The new generation of hip hop worldwide has seen the growth of female emcees taking over,even going against their male counterparts in terms of album sales and hype.That cant be said,however sadly,in the Zimbabwean context considering that hip hop is yet to nurture one of its feminine elements-its female rappers.There are a few of them really with notable names being South African based Icy Murda,the Ndikoko hitmaker Trae Yung,new and upcoming BlackPerl,Blackbird,the on and off Dice and the deejay cum emcee Naida.The rest of the female emcees are busy committing hip hop crimes and slaving themselves to getting only chorus and ‘i can twerk’ mediocre verses on songs that don’t even garner for airplay sometimes.Female emcees in Zimbabwe are still yet to be taken seriously and forever remain just a myth to the average hip hop head and yet are to show their feminine worth behind a mic.But it will take time,if they see themselves only as chorus rappers with no self standing without a male emcee in front of them.Even in the Biggie times,Lil Kim grew as a solo emcee still being termed ‘Biggies toy’ in the beginning but she managed to unshackle herself from that and continued to flourish even after his death.Back to mother earth,the truth is there is much to be done in terms of performances,being marketed,getting out albums and creating an image by our female rappers if they want to stand ground and show their male counterparts that they are a force yet to be reckoned with.As a female trying to make a mark also in the hip hop circles I have compiled a MIMY 5 A-B-C-D-E guide that could help female rappers old and new to gain ground in the rap circles distinctively and these are…
Align yourself with a good management team that markets you and pushes you harder.
It is always hard starting up as an emcee but it is harder enough starting off as a female rapper.Your raplines are undermined.Your voice pitch is questioned and in most instances you are only called up to do a sexy chorus only 6 lines worth of time.Talking from experience,this is quite demeaning considering that there are quite a number of female emcees out there who can spit fire but they are only getting small chorus verses.In avoidance of such sticky situations that are likely to discourage you,make sure that you at least make a demo and find a proper stable that can help you work and manage and market you as a brand.I think Trae Yung has managed to do that with ease and the fruits of that are really showing off.You are taken more seriously and you have people who want to see the best in you.Do not limit your capabilities to just a shady $2 recording booth.Dream big,aim for better.Grind like a man.
Be confident enough to own the stage.Never let the stage own you.
Hip hop shows and concerts are not only about seeing your artist on stage but seeing also how your favorite artist owns a crowd and takes center stage .Fans notice when an emcee isn’t confident enough in their work and this quickly kills off a show’s mood.Not so long ago,I watched a female emcee performing and later on her male emcee counterpart came to join her on the stage.She looked clueless from her dressing,to the way she handled the mic to the way she badly lip sung to her own track.The crowd tried to bear with her with hands folded not until the male emcee came through with so much energy and a good execution of crowd play did we start jumping up and down.It wasn’t even about the sexist card but most female emcees are yet to learn and to polish their performance skills.You can never separate being a good emcee and knowing how to perform.
Create an image for yourself.Dont be ordinary.
We live in a dollarised country where looking good is too expensive to pull but creating an image for yourself is a key element for a rapper,especially a female rapper.Missy Elliot had a tomboy image .Lauryn Hill had a 90s look and dreadlocks.Creating an image basically means creating a rap ego that your fans are quick to embrace you with.Do not be ordinary especially when it comes to performances .Don’t come out on stage wearing an oversized dress with six year old torn and sewn again pumps.You might argue that talent and skill is all that matters but so does first impressions especially when it comes to musical influences.
Desist from just featuring but put out solo projects to build your musical career.
It is quite necessary to start off doing features for other artists,making a name and building contacts with other artists in the industry but it comes an issue if all you do for more than three years is feature,feature and feature more.Sounds more like an exaggeration but it is true.There are female rappers who have been rapping since gore riye renzara but still they have no solo tracks or mix-tapes and albums to their name.They are plain shadows,only playing in the background of their male counterparts.Its important to build yourself first but there is also the need to break out of that comfort zone and learn to build a rap career and to get noticed as artists not back up singers.
Encourage yourself to stand solo.Period!
I know it’s a trend that’s not new and that wont be erased any time soon-that one of writing rap verses for female rappers.I’m not judging at all,even other male rappers are getting their verses written for them.If the female emcee isn’t able to write her lines, I’m sure her male counterparts or the stable can help her get away with murder but in most instances they can’t get away with murder :it kills her ownership to that song.She isn’t familiar with the idea of the rap bars-they didn’t stem out from her so they lose a sense of originality and usually blurs up her performances making her a shadow on stage.Its not originally her idea so when she performs these tracks she is basically an ordinary person karaokeing to other people’s ideas and we, the fans are quick to notice.Generally writing is an inborn trait but it can be tutored,that means writing verses everyday and practicing,making silly bars and correcting them to be better.We learn by trying and trying even harder.The thing ladies,is we can’t keep on being backed by men all our lives.We have to take a stand all by ourselves,taste the waters,be swallowed by Jonah’s whales,be spit off but be courageous enough to stand solo.Its not going to be smooth because the streets were meant for men , and for us,the sidewalks but let us change the way the game is run.I am not saying partake on this journey all alone but be sure to get advice from your fellow counterparts and lose the dependency syndrome you have been pulling all these decades .Get your mixtapes out,push your tracks for radio. Perform fiercely with so much hype.Build yourself an image.Learn to cypher your art through writing for yourself.Be original.Believe me,the gender card doesn’t work in the hip hop industry.These male cats will feast on you and not feel any remorse at all. Female emcees,WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE!