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The Grammy nominations are in, but women rappers were shut out

Women in rap have been enjoying the monumental success and recognition that’s long been coming to them—so why hasn’t the Recording Academy taken notice?

The Grammy nominations are in, but women rappers were shut out
Rapsody (left) and Tierra Whack (right) [Photos: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images (Rapsody); Rich Fury/Getty Images for Teen Vogue (Whack)]

The 62nd annual Grammy nominations are in, and once again there’s an issue with artists being left out.

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In all of the rap-related categories (Best Rap Performance, Best Rap/Sung Performance, Best Rap Song, and Best Rap Album), only one woman, Cardi B, is up for a nomination—and it’s only for a feature on Offset’s song “Clout.” It shouldn’t be surprising, given the dearth of women nominees in rap in years past. Cardi took home best rap album last year for Invasion of Privacy but was the only woman to do so as a solo artist . . . ever.

In the past few years, women have finally been getting the recognition they deserve in rap. It’s not that there haven’t been any women rappers; it’s just that none of them have had the radio and media support required to catch fire in the mainstream, beyond the industry staple that became Nicki Minaj. However, megahits such as Young M.A.’s “Ooouuu” in 2016 and Cardi’s “Bodak Yellow” the following year changed the game by forcing people to see there was a broader pool of deserving talent.

Cut to 2019, and women in rap have become an undeniable force, from chart-toppers such as Megan Thee Stallion and City Girls, to viral sensations such as Doja Cat, Rico Nasty, and Saweetie, to OGs riding the new wave such as Remy Ma and Rapsody, to avant-garde wordsmiths such as Tierra Whack and Leikeli47, and so many artists in between.

So why hasn’t the Recording Academy caught wise?

This year, albums such as Megan Thee Stallion’s Fever, Dreezy’s Big Dreez, Rico Nasty’s Anger Management, City Girls’ Girl Code, Leikeli47’s Acrylic, Rapsody’s Eve, and Doja Cat’s deluxe version of Amala all fell within the Grammy’s eligibility window: they had been released between October 1, 2018, and August 31, 2019. Highly worthy submissions such as Nicki Minaj’s Queen,  and Young M.A.’s Herstory in the Making just missed the cut, having been released August 10, 2018, and September 27, 2019, respectively (low-key, this feels like a deadline that could be fudged, but whatever). And aside from full albums, there have been a number of singles and collabs that could have and should have been up for, at the very least, a nomination.

Granted, these artists may have missed the deadline or not wanted to submit their work for consideration at all, à la Drake and Frank Ocean in years past. But that’s hard to believe. Former Grammy president Neil Portnow wanted women artists to “step up” and they did, most notably in rap. So why can’t the academy step up and start giving these women what they deserve?

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About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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