This afternoon, while on a Four Tops kick, I found and rocked their 1973 jam, “Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I Got).” If you know me at all, you know what’s coming next, right? Why, an examination of female rap’s credibility, of course!
Because my musical interests always send me spiraling down some hip-hop adjacent rabbit hole, I found Jay-Z’s “Ain’t No Nigga” video on YouTube as soon as the Four Tops finished extolling the virtues of ol’ girl. And as we all know, “Ain’t No Nigga” features Foxy Brown, who was building toward the pinnacle of her success when the song debuted in 1996.
After viewing, I began waxing nostalgic with G.D. about the good ol’ days. “This song seemed like a definitive moment in my hip-hop education,” I said, explaining that I wasn’t allowed to listen to hip-hop until I was about fifteen years old. “Ah, those days of yore, before BET started bleeping out the N word and female rappers still had some credibility.”
And then an imaginary record scratch preempted our convo.
“I’m sorry,” G.D. began, “Female rappers have legitimacy now?”
Well, not now, obviously, I countered. “But maybe between the years of ’89 and ’96…?”
Here’s what we decided. There are a very select number of women rappers who aficionados consider “credible.” Lyte is one, without contest. Lauryn is another. Occasionally, Bahamadia’s name enters the fray. Or Latifah’s.
But by and large, G.D. posits, female rappers were (are?) a gimmick thunk up as yet another money-making angle for catering to men. Like strip clubs.
Or, as G.D. puts it: “I think the idea was that female rappers were making music for men. Which is why they had their asses out.”
(These are the kinds of conversations that transpire in the virtual offices of PostBourgie, people.)
“Wait,” I volleyed. “We women were supposed to like them, too, right? Or want to be them? Weren’t they supposed to be saying the things we were all too afraid (or too discreet) to say to our men?”
I’m but one latecomer to the rap-listening game, but aside from the dulcet grooves of Salt ‘n’ Pepa, a year or two of “U.N.I.T.Y.”-like fare from cylindrical-crown-wearing Latifah, and of course, the very serious respect-earning works of MC Lyte, I don’t know many female rap works that my young, impressionable girlfriends regularly rocked to, back in the so-called “good ol’ days.”
So we decided to kick it you guys, whose experiences will be far more vast and varied than ours. Did you or anyone you know really respect female rappers? Did you consider their artistic offerings equal to those of their male counterparts?
Because even though Dirty Inga held her own with Jay-Z in “Ain’t No Nigga,” she still kind of had to do it with her ass out.