I thought that it would only be right if we examined females’ participation in rap music early on in rap’s history. Starting with the 1980’s, female rappers have taken the mic with something to say in response to how they are viewed and talked about by men. The most prominent female rappers from this era are Sha Rock, The Real Roxanne, and Roxanne Shante. These rappers came before the well-respected and memorable MC Lyte and Queen Latifah.

I found this clip that gives the history of one of the pioneers of female rappers, Roxanne Shante, from Queensbridge Projects in Queens, New York. The clip takes about 20 seconds to start so please be patient.

After hearing this story, it seems like Shante may be partially responsible for igniting the rap battles that are so popular in hip hop. Even if she isn’t, her 1984 hit “Roxanne’s Revenge” was a response to another song, “Roxanne, Roxanne,” by UTFO and gained huge recognition.

In “Roxanne, Roxanne,” three men reveal how they each approached the same girl, Roxanne, and how she “disses” all of them. The men are frustrated and complain saying that Roxanne is “stuck up” and “can’t understand” how each “wants to be her man.” Battles and the idea of “beef” can be dated back to the early 1980’s and females were very much apart of this bickering and fight over who is the best. Regardless of gender, battling is about proving that you are the “best” by trying to humiliate your opponent, raising your own status.

KRS-One attacks Roxanne Shante in one of his songs, claiming that she “is only good for steady pumping.” This is a sexual insult and when she confronts him about saying her name, he, like most male rappers, doesn’t have an answer. It seems that the easiest way to offend a woman is to regard her as a body that has no other use than to pleasure men. The insults directed at women today follow the same model as KRS One’s. It is a quick blow to a woman’s body and uses sexually explicit references to offend the women. This tactic is used over and over again and male rappers try to be as inventive as they can in writing new ones. But it all boils down to the same concept, one that is inappropriate and totally disrespectful to begin with. Isn’t this strategy too redundant? When will male rappers finally realize that choosing this strategy is wack and played out?

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