How do male rappers address women

Gender rap
Against the sexisms

In the beginning, the roles were clear: male subjugates female. But the more the gender discourse is differentiated, the more diverse the classifications become in the context of German hip-hop. A scene is in motion.

If you believe rap videos, that's what Kiwi Menrath and Clara Völker write in the anthology female hiphop, “Women have nothing to say in hip-hop. They remain silent and passive - women do not act, they adapt and only think of the men they are after, for whatever reason. " Female hiphop appeared in 2007, but what Menrath and Völker diagnosed is still valid today: women serve the acting men as “status symbols” in the imagery of hip-hop and are at best extras who are reduced “to their sexuality and physicality”.

At the same time, such a one-sided finding in the overall panorama would be just as wrong today as it was back then. This is exactly what the two authors demonstrated with their portrayal of diverse female role models from the Queen Bitch about the Conscious Sista to Gang star rapper as counterfactual as it is impressive. Because: "You can turn it around as you want, the rap scene is and remains just a strange bunch full of ambivalences" - says the queer-feminist Berlin rapper and label owner Sookee in the same volume.

Clichés and rejection

These contradictions shape the public image of hip-hop to this day, which, as an urban Afro-American music style, has been and still is in the crossfire of criticism because of its sexisms like no other genre of pop music. Rap is considered a misogynistic, ultra-male field - at the same time, women have always been present in the scene as self-confident actors. However, they were mostly perceived to be less pronounced or at most as exceptional phenomena. German-speaking pioneers such as Cora E, Aziza A, Nina MC or the Tic Tac Toe and sister S alias Sabrina Setlur, who are often hostile to their success in the mainstream, are today largely inactive and only known to specialists. Meanwhile, the beginners, who have been successful since the early 1990s, released a new album in the summer of 2016. His title, Advanced Chemistry, pays homage to the crew of the same name - who were part of the same Heidelberg scene as Cora E from the late 1980s.

Since the noughties at the latest, there have been increased efforts in Germany to make women more visible in rap and to address gender issues: through platforms such as femalehiphop.net, the magazine An attitude, Festivals like “Female Focus” and “We B * Girlz” or public discussions and scientific articles. But even today there are debates on the Internet about the question “Which female rappers are there?” Or journalistic articles with titles such as “Five female rappers you should know” - it is unthinkable that a male gender characteristic could lead to comparable generalizations. Actors like Lady Bitch Ray or Schwesta Ewa, who show off sexual potency like their male colleagues, are regularly insulted on portals such as YouTube as "sluts", hatefully ordered "back to the kitchen" or racially insulted because of their Turkish or Polish roots.

Reinterpretation and normalization

But there is also a normalization process taking place at the same time. Because the more clearly and diverse women and people who do not want to fit into a clear gender grid mark their presence in hip-hop, the less they have to legitimize it. Deliberately “blatant” musicians like Antifuchs now rap “not like a woman”, but “like a man”, the duo SXTN “fucks your mother” and Kitty Kat as well as Sido demands “suck my cock”. Machist power gestures are thus appropriated regardless of gender, while at the same time male formations such as KIZ, which were originally based on the label "Royal Bunker" known for aggressive-sexist battle rap, increasingly stage the sexism of their texts as genre satire and on International Women's Day Organize "Women Only" concerts.

Haiyti, the mysterious trap rapper from Hamburg, like the Bulgarian-born hipster rapper Dena ("the M.I.A. from Neukölln"), leaves all gender attributions behind. She produces a sound that sounds just as psychedelically drugged as that of her colleagues, and where gender is not an issue. Rappers like Akua Naru or Leila Akinyi from Cologne, on the other hand, most naturally address racism or sexism in connection with their own blackness and womanhood - this form of the genre is called "Conscious Rap", whose texts deal with social and political issues . Miss Platnum and Eunique, who are veterans and newcomers respectively, move in the field of neosoul and hip-hop, vent their anger at sexisms in their texts.

The rapper Haiyti from Hamburg

Sookee's Berlin label “Springstoff” continues to strive, with a decidedly political as well as educational awareness, to convey feminism and anti-sexism through music. With musicians such as FaulenzA or Msoke, it also offers a forum for trans people who, with their self-confidently lived identity, erode the dividing lines between the sexes, which are often considered essential in hip-hop. The same applies to the Afro-American experimental rapper Black Cracker, who lives in Berlin and philosophizes artfully about his transition to being a man.

Because not only women have always been beyond the status of decorative accessories in hip-hop. Thanks to a wide variety of actors, rap has arrived in an age in which the existence of only two clearly defined genders is constantly being questioned - be it through hypersexualized performances that work like a masquerade, through girls who are "one of the boys" and thus questioning what Boy-being at all, or by people beyond any gender norms. Fortunately, the most successful popular music genre, often criticized as sexist or homophobic, is exactly what its protagonists make of it.