Women rap men in their rap songs

January 15, 1993|By Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES -- Rap music is rife with name-calling, vulgar words and threats of retribution.

But it's not the just the men taking verbal shots at women through their rhymes.

Now the women are seeking revenge through their own verses.

Women began rapping about seven years ago as a response to anti-woman verses from men who called them gold-diggers, tramps and other unprintables.

And while it began with Salt-N-Pepa's dance-oriented melodies and nonthreatening lyrics, it has now become just as vulgar and aggressive as the music that inspired it.

"We do use a lot of profanity," said Tanisha Michelle Morgan, a member of BWP, a duo that reflects the trend toward street-smart, hard-edged, tough-language rap.

"We're very street. Very straightforward. We don't want to sugar-coat it. You use profanity when you're angry. And we're mad."

"The only way a female rapper can [make a] hit [record] is [by being] very hard," said Jon Shecter, editor of the Source, a New York City-based rap magazine. "Basically that means talking about guns. That's what people want to hear.

"Men used to have a harder edge [than women]. Nowadays, female rappers have a harder edge because they want to sell.

"They say things you might find offensive. They talk pro-gun: "We carry guns, stay out of our way.' The whole imagery is very masculine. "You'd be surprised at the women coming out embracing that image. They are not pushing it away."

Some rappers -- like TLC and M.C. Lyte -- are continuing to chant their women-as-equals message in a sweet and soul-inspired style.

But BWP (whose full name can't be printed in this newspaper) is typical of the new harder-edged women rappers, who are mostly African-Americans and are all in their 20s.

The group has recorded so-called revenge-rap albums, featuring songs about sex, money and other basic life issues, that are just as hard-core as male rappers.

"We're not men haters," said BWP's Lyndah McCaskill. "We're just saying a lot of kids lack self-respect because guys have put them down. No one should have to feel inferior."

In "Thelma-and-Louise"-style retribution, BWP gets back at a man for hurling a sexist slur by blowing him away in a tune called "Coming Back Strapped."

The duo's other songs include "No Means No," about date rape, and "Wanted" about police brutality.

Individual rappers Choice, Boss and Rage emulate male rappers in their acts by their hard-edge attitude and dress. They are quite a distance from Salt-N-Pepa, the female rap trio that opened the door for women with its 1986 million-selling album "Hot, Cool & Vicious."

Salt-N-Pepa, with its melodic rap album, was one of the first rap groups to cross over into the pop-music audience.

Phyllis Pollak, who runs Def Press, a public relations firm for male and female rap artists, including BWP and Geto Boys, said there is a need for the extreme in female rap.

"I don't think you can say there is one message of female rappers," Pollack said. "There are so many different messages, whether they are political or positive. I don't think you can stereotype.

"Women are taught in this society to not be controversial. It's always harder for women to be accepted for being hard or telling the truth. It's important for females to be themselves in rap. It's healthy."

On the flip side, the trio TLC delivers a slightly more subtle message of sexual frankness, as in "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg," and urges sexual responsibility by wearing condoms as accessories.

"The reality is that many of them [young women] are doing it [having sex], and we want them to be careful," said TLC member Left Eye.

The group's album, "Ooooooohhh on the TLC Tip," is No. 10 on the Billboard r&b chart.

M.C. Lyte, whose name is Lana Moorer, spins a message similar to TLC. In her song, "Like a Virgin" (only the title resembles the Madonna hit), Moorer explores the tribulations a young girl goes through when she loses her virginity. She also raps about AIDS, drug addiction and teen-age pregnancy.

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