If you were to take a slice out of modern day society and you asked them ‘what is the role of women in Hip Hop?’, you would inevitable receive either a shrug, a blank look or a misogynistic remark. Unfortunately, the majority of hip hop artists don’t offer the most positive portrayal of women in their songs or videos.
For every hip hop video that has a positive portrayal of women, there’s about 10 that have scantily clad ladies gyrating to men covered in more gold than Liberace. These videos have things like ‘Hoe’ and ‘bitch’ thrown around like they were a comma in a sentence and women are shown as sex objects instead of people.
So you may wonder, why is it like this in hip hop and nowhere else?
Well the problem comes down the music industry, it’s incredibly competitive and it can take a lot for an artist to stand out from the crowd. As they say, ‘sex sells’ and to make their voice heard a lot of artists use the best looking women they can wearing as little as possible to increase their audience of predominantly young men.
But, even though, they manage to sell enough records to make it, they further the negative stereotype of women, something that the hip hop industry really needs to move away from.
They sang about life experiences and the only negative stereotypes they were slapped with was that this genre of music was synonymous with drug use, guns, sex and gambling. The latter being something that casino lovers always objected about as there were concerns that, at the time, being tarred with the same brush as hip hop was bad for the gambling industry.
But as the genre became more popular through the late 90’s and early 2000’s we saw more and more scantily clad women appearing in videos. Thinly veiled innuendos were replaced with straight up requests for sex acts (we’re looking at you Lil Wayne’s Lollipop) and the industry became more about portraying ‘getting cash and girls’ as the thing every artist should aspire to.
Although there are artists like Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco and even Mos Def that are trying to drag the genre away from this less than positive portrayal of women, there are an almost limitless number of artists that will happily drag the genre back through the mud.
Enough damage has been done to see that women in hip hop are still going to be given that negative portrayal regardless of what the rest of the industry does, it’s almost like it is its own genre.
These musicians have managed to carve out a positive area of the industry and have become positive role models for female hip hop artists around the world.
Although there are a few female artists that still stick to the negative side of the music industry, there’s enough positive female musicians around to compensate.
Even though the hip hop industry isn’t the most positive place for women, there are enough people making noise for change that we could see a gradual transformation to the way women are portrayed in hip hop in the future.