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From early innovators like Roxanne Shanté to breakout icons like Lauryn Hill and contemporary stars like Cardi B, women have been critical to hip-hop’s rise and evolution since its inception 50 years ago. Yet women in the genre have also faced countless contradictions in an industry that often rewards misogyny and in a world that tends to push limited and contradictory brands of feminism and femininity.
Journalist Joan Morgan was the first to coin the term “hip-hop feminism” with her 1999 book, “When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost.” According to Morgan, hip-hop feminism breaks down “ideologies of universal womanhood, bodies, class and gender construction to centre the Black identity as paramount to our experience” and “works to develop a radical self-politic of love, empowerment, gendered perception and social consciousness for the historically underrepresented, hyper-sexualized and marginalized.”
Since Morgan’s book was published, the concept of hip-hop feminism has been explored and refined extensively, just as countless new artists have risen to prominence. The following books explore hip-hop feminism as a way to challenge systems of oppression, including white supremacy and misogyny; as a catalyst for social change; and simply as a celebration of the women who have shaped hip-hop and contemporary culture at large, inspiring so many in the process. Ahead, check out the best books on hip-hop feminism.