From Kanye West and Jay Z, to Dr. Dre and Eminem, male rappers have had long histories of collaborative works. Their partnerships inspired full-length albums, blockbuster singles and widespread fame for all involved. However, it has become increasingly apparent that there is a lack of female rappers working alongside other female rappers. It seems as though every day these women face off against each other in various feuds.
To become the queen of rap, female artists are forced to shut others out. They are trained by the industry to be fierce against other female rappers to ensure that only a few make a name for themselves. Like animals that kill their old leaders to replace them with new ones, these women destroy established artists to bring themselves forward. Surely this is a product of the industry heads, which propels the idea that only a few female rappers can be charting at any given time. For male rappers it seems like a nonexistent situation.
With artists like Nicki Minaj throwing shade at Lil Kim, or Lil’ Debbie feeling shunned by Iggy Azalea or attacking Miley Cyrus, these women seem like they are in constant battle. Unfortunately, where these women should support and help each other, instead they seem to be in competition with one another.
Take Nicki Minaj’s “Stupid Hoe.” It’s a track that swept the charts. It gained widespread fame and, for Minaj, great economic success. Beneath the song’s catchy tune lies a cattiness and aggressiveness that has been linked to attacking fellow female rapper, Lil Kim. From here, an infamous battle of words between the two erupted and dissolved to Lil Kim suggesting that Minaj stole unreleased material.
Then, there is the failed girl rap group, White Girl Mob. Here, the industry finds itself with what can only be noted as a missed opportunity. With problems like members feeling left out of creative decisions and general arguments, the ladies split.
White Girl Mob contrasts the successful, and still relatively put together Young Money label which has released multiple tracks featuring many artists. However, like the industry itself, there is an absence of female rappers. Male ones, however, are in abundance.
The White Girl Mob’s disastrous turnout seemed to prove that female rappers could not work together. However, interviews with members show a different story in which the industry and producers (mostly male) pitted the women against one another by leaving some out of group meetings. This is especially true for Lil Debbie, an ex-member of the group, who has discussed her exclusion from the table in multiple interviews. However, even she has stirred up problems, not only with fellow members but also with other artists.
In a recent interview, Debbie discussed how she was ignored by fellow female rappers like Iggy Azalea. She didn’t stop there, going as far as stating that Miley Cyrus stole her identity. The question that comes about here is why is it that when Debbie feels neglected, she also feels the need to rip at other artists?
Other questions can also be raised. Firstly, why can men in the rap industry coexist and help one another thrive, while women seem to fight one another, so only a select few reach prominence? Secondly, what has led to the current situation at hand? Is the overheated competition between female rappers just part of the territory, or is the current business structured in a disadvantaged way for female rappers to breakthrough? If it is supposed to be accepted as part of the “rap game,” why is it that many male rappers can work and support one another, as well as collaborate with female rappers while female rappers while cannot support other women in the hip-hop/rap industry?
The lack of collaboration is a topic of interest at this time due to Iggy Azalea’s latest album, released this week, which features male rappers like T.I. as well as features with female singers like Charli XCX. However, like most LPs created by female rapper, Azalea’s “The New Classic” has no other female rappers featured.
One argument seems to be that many female rappers share similar vocal tones. However, to counter this as it is accepted to be true, then the same argument could certainly be applied to male rappers as well. But it is not. In addition, anyone who has listened to albums created by any female rappers would notice large differences in style. In fact, some of these albums seem more individualistic than that of rival male rappers.
In addition, with so much praise offered to prominent female rappers like Minaj, M.I.A. and Azalea all making great strides in the music industry, it seems as though many audiences and critics leave out the key question as to why, if these artists are changing the face of the industry, are there still so few female rappers today. All three artists have gotten praise for changing the face of hip-hop, but compared to male breakthrough artists, it would seem that these women have been unable to spread the success to other women. While it is terrific that these women have reached fame and success, it is also an unfortunate point to make that many forget those left behind. The focus seems so defined and engrained on these big name stars changing the landscape that it becomes almost impossible for others to shine as well.
It is a perplexing situation facing female rappers in the industry. This is certainly not at the fault of these women, but rather it is the fault of an industry which perpetuates and assimilates these women to believe that for them to survive others must fade away. There is a push downward from the music industry in which male rappers become nurturing figures with the ability to cultivate newcomers, while women, both old and new, are forced to be at ends with one another.