Misogyny in hip-hop isn’t a novelty. Sometimes it feels like a tried-and-true rite of passage, to be a rapper and to have lack of respect for women. It’s something that’s reinforced in music videos (with half-naked girls whose only role is to be just that: half-naked), in lyrical content, and even in music journalism, like XXL’s Eye Candy segment.
It’s not really a surprise, but as a woman who’s also involved in rap, this kind of objectification doesn’t make my job any easier. It’s pretty tiring to have to constantly prove your worth and let the world know you’re here and you’re not leaving anytime soon.
So when Nitty Scott went on Hot 97’s Ladies First show to discuss her story and what it means to be a woman in hip-hop, it wasn’t anything you hadn’t really heard—at first. But then she revealed that the people who were supposed to be looking out for her led her astray, and told her that she couldn’t spread a positive and significant message while still exuding femininity and sexuality—that the two were mutually exclusive.
“I was specifically told, for whatever it was worth, that there was no way I could come on the scene with my first in the air, talkin’ ‘bout power to the people—I got somethin’ to say—and still be sexy and attractive. I was literally coached to believe that those two things cannot exist. I felt like I had to pick. I felt like it was like okay, so like respect and hip-hop, or a liberated woman. I was told that those two things cannot exist in one.
I think I rolled with those rules that were set in front of me… I looked at them as like, well, you know, this is the game I’m trying to be a part of, and this is the person who’s kinda ushering me into this game, this is what they telling me.
So I kinda felt like well if you wanna be respected, you gonna have to like really tone it down. And it’s like four years later… I had this huge epiphany, where it was just like, ‘Okay, so am I really in a culture that feels the needs to strip me of my sexuality to accept what I’m doing as real hip-hop? To accept what I’m doing as talent?’”
Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle. And as for female rappers, well… the rap world isn’t unknown to parse its words. Terms like "femcee," or contextualizing women rappers by including "female," are the norm.
Noname said it best on Twitter last month:
How does the saying go? If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, well then… it probably is a duck.
Nitty’s experience is a reflection of just how amazingly overt misogyny is in rap, on all levels. It takes emcees like her—and Nicki Minaj, Rapsody, Young M.A, Jean Grae, etc.—to keep the conversation going, and shows like Hot 97’s Ladies First to create a safe space for women to talk freely. Because it’s incredible, given Nitty’s story, that she hasn’t given up on rap.
By Tara Mahadevan. Follow her on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Instagram