Cole’s The Off-Season is another major album this year that failed to include women. While Cole is known to tackle his albums solo, he has noted that he made a deliberate effort to collaborate with other artists on this project. “Do you really wanna look back and be like, ‘You didn’t work with nobody? You didn’t have any songs with nobody? You just cool with that?’” Cole asked himself in The Off-Season documentary. “No, OK. So start saying yes to some features.” There are five features on the 12-track project, but none of which are women. 

In the past, some women have been able to break the ceiling. Nicki Minaj has been featured on a handful of male albums from artists like Kanye West and Lil Wayne, and her seniority has undoubtedly helped her. When female artists get rare opportunities to collaborate on albums from male artists, though, their contributions are often confined to performing hooks or recording twerkable verses. They aren’t given the same variety of opportunities that male artists get. So, despite some of the progress that has been made in the recent years, there is unfortunately still a long road ahead for women in rap. 

This isn’t the same situation as a TV series reboot where you can just add a bunch of people just to fit an inclusion and diversity quota. Forcing unnatural collaborations won’t solve the problem, but this conversation does deserve more attention. More awareness about the issue could produce different results. A little pressure from fans who let their favorite artists know they want more features from female rappers could go a long way. The louder and more persistent people are, the more likely an artist is to consider the wants and needs of their fansbase. Fans vocalizing opinions has worked when it comes to female representation in the past. After Rolling Loud organizers consistently received criticism over the festival’s male-dominated lineup, more women were added to the subsequent lineups. 

Fans can only do so much, though. The responsibility ultimately lies on the artists. In 2021, it’s impossible to miss the countless women who are bringing value to rap and would make great collaborators. To overlook women in this era is not an oversight; it’s prejudice.