This guest column is by Alexandra Hearth (aka Lex On The Decks), founder and host of the Hot Girls Podcast:
Back at the beginning of 2020, before Covid meant a thing, and restaurants didn’t feel like a new experience, my mind was mulling over the diversity debate. T.I. had released a well-circulated list of the 50 greatest rappers of all time and included only three women. And underneath the post on Instagram… “nah man, Nicki doesn’t deserve to be that high.”
Whether it’s in festival line-ups, award shows, or “best of” lists, the shortage of females is consistent. Billboard’s list of the Top Ten rappers features only one woman, and the highest entry on Ranker, a site which invites public voting, was Missy Elliott at number 51. The issues are both in the volume of women releasing music and in the perceived credibility of that output. And while I felt there were many contributing factors, I knew that ability wasn’t one of them.
I wondered therefore, if it was down to the way we guided talent. Were women being told to get in the gym, and men the studio? Or was it something else. Either way, I decided the only way to go further in fixing diversity in music, was to really understand how we got here in the first place.
That’s where the Hot Girls Podcast started, but it rapidly developed into a safe space for guests. A buzzing podcast where artists, DJs and those working behind the scenes, opened up about their experiences with complete transparency, and fearlessness. Now, with 55 episodes down, a year and a half of interviews, research, and writing, I’ve learnt many things. Some very personal, but some which I think are quite universal – so here’s five of them.
Having the right team is vital
“The music industry is very tribal”, said one guest in series one. A phrase which proved increasingly true. There’s a vulnerability to people working in this, often unregulated industry. Without the right people around you it’s going to be tough.
Men don’t seem to have the same natural self-doubt, as women
“I never really thought about that to be honest”, said Jords when I asked if he was intimidated by putting his first record out. This is a great thing, but as said by a female friend when I was discussing with her “that must be nice, I love that for him!”.
You have to be a self-starter
This one’s more personal. I was mixing for years before I did Hot Girls, but it almost wasn’t tangible enough when I was trying to explain who I was as a DJ&Presenter. I had to start something on my own and figure out all the steps. As did many of the women I researched and interviewed.
We’ve gone backwards (but hopefully can now go forwards again)
Foxy Brown, Eve, Kim, Queen Latifah… I could go on. Diversity in music has never been there, but it was better at one time. Now thanks to the rapid rise and grind of Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B and Stefflon Don, labels recognise there’s money to be made by developing female talent. The lamps are on, we just need to keep the batteries charged!
There is no “greatest”
We love to debate “who was the greatest”, but I’m not sure why we do it. After researching all these artists, I can firmly say it’s an impossible task. All these women did different things greatly. Lauryn Hill had a hugely impactful album, Missy Elliot took creativity and visuals to a whole new level, Sade delivered timeless-ness, Nicki stood alone at a time when rap needed a Queen. So when we look to “who’s next?”, we shouldn’t be looking for one person, we should be looking for many.
Many more Hot Girls.
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