Will We Finally Get Our Darkskin Representation With Asian Doll As The New "It" Girl?
Few female rappers of today are as unique, transparent, and authentic as Asian Doll. Getting her start in 2015 with her EP titled Rise of Barbie Doll Gang, she steadily gained followers, those who were enraptured by her sound and harajuku fashion. Her mixtape, Drippin in Glo, helped catapult her even further into the limelight. By far, however, her most successful work is Doll Szn, her first album released in May 2018. This lead to her being signed by Gucci Mane to his label, 1017 Eskimo Records, in June, becoming the one and only female rapper represented by the label.
With all of her success — a lot of it occurring just this year — it seems like Asian Doll definitely has the potential to be the next “It Girl” in the rap game. Getting signed to 1017 Records was a huge break in the artist’s career, since the label has spawned successful rappers such as Waka Flocka Flame and Chief Keef. Not only that, but Gucci Mane is an extremely hot rapper right now with a lot of pull in the industry, which gives Asian Doll a huge leg up. Over the years she has continued to work on her craft, improving greatly from her EP days in 2015; however, with artists like Saweetie and Dream Doll quickly excelling in the rap game — despite being out for a shorter time period than Asian Doll — is it possible that marketability will hold her back?
“To know lighter skin shades are PRIVILEGED in this industry & for [Princess Nokia] to speak on it brought REAL tears to my eyes… I promise on my life I will always use my platform to really help & uplift [dark-skinned girls].”
Marketability is defined as “attractiveness to potential employers and clients.” While Asian Doll certainly is attractive, consumers want to listen to people who look like them — those they can relate to. With Asian Doll being a darkskin Black women, she appeals to a niche market. Racially ambiguous women can appeal to multiple markets, but we also must acknowledge the stigmatization of dark skin — an even greater obstacle than supposed marketability. It doesn’t help up-and-coming Black women artists that the industry props up and promotes women of a lighter skin tone.
Let’s just be honest and admit that in terms of talent, Cardi B and Saweetie aren’t that revolutionary to explain the difference in fame and exposure compared to Asian Doll. In fact, I think she is a better rapper than the two, but that’s just personal opinion. It’s no secret that colorism is rampant in the industry, which is why there hasn’t been a darkskin “It Girl” since the 90s. It’s also why most male rappers only feature lightskin or white women in their music videos. Everyone wants to be a rapper these days, so the industry is definitely oversaturated, but it’s unfair that artists like Dream Doll — who has subpar bars and looks like every other IG model — should be on the same level of fame as Asian Doll, who has been steadily grinding for years. Even Bhad Babie has had a bigger come up — with less work and effort, at that.
People truly don’t understand how important representation is. Young girls largely develop their self-esteem and self-concept based off of what they see in the media. What does that tell a young, darkskin girl, who never sees anyone of her complexion being extolled as beautiful and talented? Hip-hop is the bread and butter of Black American culture… How many young, Black American girls are self-internalizing feelings of inferiority? With 1 million followers, Asian Doll is still doing pretty great, but is this the pinnacle of her success? Will she end up like Kash Doll, who is widely celebrated, but still unable to break records and barriers after putting in years of work?
We need a darkskin “It Girl” — and ASAP. It’s entirely preposterous that a genre of music cultivated and perfected by African-Americans has a lack of African-American women being represented.
With so many of the cards stacked against her, it’s important that Asian Doll uses her industry connections wisely. She needs to begin collaborating with popular artists immediately, which shouldn’t be a problem being signed to Gucci Mane’s label. Marketability can either make or break an artist, and with so many racially ambiguous girls in the industry who can appeal to a wider range of audiences, it’s important that Asian Doll solidifies herself in other genres. Collaborating with pop artists can do wonders for her popularity and appeal.
Despite the obvious colorism in the industry, I’m not going to give up on Asian Doll just yet. She is highly talented, beautiful, and has a good head on her shoulders. Her authenticity shows that no matter what, she’ll never change — and I think a banging personality and fire bars will always mean more than your skin tone.