When we talk about the history of Hip Hop music, we seldom, almost never, mention the contribution that women have had on the industry. Some of the women in Hip Hop have actually had greater feats than their male counterparts and have broken records. You have the iconic female MCs such as MC Lyte, Queen Latifah (one of the greatest lyricists, including both male and female, of all time), Roxanne Shante, Monie Love, YoYo, and many others. However, contrary to what many believe, Lil’ Kim was not the first female rap artist that combined skilled lyricism with sex appeal. That achievement goes to the iconic rap group, Salt-n-Pepa. Yes, before Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Trina, and Nicki Minaj – all female rappers notorious for their inclusion of sexiness in their overall images, there was Salt-n-Peppa. Just to note, that is not a biased opinion on women in Hip Hop having to be sexy, hence LL Cool J long being noted as a good MC and sex symbol.
Nevertheless, the Grammy Award trio, including DJ Spinderella, have recently made history becoming the first Rap/Hip Hop artists, male or female, to land a Las Vegas residency. To kick things off, they recently performed a medley of their hits on last night’s Billboard Music Awards. They performed some of their greatest hits including “Shoop”, “Whatta Man”, and “Let’s Talk About Sex” – the latter being a ground-breaking hit where musicians specifically called out sex, safe sex, and the importance of it. They did not allude to it or may a quick reference, but they spoke specifically about it. That is something that was never done before until them. It came during a critical time in history when the HIV and AIDS epidemic was gaining attention, but there still wasn’t enough effort made to combat the disease. During the 80s and 90s, the FemCees solidified their place in Hip Hop, paving the way for many of the rappers today.
While we are on the subject of groundbreaking female rappers in history, there have been others that have broken records and paved the way. In 1984, a 14 year old rapper from Queens, NY by the name of Roxane Shante became the first known female battle rapper, crushing guys in battle raps while still learning the basics of Algebra (insert Daaaammnnn! here). Then there is my personal favorite, deemed one of the very first “conscious” rappers, Queen Latifah. Overall, she is the most successful in terms of fame. She is a rapper, singer, actor, producer, talk show host, movie star, Broadway star, and the list goes on. Yeah, I love me some Queen La (insert head nod to U.N.I.T.Y. here). Then there is MC Lyte who was the first solo female rapper to release a full album. Da Brat was the first solo female rapper to have her album go platinum. And Lauryn Hill is a whole other conversation (a good one). And of course, Lil’ Kim. Salt-n-Pepa may have opened the door for being sexy and still having good rhymes, but Lil’ Kim undeniably kicked the door down. Not only was she forward about sex, and the personification of it, there is no denying that she is also one of the most skilled rappers ever.
Yeah, so, the ladies of rap deserve acknowledgement as well. Personally, I am an old school Hip Hop head. I’ll just say the classics. I am not feeling the direction that rap is going in at all. Skills are a thing of the past, and auto-tune appears to be a thing of the future (insert screw-face/it’s lame/shaking my head here).
In the meantime, walk down memory-lane with me below.