A History Lesson: Femcees

For those of you who think Nicki Minaj is the first female rapper ever… check this out.  For those of you who swear that Lauryn Hill is and was the only good female rapper ever… check this out.  And for those who just want to (re)discover some new (old) music… check this out!

Roxanne Shante is credited with having the first ever “diss” record.  It was pretty good too.

The Real Roxanne, a Nuyorican with a serious flow, was dope.  Read up on the “Roxanne Wars” and check out her video for “On a Roll” and my favorite The Real Roxanne song, “Her Bad Self”

Did you know that R&B singer Angie Stone was a rapper back in the day?  I know you didn’t.  That’s why I included a link to”Simon Says” that she did while she was apart of the group The Sequence.

Lady B is from Philly.  I swear she’s freestylin’ and did you catch that queer nugget she leaves around 2:38?  Yeah, I know you didn’t.  That’s why I’m pointing to it.

Do ya’ll remember this?  Funkdafied, the album and this single, went Platinum. The RIAA is the industry trade organization that certifies the number of albums sold. You can search all your favorite rappers and see how many albums they’ve sold.

Hardcore, Lil’ Kim’s first album went DOUBLE Platinum, and for as much as folks swear they hate her, I bet you remember the words to “Crush on You.” I left some of her freestyle below.

One of my favorite Lil’ Kim rhymes is on a Mary J. Blige song, “I Can Love You.”  I just think her flow–the delivery–is just spectacular.

Now Lil’ Kim has sold a lot of albums as opposed to an artist like Jean Grae who I’m pretty sure writes all of her own stuff (there have always been rumors that Kim didn’t author some her earlier material–I may talk about this at a later date) and Grae will absolutely rip just about anyone apart in a cipher. Check her out with this sexy single, “Love Thirst”

I think Jean Grae is pretty fantastic.  She Blogs and Tweets and I die daily from reading her stuff.  She’s amazing live, I hear.  I’ve not been able to see her live yet, but it’s on my list of things to do before I die.

And Rah Digga, remember she ran with Busta an’em.

She don’t really do that type of commercial rap anymore. Check her out now.

Speaking of little kid raps…

Without Monie Love, there would be no Lil’ Mama.

And rapper Lil’ Mama, yep the “Lip Gloss” girl and the same one that ran on stage with Jay-Z and Alicia Keys… she put together a duo with the vocals of Left Eye.

And did ya’ll know Left Eye released a couple solo projects, one with Death Row? I hope I don’t get shot for saying that.

You remember Queen Pen? Listen to her short freestyle about LIFE.

Lady Luck? Who is that?

Then there’s folks like Ebony Eyez who were on major labels, but who you probably don’t remember because her label barely supported her.

Speaking of things you might not remember:

This was one of my favorite Salt-n-Pepa songs. This and…

Missy Elliot has been far ahead of the curve for a long time. Her rhymes are simple, but everyone doesn’t need to be Rakim. She’s also sold more records than most [male/female] rappers. All of her albums went Platinum except for This is not a Test and Da Real World (both of which went gold). She makes up for it since Under Construction went DOUBLE Platinum.

There are some more interesting women like Lola Monroe, who I think is aight on the mic.

What did she say?

“Imma tell you like a queen told me/F*** these ni***s/Like I strap on the D”

No she didn’t… yes she did.

And for those of you who are more into the jazzy, Afrocentric, and conscious music — you should know Bahamadia.

Who watched Martin growing up? Remember KeyLoLo? Shanana’s friend? That was femcee Yo-Yo.  Her’s is a message of sisterhood, female empowerment, and anti-sexism. AND she did hers with a gangsta rap swag.   You might remember her in Brandy’s “I wanna be down” (1995) which won a MTV Video Music Award.

Her rhymes are educational, and at the time she was seen as very antithetical to Queen Latifah who didn’t do the gangsta rap and her image was much more regal; however, their messages don’t seem that much different. I’d have to do a linguistic analysis to know for sure, but…

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a pretty good one to get you started.  There are some great femcees out there, and they’ve been here since this hip-hop thing started, but too many turn a deaf ear to what Black women are saying.  These women have been doing and saying a variety of different things for a long time.  All you have to do is listen.

Too many of us are reliant on the radio, MTV, or BET to tell us what’s hot.  Get on the internet, do some searches. Check out what’s going on beneath the surface of commercial hip-hop and see who else you might be drawn too.  Make a Pandora station, or check out mine, and discover a wealth of great femcees.

“THANK YOU SALT-N-PEPA” Pandora Radio Station.

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