Rappers like Lil Kim and Foxy Brown have used their sexuality and bodies to sell records. Unlike MC Lyte and Queen Latifah, Foxy and Lil Kim have promoted their personas as being sexy, naughty, and rough females and embraced their sexualized images. Most of their lyrics reflect similar themes and subjects as male rappers. The obsession with money, power, and respect is manifested in their raps as they struggle to establish themselves as rap icons despite their femininity. The rap game is dominated by men who gain power by having as many women as possible and maintaining a reputation for being desirable and sought after. Females, especially heterosexuals, have to approach rap with an agenda to preserve their interest in men while also having the power to be sexy. It in interesting because many of their verses would be acceptable if they were not women. They choose to rap about the same topics as their male counterparts, but are targeted for being too explicit. Unlike their male counterparts, they put a female heterosexual perspective to “fucking bitches and getting money.” In this sense, the word bitch is replaced with the word “nigga,” but is used to refer to the same type of person. There are actually many different definitions of the words ‘nigga’ and ‘bitch’ but in simple terms, the word “bitch” could be replaced by the word “nigga” to make distictions between gender.

Although Christina Aguilera is not a rapper, her message about double standards between men and women is one that is often talked about by female rappers. In Christina’s video, Lil Kim’s verse (more…)

“Love is Blind”- Eve

“Love is Blind” is one of Eve’s first singles featured on her debut album, Ruff Ryders’ First Lady (1999). This song speaks out against domestic violence and men who abuse girlfriends, mistresses, or wives. The video captures the story of a woman, Eve’s friend, who constantly runs back to a man that abuses her, ultimately causing her death. The story of a woman being killed by her lover is one that has been told over and over again. In 1990, according to the Uniform Crime Reports of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), (more…)

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, (more…)

Since we are talking about female rappers, let’s also take a look at women in rap who are not behind the mic, but are in front of the camera. These women are usually referred to as video vixens and have become a crucial component of rap videos. A rapper is not legit unless he has dozens of beautiful women crowded around him, at least in his videos. Part of the game is attracting gorgeous women and so rap videos would be incomplete without the video vixens.

The Game featuring Kanye West- “Wouldn’t Get Far”

A video vixen is a woman that is featured in a video to be eye candy for the viewer. Her only purpose is to show off her body and face for the pleasure of those watching. She rarely has any lines but instead uses her body to speak to the camera. Rappers, The Game and Kanye West, reveal just how far video vixens go to become famous in this song. Just like in other rap videos, there are countless attractive women prancing around in front of the camera with just enough clothes on. As you can tell from the lyrics, The Game disapproves of these women. He specifically calls out a few of their names in this song, dissing them for doing “whatever it takes” to gain a position in front of the camera.

Some women have made careers from being featured in rap videos. If you watch enough of the videos, the same faces start to show up. The Game cynically criticizes video vixens for exploiting their looks and bodies yet he hires many to appear in his video. The irony…… (more…)

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Lauryn Hill has had an extremely successful career from the start. She had a few acting gigs and completed her freshman year at Columbia University before dropping out to dedicate more time and efforts to building a career in music. Prior to pursuing her career as a solo artist, Lauryn was a member of, The Fugees, a rap trio. She was the only female member and was a huge contribution to the unique sound of the group. Not only could she rap, but her she had an enchanting voice that gave extra finesse to their songs.

The Fugees were conscious rappers and their music reflected their views of society, representing and commenting on Black culture and life experiences. Hill’s image was original, usually known for her dreadlocks and loose fitting clothing, and her raw talent made her so memorable. The Fugees first album, Blunted on Reality (1994), did little compared to their sophomore album, The Score (1996). The Score made history, selling over 17 million copies, and made The Fugees the biggest-selling rap group ever. After their second album together, The Fugees decided to split and release solo albums. The other two members, Wyclef Jean and Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, also went on to release solo albums after the group split after their second CD, but neither was as successful as Lauryn Hill.

Fugees

Here is a video from The Fugees’ first album entitled “NappyHeads.”

 

 

 

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Her debut album was long-awaited and when finally released in 1998, pleased all of her fans. Selling over 400, 000 copies in its first week, (more…)

Shawnna

Recently I read an interview with rapper Shawnna who brought up a valid point about female rappers. There are few female rappers who are mothers because it is difficult to be an artist and raise a family. In this interview, Shawnna reveals the hardships that females face when their careers take off. The type of abandonment that Shawnna refers to is not exclusive to female rappers but is a conflict that all female entertainers have to face. “We (Shawnna and Remy Martin, another female rapper) both have kids. Before us, the female rappers weren’t mothers. They didn’t have kids. The industry doesn’t understand how to deal with us. We can’t be gone forever all the time. I had Jeff Dixon of DTP tell me today that “you need to be thinking about just never being home” and I had this conflict with him that there’s no such thing. I have two children, there’s no such thing as never being home. Y’all gon’ have to make adjustments to where the bus is kid-safe or you’re buying additional tickets. There’s no such thing as I’ll never be home.” The problem of leaving the kids home while the mother pursues a career is very common, especially when the job requires the mother to be on the road. This is a dilemma since mothers, like Shawnna ,want to be physically present in their child’s life but do not know how to negotiate their jobs. Not only are the mothers unsure about how to balance their careers, but those who are in higher positions than the artists are also oblivious to the ways that a mother (more…)

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, (more…)