Representations of Black Women and Womanism in Contemporary Black Music

Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, and TLC

Mainstream representations of black women in the music industry can often be stereotypical, and representations of womanist ideology are generally sparse, so it is important to seek examples of and understand the need for diverse representation. The following resources range in format from academic journals to videos to cater for differing levels of accessibility, and span different time periods to provide a varied starting point for understanding womanism and black women’s place in traditionally black music genres. Sources 1-3 provide a broader overview on this, covering both present-day artists and historical reviews. Sources 4-8 focus in on specific musician’s contributions toward womanist and black feminist representation in different contemporary music periods. Sources 9-12 look toward common cultural (mis)representations of black women in the hip-hop industry, whilst sources 13-15 offer audio-visual representations of this through an academic clip and documentaries. Whilst this list is by no means exhaustive, it provides a foundational basis from which to understand contemporary representations of black women and womanism in this form of media.


1. Womanist Perspectives on Black Music

2. Oppositional Consciousness Within an Oppositional Realm: The Case of Feminism and Womanism in Rap and Hip Hop, 1974-2004

3. Check It While I Wreck It: Black Womanhood, Hip-Hop Culture, and the Public Sphere

4. “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood:” Nina Simone’s Africana Womanism

5. Lauryn Hill as Lyricist and Womanist

6. Why Missy Elliott’s Feminist Legacy is Criminally Underrated

7. Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott and Nicki Minaj: Fashionistin’ Black Female Sexuality in Hip-Hop Culture — Girl Power or Overpowered?

8. ‘Lemonade’ as a Womanist Manifesto

9. “There Are Bitches and Hoes”: Excerpt from The Hip-Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip-Hop — And Why It Matters

10. Now That’s A Bad Bitch!: The State of Women in Hip-Hop

11. “Where My Girls At?”: Negotiating Black Womanhood in Music Videos

12. Vixen Resistin’: Redefining Black Womanhood in Hip-Hop Music Videos

13. Tricia Rose — Hip Hop Images: Women and Exploitation

14. My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women in Hip Hop

15. Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats & Rhymes