Does Hip-Hop Respect Women?

Jun 19, 2012 at 7:16 am

Editor: Tef Poe is an artist from St. Louis City. Through powerful imagery and complicated honesty, he has earned a reputation as one of the best rappers telling the story of St. Louis, which is about much more than one place. Poe has been featured in music publications such as XXL and Urb Magazine. His next project War Machine 2 was released this Tuesday, June 5th and will be followed up by a full-length with DJ Burn One entitled Cheer For The Villain. Follow him on twitter @tefpoe. Get War Machine 2 here.

Every week in I'm Just A Rapper Tef discusses modern life, hip-hop, and the deep connection between them.

In American pop culture, women have long endured treatment as second-class citizens. I admit it's difficult for me to write this blog because I myself am a man, and it would be far too arrogant of me to assume that I completely understand the nature of such a problem.

Sometimes I feel the same exact way about white people in relation to racism in our country. You may not have noticed it, but in every slavery movie the camera is always on the outside of the cage looking in on the slaves as they glance back with a lack of hope in their eyes. This same concept applies to men and the plight of women when sexism is the topic. I don't completely understand or feel what you feel, but I will try my best to educate myself about the topic and influence my male counterparts to do the same. This is my message to every woman reading this blog today. I've always wished we addressed this issue head-on before it became an insurmountable demon. I want to use this platform as a chance to say sorry to every woman that has ever felt wronged by the hip-hop culture. I can't speak for everyone, but on behalf of myself and every man who thinks similarly to me, this is an opportunity to say, "Sorry." This is a golden opportunity to speak on this subject from a perspective that is often neglected.

Pardon the times my ignorance has been hurtful or disrespectful. I apologize for the times I have made records slandering you or feeding into the stereotypes that hip-hop has created about you. I'm a young American male, so I'll make music about partying and pursuing the prettiest girl, but I'll do my part in the future to also combat negative stereotypes about women.

I am not perfect, but this is also not an excuse. We as men must do better for ourselves and also our daughters, mothers, sisters, etc. You see, racism can't be abolished until whites in America choose to totally abolish it. The same concept applies to the fight for equality concerning women in our country. We must grow to the point where men can't stomach the thought of our daughters and sisters being referred to in derogatory terms. The day we can't stomach seeing the women in our lives live under a dark cloud will be the day things totally change.

I don't have any children at this moment but when I do I'm sure God will give me a daughter as some odd form of karma. I want her to be able to walk head high knowing she doesn't live in a world that demeans her intelligence and uses her beauty against her. It took us three million years to get a black president, and it will more than likely take another lifetime for a woman to become the president. My views about our ignorance as a country can sometimes be considered harsh and over the top, but I personally don't think we will ever have a minority woman president and especially not an African-American woman. An African-American female president would open the door to us having a Latin female president. You're out of your mind if you think it's possible this will take place in our lifetime. Can you imagine turning on the TV to see the State of the Union and an Asian woman starts addressing the nation as our president? You're out of your mind if you think this is a possibility in the America we have created for ourselves. America is great, powerful and mighty, but we are not as progressive minded as some of us have fooled ourselves into thinking.

I think about the brave women that have ventured into these waters and tried to boldly change the nature of our society. We use images of powerful men as examples of what we can become if we wholeheartedly pursue our dreams. What about the women that have walked in the same exact footsteps as them? We talk about the Rick Rubins and Russell Simmons but what about the Queen Latifahs and Roxanne's. What about Da Bratt, Lil Kim, Missy Elliot and Lady of Rage?

Queen Latifah is a living, breathing mogul in the flesh, and this actually doesn't receive the attention it deserves. In the same manor in which Lucille Ball changed the entertainment world, so has she. Lucille Ball didn't get the credit she deserves until long after her death, and I pray the same doesn't happen in the case of the Queen. Local rap artists like Mos Precious and Skiddalz are constantly battling to be embraced despite their gender. The playing field is far from even for the women of the culture and this is the world we currently live in.

For a brief spell in hip-hop, female rap artists seemed to vanish from the face of the Earth. Major labels stopped signing them, and the industry suffered severely from the lack of feminine presence in the market place. It's difficult for women to survive in this industry because often female artists are expected to be exact duplicates of their predecessors. This limits the range of creativity female artists are allowed to put into their music. The subjects covered in their music are often limited to the sexual gratification of men. If a female rapper is a member of a rap crew then she is more than likely the only woman in the crew. Like almost everything else concerning hip-hop music this format is generic and repeated a thousand times over again.

Lauryn Hill is one of the greatest hip-hop lyricists of all time. The industry has done everything it possibly could to destroy this woman. She refused to fulfill these stereotypical views and was met with great challenge from the record business superpowers. As a result of such activities she become extremely cautious and protective of anything her estate is affiliated with. This is a true shame because she is a genius musician, and as fans we have been robbed of her presence on a few different levels. I pray she finds peace with the industry, and makes a full time return in the near future.