Jermaine Dupri is a record producer and rapper who came to prominence in the early 90s. He has always been highly respected in the hip-hop community for his contribution to the success of many talented artists, including Mariah Carey, Jay-Z, and Alicia Keys.
Earlier this month, however, Durpi landed himself in hot water. In an interview with People, he referred to today’s collection of female rappers as “strippers rapping” claiming that they all rap about the same thing –– “dancing in the club.” He continued his misogynistic critique by patronizing them for not trying to prove themselves as the best rapper, unnecessarily pitting women against each other in a space that welcomes them all.
This could be a greater conversation about the frustrating double standard that exists between men and women in hip-hop. But instead of giving Jermaine Dupri yet another well-deserved chastising, NYMM wants to highlight the women who continuously disprove such sexist comments. These are the times today’s women in hip-hop have used their music to start conversations:
Despite her alias, Noname is becoming one of the most recognizable voices in the hip-hop game. With a rap flow that echoes the depth of spoken word, her music exudes a poeticism that not many other artists can achieve. Her debut album, Room25, addresses everything from heartbreak to politics. Standouts are “Blaxploitation,” a song about the anxieties surrounding black stereotypes and “Prayer Song,” a comment on police brutality in the U.S.
An advocate for self love and body positivity, Lizzo uses her music to practice what she preaches. She is known for her Billboard hit, “Truth Hurts,” which skyrocketed on the charts after it was featured in the 2019 Netflix film Someone Great. In the video for “Truth Hurts,” Lizzo literally marries herself. Many of her songs relay the same message: women should love themselves regardless of shape, size, or societal expectations. She is at the forefront of the body positivity movement, and we’re loving it. We also love that she plays the flute, too.
While Ari Lennox is considered an R&B singer, she is signed to Dreamville Records, a record label founded by rapper J. Cole. As the first and only woman to sign, her presence within the hip-hop community is a necessary change in tune. With her effortlessly smooth vocals, declarations of sexual freedom become elegant. Ari believes that women should not be deferred from expressing their sexuality in a world where only men are allowed to do so. “Sometimes women are put in this box where we’re only supposed to talk about certain things. I want to be braver and riskier. I think people want to hear that kind of honesty and frankness,” she says.
Tierra Whack was just named a 2019 XXL Freshman, which is a big deal in the hip-hop community. Her rap career has only begun to take off, and it is expected to continue expanding for years to come. Her debut album, Whack World, was inspired by her experiences getting bullied as a child. Though each track is just a minute long, Tierra still manages to share her most vulnerable, honest emotions in a way that resonates with listeners.
Final note: These women are breaking out of what’s expected of them. But if a woman wants to rap or sing about dancing in the club, that is absolutely okay too!