It's official: The two rap songs that have had the longest reigns as the most popular rap songs in the country are by female rappers.
After 16 weeks, Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" just claimed the second-longest run ever as the No. 1 song on Billboard's Hot Rap chart. That means it broke its tie with Drake’s "Best I Ever Had" and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop" at 15 weeks. But there's one song it hasn't beat yet: Missy Elliott's 1999 smash "Hot Boyz (featuring Nas, Eve and Q-Tip)," which, at 18 weeks, has the longest reign ever.
Two of the most accomplished rap songs ever recorded are both by women.
For most of its 40-year history, hip-hop has been a boys' club. Women have been arm candy, yacht decor or ride-or-die thug coquettes, but they've rarely been seen as equal creative forces to men. Recently, all that has been changing: Female rappers are currently blazing a trail through hip-hop history, breaking records and racking up huge sales, and with each the record they break, we move just a little bit closer to gender equality in hip-hop.
Iggy Azalea has been leading the charge for female rappers this summer especially. In May, she became the first artist since the Beatles in 1964 to have her first two entries on the Billboard charts nab the top two spots — she held the first and second spots with "Fancy" and "Problem," her collaboration with Ariana Grande. Then in July, "Problem" became the first No. 1 ever on the Official U.K. Singles Chart after its historic update to include streaming plays. Last week, Azalea set another chart record, an even bigger one in terms of the impact it will have on hip-hop as a whole.
This accomplishment is truly astounding, and it will hopefully open the door for a more serious consideration of women's roles in hip-hop. Nowadays, when pundits contemplate the top MCs or the legends of this genre, female rappers rarely appear. There's an industry bias too, as they're hardly even considered reliable hit-makers. But between this news and all the attention Nicki Minaj is receiving for "Anaconda," female rap is making some major waves. Soon "FemCee" won't even be a necessary term, because MC will no longer be considered a male-dominated role. When that happens, we'll likely move towards a more open discourse in hip-hop, preferably one that's not marred by misogyny and doesn't rely so insistently on words like "bitch."
Last year, we predicted that 2014 would be the year of the female rapper. It's half over, and Nicki Minaj, Azalea Banks and Lauryn Hill all still have albums on the way. And while the female hypersexuality that has become a necessity for women in hip-hop is still prevalent, it's taking on a much more political tone, lending itself more to women's empowerment than exploitation.
So Azalea and Elliott have made history, but they won't be alone. Keep an eye out for more female hip-hop albums and continue to support the underrepresented narratives in hip-hop. That's the only way to keep the genre from being pigeonholed as materialistic, misogynistic and violent. It's always been about more than that.
H/t to Billboard.