“…forget the ego, it takes a woman and a man/ my guard is up so now you cop a plea/ this is protected with a key you sissy!” lyric from the song “Rebel Soul” by Lin “Isis” Que Ayoung from the 1990 album “Rebel Soul”.
Ahhh, the fierceness of the lyrical lyricist of one Isis, can we dig it? (Smile). Hip-Hop has its share of nice female MCs. Although in a seemingly male dominated art form, it may be easy to overlook and not consider as much as the other gender. But there’s no way we can leave out our feminine deities.
Sha Rock rocked the spot as a member of The Funky Four + 1. And their number one 1980 jam “That’s The Joint” was well, the joint (ha!). There’s Sparky D, who was largely an unknown to me but when I finally heard “Throwdown” I became a fan for real. I came upon this rare gem initially on a compilation of female MCs on “Fat Beats &…(ahem, I ain’t gon’ mention this part of the title, just look it up, ha!) – Women In Hip-Hop”.
Never let it be said that women can’t battle rhyme. Enter The Shante, Roxanne Shante that is. For today’s viewers/listeners, this was probably made famous on the Empire show (yeah, I watched it, ha!) with the battle between Hakeem and Freda Gatz. One that favors her out now is Dej Loaf, but back to the Shante.
Her fame sky rocketed back in the early ’80s when she decided to go after the then popular group U.T.F.O. for their hit “Roxanne, Roxanne”. Her response song “Roxanne’s Revenge” was hard hitting. This spanned many a dis records @ the time. That was when battling with words was a bit more fun even though it could and did get quite ugly in some instances.
The Real Roxanne also had her moment in the light with her own “The Real Roxanne” in ’88. In ’89 from “Lyte As A Rock”, MC Lyte releases “Paper Thin” and didn’t pretend she didn’t have words for her next of kin (not really related) in the form of Antoinette with “10% Dis”, a type of Bogart (no not Humphrey, ha!) to her “I Got An Attitude” record.
Salt & Pepa’s “My Mic Sounds Nice” from their ’86 debut “Hot, Cool & Vicious” and other treats were unique, especially when they first stepped up to the mic to diss Slick Rick & Doug E Fresh, yes! Queen Latifah quite broke the mold @ the same time as Lyte did in the form of “Wrath Of My Madness” from her “All Hail The Queen” album. That is still my favorite track from her. J.J. Fad’s ’88 “Supersonic”, which @ the end of the song, I still to this day don’t know what they were saying (ha!), was still ill (nice).
Can Erykah Badu be considered an MC or be classified more as a songstress? But I’ll continue “On & On” like it was ’97, ha! Lauryn Hill from the Fugees, “Fu-Gee-La, a Teena Marie honor and “Ready Or Not” from “The Score” isn’t to be ignored. I consider her own “The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill” from ’98 to be a thrill with “Lost Ones” and others to be grrreat! (like Tony the tiger).
Many may also be familiar with Lil’ Kim, Da’ Brat, TLC (particularly Right Eye, I mean Left Eye…Smile) and the incredible Missy Elliott. There’s a host of female MCs who have contributed to the landscape of Hip-Hop and deserve recognition, these were just a few of those mentioned. And as I take my leave, I’m doing like our sister Njeri Earth suggests and just “Breathe”. (Smile)