Why are there so few women in ‘best-of’ hip-hop polls?


Women are as much a part of hip-hop and rap as male artists. Whether through their rap skills or their written lyrics, women have proven time and time again that hip-hop is not just a “game” for men. In recent years, some female rappers like Tierra Whack and Rapsody have managed to rank at the top of the hip-hop classification, thanks to their extraordinary projects and skills. However, despite these big steps, women are constantly left out of the conversation when it comes to ranking the best of the genre.

Earlier this summer, The Brew Podcast’s list of the 50 best rappers of all time created a stir on social media as women were not included. In September it was announced that Nicki Minaj had been removed from the list. Many question whether Minaj should be included in the list of the 10 best rappers of all time, which sparked debate about her record label and whether she is ‘worthy’ of such an honor.

BET Digital music editor Diamond Hillyer said the objectification and devaluation of women in hip-hop left male rappers ‘unchallenged’ in these spaces. However, female rappers have recently proven their skills in the game, through songs at the top of the charts, sold-out shows and crowds of adored fans, offering instant competition to male rappers.

All the experts believe that there are some standards that female musicians are told to adhere to in order to gain acceptance through the eyes of male fans and the power of the music industry. They must be creative and skilled in their craft and yet, their male collaborators must not adhere to strict criteria to attract attention.

For example, Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion have shown their rap skills on many occasions and yet, they are criticized for lyrical content that refers to sex and money. In the same way, rappers at the top of the list Future and Migos rhyme about sex, drugs and violence, which has gained success despite being included in a similar set of material. The state of the music can also have an effect on how female rappers look in the eyes of hip-hop listeners.

On the other side, the audience always wants to know more about the journey of raising an artist in the music industry, starting from the first mixes in SoundCloud to the publication of music projects in a record label. If social media and broadcasting were as prevalent in 1990-2000 as they are today, many female rappers would have benefited. Artists like MC Lyte, Mix X or YO YO could have been included in the list of the best.

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