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Women in Hip Hop

28 Jan

For this assignment we were instructed to analyze our chosen demographic’s representation in three magazines. I choose to take a look at the portrayal of women in three hip hop magazines; Vibe, XXL, and The Source. Since the creation of hip hop women have played many roles depending on the social and political climate of the time. In this decade we have not seen many female rappers given the respect of their male counter parts, with the exception of maybe Nicki Minaj. But what we have seen is the sexual exploitation of women on various accounts. From the video vixens, to the magazine models with gigantic derri√®res, to the all too faithful wifey type.

In XXL we see profile of multiple rappers, namely 50 cent who graces the cover. I noticed that for the most part these rappers were male, and if a female rapper was mentioned her skill was not talked about in the same manner as her make peers. However XXL did highlight women with their picture spread of “2011’s Eye Candy of the Year.” this is a multi page spread of various women in the hip hop game known for their voluptuous curves and flat stomachs, cameo’s in the hottest videos, or who’s arm candy they were at the most recent red carpet events. For the most part women were celebrated for their bodies, not their talent or real contribution to the game of hip hop. We rarely see any female producer, management, etc. highlighted.

In the latest issue of The Source they announced their ‘Man of the Year’ (Rick Ross) and their ‘Rookie of the Year’ (Big Sean). My first issue with this is why dint they have ‘Rapper of the Year’ or ‘Artist of the Year’ instead of ‘ Man of the Year’.? What this implies to me, and most readers, is that women aren’t even worthy enough to be considered for such an honor of being the best MC of that year. The name of the title alone excludes a whole demographic from even aspiring for the distinction. Though I realize that since it’s creation hip hop has, and probably will forever be, a male dominated industry I think there comes a time where we can start to make necessary moves so that the field is more inviting for those who have been constantly overlooked. Who’s to say that there are not female rappers out ere that can rap just as wittily, fast, and with as great a delivery as men? No one….but we may never be fortunate enough to hear their work because hip hop is not inviting and is often times discouraging to those of the female sex, as we see here with something as minute as the wording of an award.

TI is the feature profile in Vibe magazine, and while Vibe as a whole is guilty of the same overly sexualized portrayals of women as the two mentioned above, I wanted to write about the way TI speaks of his wife in his interview. In the article the author and TI talk about his latest arrest in LA in which he, his wife (Tameka ‘Tiny’ Harris) and two other men (both prior felons) were arrested and charged with possession of ecstasy. At the time TI was on probation from a prior gun charge conviction (in which he served 11 months in federal prison) and some in the hip hop industry suggested that Tiny take the wrap for her husband since she has a clean record and would get little to no jail time. To this TI stated “I’m the only one that’s goin to take a lick as it pertains to the legal system. Since me, none of my other family members have seen a jail cell…I’m the last one. The buck stops here. I feel that a person that stands behind [his woman for a criminal charge] is a coward anyway…..she wasn’t going to catch it [the charge] a period, be uase I’m there. That wasn’t even a consideration.” When asked if he felt if he was more of an asset to those around him (family, friends, employees, business partners, etc.) he answered that that was a discussion to be had between him and “another man…not with the mother of my children…nurturer of my household.” I found his protective nature if her refreshing, and his candid honesty inspiring. He has caught a lot of heat for being with Tiny (she’s not the most attractive woman, her career peeked in the 90’s and she had multiple children before TI) but despite all of that he cherishes her and wouldn’t be so selfish as to let her take a charge for something he did, despite the fact that other rappers thought she should have. ¬†

For the most part I understand why they portray women they do, it’s visually appealing to their main constituency (men). But I’m sad for the messages it’s sending to young girls, which is the only way to make it in this game is through using your body, there is much riim fir female rappers, and even if you manage to get in as a rapper you will never be considered as good as men. I just wish that they would do more notable pieces on women who are in hip hop, how they got there, the groundwork they had to lay and dues they had to pay, focusing mire in their skills, contributions, and potential so that other women may be inspired enough to get in the game. I’m also over the objectification of women, it’s been going on for so long that its not uncommon to flip through the pages of any hip hop magazine and see various women in things and bra-like tops with their butt to the camera, we’ve become somewhat desensitized to it. I’m just kind of hoping that one day hip hop will evolve, as it has done for centuries, but this time into something that values women for more than their breast to waist to hip ratio.

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