women, and how women should be supporting, rather than competing with, one another. Drawing on her African and American roots, Queen Latifah uses her rap music to oppose racism and apartheid, and encourages her fellow North Americans to dig deep into their African roots to secure their identity and culture as a people. This has earned her the position as hip-hop’s foremost feminist role model.
She has always been very honest about her experiences as a female artist in the hip-hop community, and would be able to share vital insight into the challenges that black female rap artist face.

2. Sylvia Robinson.


A musician, singer, record producer, and founder of Sugar Hill Records, Sylvia Robinson was the force behind the trademark hip-hop singles, Rapper’s Delight and The Message. Robinson’s career began in the 1950s as a recording artist for Columbia Records when she was 14. She later went on to become part of the famous duo, Mickey and Sylvia, with Mickey Baker who played the guitar. After they parted ways in 1964, Robinson continued with her songwriting career with her husband. In 1972, Robinson wrote the song, Pillow Talk, which she offered to a producer, but was rejected, so she produced the single herself. The song became a big hit and rose to the third spot of Billboard Hot 100. Later she went on to establish Sugarhill Records and produced Rapper’s Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang. Again, the song was a hit and placed rap music into the spotlight of the music industry. Part of its success was its revolutionary use of the technique called sampling, or re-using existing material into a new composition. Robinson’s contribution to the rap music industry earned her the nickname “The Mother of Hip-Hop.”

3. Lauryn Hill

at L.A. Rising at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on July 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.

Although many would question Lauren Hill’s importance in the industry, her life and career undeniably made an impact on the hip-hop music genre. Her lone studio album, The Miseducation of Lauren Hill, is considered as an influential album in hip-hop, receiving wonderful reviews and praises from music critics. The album contributed greatly in helping hip-hop get the recognition it deserved as a legitimate music and art form.

4. Missy Elliott


Missy Elliot’s career alone is teeming with stories. Starting out as a songwriter and producer in partnership with her neighborhood friend Timbaland, Missy Elliot was able to generate a good number of hip-hop and R&B hit songs during the 1990s. Missy Elliot was also the recipient of the industry’s unfair treatment of black women. In 1993, she was supposed to appear in Raven Symon’s music video for What Little Girls Are Made Of which she wrote and rapped in. Her role was given instead to a white, slim model, who was also given Missy Elliot’s voice. Elliott continued to stand firmly in the center of her work as its sole love and sex interest. Elliott has been vocal about her childhood experiences with sexual abuse, and her father’s maltreatment of her mother. In 2011, Elliot almost figured in a car crash after experiencing severe leg spasms while driving. This was caused by her condition, a hyperthyroid disease called Grave’s disease, which made her take a leave from the business.

Women and the Electronic Dance Music Revolution

Electronic dance music is defined in Wikipedia as “a broad range of percussive electronic music genres produced largely for nightclubs, raves, and festivals.” It is characterized by a powerful bass line and dynamic tempo. Typically, a DJ combines several track selections into a whole new track with the use of a computer, MIDI keyboard and mixer or sound recorder. This term was coined by the music industry and press people to describe the music scene that was becoming increasingly popular in early 2010. EDM should not be confused to refer to a music genre; rather it is a general term for genres which include techno, trance, house, trap, etc.

Background of EDM

The earliest example of EDM that is widely popular is Donna Summer’s 1977 single I Feel Love. It gained momentum slowly but steadily into the 1980s and 1990s. By 2011, electronic dance music was described by Music Trades as the fastest growing music genre in the global music scene.

EDM has become so successful that in August, Forbes magazine released its list of top-earning DJs around the world, and Calvin Harris was listed at the top place. Only 31, the DJ from Scotland was reported to have earned $66 million over a period of 12 months from club stints, music royalties and endorsements. This was more that what popular rap artist Jay-Z earned over the same period ($56 million).

EDM Music Festivals

EDM’s popularity has also paved the way for music festivals, which takes its roots from the beginnings of electronic music being played in rave parties and warehouses with an increasing number in attendance. Today, Lollapalooza, Coachella, Electric Daisy Carnival, and the Miami Ultra Music Festival are just a few of the popular festivals featuring dance music drawing a crowd of hundreds of thousands in attendance.

As with the previously more popular music genres of rock and hip-hop, EDM became a predominantly male-oriented industry. The most popular DJs from the international scene like David Guetta, Tiesto, Skrillex, Afrojack, Calvin Harris, Deadmau5 , Steve Aoki, Martin Garrix all get top billing at special EDM events. However, the market is slowly expanding to include female DJs into their line-ups, albeit not too successfully initially.

Gender Inequality

On the average, women make up about 45% of the fan base of dance music, which is not surprising considering that women love to dance. However, in terms of bookings, female DJs get don’t get to be as lucky as the male DJs. Female DJs who are also making a name for themselves for their skill and talent include Krewella and Nervo, the only two female DJs included in DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJs of 2014. Krewella, for example, was described to be at par with other DJs such as Skrillex when it comes to talent and skill and even fares better with male fans yet there is a lack of equality when it comes to bookings. Tatiana Simonian, Nielsen’s vice president for branded music says the data they are gathering indicates that female DJs are “just as powerful as male DJs” and would make a valuable to music festivals.