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Does Feminism Have a Place in Hip-Hop?

Hip-hop has made great gains in its relationship with the LGBT community thanks to artists like Macklemore and Frank Ocean. Along with its homophobic past, hip-hop has always been criticized for being incredibly misogynistic. But like its progress with homosexuality, feminism in hip-hop may have been around longer than we’ve realized. Here are 5 artists who have challenged hip-hop’s attitude towards women.

1. Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah is one of the first artist to make waves in the world of feminism. By writing feminist anthems like “U.N.I.T.Y” that criticize the use of sexist terms (ie b*tch), Queen Latifah paved the way for future critiques of gender roles.

2. Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj’s lyrics are full of messages about gender equality, but it’s her attitude that truly sets her apart. Everything she does is for herself, not what a man wants or says she has to be.

3. Salt-N-Pepa

Salt-N-Pepa’s debut in the late 80s turned societal roles on their head. They sang about sex and were politically aware, things that women weren’t supposed to be discussing.

4. Tupac

Tupac was one of the most feminist rappers to grace the music scene. His song “Keep Ya Head Up” is particularly notable for this lyric “And since we all came from a woman/
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman/
I wonder why we take from our women/
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?”

5. Shad

Canadian rapper Shad is notorious for his lyrics and stance on feminism. His song “Keep Shining” is a manifesto on women and what needs to change about gender relations.

While these artists have made a stance on how society should treat women, they are but a few in the many misogynistic artists out there. We live in a society that glorifies a rape culture, but we can’t blame hip-hop for that. Art is merely a reflection of our society’s ideals and beliefs. But if things are to ever change, hip-hop should be the first to make a significant move.

Mackenzie is an Alabama native attending NYU and studying Journalism and Dramatic Literature. She hopes to one day live in London and write for the BBC.