Queen Latifah is about to release her first rap album since 1998, but female rappers are still no better represented on the hip-hop charts now than they were 30 years ago, laments Jonah Weiner in Slate. No female artists received BET nominations this year, and they face an uphill struggle with "self-definition in a genre whose deeper voices have already done much to define them" in "narrow and frequently noxious terms," writes Weiner.
Earlier female rappers fell too readily into two camps—"independents" and "hos"—as the brash defiance of early acts like Salt-N-Pepa gave way to the hyper-sexualized compliance of '90s stars. But there is hope yet, Weiner believes. Rising stars like MIA and Kid Sister are "parlaying hipster popularity into mainstream-rap incursions," he noted.