The future is female – isn’t something that just looks trendy on a t-shirt. Feminism isn’t a fad that people can subscribe to then dispose of whenever they feel it is no longer ‘cool.’
Whether this era is truly one for women is yet to be discovered, with two leading women in the rap game, becoming pioneers in their own right. Conquering firsts, and solidifying themselves in history
Nicki Minaj and Cardi B have bulldozed their way to the top of the rap game, they maximised their femininity through sex appeal but didn’t let it shy them away from making ‘money moves.’
Cardi B is the latest female rapper on every lips, she was even dubbed the hottest rapper in NYC by Revolt. After her chart topping success from single ‘Bodak Yellow’, Cardi B became known as the first solo female rap act to top the Billboard charts since Lauryn Hill, in 1998. Her glow up is the new American Dream, being picked up from the street of the South Bronx and thrown into fame and wealth.
The fairytale-like story is similar to Nicki Minaj’s, although her come-up story seems a lot further away now with her consecutive chart winnings acting as a lodge between her present and previous life.
2010 marked the release of Nicki Minaj’s first album Pink Friday – the puns, grit and catchy hooks catapulted her as the new queen of rap- a title that she has maintained for a decade now. At the start of her career Minaj was invited to rap on many prolific artists from Madonna to Justin Bieber. Yet it was her track with Kanye West, “Monster” that really proved she was a force to be reckoned with. Nicki Minaj has reigned supreme, fighting off any battles that have threatened her reign. Until this date Cardi B’s recent chart topping success has been the only thing that shook the Nicki Minaj dynasty.
The history of hip-hop teaches us that only one woman can reign supreme at a time, and that there must be beef between the existing queen and the one on the come up. These unwritten rules are encouraged by a matriarchal society which feeds into pitting women against each other.
This notion materialized recently when Remy Ma ignited beef with Nicki Minaj in March earlier this year. Nicki Minaj responded by releasing three songs “No Frauds”, “Regret in Your Tears” and “Changed It”. The tracks crowned her as being the woman with the most Billboard Hot 100 hits of all time, her 76 entries beating out Aretha Franklin’s former record of 73.
Releasing dis-tracks isn’t new to the game; it is imprinted in Hip-hop culture. Hip-Hop is rooted in beef, and some of the most historical moments in the culture prove this. A lot of hip-hop heads were feigning for Cardi B to release a track about Minaj, but the two continues to deny a beef between them. Both rappers have risen up above the idea that women must tear each other down in order to get to the top, a theory that is riddled in sexist assumption.
On the contrary if we look at the leading males in the rap game today, there isn’t a slim line for all of them to exist within. J.Cole, Drake and Kendrick Lamar can all co-exist without any animosity or overt competition between them. Separately they are all kings in their own right, and musically they have evolved into their own lanes where comparison no longer takes precedence.
Yet we have never seen what it is like for two women, in their prime to achieve consecutive wins without being pitted together. We have never seen what it is like for females in Hip-hop to rise up above the notion that there can be only one queen.
Cardi B’s win signalled a shift in culture and a new American dream- one that champions and includes the marginalised. Women once existed without a voice but today women are leading conversations. This is especially significant in Hip-Hop – a world where women are openly objectified and degraded.
If the future of hip-hop is female, we can encourage a future generation of boss women; and we can dislodge the idea that only one woman can succeed at a time. Young girls need to recognise the importance of supporting instead of competing with one another.
Nicki Minaj’s time is far from up, she just hit a decade of continuous wins, and Cardi B is just starting her winning streak. Can the rap game make an exception for two rap queens?
-By Naomi Grant