Holla to all ma homies! Long time, no see. Hope everything’s good. Ya’ll know what, since last few months I unknowingly got to know many inspiring females around the world. Not the ones who are famous though but more underground cats who rep their stuff with great will and love. Unknowingly, their stories and interviews got my soul fired up with a lot of determination to do my stuff. And so, I decided to talk a bit about some really important Women in Hip Hop. Yayy!! It’s gonna be International Women’s Day Special blog. Ha! Right now I feel so PINK.
So let’s go.
Female Emcees who rhymed the truth…
So when any person thinks about hip hop, the very first thought that arises is Rapping. Yea, we have known many rappers from Coke La Rock (whom I have talked about in Lineage of MCs) to Eminem now. But unlike other elements of hip hop, rapping got really influenced by females. While the gangsta rappers bragged about sex, swagger, violence and masculinity dominating the woman kind; strong-willed females like MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and Monie Love rapped about the harassment against women and strongly demanding the need for change. MC Lyte in fact is actually the first female rapper to release her own album called “Lyte as a Rock” in 1988. She was the one to call for a Female Rap Solo Category in Grammy saying that, “it destroys the culture to not have the perspective of a woman”. Queen Latifah and Salt-N-Peppa were the first female rappers to take Grammy home for their song “Ladies First”.
As a matter of fact, Salt-N-Peppa, Lil Kim and Foxy Brown talked about their intimate desires while demanding respect and equality. They were outspoken of what they want. Bahamadia and Erykah Badu were one of a kind who kindled the melodies of jazz, soul and blues with their crafty rhymes. If ya ask me about my favourites, it is certainly – Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliot. Miseducation by Lauryn Hill, 1998 is one of her best works. It was her first solo album that was a bewitching blend of neo-soul and rhymes about problems in womanhood, black woman and music industry. Her words and music brought a new era to the rapping scene. Seems like she took Wyclef Jean’s rhymes in Zealots quite seriously.
And Missy Elliot was a funky and smart emcee who easily pushed away the sexually dressed rappers time and came up with her own bold world that got her the known as one of the legends of modern music. She changed the game. There came many more after all these big cats, but they surely are the best of all times.
Ladies spinning the real deal…
Don’t go thinking that the elements missed the females. The Djing sect has been blessed with exceptional female DJs who are keep the culture alive and real. One of them is DJ Spinderella from the Salt-N-Peppa group. She is quite well known in the scene and is more than just a female disc jockey. She raps, writes and is a mother too. Quite an inspiring mommy DJ she is, isn’t she? Not just her, but DJ Cocoa Chanelle has an enlivening background too. She was the first ever female DJ to work with BET (Black Entertainment Television) and is still going strong. DJ Eque has also worked with BET, apart from her works with Dr. Dre, DJ Screw and many others.
DJ Leecy T. is yet another talented yield trained by DJ M-TRI. She was chosen to mix MC Lyte’s first mixtape and gradually got obsessed with scratching, playing and cutting records. She thus got many chances to work with real deal legends like Grandmaster Caz, Grand Wizard Theodore, Homeboy Sandman and others. Another lady who had worked with big shots like Mobb Deep, The Roots, Ghostface, Jay-Z, Lil Kim, DJ Funk Master Flex, Killah, etc. is the mixtape queen, DJ Lazy K.
All this while, DJ Jazzy Joyce became well known for record cutting on the DJ boards and ad-libbing on the mic. Her skills are insane. She got featured on a DJ reality show, Masters of the Mix. Abounding years of hard work, awards, appreciation and being featured on various TV shows, radio stations and magazines made all these goddesses what they are. After all these years, they are still going heavy.
Graf writing by women in hip hop for women….
Women extended their reach to graffiti writing too. In Subway Art, Martha Cooper stated that it wasn’t the high school boys who painted the subway and walls. Girls used to write too. Females like Barbara 62, Eva 62, Lady Pink, Lady Heart and Lizzie were found tagging and writing pieces around the boroughs of NYC. In fact, Barbara 62 was considered as one of the first female graf writers. She was creative, copious and well known. Many other females like Eva 62, Michelle 62, Stoney, Cowboy, Grape, Charmaine, Kivu, Poonie 1 and Siku 1 wrote by her side in the early 1970s.
