Not Allowed: Female Emcees

The last time a Grammy for Best Female Rap Solo Performance was awarded was in 2004. It is 2008. Now, the category is nowhere to be found, and with good reason. There simply are not enough female emcees to fill the nomination spaces. There are innumerable obstacles to overcome and just as many loopholes these women must slip through in order to get just an ounce of exposure.

A new rule has been developed: there can only be one female Hip Hop artist at a time. For a large majority of the past few years (and the present), the one acceptable female rapper has been Missy Elliot. In other award shows, she tends to win in whatever marginalized category has been set aside for women rappers. Please do not be mistaken, Elliot has released a fair share of solid, critically acclaimed material; she is highly deserving of the accolades she has acquired.

But, hypothetically speaking, what if, for an extended amount of time, Missy does not release an album? Who is supposed to win then? There is no need to hypothesize. The situation is very real and took place at an award show earlier this year. Within the category of Best Female Hip Hop Artist, newcomer Kid Sister, teen Lil’ Mama, Miami-based Trina, and “pit-bull in a skirt” Eve all competed against Missy for the prize. So, who won? Missy Elliot, of course. This is all despite the fact that Lil’ Mama had, at the time, recently come out with her debut album featuring the hit “Lip Gloss,” Trina had released her fourth record, Kid Sister had been riding high off of her single “Pro Nails,” and Eve had “Tambourine” (a song from an album continually pushed back). Presumably, Missy won for two songs that had an accompanying video and appeared on a movie soundtrack (not her album).

Referring to this occurrence is not an attempt to place blame on Missy Elliot. Rather, it is meant to draw attention to just one of the many instances where female rappers are overlooked because the music industry is deemed as not having “enough room” for all of them to exist simultaneously.

It is not only the rules of the recording industry that have constructed a concrete ceiling for these women. Female rappers have done a good job at tearing each other down, fighting for that one spot. Pick any two female hip hop artists, and more than likely, at some time or another, they have exchanged hostile words or lyrics. Besides the external forces they face, these women also seem to make it a mission to bring themselves down. The overwhelming criminal activity of female rappers as of late is a prime example. Remy Ma, Lil’ Kim, and Foxy Brown have all had to visit a jail cell due to their self destructive behavior and attempts at living out their unrealistic lyrics and contrived images.

Unfortunately, it seems that female rappers such as these and those whose music lacks any form of substance (a single artist can, and often does, fit into both categories) are the only ones who manage to make it to the forefront of the media, tasting small bites of success. —— By: Bethany N.


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