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Sistah, You Got Game: The rise and role of women in hip-hop over the last 30 years

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From its conception four decades ago, hip-hop as a subculture was originally a medium to raise social consciousness, a solution to the problem, so to speak. But come the ?80s and the ?90s, the subculture has become part of the problem it was trying to solve; for as the music became more mainstream and accessible, the demand for it to become sexual increased, for sex sells, as it has always been.

And as the music became more hypersexual, so did the prevalence of misogynistic lyrics and music videos, where the females are overtly objectified through the relentless show of flesh, the overemphasis of bodily curves - almost leaving nothing for the imagination - and the use of insults and other slanderous terms that reduce them to derogatory names such as bitch, slut and whore, terms that would never make it to the airwaves due to explicitness.

In a subculture and music genre dominated by men, all of whom greatly capitalize on reducing women to negative stereotypes even those of their own color, their female counterparts fought their way in through various maneuvers - by colliding head-on against the unfortunate but accepted norm just like what MC Lyte, Salt N' Pepa and Queen Latifah did in the ?80s, or through reinvention, innovation and role reversal (yes, Missy Elliot we're looking at you), by going back to basics as what Lauryn Hill did, or by simply owning up to the stereotype ? the fantasy, the sexual object ? but instead of playing victim, artists like Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown, Trina and Nicki Minaj rose to the occasion by packaging and selling themselves as the personas their predecessors have been trying to shut down and change for decades.

[...] Lauryn's music reminded listeners of what hip-hop is and what is it all about. Her critically acclaimed and commercially successful 1998 release Miseducation of Lauryn Hill? featured a fusion of genres such as neo soul, hip-hop, jazz, funk, gospel and pop, while its lyrics resonated among women as it spoke about relevant issues such as motherhood, family and the demise of relationships and it encouraged spirituality and female empowerment. Her album represented the core of hip- hop: an artistic avenue for expression that's urban and soulful rhythmically, and profound and relevant lyrically. [...]


[...] Sistah, You Got Game: The rise and role of women in hip-hop over the last 30 years From its conception four decades ago, hip-hop as a subculture was originally a medium to raise social consciousness, a solution to the problem, so to speak. But come the and the the subculture has become part of the problem it was trying to solve; for as the music became more mainstream and accessible, the demand for it to become sexual increased, for sex sells, as it has always been. [...]


[...] Queen Latifah's arrival in the late along with her manly clothes, her statement head dresses, her lyrics, and her entire image elevated the definition and purpose of hip-hop for women; she and in turn, hip-hop represented empowerment, strength and self-worth, her music and image commanded respect, ?With Latifah's entry it was more about pride and honor,? Questlove from The Roots puts it. Hip-hop wasn't mainstream back then, female hip-hop that is. Artistry and talent were the primary determinants if a female MC could make it and stay in the game, and they were low maintenance too - less glamour, more swagger. [...]


[...] It's these other hip-hop magazines that cater to just that. They have automobiles, they have women who have barely anything on, and they have men talking about hip-hop.? Hip-hop has always been misogynistic, the roots of which are a subject for a different discussion. But its prevalence became all the more heightened when the female MCs who emerged between the mid-?90s and the new millennium embraced it and became the face of the norm. Hardliners would say they are a part of the problem, while some would argue that their involvement in the hypersexual transformation of hip-hop was a result of the void left by Lauryn Hill and the unparalleled legacy imparted by Missy Elliot. [...]

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