This will likely go down as the year that the mainstream decided that it’s OK for anyone to be a rapper. Among the year’s buzziest rappers are openly bisexual black women who dabble in genderqueer lyrics, a Korean man, and a white hipster dude who openly advocates for marriage equality. And with “Oath” by X-Factor success story Cher Lloyd making its debut on the Hot 100 (at number 99, granted), we have a white British woman rapping on the American pop charts, which even now seems slightly unbelievable. (OK, she has Romany roots, but look and listen and tell me you’d guess that in forever.)
White girls have had a difficult time gaining acceptance in the rap world, largely because the vision of white-girl-ness that’s ingrained in the pop-cultural psyche is seen as the diametric opposite of hip-hop authenticity—some white female artists have bucked that vision, while others have unabashedly played into it. If Cher Lloyd’s Hot 100 appearance is any indication, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of them around. Which is great from the perspective of all-around fairness, but her performance itself raises some possible issues—by which I mainly mean the White-Girl Rapper Voice that she deploys.