After around a decade emerged another prolific & popular writer – Lady Pink. She has been strong and influential till this day. She is in reality considered as one of the 50 greatest graffiti artists in NYC. Her art was poppy, expressive and gave away strong feminine empowerment. But all this she blended in such a fun-filled way that people loved seeing it. She was seen starring in the film “Wild Style” in 1985. Due to all her active participation led her to be known as the “First Lady of Graffiti”. Her presence demanded a new change to this male-centric art.
“It’s not just a boys club. We have a sisterhood thing going.”Lady Pink
Even after four decades, she is still slaying it. I think, she is the most inspiring lady graf writer for every emerging female writer in the whole world. Respect to her contribution and perseverance.
Breaking away the female stereotypes…
And finally the bgrils. Breaking has been for a long time and eventually females got involved too. Yass! Old school bgirls like Asia One(Asia), Lady Champ(Chicago), Baby Love, B-Girl Beta, Headspin Janet, Bubbles and many more were known. Some really established their identities in the history of breaking. Bgirl Asia One is a hip hop pioneer in Asia, educator and a trendsetter. Even though she isn’t a NYC resident, she is doing a great deal. She was featured in Step Up 2 and The Freshest Kids documentary. She has achieved a lot more than just this. The list is long. She was featured in a books like we We Bgirlz, We Got Issues and Vibes Hip Hop Divas Book.
Bgirl Rokafella is someone I truly admire. This lady started her journey rough but aimed to evolve higher and stronger. She has seen the NYC breaking scene evolve from dirt to gems. She got attached to the dance at the age of 11 and focused herself to work for it. But like in every other element of hip hop, b-girls felt the sexual tension too. Anyone would grab you while you jump into the circle. To ride outta this problem, Rokafella decided to work harder so that she could deter people from doing so. And she shined brighter than ever. She got acknowledged. Hear about this one, from her –Ana “Rokafella” Garcia: Wait Till I’m Finished
She is the real warrior. She thus co-founded the Full Circle Souljahs in 1996 along with her husband Bboy Kwikstep. She keenly focuses on educating oneself on hip hop roots. She has taken the reigns in her hand.
” I won’t let it [Hip-Hop] be faded and discarded. I have no 9-5. This is my life.”Bgirl Rokafella
We need more female leaders and educators as her to stand, fight and inspire for freedom. For hip hop. Every other girl in the scenes of hip hop goes through some or other kind of pressure. In early days of breaking, graffiti, rapping or djing, the ladies have faced a lot of criticism, sexism, harassment which got much worst when they started standing up equally against men. They were all tested and obviously, they won. They changed perspectives 360 degree around.
So today I am just happy to know that women in hip hop are encouraged more to pursue what they want. A girl can choose to be a bgirl while others encourage her to cross the physical demands. A girl can choose to express her thoughts freely through her rhymes and colours without worrying what the society wants. A girl can play her soul beats the way she wants. She no more needs to worry about sexism, motherhood issues, ungrateful critics about her strength and work, etc. Because she has her back. She became the Goddess of Change. In fact the Cindy Campbell, the 1st Lady and Mother of Hip Hop was the one to help DJ Kool Herc introduce hip hop to the world. Without her there wouldn’t have been this culture named hip hop.
Women always became and brought the change to hip hop. And mind ya’ll, this isn’t a miracle or magic; this is pure determination and faith that all these women put into themselves, their art and this beautiful culture called Hip Hop. They showed the world the hip hop perspective of women or maybe; perspective of woman in hip hop. What do ya’ll think?i
But all this wouldn’t have been possible only because of these strong ladies. There were men who guided them right and when needed. So I am gonna once again thank all the mothers and sisters and brothers and fathers of hip hop who brought the beautiful culture to what it is today. It is pure magical evolution.
This women’s day has really been special for me. Happy Women’s Day to ya’ll. Help me spread this to every woman who wants to explore her freedom and life FEARLESSLY. Let this reach her. Inspire her.
#DecipherIt. Peace 🙂