There is no magical rap world where female rappers all get along, sit in Pinterest-inspired reading nooks, and help each other write lyrics about how great each other are — and here’s why.
Have you heard the “ShETHER?” Have you heard “Another One?”
As a body-positive, slut-supporting, hip-hop rap battle and petty enthusiast, I found myself celebrating and cringing in the same breath when I heard it. Remy Ma destroyed Nicki Minaj’s credibility in urban, suburban and Wall Street circles with her seven-minute read of death. We are sitting at the Red Wedding of rap battles, and Remy Ma is ready to take the Pink Iron Throne of Rap at any moment, but at what cost? “ShETHER” may have been a win for Remy’s street cred, but female rap politics remain where they have always been — following behind men.
Why is that? Hip-hop, like many other male-dominated fields, is burgeoning with women who are struggling to make an impact. Both Nicki and Remy have done that in their own right. Nicki for crossing over and making female rap mainstream, and Remy for surviving a prison stint to return and remain relevant in true hip-hop circles. However, both of these women have chosen to travel a path laid out by men to the top rap respectability.
It’s a path where you must verbally denigrate opponents in order to be seen as formidable. There is no imaginary world where female rappers sit in Pinterest-inspired reading nooks and write bars on how cute each other are. Nicki has made that very clear. She jumpstarted her career by scolding one Kimberly “Lil’ Kim” Jones in “Roman’s Revenge”: “Word, that bitch mad ’cause I took the spot?”
“Well, bitch, if you ain’t shittin’, then get off the pot.”
The former queen has been silent while Remy has released two diss tracks this week. Nicki’s refusal to answer can be interpreted in two ways. First, per the rules of battle rap and hip-hop, she is scared. Per hip-hop law, you must respond to the negativity. You feed in with a craftier version, and let the music stand on its own. This would mean that Nicki’s petty insta post and deletes on Remy’s poor album sales are not cutting it as a viable response. She too has to participate in the body-shaming, threats and all-around negative behavior. Her second option is to ignore it, and some people will take your silence for weakness. However, you rest knowing that you are above all of this. The second option is probably what Nicki sees herself doing; rising above the nonsense.
But why does someone have to accost her to a vintage beat for her to make shady comments towards other female rappers? In my empathetic heart I would like to hope Nicki gets it now. I dream that she refuses to participate in the slut- and body-shaming, because her accolades and broad fan base will always be greater than Remy’s.
The reality is that Nicki has made her career by denigrating women just as much as any average male rapper out there. So for her to suddenly be “above” the nonsense cannot be the case. I can’t find Nicki doing to anyone what Remy did to her, but she has a clear history of not actually playing well with other female emcees. Nicki refuses to collaborate with any other female emcee, and is far too quick to pick fights with the same people who paved the way for her to be her.
So if Nicki is the queen of rap she has claimed to be, her silence to Remy’s antagonism may be a new direction for female rap.