ONE LANE, TOO MANY QUEENS
In January, I wrote Female Rap Will Not Survive With One Queen. In that piece, I argued against the Lil Kim rule, AKA, the "One Crown" theory, that says there can only be one reigning "Queen" in Hip Hop. My
intention was to show that the success of one "Queen" should not be viewed as the downfall of another. In fact, multiple Queens strengthens female rap as a whole and bolsters healthy competition within the genre.
In 2020, we have seen multiple women drop projects, kill features, top Billboard & Rolling Stone's music charts, and collect plaques. In addition, HER-story was made when Doja Cat and Nicki Minaj became the first female rap duo to top Billboard's Hot 100 chart with the "Say So" Remix, and Megan Thee Stallion tied Ariana Grande as the artists with the most No. 1 songs on Rolling Stone's Top 100. These milestones have led people to compare this era of female rap to the female rap renaissance of the 90s/early 00s. While there are some similarities, what's missing from today's female rap scene is diversity on the MAINSTREAM level that we know exist within female rap as a whole.
This is where we run into the "One Lane, Too Many Queens" dilemma that I briefly touched on in my previous writing on the "One Crown" theory. I addressed the need for female rappers to find COMMERCIAL success outside of the role of the Hypersexual female rapper. Yes, having multiple Queens competing on the highest level is AH-mazing for the culture. However, we cannot let that blind us to the reality that if we do not start to see more diversity on a MAINSTREAM level, female rap may experience another drought or cease to grow further than its current state.
Video courtesy of My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women And Hip Hop
THERE JUST CAN'T BE WHORES IN THE HOUSE
Just like light needs dark, day needs night, and what is Salt without Pepa? The hypersexual femcees need a Yin to their Yang. History has shown that female rap needs a counterbalance to all the sex talk to avoid becoming monotonous to fans. Female Hip Hop in 90s was so liberating because girls could rap," I used to be scared of the d*ck, now I throw lips to the sh*t" and then the next minute be singing/rapping along; to Lauryn Hill "Strumming my pain with his fingers..." as she was becoming the breakout star of the Fugees. The duality is what made 90s female rap equally entertaining and competitive. Rap fans got to witness an array of female rappers not only reign supreme from their respective lanes but compete COMMERCIALLY with each other and men.
Even during Nicki Minaj's illustrious 10-year run, she proved that DUALITY is the key to keeping female rap relevant and entertaining. While in the 90s/early 00s, it took multiple female rappers to create the contrast needed for the genre to thrive, Nicki Minaj was able to dominate by created duality within herself. Nicki embodied Hip Hop and Pop, gave fans various alter egos, and is the KING of using multiple flows on one track. Like Lauryn Hill, Nicki's self-duality and ability to effortlessly meld two genres together are what allowed her to achieve an unprecedented run.
Another similarity between Lauryn Hill and Nicki Minaj is that both showed girls you do not need to be hypersexual in order to be hyper-success on a MAINSTREAM level. While Lauryn Hill is often praised for not relying on hypersexuality, people often fail to remember that when Nicki Minaj transition from "Mixtape Nicki" to "Pop Nicki," she used her theatrical training over her "P*ssy Talk" to become an international superstar. In a 2012 interview with Vibe Magazine, Nicki Minaj said on making Pink Friday, "I felt like I had something to prove to everyone who said a female rapper could not make an album unless she was talking about her p*ssy. And so I went above and beyond to prove that I could not talk about sex and not talk about my genitalia and still have a successful album."
If you look at how Nicki Minaj has moved away from her theatrical side and leaned more and more on being sexual, her appeal has wavered. Fan love the freaky rhymes, but they connect more to rappers who inspire them.
Since Hip Hop has become so stat centric; here are some stats:
Pink Friday holds the record for the highest first-week sales for a female rap album at 375K.
Lauryn Hill holds the record for the highest first-week sales by a female rapper with 422K sales of "The Miseducation…"
Missy Elliott is the best selling female rapper with over 30 million sales in the U.S.
If it's true that labels only look at "numbers and statistics," then why are they ignoring an underserved market within female rap? If you listen to artists like Cardi B, fans don't support girls who do not talk about sex, money and being a bad bitch. However, the success of "non-p*ssy rappers" in the 80s, 90s, 00s, and 10s contradicts those claims. Blaming fans is a lazy woman's argument and only serves to dismiss those who will argue the lack of diversity at the top is not by coincidence but by design.🤔
Courtesy of All Hip Hop TV
NO LAURYN HILLS ALLOWED
Whenever rap fans get together to discuss women in Hip Hop, rarely is Lauryn Hill's name is not mentioned. Ever since L-Boogie stepped away from the industry, fans have been yearning for her to return or at least for someone to fill in the hole left by her absence. The two mysteries in Hip Hop are why didn't Lauryn ever do a follow-up to her classic album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and why haven't we seen another "Lauryn Hill" in female rap?
Well, while everyone was drowning in WAP, Lauryn Hill may have revealed the answers to both questions.
In a lengthy response to her daughter's, Selah, claims of childhood trauma, Lauryn Hill disclosed she fought years of manipulation and blacklisting. Lauryn Hill, the same person the culture praises and claims to love, was blacklisted. Let that sink in.
While the blacklisting of B-list male rappers/R&B singers makes the headlines, those in the media have never deemed it newsworthy to report on the blacklisting of Black female artists, even if they are legends. This is probably why no one has picked up on the possible correlation between blacklisting and why we don't see certain types of Black female entertainers in the mainstream anymore. One could speculate that not only was Lauryn Hill blackballed, but what she represented to Hip Hop was also blackballed. In an industry that loves to copy, it is suspicious that the music industry has not tried to sell us a "New Lauryn Hill" in an attempt to capitalize on what has worked. Of course, this is unless the industry does not want another "Lauryn Hill."
SEX APPEAL & PERSONALITY
Let's end some stereotypes...
The opposite of the hypersexualized rapper is not an Asexual female void of any sex appeal. There are plenty of rappers who are not in your face with their sexuality but ooze sex appeal, like Omeretta, Lady London, or Young M.A.
Also, the girls who do not equate women empowerment to their WAP are not "boring" rappers. They are the girls who only need one shot to make a classic album, they are the girls who write the rhymes you will be repeating for years, and they are the girls who will keep you glued to every word they speak.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Like with my other piece, "Female Rap Will Not Survive With One Queen," this was not written to be the answer or solution to any problem within female rap. This was written to spark discussion/debate among female rap fans. As we know, the genre is susceptible to a drought, and as a collective, we need to make sure that it does not happen again.
This piece was also not written to put down the "p*ssy rappers". If it were all introspective girls getting the award nominations, playlisting, and features, etc., I would have written the same thing but from another point of view. Female rap needs reflective rap, punk rap, pop rap, sad rap, socially conscious rap, lesbian rap, bad bitch rap; we need all of it. As women, we are complex, and female rap needs to reflect all aspects of being a woman, not just one.
Let me know below do you believe there is a diversity problem at the top or do girls like Doja Cat and Lizzo provide enough diversity? Which females can breakthrough in another lane?
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