Monday, March 5, 2012

Death of the Female MC: Hip Hop Has Lost Its Way

Lyte as a Rock, or I should say a boulder 
Rolling down your neck, pounding on your shoulders  
Never shall I be an emcee, called a wannabe  
I am the Lyte, L-Y-T-E This is the way it is, don't ever forget  
Hear the rhyme by someone else and you know they get  
All in the way, just little obstacles  
Chew em up, spit em out, just like popsicles  
Suckers out of my way, we're not on the same wavelength  
I show stability, potential and strength  
On the other hand, you are weak and unruly  
Could never be a spy, cause you're just a plain stoolie”  
-MC Lyte “Light As a Rock”
I remember bouncing my head up and down to the song “Light as a rock” as a kid. I had a Walkman and I wore that overpriced and ugly little yellow tape player out. I adored MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Salt N Peppa, Sha Rock, and Lady of Rage, and Bahamadia. They represented hip hop to me because hip hop wasn’t just a few lyrics thrown together over a tight beat. It was an expression of a generation that came before me. It was the middle ground between disco and hard core rap. And while anything can be seen as an aesthetic, hip hop was that for me as I continued to grow and come into self. I remember distinctly listening to songs such as the one above and being blow away by Queen Latifah’s “Unity”. After all, the song sent a clear message that Black women were indeed beautiful and that labels such as “bitch or hoe” could never encompass a Black woman’s beauty (rather that term was used in bullshit admiration or in a derogatory sense as a opposed to a term of endearment among females today).

In order to understand the gravity of having female emcees in hip hop you would have to be able to understand and dissect hip hop. Hip Hop was a movement at one point with the founding fathers and mothers of hip hop spitting rhymes over amazing melody. If you’ve ever heard an Afrika Bambaataa cut or listen to The Funky Four Plus One (Sha Rock being the mother of hip hop) then you can understand where I’m coming from when I say that it was a movement. The image of many female emcees during that era was that of a tomboy. Sexuality was acknowledged, but not necessarily blatantly exuded. You had women throwing down on the microphone, women like Roxanne Shante, Ladybug Mecca, and the Real Roxanne. The rhymes were in their infancy. By the time the duo Salt N Peppa hit the scene, the road had been paved but was still bumpy for any female emcee. Salt N Peppa pushed the envelope and oozed sexuality in the song “Push it” which was released in 1986 (lots of good things came out of that year, clearly that was the year I was born). The lyrics were raw and edgy.
Yo, yo, yo, yo, baby-pop  
Yeah, you come here, gimme a kiss  
Better make it fast or else I'm gonna get pissed  
Can't you hear the music's pumpin' hard like I wish you would?
Salt N Pepa “Push It”
Following Salt N Peppa a slew of female rappers came. The late eighties through early nineties brought on Dana Owens (Queen Latifah) and MC Lyte, JJ Fad, Yo Yo, Monie Love, as well as the ladies of TLC. The Mid 90’s brought on the hypersexualized female emcees like Lil Kim and Foxy Brown as well as Da Brat, Adina Howard, Jean Grae, Eve, Mystic, La Chat, and Lauryn Hill. The image of the female emcee was evolving, and while maintaining rawness female emcees of the 90’s- 2000’s had a sexual edge which screamed “Yes I am woman, yes I can rap, and yes I look sexy doing it.”

Some forty plus years after hip hop’s birth, it is quite far from its beginnings. Hip hop has now become ridiculously masculinized, extremely hyper-sexualized, and overtly materialistic (with little talent to go along with it). It is, at most points,  derogatory in every aspect from lyric to the videos shot for hip hop songs (not counting all artist but most). The female emcees most of the time are depicted as hyper-sexualized eye candy. With female emcees such as Khia, Jackie O, Kelis, Remy Ma, Trina (a.k.a “The baddest bitch”), and currently the ever popular bi-polar Nicki Minaj with songs like “Stupid hoe”, this is quite blatant. With vapid and childish lyrics like:
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (x3)  
You a stupid hoe, (yeah) you a, you a stupid hoe  
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (stupid, stupid)  
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (stupid, stupid)  
You a stupid hoe, you a, you a stupid hoe (stupid, stupid)  
(stupid, stupid)
Something in me has begun to cringe. Where are all the great female emcees? Did they go into hiding, can they be found? While there is a little hope in the underground hip hop scene with artist like Honey Child Coleman, Kid Sister and Meshell Ndegeocello digging in the genre every now and again (Though more fusion than anything), what kind of future is held for the female emcee who doesn’t want to talk about taking it in every orifice? Will there be a market for the emcees like the ones of the past? I’m not quite sure, but I do know the “stupid hoe” route is not the way to go.


Remedy Da Franchise said...


Midnightrose said...

Thank you so much for the feedback.. My hope is to do a follow up on this with an interview with you and from your perspective. Thank you for sharing the article. Namaste.

1646bfde-6a3a-11e1-a116-000bcdcb471e said...

A nice piece! Cyber world needed this....

Pfeva Rock

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