Over the last couple of years, a number of social media accounts and platforms have popped up, creating spaces that spark high-level discussion centered around female rap.
In October 2020, fashion and culture writer Mikeisha Vaughn was listening in on a Clubhouse room where a widely known rapper was asked his opinion about the current state of hip-hop. Vaughn said this artist spoke in contempt of popular women on the mic, stating: “the women are doing that pussy rap shit.”
“I hate the way that men talk about women in the hip-hop space… so I started a room the next day that was called Pussy Rap and All of That,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn immediately thought to use the platform to reclaim the narrative around women rapping about sex, especially since all genders of rappers have always rapped about it. What began as a response to the blatant misogyny and generalization of Black women’s voices in hip-hop became a free space for Vaughn and her peers to lead authentic discussions.
There has been a notable rise in female rappers in the last few years, a much-needed departure from rap’s more exclusionary days where it was as if only one woman rapper could exist at a time. With this rise has come more coverage of women rap, from the contemporary juggernauts leading the charge to the pioneers that paved the way for their existence. Despite this, rap coverage continues to center on cisgender, male, and heterosexual artists performing the current norms of masculine expression in the genre, a harsh reminder that rap is still dominated by men.
In response to this, a handful of social media accounts and platforms have popped up to combat this, creating the spaces they want to see highlighting female rap. Pussy Rap and All of That (PRAAT), @FemaleRapRoom, @Girlsinrap, and @TheGumbo — they’re all using social media to report on and drive discussions around the new generation of women in rap, as well as the legends, bringing visibility to women in rap’s stories and histories in the process. The accounts vary in their focus for how they do this; some provide interviews, essays, and other written articles, while others offer news about music and video releases, concert and festival footage, streaming and sales reports, gossip, red carpet sightings.
Vaughn’s PRAAT, for example, has become known for its conversations featuring artists, DJs, stylists, and creatives elevating women in hip-hop culture with a concerted effort to highlight artists of the LGBTQ community. Connecting with fellow Black women writers Laja Hill, Robyn Mowatt, and Kia Turner to co-host, PRAAT has had Kamaiyah, KenTheMan, and pioneering stylist Misa Hylton and her daughter, artist Madison Star, as guests. [Editors note: Mowatt is a staff writer for Okayplayer; Hill and Turner have contributed as writers to Okayplayer.] Rhapsody has even popped in and thanked them for creating the space. When they’re not hosting discussions, the platform utilizes Twitter to highlight news and launch a blog featuring cultural analysis.
“The media creates space for certain girls to exist, especially at a larger capacity,” Vaughn said. “If you’re not backed by JAY-Z, or you’re not, you know, as vocal as Cardi [B], they’re overlooked a lot, and I think that our platform is giving them the chance to speak their truth and to acknowledge their careers as well.”
Vaughn’s PRAAT Clubhouse club has over 4,900 members. In September, the platform migrated to Twitter Spaces‘ live-audio app after Clubhouse asked Vaughn to censor the word “Pussy” in their clubroom title to remain visible on the platform.
Where PRAAT is one of the latest examples of these types of platforms, there are others that came before it like @FemaleRapRoom. Made in spring 2018 by EJ, 23, and Khaila, 24, the Twitter account was inspired by the lack of women rappers being included on top rappers lists.
“Around that time, a lot of people were listing their top 10 or 20 or however many rappers, and a lot of them excluded women,” EJ said via e-mail. “I have always included Lil’ Kim in mine, and I never thought about how uncommon it was for men to put women rappers in their Top 10. That gave Khaila the idea for us to create a platform to keep up with women in rap.”
Since its launch, @FemaleRapRoom has amassed more than 25,500 followers. EJ and Khaila see Twitter as the central hub where discourse takes place about women in rap. The pair said that their background as communications students informed them on the best way to build up their following. They monitor trending topics to track users’ interests, and stay up on release dates and album and song anniversary dates. But the two’s proudest moments while running the platform is connecting newer artists to rap veterans.
“One post featured Queen Key, Maliibu Miitch, Tierra Whack, Dreezy, and Megan thee Stallion at a party together, and both Trina and Missy Elliott responded positively, and all the women expressed their gratitude for that,” they wrote. “Moments like that matter the most.”
While building these communities for uplifting women in hip-hop there are downsides to running these accounts, with its creators having to frequently face a toxic subset of stan accounts that harass them and spread misinformation.
