Remember the phrase 'knowledge is power'? Well if you believe that, then you should know that ignorance is also bliss. This couldn't be any truer than when it comes to the music industry.
For women especially, the strongest power that labels, 'male handlers', etc. have over them at the start of their career is knowledge. If you don't know how to do something, i.e, build a rap career, it's easy to become dependent upon someone or something that appears to have all the answers, even if they don't have your best interest at heart.
This past year we've seen several new female rappers emerge in the world of Hip-Hop. In watching these women tell their story, the reason as to why the industry only 'allowed' one female rapper at a time became more apparent.
Going back to 2018 when rap pioneer Roxanne Shante visited the Breakfast Club to promote her Netflix movie Roxanne, Roxanne, she explained that the reason women were pit against each other by labels, "was so that [they] would not educate each other'. Roxanne Shante further expressed that one lunch, or rather the exchange of information, could change the business aspect of an artist's career.
Kash Doll's Angie Martinez interview is a perfect example of Roxanne's comments. When talking to Angie the rapper provided specific details on how she handled her career early on when booking her own performances, and unknowingly provided a 'how to' guide for upcoming female rappers.
Knowing to require a round trip flight, hotel, travel, and a deposit when booking an out of town performance is valuable information to an artist just starting out. The more important takeaway from Kash Doll's interview is her speaking on being motivated by fellow rapper and friend, Nya Lee, to release her music. Like Roxanne Shante said, one lunch, or in this case, one conversation can be valuable.
Another example of a valuable exchange would be Megan Thee Stallion's Pull Up interview. When sitting down with Joe Budden, Megan spoke on continuing her education and the importance of financial literacy as a new artist. An important this to note about this interview is there was no mention of expensive or extravagant purchases like her male counterparts, just reinvestment into her career and education.
Knowledge is power, but it often times comes with a price. One that female artist are forced to pay in male dominated industries. That being said, it would be reasonable to assert that there has only been one major female rapper at a time in Hip-Hop, as a mechanism to control the circulation of information.
Think it's a reach? Take some time to watch MTV's 1998 Ultra Sound Ladies Night special with Foxy Brown, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, and "Salt" of Salt-N-Pepa. Here sat several women in Hip-Hop having an open conversation about their experiences within the in industry that all include having to learn the business for themselves, taking control of their own careers, and several hurdles they encountered being a woman in a male dominated industry.
Conversations like this, interviews from the women mentioned, and the conversations among women in the music industry to come need to occur in order to shift the position of women in Hip-Hop culture. Just one lunch, one conversation, can make all the difference in the world.
But that just my opinion...and Roxanne Shante's 😉