Does Hip-Hop Respect Women?
When a woman finds a way to break this mold she becomes iconic because finally she is allowed to take off the mask and be herself. We celebrate women of this nature but we also put pressure on them to do things we don't expect people to do. She becomes the voice of the voiceless and is expected to constantly live her life in this regard. We will judge her every move and grasp onto every word she utters with the expectancy that she is always being the most profound person she can be. In other words, we expect her to be a superhuman role model. Unfortunately we judge female rap artists on a much harsher scoring card.
The lines of respect are often blurred and creativity is often sacrificed in the name of marketability. More times than not, there is only enough room in this industry for one type of female artist. The same thing happens in regards to male artists in this industry, but for women the margin of error in the music business leaves zero room for mistakes. Several artists from our very own city have experienced major label success, but for the women that have made it to this level from a bird's eye view it seems like the industry met them with an unkind aura. Women like Ebony Eyez and Penelope Jones have both fought this at the highest form. Release dates are pushed back as women are asked to do things that don't necessarily match their persona and image. Once again, males are asked to do the same but the industry shows even less compassion to the women.
In an industry completely driven by image the exploitation of sex is a regular practice. Many have claimed men are not as responsible as women would like us to believe. I refer back to the Dead Prez skit about the hunter and the wolf. The hunter sticks a bloody blade in the wolf's mouth. The wolf licks the blade and tastes the blood. The wolf has no idea he is cutting his own tongue and licking his own blood. He dying slowly yet has no idea this actually happening to him.
This is how racism works in America and this same concept can once again be applied to sexism.
The woman consumer is the most valuable consumer in the marketplace in my opinion, because she often dictates where the male consumer should spend his money. Men search for the approval of women so the female consumer has the slight advantage in these circumstances. Rappers have changed their entire persona to meet the needs of female fans and persuade them to buy albums, singles, ringtones, T-shirts, and more. Often when an A&R questions the marketability of an artist they are simply finding a glorified way of asking, "will women buy the album?" This process is a cycle and we all feed into it blindly without fear of the repercussions.
As a hip-hop artist with a growing fan base, I have often pondered on the role I may possibly play in these activities. I am a proud advocate of anything concerning the general progression of the hip-hop culture. I believe hip-hop is one of the world's most powerful musical genres. I live it, eat it, sleep it and breathe it every single day of my life. We watch music videos with images of half dressed exotic females dancing and performing. It has become the norm for us to objectify women through popular music videos and websites. (Side note: For the record, this is not just hip-hop. Almost forms of popular American music do the same thing. Hip-hop actually stole this maneuver from Rock & Roll. And of course in the long haul Rock & Roll was stolen from black people but we'll come back to that in another article.)
A woman's sexuality is one of her pride and joys, so I personally feel that we as men don't ultimately have the right to tell them how to use it. I remember a popular quote from Flavor Flav stating "They're going to call you a N-bomb behind your back regardless to anything you do so you might as well take advantage of their ignorance and get them for everything you can". I feel like this might also apply to male sexism aimed at women in the entertainment industry. So I personally understand it when a woman chooses to capitalize on such activities in the name of taking advantage situations for herself.