For the past two weeks, the internet has been buzzing over the highly-publicized feud between femcees Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj. After remaining more or less silent following Remy’s back-to-back disses “ShETHER” and “Another One,” Nicki Minaj successfully reignited the feud by firing back at her rival on the Lil Wayne and Drake assisted response track “No Frauds.”
Although a major topic of discussion in the hip-hop community as of late, the rap beef has garnered a considerable amount of scrutiny and mixed reception from the public. While some find the lyrical battle refreshing, others found the dissension between women as regressive; and, of course, some completely disregarded the abilities and musical output of the female rappers altogether.
Nonetheless, it’s important to note that the public perception of women quarreling in hip-hop goes far beyond Nicki Minaj or Remy Ma – the misogyny is embedded in the culture.
Women in hip-hop have long been overlooked and lesser appreciated as compared to their male counterparts. Often left out of conversations regarding the greatest rappers and rap beefs, female hip-hop artists rarely (if ever) receive their proper due.
In fact, one of the earliest and most notable diss tracks in hip-hop history – “Roxanne’s Revenge” – was done by then fourteen year old Roxanne Shante in 1984.
Likewise, MC Lyte established herself as a prominent battle rapper as a teenager as well in the 1980s, even issuing a diss track of her own towards her rival Antoinette.
Outside of rap beefs, Lil Kim, Lauryn Hill, and Missy Elliott among others have made significant impact inside the genre but each of them are relegated to merely a “best female rappers” status. Women in rap are rarely celebrated for their efforts and Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma are no exception.
One of the most alluring features of the current rap beef was that for the first time since Minaj’s inception, it seemed that she had a viable opponent worthy of taking her rap queen crown. Sure, Iggy Azalea had some mainstream success in 2014 but she failed to gain credibility in the hip-hop world. Similarly, Lil’ Kim’s “Black Friday” diss was arguably as brutal as Remy’s “ShETHER” but she was seemingly past her prime. On the other hand, Remy Ma’s early release from prison and her reputation as a battle rapper granted her the perfect opportunity to usurp Nicki’s long-lasting monopoly over the female rap game.
Interestingly enough, some critics of the feud actually cite Nicki and Remy’s beef as regressive and misogynist in nature. For these naysayers, it is more empowering for female rappers – a minority in their genre – to stick together and support one another in such a male-dominated industry. This may be true and ideal in theory but it goes against the very things that makes hip-hop, hip-hop. The genre was founded and continues to thrive on competition as each rapper showcases their lyrical talents in order to earn them the title as “the best.” Having rivaling women forcibly unite for the sake of feminism is not only restricting female rappers from participating in an inevitable part of the culture but is also limiting women to “staying in their place” while their male counterparts are free to do otherwise.
However the rivalry turns out, the beef between Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma may actually be a good thing for women in hip-hop. From the focus on lyricism and a conversation that does not only revolve around one female rapper, something fruitful may arise out of the femcee’s beef. The respect for female rappers definitely will not appear overnight but this may actually be a start.