WOMEN AND Grime. Do the two go together? Grime has been used as a tool over the years for political change, but women are still largely underrepresented in the genre.
Grime is a male dominated scene. Masculinity is aspirational; men vie for alpha position. Masculinity is in part asserted through consuming women and expelling homosexuality.
Women are given very few opportunities to enter and centre themselves. In order to be seen, females often make themselves appear more masculine.
Shystie, Lady Leshurr, and Lioness have been in Grime for a long time and have been consistent, but when you look at their image, they have a range of representations with feminine touches. The same is true of Paigey Cakey, an MC from Hackney.
Make no mistake, lyrically, these women can stand on par with any male in the industry; they are sharp, and the lyrical interplay, metaphors, and bars are excellent. But why do so few women manage to successfully make it in Grime?
In my opinion, Grime makes little room for numerous women to have agency or be in leadership roles. It is primarily a space where heterosexual men have power and agency.
There are a lot of women behind the scenes for example, journalists, and event organisers, but they are usually hidden. Lyrical battles have been common place in music for years, but interestingly, male grime artists don’t even bother to address women who challenge them or the male perspective. They just brush it off and keep on moving.
Evidently, a change needs to come and is already underway. Whilst male domination in Grime, or the music industry in general, may never fully end, women are increasingly taking up more space. I can see more women climbing up the ranks and being unashamedly themselves. Why?
Because Grime is often used as a tool for change, and you can’t be political without addressing the imbalance in your own backyard.
This view is not idealistic.
We are already seeing tiny glimpses. Recently, Lioness did a ladies remix of her track DBT, which featured female artists addressing issues of colourism and empowering women, particularly black women who are particularly marginalised.
The more women who come together and collaborate, the more chance we have of changing the status quo, and the more we will be recognised as equals.
Divide and conquer has always been the enemy’s tool to tear down. If we squash that, we can turn male dominance on its head, and the first ladies of Grime will be able to truly stand up.