You Could Get With This Or You Could Get With That: The Many Faces Of Black Women In Hip-Hop

We all know that there are many ways in which Black female artists choose to represent and portray themselves throughout their career as emcees in the entertainment business. We’ve had the Lauryn Hills, the Badus, the Lil Kims, Trina’s & Remy Mas. And we have the Young MAs, the Cardi Bs, Azealia Banks & the Nicki Minajs. That’s just to name a few, not including MANY underground female rappers who have yet to make a name for themselves within our mainstream culture. We have all this talent from women in the hip-hop industry and although the way they present themselves may differ and conflict with one another, there is most certainly room for more than one kind of female rapper in the rap industry.

The presence of Black women in the hip hop realm is as much powerful as it is oppression. Growing up a young girl and constantly seeing myself represented, yet objectified, I never really knew where I fit in. I would see Black women in these music videos; and I would never miss a line to my favorite raps, spit directly from the misogynoir’s mouth. Then I’d see Missy Elliott, Da Brat, Eve, Queen Latifah all sharing their stories, which made me think more. I'd watch Lil Kim, Trina and Foxy expressing their sexual liberation, as they made me consider my own sexuality, my body and how I viewed myself sexually. I understand now that regardless of the tactic used, these women were all claiming their territory in a male dominated industry. When I saw Black women within the realm of hip hop I would think, “yeah, that’s me.” Being a Black women in the world of hip hop means taking back ownership -- over our bodies, our voice, our talent and most importantly, our representation. Being a Black woman in hip hop means being able to tell OUR stories, OUR way. As raw, ruthless and real as it comes.

It’s no secret that a constant fight exists between the Black women in rap to claim their throne.

One has to be the queen, the top-dog, the best-known lyricist. Let alone lyricist, the queen of rap has to be sexy, cool and relatable. She has to be the smartest, set an example, and be that role model that she very well may have never asked to be. There is so much pressure placed on women in general, to then enter a field that is predominately male. Let’s talk about it. . .

Remember Rick Ross’s comments a few weeks back? He never signed a woman to his label because he claimed that he would have to have sexual relations with her first. There is just so much for Black women to lose when entering this business (including their souls) that it often causes unnecessary competition amongst ourselves. It doesn’t have to be this way though. 

Black women in rap can be multifaceted and still co-exist with each another, so long as that space is created for us, by us. And that to me is what hip-hop feminism is about – creating the space for women who are like-minded AND different but still respect the artistry.