In this dimly lit nightspot, an intimate setting jam-packed with a crowd anxious to hear their favorite underground emcee rip the mic, two individuals await. One is a female waiting to perform and the other is her male manager, who listens intently backstage. As if being with a female weren’t difficult enough, these men must also undertake the struggles their women endure trying to penetrate the rap game as a serious artist. Added to that, a female rapper’s relationships with men are often the emotional root of her music.
In a relationship where the female is involved in the male-dominated profession of emceeing, the affiliation can be a case of role reversals. Rap has always really been a man’s world, where rappers revolt aggressively and declare their manhood – marking their territory and stressing loyalty to the streets in the name of masculinity. When females take on this role or try to enforce a different position, problems arise. “The love in hip-hop is over men, crew love, brotherly love. It’s very sort of ancient Greek. It really doesn’t allow a lot of room for women,” states Toure, a hip-hop writer and former co-host of MTV’s Spoke N’ Heard. “Hip-hop is, at its essence, is boys, not men, but boys talking about what they do for and with boys.”
Jean Grae’s fiancé Colin also plays manager to the indie femcee who refuses to compromise her style for the mainstream. He is no doubt frustrated as Grae attempts to penetrate the Rap arena on a major scale. Eve’s ex-boyfriend of two years, producer Stevie J, was seen frequently wrapped on the arm of the Philadelphia bombshell, always in the shadows of her celebrity despite his own musical success. Prior to their mutual separation, Eve told MTV News, “Our relationship is great…I’m behind him all the way. I pray to God it doesn’t mess us up. We feel as if we have a strong bond and strong love. We’ll have to wait and see what happens. I think we’ll be all right.” But was Stevie J as committed to the relationship? On her sophomore LP Scorpion, Eve raps in “You Had Me, You Lost Me,” (which Stevie J produced) “Sneaking numbers out my phone / calling bitches on the cell / what the hell / clunky bitches one on the scale.”
What about male rappers who get involved with female rappers? Doesn’t happen often due to the lack of female emcees to pick from. But the most known male emcee/female emcee relationship would probably be between the deceased Notorious B.I.G. and Lil’ Kim. The two secretly (and later publicly) romanced each other in the 90s, after which Kim admitted to being in a relationship with B.I.G. while he was still married to R&B singer Faith Evans. Either way, one certainty is that being the significant other to a female emcee is not an easy role, whether in or out of the business.