(Excerpt) Women in Rap

roxanne-shantethe so-called “real” roxanne“…It seemed as if the regular slights, sexism and overt discrimination in rap music gave women rappers the collective strength to push the truly brave female rap artists to the forefront. A new wave of brash, in-your-face, rap-roots women seemed to appear out of nowhere. One of the first of these vanguard women was Roxanne-Shante (Lolita Shante Gooden) who delivered one of the fiercest rebuttals in music history. A former member of Marley Marl’s Juice Crew, no one could forget the slice-and-burn lyrics to ‘Roxanne’s Reply’, a comeback against the sexist ‘Roxanne, Roxanne’ by U.T.F.O. (the Untouchable Force Organization). Regardless of her current status in rap, Roxanne-Shante was one of the first women to speak in a clear, unrepentant, independent voice in defense of her name –even it was a fictional character.

“One woman had jumped up and saved her name from being dragged through the mud by a doctor, a Kangol kid and an “educated” rapper. Not to be outdone, a completely different group of men responded to her response with –as usual—another woman. Rather than doing the dirty work themselves,
the original producers of ‘Roxanne, Roxanne’, Howie-Tee and Full Force, found another woman to go against Roxanne-Shante. By appropriating her name and re-defining the glaringly feminist ‘Roxanne’s Reply’ with a squeaky, baby voiced, nasally imitation who was lyrically talent-less compared to Roxanne-Shante’s biting styles, the ‘Real’ Roxanne was introduced. The new and improved Roxanne no longer reflected the round-the-way rawness of Roxanne-Shante. She was now clad in head to toe Fendi, overwhelmed in ringlets and manicured in acrylic nails and door knocker earrings. Rather than focusing on taking rap to the “next level” and into a viable art form, the rap world spent untold months whittling the Roxannes down the n-th degree until the public got tired of all of them…” (page 24)

Word: Rap, Politics and Feminism is available through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com and iUniverse.com.

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