Well-known females are scarce in Christian hip hop, but artists disagree whether or not this is an issue amplified in the subgenre in particular or if it’s simply one of the whole genre.
“Hip hop period has just always lacked females,” Lecrae told Wade-O Radio. “Christian hip hop is just a microcosm of hip hop. So if there’s a lack of females on a grander scale, there’s going to be a lack on a smaller scale.”
Twitter is an inexact way to gauge one’s influence, but just as an example of the lack of female awareness in Christian hip hop, note the disparity between the scene’s most prominent male—Lecrae— and female—Natalie Lauren, formerly known as Suzy Rock.
Lauren has 9,409 Twitter followers. Lecrae has 681,767 followers and gains 626 per day according to TwitterCounter. More Twitter users will follow Lecrae in approximately the next 15 days than follow Lauren now.
Lauren sang the hook on Lecrae’s “Fuego” and “No Regrets.” Both were the most popular track on the deluxe version of “Gravity” and the “Church Clothes” EP according to iTunes.
Rapzilla even reported that “Fuego” reached No. 5 on iTunes’ top selling hip-hop/rap songs—the first time a Christian hip-hop song had ever cracked the top 10.
Christian hip hop doesn’t have a lack of talented females, but a lack of awareness of them. Thi’sl stressed that to Wade-O Radio. The Full Ride Music Group artist who inspired the all-female compilation, “Girl Code,” instead attributed the lack of female awareness in Christian hip hop to the lack of support from male crews.
Butta P, a member of the rap group Rhema Soul, echoed his point. She claimed that it’s one major difference between how females are perceived in Christian hip hop and the genre as a whole.
“When [a secular rap group] has a female in their clique, they treat her like, ‘This is our princess. We got to do whatever we can to make sure she gets put on,’” Butta P told Wade-O Radio. “I think in the Christian arena, we don’t have that.”
She used Nicki Minaj’s success as an example of what happens when a crew properly highlights a talented female artist. “Pink Friday,” Minaj’s debut studio album, went double platinum. However, it skyrocketed up the charts only after Drake featured her on “Thank Me Later,” Lil Wayne featured her on “Rebirth” and “I Am Not A Human Being” and Young Money Entertainment featured her on its compilation project, “We Are Young Money,” five times.
“Even if [Minaj] would’ve been garbage, she would’ve still sold well because just resource wise, they put everything behind her,” said Butta P. “Then to top it off, she’s dope. I just think that’s what we’re missing in the Christian arena. We don’t have that support.”
Some, like The Guardian’s Latoya Peterson, would argue Minaj also obtained success by marketing herself as a “sexual object.”
Erica Cumbo of Canton Jones’ CAJO Records claimed that Minaj isn’t alone.
“In the secular arena, women are pushed by being sex symbols,” Cumbo told Wade-O Radio. She believes the reason why so few female Christian rappers are well-known is because it’s more difficult to sell purity. She guessed that secular record labels don’t know how to sell it and Christian ones that do doubt its profitability.
While the inability of female Christian rappers to sell sex makes recognition more difficult to achieve than for a non-believer, both are faced with the fact that, according to Stephen the Levite, hip-hop culture is masculine in nature.
“In some ways, the opposite of hip hop is femininity,” the Lamp Mode Recordings artist told Wade-O Radio. “Hip hop is such a masculine art form and it has very gangster, street and rugged roots that sometimes it’s difficult for females to find their place in it. I think the female artist has to respect that and understand that’s the situation when they’re looking at how they bring their art to the table.
Mahogany Jones—U.S. musical ambassador and Christian hip-hop artist who The Cross Movement showed interest in signing years ago—agreed with Stephen the Levite, but her producer, Ronald Lee, argued that it wasn’t always the case. He claimed the oversexualization of hip hop actually caused it to become over masculine. Either way, that combination puts an immense amount of pressure on female Christian rappers.
“Women in Christendom who do hip hop, it’s a funny place,” Jones told Wade-O Radio.
She explained that, while the Christian market can’t treat her like a sex object—even though that’s the norm in hip-hop culture as a whole—it also disapproves of over-masculine female artists.
“I think we really struggle in Christianity with misogyny and with roles that men and women play,” said Jones.
Humble Beast emcee Propaganda believes that societal roles in general play into female rappers struggling to gain prominence.
“Sadly, we live in a society where the hustle it takes to get there is not conducive,” he told Wade-O Radio.
Propaganda used his wife, who was in a PhD program, as an example. He said that she’d either need a stay-at-home husband or to not have children for her to be able to dedicate the amount of time into the program that her competitors do. Her struggle isn’t one as common to males of any occupation.
“From a society’s perspective, it’s OK for a husband to be a workaholic because if the family suffers, nobody knows. At least you got a wife taking care of the family,” said Propaganda, before adding that society doesn’t allow mothers to prioritize work over family.
He added that when Christian females redefine success, weighing worldly achievement against their family’s happiness, they’re also more prone to set—in the case of an emcee—rapping aside. Propaganda also noted that from the perspective of a married, male Christian rapper, traveling with a female artist on a tour bus “could just get weird.”
“You just want to be above reproach,” agreed Lecrae.
Ronald Lee understood Lecrae and Propaganda’s caution, but argued that any males attempting to avoid sexual temptation on a tour bus should check their hearts, rather than spurn a female artist deserving of getting signed.
Cumbo added that there are ways to protect against the reproach Lecrae wants to avoid. She said that she almost always brings her husband, sister or a best friend with her when touring.
Cumbo is a female Christian hip-hop artist and it took the High Society Collective for her to be introduced to Natalie Lauren and Canton Jones’ “Kingdom Business, Pt. 4” to be introduced to HeeSun Lee.
Lauren and Lee were brought to Cumbo’s attention thanks to leaders like Jones and Sho Baraka of the High Society Collective offering them a chance to shine. That’s what Butta P called for more of. She stressed that when female Christian rappers do receive that golden opportunity, though, they can’t become complacent or they’ll risk ruining the perception of the entire female minority’s work ethic.
“The leaders of this movement need to do a better job helping females get a little more exposure,” said Butta P, “but at the same time, females need to understand that once you get that exposure, you need to work your butt off.”
**An interview with Zema of Zema Promotions and DaSouth aided this report.**