Rolling Stone magazine recently compiled a list of the 50 greatest hip-hop songs of all time. Now, I know these lists are arbitrary and no one will be completely satisfied with who made the list and who didn’t. But what struck me about the list was just how male-dominated the list was. I understand hip-hop is a male-dominated genre – very few female MCs can make a dent on the charts, but it’s disappointing that Rolling Stone simply perpetuates this problem.
The list of 50 songs has a total of 4 songs that feature either a female MC (either as a solo artist or as a member of a group). The ladies who made it include Sha-Rock, who was in Funky 4+1; Salt-N-Pepa; Lauryn Hill, and Missy Elliott. The are some glaring omissions: TLC, MC Lyte, Lil’ Kim, Antoinette, M.I.A., Roxanne Shante, and probably the biggest snub: Queen Latifah. Each of these ladies have at least one classic record that could’ve been included in the list – in fact, I’m still wondering why Latifah’s hit with Brit rapper, Monie Love, “Ladies First” wasn’t included.
The snub just reinforces what a lot of folks still think: that rap is a man’s game, and that women can’t keep up.
And it’s not just hip-hop – on the magazine’s 500 greatest albums of all time – I counted 60 albums by a female artist – and I was being very loose when including certain bands like Wings because of Linda McCartney’s participation, or Massive Attack because of Shara Nelson’s contribution to the band. So according to Rolling Stone of the 500 greatest albums ever made, only about 12% of them would be produced by women.
In the collection of the 100 greatest guitarists, women fared even worse: only two made the list – Joni Mitchell and Bonnie Raitt.
The only time when women make a fair share of the list is when Rolling Stone put together a list of the 100 greatest singers ever – 24 women made the list, about half of artists counted (and Aretha Franklin made it to number one).
I hope that for the next “best of” list, the panel of judges broadens its scope on who to include in the list.