Women Rappers Remain in Pop Culture Spotlight during SXSW

Houston raised rapper Melissa Jeffords, known better as Lizzo, headlined the Ticketmaster South by Southwest showcase March 14. She came out in full Texas garb, sporting a cowboy hat and a fringed jacket with red, white and blue abound. Lizzo followed suit of black artists like Solange, who are embracing western wear culture and showcasing their Texas roots.

Story by Gabrielle Sanchez

Photos by Maya Coplin

Lizzo is known for her body positivity and women empowerment, with songs like “Coconut Oil” and “Good As Hell.” She took breaks between songs to talk to the audience about the realities of being a “big black woman” and the long journey she’s made to fully loving herself in a world that she says “doesn’t love you back.” She emphasized confidence and pleasure outside of men and in songs like “Fitness,” where she sings about working out but tells men “that I don’t do this for you” and that her inner strength and love is for herself.

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She went from singing about being boy crazy one moment in her hit “Boys,” and then talking about kicking f***boys to the curb in one of her new songs called “Jerome.” During her set she discussed toxic masculinity and asked the audience “Why are men so great until they gotta be great?” Telling the men in the audience that they have to do better and that the women who support misogyny have to do better, Lizzo is not afraid to call it as she sees it.

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She played all the hits, ending the night off with “Juice” in the encore. Lizzo continues to speak to those who feel less than in this society because of their race, body or sexuality and works to create an environment where everyone can feel themselves.

Lizzo topped off a night that highlighted strong, independent, insanely talented women rappers.

Across the street at Cheer Up Charlie’s, Nylon and She Shreds Magazine hosted a showcase with fast up-and-coming Megan Thee Stallion, who is Houston raised as well. She’s gained a lot of attention through her freestyling capability and ability to work a crowd. She preaches sex positivity and not taking mess from anybody else, especially men. The crowd got hyped up for songs like “Big Ole Freak” and “Neva” while Megan twerked throughout the set, busting it down while breaking it down for the crowd.

Brooklyn’s Leikeli47 performed as well at Cheer Up’s, donning her usual balaclava to cover her face. Lekeli47 became known for her audience interaction during SXSW, pulling audience members on stage to dance during songs like “Post It” and “Look,” including some of the staff here at ORANGE Magazine. Her songs center around finding confidence in oneself as well as earning that bag. At the end of her set she made a song with the crowd where she encouraged them to start working toward their goals and dreams, not matter what they were, she said the time to start is now. She will be back in Austin soon for a show at the Empire Control Room on April 11.

Such a high level of talent oozed from these women. These rappers, joined with other women such as Rico Nasty and BbyMutha, dominated SXSW, especially for the younger crowds. They’re empowering, inclusive, fun and all around boss women. They preach black success, empowerment for black women and earning one’s own. All of these women discuss having pleasure with men but also when to not take their mess and set boundaries. Artists such as Lizzo and Megan Thee Stallion love being from Texas and are here in a time where we are pushing for the recognition of the endless talents of black women.