While doing research on Lil Kim and Foxy Brown, I ran across this article by Lori A. Tribbett-Williams entitled “Lil Kim and Foxy Brown- Caricature of Black Womanhoond” that articulates the possible negative affects of having women, specifically Black women, hyper sexualized in the media. The article points out why these images are acceptable and fall into categories that have been set up long before the careers of Lil Kim and Foxy Brown.

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“Among the most commonly depicted images of African-American womanhood is the image of the promiscuous “temptress” known as Jezebel. The new generation of rappers, through their X-rated lyrics and fashions, breathe new life into Jezebel, a mythical caricature and distorted representation of African-American womanhood….This Note focuses primarily on the racist and sexist social construct known as the Jezebel, and the proliferation of the Jezebel image into rap music, particularly the music of the new generation of African-American female rap artists. Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown are affectionately known as “gangsta bitches” and are credited as the catalysts for the revolutionary sexual persona of the new generation. They have established their fame largely because of their “barely there” fashions. Female rapper BOSS commented that “tight clothes mean ‘weak lyrics.” ‘ That being the case, Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown are saying nothing lyrically, with respect to the social status of African-American women, but talking loud, since they are among the most successful of the contemporary female rap artists. The new generation personifies what has perhaps been the most destructive image of African-American womanhood, an image that African- American women have for centuries tried to “live down.” The Jezebel image, as glorified by emerging female rappers, continues to be resurrected from history and projects a distorted image of African-American womanhood.”

Prior to reading this article, I didn’t really pay attention to how significant female rap artists are in contributing to the few portrayals of Black women in the media. There is no surprise that the most successful female artists are African-American since rap has been tied and so intimately connected to the Black community. Although black women are expressing themselves via music, there is a notion that they should be held strictly responsible for their depiction of the Black woman, since there are very few outlets where Black women are being publicized. I think that we must also focus on why these artists are so successful and how society favors this image. Even without Lil Kim and Foxy Brown, sooner or later the image of a sexy black female rapper would have emerged. It eventually would have happened, I guess just after the mid 90’s.

Most depictions of the black woman can be classified under the four categories mentioned in this article:
1) the “sex object,” also known as the “Jezebel”;
2) the “tragic mulatto”–neither White nor Black;
3) the “comical domestic servant,” also known as “Aunt Jemima”; and
4) the masculinized, domineering matriarch commonly referred to as “Mammy” or the “Sapphire” image.

These representations are overbearing and extremely limiting to how black women are seen in our society. From the end of slavery to the present time, black women and their role in society have had few breakthroughs, especially when compared to other oppressed groups. The adopted stigmas about black female beauty continue to linger and unconsciously, or rather subconsciously, affect how black women are perceived by mainstream America. I would argue that black men face the similar types of dilemma, but have become dominant in the world of rap and so can use rap to create a more varied representation than women, the minorities in rap.

All female rappers do not fall under the Jezebel category but being a promiscuous female has become popular in rap. Most posters of female rappers are pictures of the artist wearing very little clothing. There are a few that have strayed from this image, but the most recent successful female artists (Trina, Shawnna, Remy Ma, etc) have adopted this image as being the standard.

Even the rapper moms have embraced this image. Pictures of Shawnna and Remy Ma (mothers) do not look dramatically different from those of Lil Kim or Foxy Brown. Not only are these women tough, but they are also sexy. The Jezebel is combined with hardcore strength and skill credibility to produce the ultimate icon of the female rapper.

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