Rap is music. Music is a business. Like any business, trying to find the balance isn’t always simple but a conscious effort must be made. Discrimination not only extends between race, lifestyle and political values but it also occurs between genders.
The struggle for female rappers to break away from the misogynistic lyrics and images rap music perpetuates has always been a part of our culture. The influence of hip-hop in mainstream culture is seen in popular styles of fashion, dialect and cultural values. Hip-hop is often criticized for having explicit undertones – especially surrounding females.
The streets are buzzing about the official lineup of XXL’s 2011 Freshman Class, wherein the magazine picks the hottest up and coming MCs of the year. Hip-hop fans have been ablaze, discussing the list all over the Internet. Recently, XXL finally posted the final version of the cover on their website.
With the advent of technology, the cover was previously leaked online this past weekend and it seems like everyone has an opinion as to who deserves the distinction, who’s missing from the list and who is the next class member to strike big.
Now back to gender biases. Apparently, XXL’s Freshman class is a school for only males. Yes, all males.
Over the past years the magazine has featured artists such as Wiz Khalifa, J. Cole, B.O.B. and Asher Roth. Even though hip-hop heads await for the issue to drop, there is still speculation on the relevancy.
There’s no secret that males govern hip-hop music, defining “acceptable” gender roles and social norms from a male dominated view. This is where relevancy comes in—questions surrounding the significance women play in hip-hop music goes under answered.
Hyper-sexualization in female careers in hip-hop is a curse and a blessing. More so of a curse as women rappers are an endangered species. This constant hyper-sexualization steams from discrimination. The notion of advancement to gain more popularity can be blurred with the lines of success due to being sexual. Provocative sexual imagery involving women have been around forever. The exploitation of the woman rap artist poses challenges for women to continue to fill this void. Women rappers have a tough social responsibility to properly balance the tenacity to enter the male dominated industry and the discernment in which the way they enter. If not careful, they’ll find themselves as a sex symbol that won’t last longer than a five-minute sex scene or even go as unnoticed talented artists.
According to Vanessa Satten, the editor-in-chief of XXL, many submissions were made. She also pointed out how it made sense that XXL added one more Freshman to the list, for the first time ever and why the magazine features everyone on the front cover.
However, XXL hasn’t included a female in their spread. There has to be up and coming female talent where XXL can highlight her journey on delivering promising beats and lyrics.