The great thing about Entertainment Weekly's "Popwatch" blog is they often post about Hip Hop. If you're lucky, you'll happen upon an entry that decries a reality that not enough blogs (specifically Hip Hop blogs) are willing to decry, like the glaring lack of female MCs. Sadly, this was made plain by the all-male nominees of BET's 2008 Hip Hop Awards. Look, no one's saying this is BET's fault; the network is going to recognize who's popular and men are currently at the forefront. (Although we suspect that if there were enough female MCs to pick and choose from they probably wouldn't play their videos anyway, considering how it would conflict with their internal mandate of keeping depictions of Black woman with brains, creativity and clothes to a minimum.) But it's almost not worth recognizing Hip Hop if you cannot celebrate its diversity. (Look, I get it, it's BET, but hear me out). If women are not involved, there's nothing to award or celebrate. Basically, we are patting a bunch of dudes on the back for successfully silencing our sisters or using them as props.
Between Simon Vozick-Levinson and his commenters, a case was made for the following female artists:
Estelle: "After all, she raps, she's from the U.K., and her outstanding 2008 U.S. debut CD, Shine, is the finest offering from a female rapper since Lauryn Hill's 1998 classic, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill."
She needs to rap a little more often to qualify, IMHO.
M.I.A.: "Hello, 'Paper Planes' is the jam! (It's also No. 5 on Billboard's Hot Digital Songs chart, with sales in excess of 1.3 million.)"
Too bad the BET audience was only recently introduced to her via "Swagger Like Us."
Queen Latifah: "Take our advice, BET: Bestow the coveted I Am Hip-Hop Icon Award to Queen Latifah. Not because she's a woman, but because she deserves it."
But that would be too much like right. Besides, VH-1 (sad enough) is better at honoring Hip Hop legends than BET. No one else finds that bizzarre? Jean Grae also came up in the discussion (as she always does), but there's nothing about her that appeals to 12-year-olds, thereby disqualifying her from any recognition or rotation by BET.
So what's the solution to all this? One, don't rely on that network for any respectable variety of Black music, least of all Hip hop. Two, simply don't hold an entire ceremony that awards Hip Hop artists. It's redundant because there's already a BET Awards (we're willing to bet they came up with this second awards show to absorb any charges of coonery since it's come to be expected with an all-Hip Hop lineup. Ever see the Ozones?), and you represent one idea of Hip Hop which, to me at least, flies directly in the face of what Hip Hop should be.
The industry needs to re-align itself before it starts receiving all these accolades, even if they are coming from that network. I do not care how hot Lil' Wayne, Jay-Z and Kanye are right now. As long as it's "No Girls Allowed", Hip Hop probably shouldn't be getting any props.
BET Presents... An Award Show Without Women [PW]