It’s no question that teens like rap and hip hop music. The only thing is, a broad range of this music has content that is degrading to women. According to the Business Insider: “As of 2018, rap and hip-hop is the most consumed music genre in the United States, and a substantial portion of that consumption lies in the youth population.” We typically hear rap songs from upcoming male rap artists that are misogynistic. In songs like “No Cap” by 83 Babies featuring Rich The Kid, lyrics including, “F**k that lil’ h*e, she don’t swallow.” Or “Sex” by Chris Brown with lyrics like, “Gimme what I’m asking for, I just want your sex.” Would you want to hear that and have it stuck in your head?
“In commercial rap, it’s horrible,” says Deominique Easley, a radio personality for The Show ATL on WRFG 89.3 FM and spoken word artist, when asked about how she thought women were portrayed. “We aren’t seen as someone’s mom or sister we are being portrayed as, well, trash.”
Dr. Regina Bradley, a professor at Kennesaw State University having specialized in English, African Diaspora Studies, and Hip Hop culture, offers similar sentiments adding, “There is a popular and widespread belief that sex is the only lens for viewing women in hip hop.”
Misogynistic lyrics and phrases have been perpetuated throughout the history of hip hop and rap. Rappers and hip hop artists such as late The Notorious B.I.G. have produced lyrics such as, “F**kin’ with some sluts tryin bust a nut” or veteran Too $hort’s lyrics like, “If you want that h*e, you can have that b**ch.”
Rachel, 15, a student at North Clayton High School, says: “It’s more so the general theme of, you have to talk about the women you get and how bad they are. I usually hear them talking about the assets women have. There’s a lot of problematic stuff actually, it’s more so just revolving on sexualizing women.”
It is unfortunate that a good portion of popular rap music you hear is specifically talking about how many girls male artists have and what they would do to them. It is even more unfortunate to know that teen girls and women are hearing this type of music and are practically brainwashed by the beat before actually hearing what the song is really about.
To the contrary, there are female hip hop and rap artists that are fighting against the stereotypes types of being called derogatory terms by men. Artists like Cardi B and Lizzo refer to themselves as “b**ches” or “h*es” as a way to reclaim the meaning of the word. Another example of a female hip hop artist is Noname, who is a poet, whose lyrics speak on society and being vulnerable.
“The misogyny is there, unfortunately,” says Dr. Bradley. “However, I am excited to see that women are reclaiming their own stories and speaking for themselves. While the language might raise an eyebrow or both of them, I hear women speaking their truths, usually against what a man says or desires. I think this is especially important for young women and girls to see and hear.”
“I know in real life like I try to separate rap music and how women are portrayed in rap music…it doesn’t really affect me emotionally,” says Lexi, 16, a student at Woodward Academy. “When rappers do things like that, and they say things like that, at the end of the day, that’s what’s popular, and that’s what’s making them money. So even if they don’t believe stuff like that, people are paying to see them do it. So, who’s to stop them?”
Ultimately music is music and it is up to women who listen to hip hop to choose if they prefer to listen to music that degrades them or music that celebrates them.