Jermaine Dupri On the State of Mainstream Female Rappers

In the latest Drocast, I'm discussing the controversial comments producer and rapper Jermaine Dupri made about the current state of women in rap music labeling them as "strippers rapping" in a recent interview. But I did have to come here to write more in depth about my analysis. Many people clapped back stating he was being ignorant, sexist, and misogynistic towards women in the genre. Personally, I feel that he, like many people are pointing out, was focusing on the popular and mainstream girls being Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, City Girls, and Megan Thee Stallion. The interviewers even mentioned the names of Cardi and Megan.

I do feel like stating "strippers rapping" was distasteful and demeaning and he should have been specific about what he meant and clearly referring to the ladies who are poppin' right now and that they all have one thing in common. Because, chile. With all the mental gymnastics, let's be clear; most people are not checking for Rapsody, Noname, Sa Roc (my fave btw), Tierra Whack, etc. As a matter of fact, I've never seen their names being mentioned before so much until all of a sudden. Not when the actually release music, but all of a sudden. Right now.

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Where was y'all at when Laila's Wisdom dropped? The same place y'all will be when he upcoming album drop. Oh.

That doesn't mean these girls aren't being supported, because they are. It's just a byproduct of people supporting what's presented to them and what's popularized. Let's dead the notion that the unpopular crew isn't getting love, because they are, especially seeing that they're able to work and travel worldwide. They're just not on mainstream platforms. In a response to Cardi B, Jermaine also addressed that he has worked with Rapsody further supporting the stance of him solely addressing mainstream/popular women rappers.

I personally don't think Jermaine is threatened by women who are sexually expressive in music seeing that he's dated Janet Jackson and has worked with Lil' Kim, Trina, Missy Elliott (known for their sexually expressive music) and a myriad of other women in rap and hip-hop throughout his career. However, I do feel like he should have named some women he does like to listen to and he could have kept the same energy with addressing the sameness of the male rappers. I also acknowledge that there are men in hip-hop and rap who are intimidated by women owning their own sexuality.

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Outside of the dragging, it's pretty hard to not notice that the only two mainstream women rappers (Cardi B and Nicki) and the most popular underground rapper (Megan) all have similar images and lyrical content.This also includes other popular underground girls like Kash Doll, industry plant Iggy Azalea (who saw a crumb of mainstream success in 2014), Cupkkake, City Girls, and others. It's not to say that these ladies aren't talking about anything else other than sex, scamming, getting money from men, and more, but that is their main subject of choice. In layman's terms, let's keep it a buck and address there is an image not only the industry wants but also what some music supporters are drawn to. Folks can name Snow the Product, Rapsody and others all they want, but the truth is, they are still not being celebrated like the girls mentioned earlier.

This is an effect of Nicki Minaj being the only mainstream woman rapper for so many years. Her single presence and success has created the standard for the image and key lyrical content for women if they want popularity. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying or insinuating that there is a problem for women to be sexual. I love it. However, there's nothing wrong with wanting to see more than what's being presented in the limelight. There's nothing wrong with that being addressed. Plus? I mean, are we seriously going to sit here and pretend it's not an ultimate slap in the face that a woman who has admitted she doesn't write her music, has a history of anti-Blackness, and can't rap PERIODT won a Grammy and a songwriter award? Y'all can play these mind games, I won't though.

I've seen countless people comment that mainstream rap has always been about the same ol' shit: cars, money, hoes, clothes, bitches, and sex. I definitely see that, especially in the current era, however, that's not necessarily true. While "money, cash, and hoes" has always been strategically pushes to the forefront (just like sexualized female rappers are strategically pushed to the forefront today), in past decades, there has been a gumbo of different sub-genres. Back in the 1980's. 1990's, and early 2000's especially, artists of all sorts were able to flourish in the mainstream realm; especially women. Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown weren't the only women to shine, women like Queen Latifah, Rah Digga, Yo-Yo, Missy Elliot, Da Brat, and plenty others did receive mainstream attention that is unrecognizable today.

Popular mainstream male rappers of the past included Nas, Mos Def, Outkast, Will Smith, Kid 'N Play, Heavy D, Run DMC, The Roots, Wale, The Fugees, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Cudi, Kanye West, De La Soul, and others. They may or may not have been as poppin' as a Jay-Z, but this does continue to show it was possible for rappers with various subject matter to flourish at some point.

In today's time, you have the Futures and Meek Mill rappers who are focused on sex, money, and materialism, there also men who are mainstream who are the antithesis of those men. Chidlish Gambino recently won a Grammy for "This Is America". Chance the Rapper won a Grammy for a mixtape. J. Cole went platinum and is highly praised for his activism and music reflecting that. Kendrick Lamar is also a Grammy winner and even won a Pulitzer Prize for his 2017 album DAMN.

