Never have I read such a good piece of writing that compares rappers Lil Kim and Foxy Brown. I found an essay entitled “What is Freedom? A critique of Foxy Brown and Lil Kim.” This essay makes so many valid points on the ongoing debate about who is the better MC. The two rappers are usually compared because of their similar image and style. Both represent a woman that flips the script and acts like one of the boys in rap while maintaining a sexy image, but Lil Kim has had more success. Bell hooks says this about Lil Kim, “Donning blond wigs and getting a boob job so that she can resemble a cheap version of the white womanhood she adores wins her monetary success in the world of white supremacist, patriarchal capitalism and helps her cover up the fact that she has no self-worth.”
This is a harsh and cynical evaluation of Lil Kim but raises good questions about why Lil Kim is so much more successful than Foxy Brown. One theory is that Lil Kim is more attractive by White America’s standards of beauty. She has lighter skin, blonde hair, and resembles white beauty far more than Foxy does. Kim also built her career with the help of the Notorious B.I.G. With such a rap icon as this in her corner, it is not surprising that she has succeeded. Foxy had no assistance that compares in magnitude to the support given to Kim.
Bell Hooks also points out that early on in Kim’s career, she confessed that she did not know what love was. This may have also influenced her detached, extremely sexual persona. The absence of love has caused her to become impervious about the significance of love and sex. Instead of embracing the idea of love, she dismisses these feelings and reduces sex to an act that can empower or degrade an individual. If one thinks about sex as operating in this fashion, their views are distorted. Therefore, her music can only accomplish a comparison between the sexes that measures power.
This essay questions whether either artist has freedom, pointing out that each needs to sell records in order to be successful and this may lead to a distortion of self. The media, combined with the way that these women are marketed, has had a profound impact on how people view Foxy Brown and Lil Kim. It has also determined how available their work is to the masses. One guy made a comment on the article quoted above, saying that he liked Lil Kim better and noticed that it was harder for him to find Foxy’s albums because they are not easily accessible like Kim’s. Maybe he likes Lil Kim better because she is more popular and her image is thrown in his face, unlike Foxy.
In the eyes of Rolling Stone and other high profiled publications, it seems as though Kim is the winner and better MC. She sells more records, her image is more acceptable and therefore heavily promoted and visible, and her name rings more bells. Each artist uses a combination of things to gain “power” and “freedom.” Their voices, bodies, and experiences all contribute to how they are perceived as each tries to outsmart the other lyrically.
After reading this essay, it appears that neither woman is victorious since both women have conformed to what the business of rap wanted to endorse. Some people have a hard time acknowledging the agency of these rappers which is understandable, but we also have to take into account that maybe these women want to be seen in such a light. This thought rarely runs through people’s minds.
So we come back to the same question: Who is the better MC? Well I guess it depends on how you define better. Or is this just one of those comparisons that females are so infamous for making?…..…..