A Simple Question This Week: Where The Ladies At?

Some rappers happen to be thoughtful, intelligent people. Every Monday Rocks Off will have some of them hear discussing issues relevant to their culture.

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Photo illustration by John Seaborn Gray
This Week's Panel: Nosaprise, Yung Redd, Kyle Hubbard

Not Invited: Girls, apparently. Actually, we sent invites for this week's discussion to Candi Redd, Perseph One, Kenika and TroubleSum. None of them responded.

This Week's Prompt: Nicki Minaj's single "Your Love" was the first song by a female artist to reach No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Rap Songs chart since Missy Elliot in 2002. That's almost a decade, yo. So the question here is pretty easy: Why can't more females find success in rap? They were all over the place in the '90s. What happened?

Nosaprise: There are some great female MCs out there. We got Perseph, TroubleSum and Uzoy in Texas and they all wreck. I think there's a void in mainstream music that needs to be filled. Nikki Minaj is doing that. She's like a caricature of all the super-sexual femcees (ya I said it) of past: Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Trina. Lauryn Hill managed to gain respect fully clothed in the mainstream and underground but ended up having a breakdown and disappearing from music. I think it's hard for anyone to battle male egos, man or woman.

Yung Redd: The reason why, in my opinion, is that most females use the same topics -clothes, money, sex - with the exception of Missy [and] MC Lyte.

Kyle Hubbard: To me, it's not a question of skill when it comes to the fairer sex. I know women who can rap circles around some males. Case in point, Jean Grae. To say that a woman is off the bat at a disadvantage skill-wise because of their private parts is wrong.

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Now I will admit that in terms of commercial success, women are rare. I feel the root of this is the fact that when a woman does get put in a position where she has major label backing and national attention, whoever is in charge of their image will tend to kind of freak out. Because successful women within the realm of hip-hop are few and far between, I feel like they are often forced to fit into an archetype molded by one of the few that has come before them.

I think labels underestimate the audience to such a degree that when they have a talented woman on their hands they assume the listeners are going to make her sex the only issue, so that has to be a major factor in their marketing. I think it's very akin to what a white rapper has to deal with. It can't just be like "Oh damn she is dope!" It has to be "Oh damn she is dope... and she's a girl! crazy!"

I think it's both on the audience and the marketing: Can a female just be a dope MC? Does she always have to be a dope female MC?

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