One can argue that they are men in male dominated spaces, which is relevant. However, it is still showing that even without rapping about stereotypical content, they have still flourished. It should make one question, why can't there be an equal footing with nonsexual women rappers? I don't see why that's an issue and I think it's very important to analyze.

People were also stating, male rappers don't call one another out. While I do agree that a lot of these guys are mute on the foolery pushed out by men, there has been a track record of men calling one another out historically and presently. KRS One got on Nelly for his music, Ice T said Soulja Boy killed hip-hop back on the 2000’s. Currently people are trashing mumble rap (Lord Jamar is always going in). And let's not forget Jamar calling out the dangers of lean culture in rap/hip-hop. Have we forgotten about the call out of popularization of molly and pills too? Back in the 90’s rappers like Talib, Common, Public Enemy, and Mos Def always came at the “bling bling” drug and violence promoting rappers (think Common's verse in "Get 'Em High"). There has been a timeline of trash rappers being called out especially during the days of NWA when the group started popularizing the violence and hyper misogynistic rap.

I can also see people calling out Jermaine for being mute about male rappers. He's also helped popularize strip club culture which people feel like he seems to despise. He's produced songs like "Money Ain't A Thang" with Jay-Z, "Jazzy Hoes" by 8Ball and Too Short, "Money, Hoes, & Power" by UGK, and more vulgar jams. This has contributed to the elevation of the "stripper" music and culture. Now it's women who are telling their own stories. So with that stated, I do understand how there was some underlying sexism and misogyny in his statement despite him asking for variety and spitters.

You guys know I have a track record for being vocal about the gate keeper culture, sexism, and misogyny in rap and hip-hop. While it's rightfully being called out in discussions about Jermaine's comments, I also have to address the other elephant in the room being that some women in rap and hip-hop too have contributed in misogyny. Back in 2013, I wrote "You Can't Rap With Us: Sexism In Hip-Hop". I discussed the double standards between praising openly sexual male rappers while shunning women who speak on the same topics. In reflecting on that piece and the current conversations, I do think it's important to note women's current and historical participation.

Some men have been hypocritical in their stance against sexual women in rap and hip-hop, but in others bringing in the topic of sexism and misogyny to address Jermaine, we also have to take a look at how some female artists have also celebrated anti-woman culture. In my 2013 piece, I also discussed how despite their sexy anthems, the Kim's and Foxy's were also spitting just as misogynistic as their male peers. We see and hear the same sentiments today with women like Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, Megan, and many more. Men being shook by sexual ownership or hypocritical does not erase the fact that women have been active participants in rap's misogynistic climate just as much. Many women in rap also do not have an issue working side by side with the openly sexist and misogynistic male rappers and are also quiet on their actions as long as the check clears. Just like many of the menfolk.

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Similar to some men not calling out the debauchery of their peers, many women have also been quiet on their lady counterparts and their anti-woman lyricism. In analyzing the larger cultural connotation of this conversation, I don't think it's basic as a men vs women issue the way some people are simplifying it to be. Not only does the industry play a large roll in who receives a platform, but the fans do too. Which is why as I stated earlier, I find it laughable and eye-rollable that suddenly so many people are Rapsody fans especially since she and women similar to her have very large male fan bases and are not praised in even the popular underground arenas.

At the end and beginning of the day, I personally feel that the majority of mainstream music across the board is a cesspool of mediocrity and based on what's trendy. I think a lot of rap and hip-hop is very much watered down, even from artists with talent. It's probably too far to turn back the tide, especially with certain agendas being pushed. Hip-hop however, is eternal. Even after the debates, back and forth, dragging, and arguments, most people are still going to pay absolute, complete, and utter dust to the Rapsodys, Tierras, Nonames, Sa-Rocs and more. Even if people did begin to give these girls more attention, I still feel that they would still not be pushed to the forefront because it's not '96 anymore and that's sadly not the way the cookie is crumbling. Nonetheless, believe it or not, many underground femcees and women rappers do have solid fan bases and are being supported despite the ignorance on social media that "y'all not supporting".

I don't feel Jermaine was completely wrong in his stance for wanting to see more diversity in the forefront, and I also think he was being hypocritical despite being specifically asked about women rappers (their names were even stated) and being active in participation of the elevation of "strippers rapping". I think this is a great conversation with heap of middle ground that exceeds men vs women. As long as these ladies in the underground sphere can get their just do and shine, I think that's great.

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