By Joseph Bonney
Hip-hop for many years has been a predominantly male-centric culture. When rap was in its infancy, women were relegated to roles as none leads, back up dancers, or eye candy for the male gaze. Even a couple of today’s Femcees (a play on the words female and MC) like Iggy Azalea and the haphazard mess that was Kreayshawn come and go. Yet, we have Black women that solidify themselves as hip-hop legends. Before the Lil Kims and Nickis, we had Queen Latifah and Erykah Badu who paved the way for the Black women of today to shine.
A slew of Black female MCs come to mind when you think of the mid to pre-2000s. You have Missy Elliott, Foxy Brown, Lauryn Hill, MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa and many more. Each one came into hip-hop with their own flair that grabbed men and women alike to take notice of the strength behind their sound and lyrics. Missy Elliott, being one of the biggest MCs to ever step into rap, brought an aggressive yet fun aesthetic that no other male or female rapper could replicate.
Nicki Minaj has reached a level of stardom that most of her hip hop colleagues could never dream to achieve. She’s one of the juggernauts alongside Lil Wayne and Drake that runs Young Money records. Her bravado flow along with her witty punchlines reminds rappers that she has a lyrical prowess that put many mainstream rappers to shame. Remy Ma recently collaborated on “All the Way Up” with Terrorsquad friend Fat Joe, a track that was praised heavily for Remy’s unique style on the track.
The women of today boast a wide spectrum of Black female rappers. You have Dej Loaf who rock with the autotune wave that you hear on the radio. Tink, who has a mystifying flow and was able to take an original Rick Ross and Jay-Z song and turn it into her own. Angel Haze, has a static rigid style that allows you to hear the weight and feelings into every word they spit. Then Rapsody, who takes a new feel to the old school sound. Each of these women have carved a path into hip-hop that will stay forever.
The future of rap is looking strong thanks to the Black Femcees of hip-hop and their gracious style of rap that keeps the music fresh. One day we will reach a point where being a female rapper won’t be such a shock, but a warm welcome. Their stay in the house of rap will be one that is embraced by music listeners worldwide.
Featured illustration by Joseph Bonney.