Iconic rap impresario Jermaine Dupri inflamed the internet yesterday after an interview with People revealed his unflattering opinion on the current flurry of female rappers breaking into the game. The 46-year-old producer, who helped break Da Brat in the ’90s through his label So So Def, said today’s crop of women in rap rhyme “like strippers” and doubted whether any actually had bars. The response from female rappers was swift and brutal, first from outspoken Grammy winner Cardi B, who pointed out the hypocrisy in his statement on Instagram, then from other rappers, who each found subtle ways to pick at JD.
Even non-rappers jumped in on the fun. “Shea Butter Baby” singer Ari Lennox of J. Cole’s Dreamville Records even wrote her own “diss track” aimed at Dupri, despite not being much of a rapper herself. Although she hangs out with them and is deeply rooted in hip-hop, the verse flowed more like a freestyle as she switched between singing and rapping over the beat to Flipmode Squad’s “I Know What You Want” during a recent live stream on Instagram. “When was mainstream rap about anything other than bitches and pussy popping?” she questions. “I don’t got time for your trifling ass,” she concludes, “I’ll show you how the real players play in DC, motherf*cker.”
Meanwhile, other rappers got in their digs as well. LA rapper Doja Cat, who went viral in 2018 with her song “Mooo!” and whose “Tia Tamera” with Rico Nasty charted earlier this year, changed her Instagram profile picture to a closeup photo of JD’s mouth. She also posted a video naming female rappers who do not rap about stripping or twerking after heaving a dramatic sigh — Tierra Whack reposted it. Noname, whose Room 25 was one of 2018’s standout projects, posted a photo of JD without commentary as if to say, “Look at who’s talking.” Kamaiyah, one of the rappers Cardi name-checked as an alternative, went on a longer rant, reminding readers that she does hail from Oakland, where slick talkers can get f*cked up.
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It takes a village. Reals ones always rise. Stay your authentic self always, @iamcardib !! People ask me about the state of Hip Hop and women in it all the time….my answer is always it’s BEAUTIFUL! There are sooooo many dope ladies rockin! To the sisterhood….keep doing YOU….there’s room for us all! And space to show love. It doesn’t dim your light to see the light in others. To our folk….know our power….the culture moves thru us. Mad love always!! – Rap 🔻
Others were merely content to show solidarity, like the mellow Rapsody, who posted a video to her own Instagram, praising Cardi’s response, thanking her for supporting the Grammy-nominated Laila’s Wisdom, and saying, “It doesn’t dim your light to see the light in others.” And while Mulatto, the female rapper who appeared on and won the first season of Jermaine’s Lifetime reality show The Rap Game decided not to chime in, fans were quick to point out how her very existence undermined the producer’s comments in the first place.
It looks like, after years of hip-hop pitting women against one another, women are about fed up with the rhetoric and ready to show support for each other by any means necessary — and take down the men who make those misogynistic comparisons in the first place.