One of the most uniting components of human cultures is music. Music is played in almost every setting, from political events to restaurants to house parties. In college, students listen to music when studying, hanging out with friends or just walking through campus. The music we listen to has the power to evoke different emotions and feelings.
In the past year, I have found a music genre that allows both my friends and me to feel confident and empowered: female rap. My most played playlist on Spotify features songs by Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj and more, and a very similar list of artists are featured on the Billboard top 100 listened-to artists.
However, according to LSA sophomore Ben Servetah, the music played at college parties and social gatherings seem to not reflect the rise in popularity of female rap and usually consists of rap, throwbacks and house music by “almost always male” artists.
The music played at parties has the ability to impact both individuals and group dynamics. The feelings and energy of those present may be reflected by the tone and message of the music. So, what is the impact of male rap being played more than female rap, and why is it being played more?
While my friends and I feel confident and empowered listening to female rap music, we have become accustomed to listening to male rap music. For nearly a decade, the only female rap artist consistently on the radio was Nicki Minaj. Female rap has been popular since the 1980s with multiple different female artists including Roxanne Shanté, Trina, Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah and more releasing hits over the years. However, only two years after Missy Elliot won the first-ever Grammy for Best Female Rap Solo Performance in 2003, the category was dropped.
In a study conducted by Sandra Zichermann of the University of Toronto, she found that women who identified themselves as fans of hip-hop/rap music faced an internal battle when listening to rap music with “antagonizing” messages toward women. While the fans were able to address the aspects that were discriminatory, they overall admitted to generally enjoying the music due to the “rhythm and musicality.” Female rap music allows women to find that same rhythm and musicality that they enjoy so much in the rap music they have grown up listening to, all the while being sexually, emotionally and physically empowered through the rappers’ confidence.
Female rappers have always struggled for the same respect and spotlight as male rappers. Rap has historically been a male-dominated industry. Servetah explained, “I think most men that I know are really biased against music made by women. Obviously, there are exceptions, but generally, I do not think they consider it to be as good. And a lot of that is just because they can’t relate to the songs.” Naturally, people want to listen to music that they relate to, and sometimes this happens to be music by artists who identify with the same gender as them. However, the past dominance of male rap on radios, media and still to this day at college social events instills confidence and empowerment in those who relate to it while forcing those who do not (usually non-males) to accept it as the norm.
Those who control the music control the atmosphere. When men host social gatherings, they will play what makes them feel confident and relatable, setting the atmosphere for all men at the event to feel more empowered and self-assured. “Maybe having more music by women played at parties could be empowering,” Servetah acknowledged.
While empowering everyone equally may not be the first thought that comes to mind when students queue their playlist for social gatherings, the normalization of music centered around female confidence can allow for women to feel just as empowered and self-assured as men normally do when listening to male rap artists.
Lizzy Peppercorn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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