Cardi B, as usual, is right. This time, she’s right about comments made recently by pioneering hip-hop impresario Jermaine Dupri regarding female rappers. JD’s opinion of modern rapping women isn’t very high, as he told People magazine in a recent interview. It seems he, like so many other “hip-hop heads” of a certain age/misogynistic worldview, pines for the days when his artist Da Brat reigned on top of the charts, rather than more overtly sexualized rappers like Cardi B, City Girls, and Megan Thee Stallion.
Of course, he didn’t put it this way because just saying that you’re disappointed you fell off isn’t the hip-hop way. It’s the children who are wrong. Mumble rap is ruining hip-hop and back in the day, women never used sex appeal to sell records — except for, you know, Salt-N-Pepa, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Trina, Eve, and a slew of other women who could rap well and look good at the same time. Gasp. Here’s how Jermaine Dupri worded it:
I feel like they all are rapping about the same thing, and I don’t think they’re showing us who’s the best rapper. For me, it’s like strippers rapping. As far as rap goes, I’m not getting who is the best rapper. I’m getting OK, you got a story about you dancing in the club, you got a story about you dancing in the club, you got a story about you dancing in the club. OK. All right. Cool. Who’s going to be the rapper?… At some point, somebody’s going to have to break out of that mold and talk about other things.
Uproxx writer Andre Gee already addressed the faulty rationale that allows this double standard to exist. It’s a pretty good read. But Cardi has a way of breaking down complex ideas and restating them in such a simple, impactful way that it becomes impossible to just skip over what she says. And in this case, rather than addressing the double standard that men talk about sex more or less nonstop in their raps, she instead pointed out the rationale behind why she and other women choose to rap “like strippers”: Because evidently, that’s what the people want.
“When I did ‘Be Careful,’ people was talking mad sh*t in the beginning,” she reminded her fans on Instagram. “‘This is not what I expected. I expected this, I expected that.’ So it’s like if that’s what people ain’t tryna hear, then, alright, I’mma start rapping about my p*ssy again.” She then went on to list a number of other female rappers who would fit the bill of what Jermaine Dupri and other critics seem to be looking for, who focus on lyrics and messaging over turn-up anthems and twerking in hot pants. She namechecks Kamaiyah, Rapsody, Tierra Whack, and newcomer Chika as examples of modern “lyrical” female rappers but she could have continued for another 20 names if she wanted to.
The truth is, Jermaine Dupri’s brand of non-logic has long been used by a certain kind of rap fan, not just to pit women against one another, but to demean rappers who use sex to help them sell. The argument is fallacious for multiple reasons, not the least of which is the assumption that just because women rap about sex or come from a background like Cardi’s, they can’t really rap. Megan Thee Stallion disproves that theory by herself, while Cardi is sure to drop at least one gem per verse. While City Girls’ Yung Miami might not be the poster child for lyrical dexterity, her currently incarcerated partner in rhyme, JT, has been known to flex some wordplay on her half of their ratchet dance favorites. And how could you discount the reigning queens of yesteryear, like Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, and Trina, who were all more than happy to throw on a Chanel bikini to spit bars about bricks and Berettas?
Meanwhile, as Cardi points out in the second half of her rant: If these men are so fixated on “lyrical” rappers, why don’t rappers like Rapsody chart? Noname has two albums out and no Billboard chart history (she also had the perfect response to JD herself). Neither does Tierra Whack, whose Whack World was considered a 2018 standout. Kamaiyah has released viral hit after viral hit and appeared on the XXL Freshman cover and her label won’t even give her a release date because of the lukewarm response her singles garnered in comparison to those of Cardi, whose “Bodak Yellow” became a phenomenon, or Meg’s “Big Ole Freak,” which had women twerking at gas stations all over social media.