Female Rappers in the Spotlight Make Room for Motherhood

As their influence and success continue to grow, artists including Sexyy Red and Cardi B are destigmatizing motherhood for hip-hop performers.

When the rapper Sexyy Red realized she was pregnant with her second child this summer, just after her singles “Pound Town” and “SkeeYee” broke through on the charts and dominated TikTok, her excitement was met with hesitancy by some members of her team.

She said some people in her camp were supportive. Others advised her to have an abortion, counsel she rejected. “I’m not never going to let nobody tell me what to do with my body,” she said during a video call in December.

Sexyy, born Janae Wherry, publicly announced her pregnancy via an Instagram post on the heels of the release of “Rich Baby Daddy,” a hit collaboration with Drake and SZA. Now in her final trimester, she often performs in belly-hugging unitards as she twerks and raps her hits, taking her 3-year-old son, Chuckyy, on the road with help from her mother.

Women in music, and particularly in the male-dominated battle zone of hip-hop, have long been advised to terminate pregnancies, or at least to recede from the spotlight until their babies were delivered, told that showcasing pregnancy and motherhood would make them seem weak, unappealing or unfocused on their highly competitive careers. Male-led rap crews and record labels have traditionally put their might behind one female M.C. at a time, creating pressure for women to not cede their moment for anything, including starting a family.

Da Brat, whose debut album “Funkdafied” in 1994 was the first platinum release by a solo female rap artist, said she faced pressure to be sexually appealing to women and men, “because everyone had to think they had a shot with you.”

Cardi B revealed her pregnancy in a 2018 appearance on “Saturday Night Live.”Will Heath/NBCUniversal, via Getty Images

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