T, a 20-year-old communications student who created the @girlsinrap account in February 2020, shared via email that the influx of toxic trolls camping out in replies and comments of posts can be overwhelming.
“Most are extremely disrespectful or sound as if they are coming from a preteen, so it’s paid dust,” they said. “I’m here to uplift, not tear anyone down.” T added that they’ve chosen to stay anonymous to maintain their peace of mind as they manage content for 99,400 followers on Twitter and more than 8,700 followers on Instagram.
“I deal with people trying to hack my social media platforms daily, as well as the website,” T said. “Protecting my identity is the best option until I have a dedicated team behind me.”
EJ and Khalia echoed these experiences.
“Sometimes, stan accounts can be closed off to women who aren’t on charts, or women who debuted before they started paying attention to music,” they explained. “Other female rap accounts sometimes tend to focus more on statistics and charts, whereas we like to focus on the culture because being too chart focused can cause the artists and the fans to think that’s all that matters.”
Although the platforms mentioned above deliver unbiased content, there are also accounts that market themselves as covering the entire women rapper space but do the opposite instead.
Take @femalerapgameblog, for example, which has over 5,000 followers on Instagram and nearly 4,500 followers on Twitter. It describes itself as posting “news, commentary, and sometimes Tea,” but proudly admits to centering its content around Nicki Minaj and defending her every move. “People always ask why I blog about Nicki Minaj more than the OTHER girlies. This page is called Female Rap Game and the game revolves around Nicki Minaj!” the account tweeted on June 25, 2021.
On the extreme opposite, @TheFemaleSource describes itself as a “non-affiliated satire account.” The page, which has more than 5,300 Twitter followers, focuses on posting wisecracks aimed at Minaj more than it publishes news about women rappers in general. In recent weeks, the page has closely monitored the civil lawsuit a woman filed against Minaj and her husband Kenneth Petty in August for silencing rape accusations against Petty. They are also teasing a video called “The Dark Side of Nicki Minaj.” Okayplayer reached out to these accounts for further comment, but they did not respond by publication time.
Social media accounts like these fuel the messiness of stan culture, their names possibly misleading those looking for accounts centered on women rappers, only to not find that at all. Ultimately, it comes down to the intent of these accounts and what they’re actually trying to do.
The Gumbo, club and platform for and by Black women in hip-hop, is more aligned with accounts like PRAAT and FemaleRapRoom than @femalerapblog and @TheFemaleSource. Founded in 2018 by Nadirah Simmons after being shut out from opportunities in hip-hop journalism and noticing publications weren’t giving women fair compensation, The Gumbo has amassed over 10,000 followers on Instagram and 7,000 followers on Twitter, and has even gotten love from legends like Missy Elliott. In 2020, Simmons launched a successful crowdfunding campaign raising $42,263, which has been used to pay contributors, fun programming, and make merchandise.
Instead of focusing on news, Nadirah’s small team of three builds community around structured engagement that brings context to women in rap. In recent tweets, they engaged followers by asking them about their favorite fashion looks by Black women rappers.
Simmons sees The Gumbo’s accounts as archives that people will revisit in the future to uncover the famous and unsung women artists, DJs, and events centering on women in hip-hop culture, adding: “I think that’s the biggest thing for me is, it’s super important and to treat your stuff like someone’s going to go back and read it and see it.”
The rise of social media accounts dedicated to female rap is a direct lineage of Black women sharing their views on hip-hop — from the early aughts print magazine Honey to the Crunk Feminist Collective founded in 2010 during the blog era. Presently, as social media gives people the power to drive news and culture outside of established entities, and since dozens of female acts re-emerged in mainstream hip-hop since Cardi B in 2017, the trend of accounts centering women in rap was an inevitable phenomenon. Female rappers are the future of hip-hop, and as social media technology evolves, we can expect to see innovative storytelling and chronicling about women in rap using these tools as the decade goes on.
Banner Graphic: @popephoenix for Okayplayer
Natelegé Whaley is a culture journalist and a former staff reporter for Mic. She has also written for NBCNews, Pitchfork, Bandcamp, Vice, Teen Vogue, Vibe, and other outlets. Whaley’s beats include Black womanhood in popular culture, hip-hop’s impact on the broader culture, and reproductive justice.