The appearence of male rappers is not as important as talent, while female artists are expected to be super sexy. Pictured: Gucci Mane (courtesy of Atlantic Records), T Pain (Courtesy of Jive), Mike Jones (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records), Chamillionaire (courtesy of Universal Records)
by SABRINA PARKER
While the state of hip-hop is constantly debated, there is one problem that no one is really discussing. Rappers, who are almost all men these days, can be extremely unattractive and severely obese, while for women rappers, sex appeal counts for more than talent.
Young female fans have almost nothing to scream for anymore. Back in the good-old days, hip-hop loving ladies swooned over L.L. Cool J’s luscious lips, argued over Method Man and loved to see Nas’s chipped-tooth smile. These guys are still around, but they are not producing rappers like they used to.
Hip-hop’s hottest acts look more like Garbage Pail Kids than poster boys. The good news is that new artists are breaking through the radio airwaves. Hooray for new music! The bad news is the face of hip-hop is getting ugly. To see—not hear—new acts such as Gucci Mane, Mike Jones, T-Pain or Chamillionaire, makes me want to close my eyes and open my ears. I can’t help but wonder what standards the labels are using to judge male artists. Surely it’s not the same standards they use to judge female rappers such as Eve or Trina.
Not only are female rappers required to be attractive, but the formula also usually calls for them to be attached to a successful male rapper and dress and sing in an overtly sexual manner. Very few women make the cut in hip-hop, while new male artists pop up weekly. That is not because women are not as interested in rapping as they were in the days of J.J. Fad and Salt-N-Pepa. In my opinion, there aren’t more female rappers because the music labels are not interested in developing them. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Lauryn Hill, for example, found success in hip-hop and she did not use sex to sell albums.
Can you imagine a female the size of Fat Joe releasing a rap album? If Biggie Smalls had been a woman, the world would have never heard her voice.
If we want less misogynistic messages in hip-hop music, we could try green-lighting a few projects by women. I know there is no shortage of wannabe female rappers. Surprisingly, there are quite a few female executives behind hip-hop’s top-selling artists and at record labels. But on the surface, hip-hop has become a man’s world where the woman’s role is to wear sexually suggestive outfits, bounce to the music and, oh yeah, buy those albums and concert tickets.