The Double Standards of Hip Hop
Updated: Nov 22, 2020
“There should be a time and a place for adult content.” Rapper and singer Cee Lo Green made those comments on the song “WAP” by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. The song was released on August 7, and broke the internet. The music video featured celebrities Kylie Jenner, Normani, Rubi Rose, and Suki.
It showcased women embracing their bodies and sexuality. However, the video received criticism for its raunchy nature and explicit lyrics. Green went on further to say how it was “full savagery.”
The song stirred conversations about women being sexually explicit in music. Comedian Russell Brand posted a video on his YouTube channel titled “WAP: Feminist Masterpiece or Porn?” He explains in his analysis, "It’s still ultimately a sort of capitalist objectification and commodification of, in this case, the female.”
Political figures have also voiced their opinions on the explicit nature of the song. Political commentator Ben Shapiro mocked the lyrics on his radio show and said, “This is what feminists fought for.”
Many male rappers express their sexual desire for women through explicit lyrics. However, there is a double standard in the genre among men and women. When women express their sexual desires, it is critiqued as too raunchy or a cry for attention.
There are several songs written by male artists in the history of hip hop that use sexual innuendos such as “Slob On My Nob” by Three 6 Mafia and “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot. These tracks did not receive the same amount of criticism for its proactive lyrics. It further suggests as to how hip hop has been a male-dominated field.
Rap began in the 1970s in New York City. Although it was a male-dominated field, women were at the front and center of the genre. Artists such as MC Lyte, Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, and Queen Latifah defined 90s hip hop as what it is today. The majority of the best hip-hop songs listed by critics are men.
Hip hop is not exempt from prejudice against women. Misogyny has always been prevalent in rap music.
According to Dr. Ronald Weitzer and Dr. Charis E. Kubrin of George Washington University, 1 in 4.447 songs has misogynistic lyrics. 49% of hip hop and rap music contained the naming and shaming of women. Sexual objectification of women was estimated to be 67%. Lyrics that degrade women, especially black women, are continuously quoted.
Black women are also subjected to more criticism and disapproval in this genre. California rapper Saweetie gained a lot of criticism from fans after the release of her newest single “Tap In” in June. Many users on Twitter commented on how the rapper is unoriginal and how she should quit. However, many male rappers do not receive the same backlash if they release music undesirable to fans.
Nevertheless, black women have been on the rise in the hip hop scene. Alabama rapper Flo Milli released her extended play and was trending on Twitter for her music. Her EP received 1.6 million streams in 24 hours. Doja Cat reached #1 on Billboard Hot 100 for her song “Say So” which featured long-time female rapper Nicki Minaj. Miami hip hop duo City Girls went platinum for their single “Act Up.” These are just a few of the many black women that have made headlines for their work in the genre.
Female rap is giving us exactly what we need. There is something empowering that is gifted from their music. It provides a confidence boost and notions of self-appreciation. It also allows us to feel good about ourselves. It showcases our dominance and ownership. Rap is not limited to men, and therefore women should be free to make any kind of music they like.