Hip hop is changing: here's why

Hip hop artists have always been pretty good at vocalising what is wrong with society and this is the decade they focus on equality

How hip hop began is fairly contentious, but most music nerds can agree (dare I say?) that two of the most noteworthy dudes who pioneered the genre were DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash - spinning, scratching and MCing in the underground clubs of the Bronx in the 1970's. They spat rhymes about the poverty on their streets and the oppression of their race.

Then came the 80's/90's and some pretty iconic artists like The Roots, A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan... 90's was (in my opinion) the peak of good hip hop, so it's a pretty long list.

Fast forward to 2018 and we've got the lyrical and musical genius of dudes such as REMI, Frank Ocean, Anderson Paak - and the maybe less genius, but ridiculously successful, narcissistic and often sexist ramblings of dudes like Kanye West, 50 Cent, Lil' Wayne and even Snoop Dog and Eminem. They are all talented in their own right, however also all often buy into something that often alienates half the population.

So what's missing from this well-known history lesson? 

Did someone say phallocentric? Put your hand up if you can name ten famous female hip hop artists that have seen as much success as these men?

There have been powerhouse females kicking around the industry forever - Roxanne Shante, Lauryne Hill, Missy Elliot, Lil Kim - and for sure their talent transcends their gender-defined label, but the absence of women at the forefront of the scene is definitely too noticeable to ignore, whether you think it matters or not. 

There's good news though.

As hip hop evolves and welcomes new musical styles into it's mix, more and more females are finding themselves able to carve a place in this male-driven scene. Some people say that there's a stream of hip hop that was built on mysogynistic raps and rhymes - that may be true, as some hip hop most definitely has promoted the masculine ideal, but with mainstream hip hop now regularly featuring soulful female vocals as well as verses by more and more women, this can, and is, changing. 

We still get the odd fools who would rather rap about bums, titties and screwing women in order to hold onto their sense of male superiority and discredit any female artists who have earned their way to the top, but there's now room for a dialogue within the music itself which acknowledges the years of underrated female artists and works to even the scale.

So with that in mind, maybe it's time to celebrate the women (and men) who are changing the game. Looking a little closer to home, Australia is pretty revolutionary in supporting female artists in their industry, and here's some local acts as well as international who deserve your support and your downloads.

Kaiit - this soulful woman wrote her growing hit Natural Woman when she was only 17 - and has found her place in the Melbourne hip hop and neo soul scene with a unique style of vocalising that's a little bit soul, a little bit rap and a lot euphonic. 

Rapsody - A 35 year old rapper from the US, Rapsody has some pretty intricate rhyming. She can definitely hold her own against the male voices out there, and cites Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z and Mos Def as her musical inspiration. 

Sampa The Great - She calls herself a poet/songwriter but Sampa can spit rhymes in the style of the old-school MCs. She's done some powerful collaborations with Melbourne success story REMI, and joined him on a sold-out tour called 'Fire Sign' 

Alysha Joy - Although she's more neo soul/RnB than hip hop, it kind of all comes under the same banner these days. Alysha Joy is a Melbourne woman who is kicking arse in the industry. She's played with Hiatus Kaiyote, Man Made Mountain and Sampa the Great and works pretty dominantly in the local scene to promote her fellow female musicians also trying to break into the professional industry. 

REMI - He's done collaborations with Thando, Sampa the Great and wrote a song with Raiza Biza called Strong Women - "strong women where I'm from, strong women all around, strong women all along". Could he get more supportive of equality in his industry? Political agenda aside, and he's ridiculously talented in his own right with international praise coming in left, right and centre.