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A woman’s place in hip-hop

In an interview with a blog called Honeysoul, R&B artist Joi laments that there aren’t very many successful female producers. The problem, as far as she’s concerned, is chauvinist attitudes in the music industry. And racism.

To wit:

Joi: The industry is horrifically chauvinist. And racist. But horrifically chauvinist. There are no female producers. Name me one. Besides Missy!

[Laughs] I was about to say Missy..

Joi: Besides Missy, name me one. You can’t. There aren’t any. [...] Erykah is a woman of her own design and creation, but James Poyser is there. india is a woman of her own design, but she certainly has men that are a part of her crew [...] All of the women who are truly, truly 100% producing all of their stuff, you’ve never heard of them. And they’re brilliant. So just that fact alone tells you that the business is incredibly sexist. It is very difficult to forge your own path as a woman.

[Note: I jacked these quotes from Jay Smooth, and it looks like he might have transcribed them himself. They aren't 100% verbatim, but I listened to the interview myself and they're more or less accurate.]

Perhaps fittingly, she doesn’t go on to provide any specific examples where women have produced good records and men in the music industry were like, “We’re not going to support this, because you’re a woman and you’re place in hip-hop is in the kitchen, in front of the sink.

If this was really the case, I’m sure it’d be grounds for some sort of class action suit by female artists against the TIs in the music industry. I’d even lend my own support to the case, if I thought there was a good chance I might score from it. That’s the kind of guy I am.

But of course it’s not. Could it be that the equipment – computers, mixing boards, samplers, turntables – it takes to produce a rap record is too difficult for a woman to operate? Hence most prominent female artists, including Missy Elliott, have been known to work with male producers in the studio.

Before the PC community jumps down my throat (nullus), even the President of Harvard University Lawrence Summers has suggested that the lack of female presence in the higher echelons of fields such as science and engineering is due to biological differences between the sexes. Is producing a rap record not a form of engineering?

In that sense, it’s also worth noting that there are fields in the music industry in which women have experienced more success than their male counterparts. For example, male dancers in rap videos (try naming one of those) are largely out-earned by their female counterparts. Surely this is a matter of chauvinism! And racism!

What it all comes down to is that men and women are born with different sets of traits (boobs, to use an example). To the extent that women haven’t been successful at rapping and producing, it’s because women lack talent at both rapping and producing, not because of male chauvinism and/or racism.

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