Wild how it's 2017 and some men are still acting like it's 1884. On Monday, Rick Ross was interviewed on The Breakfast Club, and conversation turned towards his Maybach Music Group. Asked by the show's hosts about the type of act he looks for when signing new artists to the label, Ross gave a terrible but enormously unsurprising answer when Angela Yee questioned whether he'd thought about signing a woman:
Angela Yee: What about a female rapper? I know you dibbled and dabbled with other female rappers but, you know – is that something you feel like…
Rick Ross: I never did it, because I always thought that, like, I would end up fucking the female rapper, fucking the business up […] if she's lookin' good and I'm spending so much money on her photoshoots, I gotta fuck her.
When you add this to the fact that Ross' first on-air interaction with Yee during the interview was to tell her "I need to see your legs though," and later "I need you twerking at the next one," in reference to a pool party they were discussing, it's a sorry state of affairs.
And yes, it's jokey and she takes it with good humour but also: come on man. This sort of thing is boring. There's a reason why there's still a dearth of women at all levels of the music industry, and one element of it is attitudes like this, where even to their own faces women are objectified, despite demonstrable talent and expertise that often goes far beyond the men they're sitting alongside (and who, in Yee's case, made jokes at her expense too), just because they've had to work harder for respect. I'm not trying to make something out of nothing, because clearly Yee didn't take the remarks to heart, but it's exactly the casual nature of comments like this that keep women across society from reaching their full potential, and which can end up nudging women and their valuable skills out of places like the music industry.
Where woman artists are concerned, there's a long and well-known history of abuse of power by men in positions of authority. Ross' comments are, for example, especially irresponsible when so recently there have been high-profile allegations of abuse by R Kelly against young black women (which his lawyer has denied), perpetrated by someone who was initially thought of as a music industry mentor. Often women who are seeking a career in music fall prey to men who they are told can help them, only to be used sexually and then cast off. You only need to watch Jessie Reyez's recent Gatekeeper short film or music video for one version of that testimony.
TL;DR women in the music industry aren't just there to be enjoyed by men. They're talented and creative in their own right. And those in the establishment who think women should only get to be seen and not heard should be terrified, because when you've had to work twice as hard at your craft to earn half the respect, chances are you're also going to be twice as good as the people who have been standing in your way. Write that down, bookmark it in your phone, whatever – I can't believe we still have to repeat sentiments as entry-level as this, and chances are neither can scores of other women in this industry (if you want proof, here's a great piece that went up on The FADER today featuring their female-identifying staff talking about similar issues). Fix up. Do better.
Follow Lauren on Twitter.