The Genre is Her

By: Arianna Williams 

Hip-Hop’s history has a recipe of spinning records, sampling old songs, break dancing, and rhyming on the beat. These ingredients as a collective created a new genre pinpointed on August 11, 1973, by Clive Campbell (DJ Kool Herc). In the past 48 years, the industry and the genre of Hip-Hop have changed rapidly.

As the genre of Hip – Hop continues to grow so does the number of women artists. From Salt n’ Peppa to Cardi B women are making their way into this male-dominated industry. Although the number of women artists continues to grow, they are often overlooked.

“Society values male creators more than female creators,” Meyers said.

John Meyers is a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and a Hip-Hop scholar on his own time. Meyers teaches African American Studies 228 which is a class about Hip-Hop and its origin. In this class, Meyers takes time out to highlight influential women in Hip-Hop.

When discussing female artistry in Hip-Hop many women paved away for artists today. Salt n’ Peppa, Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, and MC Lyte to name a few. These women and more take the light off men for a moment. They take this light off men by their talent and reversing the roles. Salt n’ Peppa reversed the roles by responding to Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick’s song “The Show” with their song “The Showstopper.” By responding to this song they showed that female MCs can stop the show. 

Stopping the show is one thing but as this genre grows and changes women in the industry have begun to put their spin on the genre. When discussing female artistry in Hip-Hop, Chinwe Salisa Maponya-Cook’s study Confessions Of A Black Female Rapper: An Autoethnographic Study On Navigating Selfhood And The Music Industry explains that there are two kinds of female rappers. There are conscious rappers like Rapsody and more vulgar artists like Lil Kim and Emily Jones (Ms. Jones, If You Nasty). In the media female artists with vulgar language and sex appeal receive more attention than conscious artists. 

“You hear about Megan Thee Stallion, City Girls, Cardi B, Doja Cat, and Nicki Minaj but that’s all you hear for female artists,” Weathersby said. 

Lisa Weathersby is an artist in the Chicagoland area where she fights for equality amongst race and gender. She is from an artistic background that uniquely challenges society’s mind.

Weathersby pointed out that most of the time in the media we hear female artists with a more provocative approach. This approach challenges society and men to wear the shoe on the other foot. Upcoming artist Emily Jones (Ms. Jones, If You Nasty) does this in several of her songs. In her song “E.E.” she focuses on putting men in a place that they put women by suggesting that they call her Daddy if they aren’t nasty.

“I try to put men in a sexual place, or the supporting role in my storytelling because that’s what they’ve done with women for so long. It’s time to take back the power women naturally have, and my music is one of my many attempts to do that, unapologetically,” Jones said.

As Jones plans to bestow power among women in a male-dominated industry there is another side to female artistry. Hip-Hop’s origins started with having a fun time but as it continued to grow conscious rap emerged. Conscious rappers that are prominent today are Kendrick Lamar and J Cole but what goes missing in the media are the women who do the same and more. Female artists like Rapsody and Noname have been breaking the boxes placed upon them in the industry.

“With Hip-Hop being male dominant sometimes they put a stigma on women’s music or try to keep them in the box. It’s unfair because they accept anything from men. As of lately, there has been a big rise in female artists with different artists. It’s becoming more acceptable within the music realm,” Marshall Cottrell Jr. said.

Marshall Cottrell is a Chicago, Illinois native, an alum of the university, a rapper, and co-founder of his music group Dojo. Cottrell creates conscious music that focuses on the mind more than the body and sex. He advocates for better performances and builds up female artists surrounded by him. Cottrell would like to be a part of the change in Hip-Hop that accepts women more.

Hip-Hop is a genre that is continuously changing. As the genre grows the industry and the audience has to also. This spontaneous genre that once began at a back-to-school party became something more than what minds could think of. Men and women that both deserve their flowers. There is no limit to where this genre can go or achieve with women rising up more and more in the industry.

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