More often than not, when one looks at the rap industry today, they find that it is full of men and lacking women. The only place where women are abundant are in lyrics where they are talked about as sexual objects. With the exception of a few female emcees in the mainstream media — Nikki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Azealia Banks, etc. — the rap industry has many questioning, “where did all the female rappers go?


Although the rap industry has always been dominated by men, in the late 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, there was a substantial amount of mainstream female emcees. This included the likes of Salt-n-Pepa, MC Lyte, Missy Elliot, and more. Today, there seem to be only a few. Most often the focus of the media on today’s female rap artists is not on their talent, but rather on their image, their sexuality, and how they match up with other female artists.


One of the main concerns of record companies when signing a female rap artist is how much her image will cost. Believing that sex is the only way to sell a female emcee, record labels are hesitant to sign them knowing they cannot rely on their talent alone. ”Hair and makeup is killing female hip-hop,” says a source. ”The grooming cost to break a female rapper versus a male rapper is 10 times as much per appearance. That tends to have an adverse effect on a record company’s willingness to even entertain a female rapper.”


This retrograde motion of the female rapper does not seem right when only a couple of years ago women were extremely successful in this industry, with artists such as Eve going platinum.  MC Lyte makes note of this saying,

“We’ve gone backwards. This is pretty much what it was like when women weren’t able to get major recording and release opportunities. It has gotten to the point that we have been subjected to such harsh verbal treatment — assassinated even — that who would want to listen?”


Hopefully, with the emergence of several female emcees in the past year or so, we will only see their numbers increase. If people quit placing women rappers at a lower status than male rappers, we could see the emergence of more women whose role in the industry goes far beyond a sexualized image.


The mainstream rap scene may be lacking women, but if one searches the less known and unsigned female artists, they will be sure to find a whole world of talented female emcees.


What do you think about the lack of female artist in the rap industry? Let me know in the comments below or find me on Twitter @whatsthesich