When you think of women in hip hop, the backdrop of most rap videos may come to mind. Scantily clad models in bikinis and low riders might be the first image you recollect. The beautiful women strategically placed in these videos are a key accessory in the lifestyle. While we all like to see a fine specimen, there’s something to be said about the women in the game who really rap. Most would refer to Hip Hop as a man’s game. But some daring females have been brave enough to challenge that notion. This month, we pay homage to the women of Hip Hop who can rumble with the boys.
Queen Latifah hails from East Orange, New Jersey also affectionately referred to as EO by those who call it home. Coming up in the hood, Queen Latifah made her start as a beatboxer with the Ladies Fresh group. Shortly after her start, she was signed with Tommy Boy Records and released her debut album “All Hail The Queen” when she was only 19 years old. With a booming rap career and theatrical talents lying in the waits, Queen Latifah took a stab at acting and landed a leading role on the hit show “Living Single” as Kadijah. She then went on to star in a stream of major films like Junlge Fever, Set It Off, Chicago, Beauty Shop, Hairspray, The Secret Life Of Bees and Just Wright. She’s won Academy Awards, Grammys and has been awarded several other accolades and its only right that we begun this list with her.
Continuing to blaze the trail, was small town Virginia-native, Missy Elliot. She got her start on her own merit in 1991 by forming an r & b group with a few friends and named themselves Fayze. After catching the eye of Jodeci member Devante Swing, the group moved to NYC and signed with Electra Records. She later made her mark as a producer alongside Timbaland and was responsible for hit rap songs like Aaliyah’s One In A Million, One In A Million, Hot Like Fire and 4 Page Letter. It wasn’t until 1997 that Missy dropped her Debut album Supa Dupa Fly laced with hits singles like The Rain where Missy started the puffy shiny suit trend. She then followed up with 7 more successful studio albums. Missy went on to achieve huge success with millions of album sold worldwide and was an integral component in Lil Kim’s classic ladies anthem “Not Tonight”.
Speaking of Lil Kim, there’s no way we could complete this list without her. Lil Kim bussed it wide open (literally) when she hit the scene in 1995 with Junior M.A.F.I.A. and Biggie Smalls. Kim’s debut album, Hard Core, to this day goes down as one of the most delightfully explicit pieces of music ever put out by a female MC. It was so dope, it went certified double platinum. The album was laced with classic hits like No Time and Crush On You and coined a slew of quatables like “Keep ya stone sets. I got my own briquets” and “I’ll be undressed in the bra all see-through”. Continuing to express her femininity in a game full of men, Kim dropped The Notorious K.I.M., La Bella Mafia and The Naked Truth. Although her success is now clouded by her current beef with Nicki Minaj.
Now as we talk about the era of Lil Kim, we have to without a doubt pay homage to Fox Boogie aka Foxy Brown. The Ill Nana was another female MC that had no shame in expressing her inner freak with streams of explicit lyrics that would make a porn star blush. Hailing from Brooklyn, she linked up with rising young rapper Jay-Z and was featured on “Aint No N*gga” and also garnered lots of attention with her feature on “Touch Me Tease Me” with Case. Foxy Brown then went on to release her debut album “Ill Nana” laced with classics like “I’ll Be” featuring Jay-Z and “Get Me Home”. Foxy has been plagued with legal woes in recent years but there are talks of a new album tilted “Black Roses”.
One MC that bears a striking vocal resemblance to Foxy Brown is Nicki Minaj. With their common Trinidadian heritage, its no shock that she channeled her predecessor. Having grown up listening to MCs of the past it’s understandable that Nicki learned from the greats that came before her. While she has been accused of swagger-jacking Lil Kim, no one is complaining. Nicki came on the scene when hardcore female rappers was being accepted as a thing of the past. She broke onto the scene in 2007 with a Youtube video titled “Itty Bitty Piggy” and hasn’t stopped blowing up since. Nicki Minaj’s debut album has been certified triple platinum worldwide and she racked up an enslought of endorsements that are sure to feed her children, her children’s children, her children’s children’s children and so on and so forth. With deals with MAC, OPI, Super Bowl and Grammy performances, its safe to say she “Did It On Em”.
Next up we have the freshest face in the game the young Harlem spitter known as Azealia Banks. She got a bullhorn for a mouth and aint afraid to use it. Coming up a little brown girl in Harlem, she's pro balck and very proud of it. Her sound is like no other MC you’e ever heard before. Singing, rapping and acting fall in line with her repertoire and we’re sure the possibilities are limitless. She went viral in the summer of 2011 with her Youtube video “212” and has since been touring Europe while of course listening to her record spinning on radio stations around the world. There’s no doubt she’s a breath of fresh air to the game.
Not on the forefront but definitely a mover and a shaker in the hip hop industry we have Yandy Smith. Prior to gracing our televisions in the VH1 Reality series Love & Hip Hop, Yandy was manager to the likes of Busta Rhymes, Missy Elliot and of course Dipset’s Jim Jones. Booking shows, planning tours, scheduling studio time and organizing video shoots are all talents that Yandy Smith has used to earn her a slot on our list of women who deserve a high five in the realm of Hip Hop. We’ve seen her deal with the struggles of working in the rap world and have to say she’s been doing an impeccable job considering the environment. Kudos to her!
Angie Martinez might very well be the most popular radio personality in Hip Hop. The Bronx born, Brooklyn raised New Yorker was an avid hip hop fan and had already developed an affinity for music as her mother was a PD at a jazz radio station. Angie Martinez, affectionately called Angie by her industry peers made her start as Funkmaster Flex’s intern and went on to secure her own radio show. Since Angie Martinez hit the airwaves, she has dominated the afternoon drive slot in New York City. Known as “The Voice of New York,” Angie has become the "go to" person for important interviews. In addition to radio, Angie has released two albums, appeared in several films and television shows and was one of the faces of Cover Girl’s Queen Collection campaign. Tune in to The Angie Martinez Show from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays for the latest music, hottest exclusives, entertainment news and interviews only on HOT 97.
The HOT 97 family not only lays claim to the number one hip hop female personality but is also the home of Miss Info who’s impeccable hip hop reporting has made her a respected news source among media outlets. On air, online, in print, and everywhere at once, Miss Info breaks down hip hop gossip and hip hop news on HOT97 with credibility and razor- sharp wit. As the HOT97 News Director, she speaks to two-million listeners every hour with her news segment and then dishes out the Miss Info Celebrity Drama report every night on the top- rated Funkmaster Flex Show.
In a man’s world and a man’s industry, these ladies have done the groundbreaking, painstaking work to earn their spot. They’ve put blood, sweat and tears into their craft. They’ve earned the right to go toe to toe with the big boys in a sometimes misogynistic world of cars, clothes and h*es (all a n*gga knows). Lets give a handclap to the ladies that wear the pants in Hip Hop.