Whether you’re a fan or not, female rappers are on the scene and making a mark. With empowering, make-our-own-money and take-back-our-body lyrics, their songs are resonating with millions of our younger sisters.
This new cadre of female rappers, through lyrics and visuals, are claiming their power. Power in their financial independence, power to express their sexuality, and power in their relationships. They’re unapologetic and “in your face” with the message. With artists like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion finally seizing influence and power in a music form traditionally dominated by men, Millennial women are finally seeing the genre as inspirational instead of aspirational.
The Beginning Of Women Empowerment:
For many of us, our first musical taste of women empowerment came through the radio waves in 1972 with Helen Reddy’s Grammy winning “I Am Woman”. Some in the industry claim Reddy’s song as pop’s first feminist anthem — although Lesley Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me” was pretty defiant and barrier-breaking when it first hit the airwaves in 1963.
In 1973 Reddy had the nerve to refer to God as a woman in her acceptance speech for Best Rock, Pop and Folk Vocal Performance. Now, that was edgy and clearly anti-establishment … For the time.
“I’m hip. Just no hop.”
Recently, a friend of mine with two young-women daughters, asked me if I knew Flo Milli’s Hip Hop “I Am” song. Milli Vanilli? Flo what? Clearly my answer was no. It’s not as if I dislike all rap. Hey, I know every lyric on the two hours and forty minute Hamilton soundtrack. I’m hip. Just no hop.
It took nearly a year for “I Am Woman” to work its way to the top of the charts. Our one and only three and half minutes of rebellion became an enduring anthem for the women’s liberation movement. I am very thankful our daughters are rich in choices today.
Today, hip hop is the biggest genre in the world. And women are leading the pack of new artists. Through TikTok, YouTube, and Spotify the likes of Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Lizzo, Doja Cat, Flo Milli and more are reaching and impacting millions of listeners. Many of them, our daughters.
Thankful Our Daughters Are Rich In Choices:
“The lyrics to both Reddy and Milli’s songs are remarkably alike”
Our daughters, thankfully, have access to countless hours of women-empowering lyrics, beats, and images. Our daughters are singing “I know I’m a queen but I don’t need no crown”, “I be in and out them banks so much, I know they’re tired of me” and more. Yes, some of the lyrics are rough, some may even call them crude. But, if we’re honest we’ve been hearing crude, rough lyrics for decades from misogynist male artists. This crop of women is taking back the words bitch and pussy and the like.
The lyrics to both Reddy and Milli’s songs are remarkably alike — in message. Yes the language has changed. Yes the music style of smooth pop that appealed to baby boomers in the 70s has been replaced by hip hop. But the overall directive is the same.
“I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an’ pretend
‘Cause I’ve heard it all before
And I’ve been down there on the floor
No one’s ever gonna keep me down again” – Helen Reddy, 1972
“I am healthy, I am wealthy, I am rich, I am that bitch (yeah)
I am gonna go get that bag and I am not gonna take your shit (uh)
I am protected, well respected, I’m a queen, I’m a dream (yeah)
I do what I wanna do and I’m who I wanna be
‘Cause I am me” – Flo Milli, 2020
And as hip hop continues to grow in popularity (whether we mature women like it or not) it is only right that more women are part of the movement. It’s only right that our daughters have an abundance of “woman hear me roar” messages to choose from…. And, share with their mothers.