What Women In Hip-Hop Did For Me
Anybody that really knows me knows that I LOVE LOVE LOVE women in rap.
I mean all of them: Missy Elliot, Lil Kim, Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj, Salt - N- Pepa, Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, Queen Latifah, City Girls, Dreezy, Kash Doll, ALL OF EM.
I remember growing up and hearing Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, Da Brat, Foxy Brown and Lil Kim and feeling a certain level of pride hearing them rhyme. Much like 99% of pre-teens growing up in the 90s and early 2000s, I was a Spice Girl fanatic but the girl power I experienced listening to them paled in comparison to what I experienced hearing black women talkin' their shit. However, it wasn't until Trina hit the scene that the game changed for me. When I watched Trina Da Baddest B**** video, I was forever changed. My love affair with female rappers began. I couldn't articulate then why I loved it and to any adults and even to my peers that knew I listened to "this kind of music" often quickly labeled me as a "fast little girl"…whatever that means. You would think that this judgement stopped when I became an adult but it didn't. As a grown ass woman, when I tell people that I love female rap, the looks are very telling. Even those that love rap as a genre seem to see women rapping as inferior and disgusting.
As everyone on Beyonce's internet discusses Cardi and Meg's new song and video, WAP, we have once again been bombarded with the typical response to any songs that (most) women enjoy written/performed by black female hip-hop artists.
"When ya'll gone rap about something other than sex?"
"All the women that like this song…this why ya'll single."
"Ya'll listening to this song while I'm focusing on furthering my education and becoming a wife and a mother."
(Meanwhile, many of the rappers we are referencing are educated wives and mothers. Ironic right?)
The conversation that has been sparked has really made me consider why I love lady emcees so much. Three simple but important reasons.
Women in hip-hop/rap have taught me that women can be multi-dimensional. You do not have to choose between being outspoken about your sexuality and being a wife and mother or a college student or believe in God. There is no limit to the number of dimensions you can have as a woman.
Female rappers have taught me that not only I can I make a name for myself in male dominated careers but I can do it my way.
These rap legends have taught me how to be free. There is a certain freedom felt when you listen to someone who looks like you tell their stories. I write and I encourage and coach other black women to write because our narratives are important. This includes fiction, non-fiction, religious, erotica, poetry, short stories and the list goes on. Black women have had their stories told by others for as long as we can all remember. It is time that we reclaim our own experiences and tell them in our own way.