On Tuesday, Dec. 10, Nitty Scott, MC took to Twitter to criticize the media for touting certain female rappers as the next big things. That series of tweets focused mostly on calling out Kreayshawn, Lola Monroe, Iggy Azalea, Diamond and Tiffany Foxx as poor choices for the “next strong feminine hip-hop influence,” but she elaborated today, Dec. 11, in a thoughtful Tumblr post. Scott addressed everything from identity and diversity to equality and gender in hip-hop. If male rappers aren’t called out as male, she asked, why is it different for women?
Grouping artists together based strictly on gender is a cross-genre argument, one that’s come up before in rock and country. But when Scott—whose new album The Art Of Chill with guest spots from Ab-Soul and Stacy Barthe is droppping in early 2014—got on the phone today with XXL, she shared her view on the conversation from the perspective of a female in hip-hop and her thoughts on who’s responsible for changing the game: the artists, the media or hip-hop as a whole? —Christine Werthman
In your Tumblr post, you say that female MCs in hip-hop are denied identity. How so?
We’re not given the same thing that our male counterparts are given. When people are discussing a diverse selection of male rappers, they’ll start to classify them according to what kind of hip-hop they make, what vein they fall into, what scene. Only male MCs get this treatment where their material is respected for what it is and what it represents. When people are putting together tours, they’ll put together acts that are like-minded, that can all appeal to the same audience. And I don’t feel that as females we’re given that same diversity. We’re thrown onto lineups, we’re thrown into these female MC lists of all the girls you should know about. We’re all so different, yet we’re all thrown into this pool of women that rap. I just don’t feel that it’s equal treatment.
How do those situations hurt women?
When we do that, we isolate ourselves as “others.” It’s the same plight that White rappers have. If some new White rapper comes out, they’re immediately being compared to Eminem or Mac Miller or Asher Roth. For me specifically, my content is being disregarded when you compare me to other MCs of the same gender, simply because they’re the same gender. Why should I have to compete with people who aren’t on my level just because they’re girls? I’m out here rapping amongst Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, Action Bronson, Styles P, holding it down next to real lyricists, but I’m stuck being mentioned on lists with Lola Monroe and Iggy Azalea, who in my opinion, don’t stand for what I stand for. We shouldn’t be placed next to each other just because I have a vagina and she does, too.
Is the bigger issue that race and gender are called out at all in hip-hop, or that the story doesn’t go beyond that?
The issue is that the story doesn’t go beyond that, that it’s always some surface article about the “15 MCs You Should Know.” It reduces us to what we’re expected to represent as females that rap.
What are females in hip-hop expected to represent?
The stereotype is very materialistic. It’s very, “Listen to me because I am a girl.” I think they expect these shallow, girly things. And the media is just much quicker to give praise to women that fit the mold as opposed to women who are breaking the mold. In my opinion, it’s far more relevant to be blazing a trail and breaking barriers and opening doors as opposed to using the door that’s been open to females for a long time. Lil Kim and Foxy Brown, they already opened those doors for us to be able to express ourselves sexually, and I do think that’s important when you’re talking about feminism, that we do have a right to express that. But that’s not revolutionary now. That’s taking advantage of what’s already been paved for you, which is fine, but why is it that the women who are fighting to break the barrier and widen that scope even more, why are we not considered the trailblazers that we actually are?
Are the MCs you called out on Twitter yesterday—Kreayshawn, Lola Monroe, Diamond, Iggy Azalea and Tiffany Foxx—breaking any molds?
No, they’re not. In any other field—sports, culinary—you don’t get to advance without killing your craft. I find that it’s only in this music world that you can really just kind of skip by by looking cute, taking pictures on Instagram and shit, and it’s like, when are we going to hold our own culture to a higher standard and not let just anybody in?
Who is breaking barriers?
Rapsody is super dope. That’s the homie. And my girl k.flay. She represents multiple things where it’s like, she is not Black, and she is a female. And she’s out here, and she’s putting out music.
What kind of change do you want to see happen for women in hip-hop?
I’m not sure because in my perfect world, we would simply be equalized, we would simply be a part of the situation, it would be redundant to call me a female MC, it would be ridiculous to have a female rap category at any kind of award show. That’s what I want.
The othering of women does exist in other genres—including rock and country—but is the situation different in hip-hop, or is it the same?
I think it’s the same. I think what I’m talking about transcends hip-hop. I’m discussing it because I feel that I’m a figure with a voice within hip-hop that can voice these things to try to create change. But the issue of sexism is way beyond hip-hop.
Is it the responsibility of the media, the artists or hip-hop as a whole to make changes?
I think everybody. We have to be conscious and aware as artists. I think it’s the media’s job to progress the culture, and I think it’s the fans’ job to express their demands. I think they need to recognize their power and that they do truly have the power to break an artist, they have the power to speak out against things that are not cool. For example, when Rick Ross had that rape-y line in “U.O.E.N.O.” there was so much backlash, and I was proud, I was proud of hip-hop for saying, “You know what? You’re fine, you’re cool, but this right here? Not cool.” And there needs to be more of that. Nobody is above critique, especially when the critique is not coming from a mean place. I want to make that very clear. It’s not mean-spirited. It’s constructive, and it’s all because I love hip-hop and because I love this culture. I just want to see feminine energy in its rightful place.