The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.
Long gone are the days where only one woman in rap can thrive with the public’s support. In addition to the continuous rising star we know as Cardi B, 2019 welcomed a cannon of new projects from the likes of Megan Thee Stallion, Young M.A., Kash Doll, Doja Cat, Lizzo, Missy Elliott, and so many more. Seeing women infiltrate hip hop’s boys club and smash records was refreshing because it finally proved there really is a seat at the table for every kind of woman. Even better was seeing all of these ladies getting to the bag while supporting one another. If you’ve been yearning for a new-school version of “Not Tonight (Remix),” you didn’t have to look far.
Perhaps no rapper is a better example than Roc Nation signee Megan Thee Stallion. Ever since inviting her loyal band of hotties to show off their best twerk with the #BigOlFreakChallenge in March, the Houston native has been defying the catty female rapper stereotype. Not only has she openly befriended other up-and-coming acts like Maliibu Miitch, Kash Doll and Lizzo; she also pays homage to veterans like Nicki Minaj — turning their “Hot Girl Summer” collaboration into radio gold. It should also be mentioned that Megan maintained a red hot rap career all while handling her regular course load as a Texas Southern University student. The critique of folks who felt rap was chalk-full of sex kittens with no substance suddenly had no value.
Cardi B, who continued her winning streak in 2019, blazed yet another trail at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards by becoming the first female rapper to snag Best Rap Album. In an October 2019 interview, the “Press” rapper visited the Rap Radar podcast and described how her underdog status proved how valuable — and profitable — women are to the culture. “Now, everybody’s just signing [female rappers] ...Like, a lot of labels missed the opportunity with me because I went to a couple of motherf**kers and they said, ‘No, no, no, no.’” If you follow her trail, Cardi’s actually right. Radio spins from the likes of Saweetie, Kash Doll, Dreezy and others soon proved that the industry’s eyes were opening up to the demand.
It’s also worth mentioning that the fashion week dustup with Nicki Minaj the year prior proved irrelevant to Cardi’s success, and likewise for Nicki. The Queens rapper dropped the inescapable hit “Megatron” before choosing to take a break from music and enjoy being a newlywed (she later clarified her retirement tweets in an interview with Billboard.) Lizzo struck it big when her hit “Truth Hurts” became the longest-running No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit by a female rapper, tying with Iggy Azalea. We even saw legends in the game like Missy and Lil’ Kim re-establish their legacies with their respective albums Iconic and 9.
Of course, with any thriving new crop of artists comes criticism. During an appearance on “People Now,” Jermaine Dupri slammed hip hop’s most relevant female artists. “I feel they’re all rapping about the same thing,” he shrugged when asked his opinion on the resurgence of women in rap. “I don’t think they’re showing us who’s the best rapper. For me, it’s like strippers rapping, and as far as rap goes, I’m not getting who’s the best.”
When you really look at who popped in 2019, it’s clear Dupri couldn’t be any more wrong. More than any previous year, 2019 served up a platter of both ratchet and righteous rap. Chika, Rapsody, Tierra Whack and Princess Nokia delivered subject matters about feminism, battling with self-esteem and the struggle to make it. Hell, we even saw the recently released JT (½ of the City Girls) switch up her flashy flow on introspective freestyle “First Day Out.”
What we’ve long been wanting to see — women dominating a culture where we’ve always been limited to the sidelines — has finally been fulfilled. Though not many women in rap made the 2020 Grammy ballad, what we’ve seen is the floodgates starting to open for female emcees. In a world where you can throw a rock and hit a dread-swinging, weeding-smoking, tattoo-laden Soundcloud rapper; folks are finally starting to see that the same space should be afforded women who are all bringing something different to the table.