30 Years For A Woman to Win Best Rap Album
Cardi B’s rise to fame is one of the most well documented in our social media-driven era. We love to focus on her personality, what she wears, and what she’ll do next. Like all women in the spotlight, and especially so for women in rap, every move is watched with a hypercritical eye. Is she sexy, can she move, how is her flow, is she skilled enough to be one of ‘us’? The ‘us’ I’m referencing are the men who have controlled the rap industry at its highest levels for 30+ years.
Cardi grew up absorbing music all around her. We all experienced early rap phenoms like Salt N Peppa, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, and Lil Kim (to name a few) who left a massive imprint on the industry. These women had to make space for themselves while their male counterparts attempted to change their personas and music. All of this unfounded input based on the belief that female rappers couldn’t entertain a crowd didn’t have good flow and wouldn’t sell nearly as many records for a label as male signees.
How laughably wrong they were.
Let’s talk about the Grammys for a second. You know, one of those awards shows entirely decided by a small group of privileged individuals (historically white men – I’m looking at you Recording Academy). Not a lot of people realize that from the 90’s to early 00’s, rap categories were split by gender. This was a golden age for female rappers, including Lauryn Hill’s 5 Grammy Sweep. Eventually, the academy did away with female-specific categories citing a lack of women rappers and eligible releases. This decimated the arena for these talented artists’ stories to be heard and caused a rift that lasted over ten years. In 2019, Cardi B is the first female rapper to win a Grammy for Best Rap Album since the category’s creation.
What I love about Cardi B is that she is unapologetically herself and has used her social media influence to build herself up in a way that no record label can dictate her music. She earned all of her listeners, point-blank. She is sexy the way she wants to be, and her music keeps getting better. She also understands that there is a wealth of rap performers in the game who deserve to be heard and have a considerable pull for audiences – especially women and people who don’t subscribe to traditional gender norms. That is big Big BIG. For the label heads, it’s all about the money.
Last month Cardi received some heat over a comment she made about making it easier for female rappers to get signed. But she is totally right! There have always been amazing female rappers, but the major issue is that labels did not want to back them because they didn’t think they could sell to a mass audience. With her rise, she destroyed that misconception. I’ve heard more female rap singles from multiple artists this year than the past ten years. Cardi’s positive outlook and understanding of the roots of the music industry will make her an even greater powerhouse in the years to come.