by DeMicia Inman
I, like many women, attend parties, kickbacks, and other celebratory events. Which means I am no stranger to that moment when the DJ proclaims: “This one’s for the ladies,” right before dropping a song by a man. The broadcast is typically followed by Drake’s “Nice For What,” Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” or another slow jam of some sort.
DJs who play Hip-Hop, R&B and other urban contemporary artists might not mean any ill will when their music selections are songs mostly by men. Their focus is on playing the hottest tracks, which means men will be played because, like in many aspects of life, contributions by women are overlooked due to misogyny and patriarchy. And that’s not to say women can’t or don’t enjoy rap music by men-we can and do. But I believe no artist celebrates women like other women.
Gender plays a huge role in how a song’s content is received. Rappers might have similar themes in their songs, but the difference in the way each track is interpreted by listeners can be attributed to the artist, more specifically their race, sex, class, gender and more. So it’s no surprise that a woman rapping certain lyrics is more empowering than if they were rapped by a man.
Take Cardi B’s hit “Bodak Yellow” for example. The track interpolates the flow on Kodak Black’s “No Flockin,” and both songs find them rapping about the power of money. While “No Flockin” peaked at No. 95 on Billboard’s Hot 100, Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow“ made history, reaching No. 1 and earning Grammy nominations. The commercial success of Cardis cut was aided by her vibrant personality shown on reality television and social media, encouraging women to root for and support an artist who’s real and that they relate to. Kodak on the other hand, whose song still gets spins at parties and has a hefty 165 million views on YouTube, turned off listeners with his comments on women with darker skin and his first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges. And too often for Black women loving rap music often means reconciling blatant disrespect with a banging beat. Yet while Cardi B’s songs get played, she’s one of only a few women receiving their much deserved shine.
From a young age, I rapped along to Salt N Pepa and learned every Queen Latifah verse. With age, this catalog grew to include Trina, Eve, Diamond, and Princess of Crime Mob fame, and other adolescent favorites. I watched and the adult women in my life stood in the mirror, singing along to Missy Elliott, Foxy Brown and Lil Kim, basking in the power of black womanhood. And today my pregame playlists shuffle between Rico Nasty, Megan Thee Stallion, LightSkinKeisha and more women deserving of play beyond my personal Bluetooth speaker. Adding more women to party sets and playlists creates room for women to excel in an industry dominated by men-as rappers, singers, producers and engineers. And all of these voices should be championed everywhere, including bars and clubs.
A party ain’t a party until women run through and it’s time for the sound to match.