When I was a young girl growing up on Chicago’s South Side (play a Common song in your head as you read that part), I read any and every Hip-Hop magazine available: The Source, Rap Pages, Ego Trip, the local indie-published newsletters (including the one who’s name escapes me and ran my first ever article- “Misogyny in Hip-Hop” when I was sixteen).

I recall when the now-defunct Blaze declared itself “the fifth element of Hip-Hop”; welp, a cursory glance at what passes for Rap books today seems to indicate that the real fifth element is half-naked women. I know Rap respects women about as much as the Republican party does the separation between church and state, but I still can’t understand why every major Hip-hop magazine (and website) is littered with scantily clad vixens. Can Negroids no longer afford Black Tail? You gotta do two-for-one? And considering how many White boys pour over all things Rap, I can’t help but to feel even more skeeved out by the whole concept.

There is a lot of smart content that makes its way to the pages of these magazines, including world news, thoughtful interviews with artists (the smart ones, that is) and even the occasional health and wellness piece. But the naked chicks send home a very clear message: these mags are for dudes. Female Hip-Hop fans are at the margins if they don’t enjoy titty pics and while I can appreciate a beautiful woman as much as anyone else, the way these images are displayed further emphasizes the idea of Rap music being a conversation between men.

I know, I know. “Jamilah, girl, you is so dumb if you out here expected things related to Rap to be less than sexist.” And perhaps I am so dumb. I just remember when things weren’t this blatant. It’s not like the women who are included are acknowledged as fellow Rap fans who happen to be fly; its as if they aren’t much different than the rims, watches and sneakers featured in the mags. Accessories, props. I’m not with it.

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