Since becoming an actress, model, grammy winner, and CoverGirl, many may have forgotten Queen Latifah’s come-up as female rapper in the 1980s. Just as characters like MC Lyte, Antoinette, Salt-N-Peppa, Yo Yo, and Roxanne Shante began to introduce hip-hop to ill feminine flare, Queen Latifah stuck her name into the mix– priding herself on sticking up for the image of the regal, powerful, black Queen. In her hit song “U.N.I.T.Y,” Latifah calls for the end of the black community’s overuse of the verbally abusive terms like “Bitch” or “Hoe,” and reps hard to females struggling to make things work amidst adversity.
In “U.N.I.T.Y,” Latifah says, “Instinct leads me to another flow/Every time I hear a brother call a girl a bitch or a ho/Trying to make a sister feel low/You know all of that gots to go/Now everybody knows there’s exceptions to this rule/Now don’t be getting mad, when we playing, it’s cool/But don’t you be calling out my name/I bring wrath to those who disrespect me like a dame.” Of course, discourse about the usage of “bitch” and other derogatory terms is nothing new in hip-hop. The controversy over rap’s degradation of women has almost been talked to death- so much so that the conversation may well be played out. But, as this generation witnesses the birth of an unprecedented number of new, fresh, lyrically inclined female rappers, perhaps it’s time for the topic to make a comeback– specifically regarding “Bitch” and its implications.
Obviously, it is one thing when male rappers call women offensive terms, since sexist abasement is blatant. However, it is another story when femcee’s themselves lead the game with lyrics disrespectful to their own set. No lady wants to be called a bitch, but, as soon as the word “Bad” is attached to the beginning, every chick in the game wants to line up for a name tag. Latifah obviously would have preferred a more uplifting term, perhaps Bad Broad or something along those lines. Yet, The Bad Bitch Epidemic is still sweeping the nation, and at what cost to the female persona?
As said before, this convo may be out of date. Perhaps women truly have gotten over their issues with derogatory terminology and embraced the term as a reappropriation. Maybe girl’s everywhere should get with it and get in line for their “Bad Bitch” name tags. However, if hip-hop hopes to see more fresh, feminine, faces rapping about more than their boss bitch mentality, it may be time for new femcees to ask Nicki Minaj, Trina, or any other H.B.I.C, why they let a pioneer’s efforts to phase out anti-feminine phrases go in vain? Simply put, why doesn’t uplifting female identification appeal to successful female rappers?
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