Female MCs and women in hip hop culture

Female MCs are ‘ruling UK clubs again’, according to an article published in The Guardian earlier this week. As with most proclamations that women are now ‘ruling’ a male-dominated arena – be it a music scene, politics, Hollywood – the evidence given actually points to a handful of women making a name for themselves despite the continued sexism in that arena. The idea that we’re now in charge often seems to be a reflection of male anxiety that equality could go “too far”, that we should be content with small inroads into their dominance. Anyways, the article in question features some choice quotes from MCs Dynamite, Stush, Chann and Leshurr on their experiences as women in the urban music scene:

On the sexually explicit lyrics of female rappers in the US:

“Over here, if you came out with that talk, you’d just get people going, ‘Oh, that girl’s a slag, man!’ All the guys would switch on you, you’d get no respect.” (Stush)

On being a mother in the music industry:

“I reckon I did the second album half-­heartedly. I might have been in the studio feeling like I was focused, but my head was actually thinking: I wonder how my son is? So I decided I wasn’t ready to come back to music. […] My record ­company were pretty supportive. I think some of them were genuine, they had kids of their own and they understood. Others were just like, well, we’re not going to get ­anything out of her in this state ­anyway, it’d be a waste of money.” (Dynamite)

On racism and body image:

“I’ve had makeup artists try to make my eyes smaller and lighten my skin. There was a time when I was meant to be in a magazine spread and they said, ‘You’re too dark for the page – we can’t put the right font on you’. That’s the reality, you know? But I want to change all that. Black girls don’t really have many positive role models out there – if we wear our hair natural, we’re told it’s ‘nappy’, our lips are big – girls are made to hate themselves.” (Stush)

On male artists’ use of white dancers in their videos:

“It’s a question of representation – I’m not saying that your leading lady in a video has to be the same race as you. I’m not going to say who this artist is, but if you’ve done four or five videos, all love songs, and all your leading ladies are white – what ­message are you sending to your black fans? That your own race isn’t good enough to be seen on the TV with you?” (Chann)

Jay star Nine’s feminist blog and fanzine B*I*T*C*H*£*S showcases women in hop hop culture, including rappers, all female crews, DJs, MCs and graffiti artists. The zine’s title stands for ‘Bold Individuals That Challenges Hiphop’crisy En Style’:

I choose to use that word for the exact reason, constantly used by some male rappers to put women down, so I thought fuck it, I’m going to make it mean something, hence the break down. Also tend to find when a woman is described as a ‘bitch’ it’s because she doing her own thing and not boasting some man’s ego… (From Can we ever reclaim the word bitch.)

Check it out.