The Future is Femme: How The Evolution Of Rap is Disrupting The Male Gaze

The Future is Femme: How The Evolution Of Rap is Disrupting The Male Gaze

Ice Spice. Latto. Flo Milli. LaKeyah. Doja Cat. Lola Brooke. Doechii. Baby Tate. Bree Runway. Rico Nasty. BIA. Monaleo. KenTheMan. Dreezy. Dream Doll. Tink. Tierra Whack. Rhapsody. Lady London. Noname. Kaliii. Enchanting. Saweetie. Coi Leray. GloRilla. Kashdoll. Cupcakke. LightSkinKeisha. Maliibu Mitch.

Photo cover of Ice Spice’s “Like?” project

Outside of the obvious top selling female rappers in mainstream music, this is just a minor list of the female rappers that have completely obliterated the rap game. Within the past five years, there has been such a drastic increase in the female rap market. That is mainly due to black women giving themselves the chance to reintroduce their own sex appeal (without just trying to please the male-dominated rap industry), their ability to cross over into pop, alternative and R&B sounds with less pushback, getting access to high-end endorsements and having creative control over their own brand. No longer are the ladies settling. They charge their own verse rates, make their own collaboration connections, and are even dipping into producing their own songs. 

The best part is that everyone has something different to offer. Cardi B is for the strippers. City Girls are for the scammer girls. Megan Thee Stallion is for the hot girls that love to be the life of the party. Rubi Rose and Sukihana are for the freaky girls. Lizzo is for the fun girls. Azealia Banks is for the outspoken girls. With female artists finally being able to define themselves through their own music and female fans being able to identify themselves through this new music, this produced a way for women to remove themselves from the male gaze.

Screencap of Cardi B and City Girls’ “Twerk” music video

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of the “male gaze”, let me define it for you.

Defining The Male Gaze

The male gaze of society of the ideology behind how women are viewed physically and mentally from a masculine point of view. This view has been the set-up behind a lot of controversial societal viewpoints including conventional attraction, how women are treated within the job market and through advertising, and how women are expected to act and interact with men. However, with this increase of estrogen in the industry, this is starting to rub some of the men the wrong way. 

“Can’t wait to work with a pretty female rapper that’s strictly about bars to even the playing field. Pussy rap was cool when it had shock value & was rare. Now it’s like every girl taking it there. It’s sum who aren’t but they need a hit producer 4 impact.”

Screencap of Hitmaka’s “Thot Box” music video with rappers Latto, Dreezy, Chinese Kitty, Dream Doll, and Young M.A.

In December 2022, top producer Hitmaka (former rapper Yung Berg) decided to take to Twitter to express this thought on the current state of rap. He is just one of the latest male music industry mates to give his critique on one of the subjects that this generation of female rappers like to lament through their bars: the power of the “p”. Thankfully, our good sis Baby Tate sent him a bar-for-bar read that ultimately made him delete the tweet. But honestly, who makes a whole coochie anthem named “Thot Box” just to later on critique the same genre of rap? It was cool when he could cash in on it but, women own it for themselves, it’s now a problem?

Let’s go further back. Snoop Dogg had this to say about 2020’s WAP from Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion in an interview with Central Ave:

Screencap of Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP” music video

“Oh my God. Slow down. Like, slow down. And let’s have some imagination. Let’s have some, you know, privacy, some intimacy where he wants to find out as opposed to you telling him. To me it’s like, it’s too fashionable when that is in secrecy, that should be a woman’s…that’s like your pride and possession. That’s your jewel of the Nile. That’s what you should hold onto. That should be a possession that no one gets to know about until they know about it.” He later recanted his statement by expressing his love for both of the ladies and clearing that the song was already six time platinum. However, I just wish he would have had that same revelation before he sang “bitches ain’t shit but hoes and tricks” on a track or had a stripper perform on a pole during his performance at a whole university.

Yung Joc had to this to say about the ultimate of female rap in a interview with:

“Even now you got all these female rappers. Well, let’s give it another 180 days. Let’s give it… this time next year and see if we still got this many female rappers [that’s] budding. I bet you it won’t be because a lot of them gone phase out.” Mind you, this man has not had a hit in over a decade. His biggest claim to fame is now being a former Love and Hip Hop love interest and a radio host at 103.1 FM WEUP near Georgia State University. 

Screencap of Latto’s “It’s Giving” music video

Jermaine Dupri had this to say about female rappers and this statement coincidentally came after his former protege (Miss Mu)Latto started to change her image for more adult audiences: 

“I feel like they’re all rapping about the same thing. I don’t think they’re showing us who’s the best rapper. For me, it’s like strippers rapping. At some point, somebody is going to have to break out of that mold.”

Photo cover of GloRilla and Latto’s single

But that’s the problem: why are only the female rappers given a subject rubric over what they are allowed to rap about? There are about 20 male rappers right now that have ”Lil” in their name, rap about shooting opps and getting head, and typically oversexualize women in their visuals. And nobody bats an eyelash. Why are female rappers the only music sup-group that has to be conscious of how they express themselves will affect audiences? One thing I’m gonna need the men of the industry to realize is that women are not going anywhere…and they shouldn’t want them to. The female rappers bring a refreshing look and are creating music that bring a refreshing perspective.

The even weirder part about this discourse is that this is consensual “p” rap. Women are rapping about actually wanting to give the men some, and the men …are turned off by it? Chris Brown and Yella Beezy made a whole song about taking somebody’s girl and smashing her in the club bathroom and it did numbers on the radio. When WAP came out, everybody was outraged. Why? In this day and age, men are still not accustomed to the fact that (black) women have agency over their own sexual prowess and they act repulsed by the thought of us proclaiming it. However, I hope 2023 is the biggest year for female rappers yet. We need more twerk anthems. We need more coochie cutter music. We need more “p”-popping music. We need more music where black women can express and celebrate themselves comfortably. 

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