Hip Hop Heroines: Where Have They Been?
Salt-n-Pepa, Lil’ Kim, MC Lyte, Missy Elliott, and Eve
The lack of female rappers has been quite a pressing topic here on DrJays over the last few days. A lot of the same few names usually come to mind when someone speaks of formerly prominent female emcees (e.g. Lauryn Hill, Eve, Foxy Brown). However, there are plenty of ladies on the mic that who tend to get left out of the conversation. This article will focus on three lesser-known (and often unsung) women in hip hop.
When she made her way into the game with the highly sexual and raunchy “My Neck, My Back” – the whole industry had to stop and pay attention. Featuring jaw-dropping lyrics and a diva attitude to match, the record was easily her biggest hit to date. The “Thug Misses” from Tampa, Florida has been keeping busy since then, however, releasing three albums and a couple of mixtapes since then.
Khia has been involved in music “all her life” and got her start by bartending in a nightclub in Tampa which was frequented by DJs and others involved in the music industry.
Of course, you may have also seen her on Ego Trip’s Miss Rap Supreme, a reality show which aired on VH1 in 2008. The show was based on ten female rappers who competed with each other for the title of “next great female emcee.” It was hosted by former 3rd Bass rapper, MC Serch, who disqualified her on the second episode for using lyrics from a pre-written and previously recorded song, “Respect Me,” in a freestyle battle.
Undaunted by this experience, Khia is currently shopping a reality show – tentatively titled Anger Management – around in hopes that it will air some time next year. Her next album, Motor Mouf/Khia Shamone, is due out in 2010 as well. In the meantime, she writes an advice column called “Tough Love” in HooD Magazine.
Be on the lookout for this sista with an attitude!
We obviously haven’t seen or heard the last of her.
This St. Louis representative seemed poised to take over the industry when she hit the scene in 2005. Chingy’s album, Powerballin’ went platinum earlier in the year. In 2004, Nelly released two albums simultaneously and was at the top of his game. Also in 2004, fellow St. Louis rapper J-Kwon had released “Tipsy” to much fanfare. Her ferocious rhyming skills earned her a guest spot on J-Kwon’s debut album. Indeed, 2005 seemed the perfect time for Ebony Eyez to be from St. Louis and on the bubble.
She hit the scene hard with the bass-heavy “In Ya Face,” which peaked at No. 82 on the Billboard 100. While this song may have seemed like another rump-shaking club record, it has more of a purpose than one may gather from the first glance (or listen).
During an interview on her website, Ebony Eyez had this to say:
“It was kind of a joke song at first,” she recalls. “We were out one night at the club and this dude came up to me and was like, ‘Let me see you bend over.’ I was like, ‘If I bend over will you let me put my a** in your face?’ Then I came to the studio and I was like, ‘Let me do this song.’ It’s not meant to be taken so literally. It’s an equal opportunity song. If you think it’s OK to say those kind of things to me, then I feel it’s OK for me to say that.”
Here’s the music video (notice the extras and dancers doing the “chickenhead,” a dance which was quite popular back then):
Her album, entitled 7 Day Cycle, was released jointly by Capitol Records and EMI Group and peaked at No. 137 on the Billboard 200.
Unfortunately, it may have been her equal opportunity, equal respect (or lack thereof) attitude which led to a lack of sales. In a male-dominated industry, some may not have felt comfortable with her message. Her unique take on the subject, as well as her ability to put it to a bumping beat and package it for the radio – not to mention her courage – deserves a round of applause.
I have to say that I believe if more St. Louis artists – such as Nelly, the St. Lunatics, or Chingy – had rallied around her and shown her support by doing guest spots on her album and/or cameos in the music videos, she may have gotten that extra promotional push she needed to really do well in the industry (J-Kwon was featured on her album).
Ms. Ebony Eyez, who has been rapping since the age of nine, has started her own record label – Lady Lion Entertainment – on which she recently released her first mixtape. Entitled Nice Girlz Finish Last, the mixtape is expected to be followed by a full-length album. The mixtape is available on her MySpace page.
Born in Philadelphia, Ms. Jade entered the game armed with crazy punchlines and an amazingly precise flow. Backed by the likes of Timbaland and Missy (during what was one hell of a run for both), Ms. Jade also seemed poised to take the industry by storm.
Her first single, produced by Timbaland, was the fast-paced “Big Head.”
Her album, entitled Girl Interrupted, was released in 2002 and was almost exclusively produced by Timbaland. It debuted at No. 51 on the Billboard 200.
Artists Ms. Jade has collaborated with include Nelly Furtado, Pharrell, Jay-Z, and even Big Daddy Kane. She was most recently featured on the official remix of Beyonce’s “Diva,” which also featured Ciara.
In 2008, Ms. Jade signed to Fort Knocks Entertainment – Just Blaze‘s record label – and was expected to release an album this year (which is now highly unlikely). She most recently released a mixtape entitled Million Dollar Baby and I hope she releases the new album really soon! I’m sure Just Blaze has some dope beats for her to rhyme to.
Earlier this year, Ms. Jade did a three-part interview on newfreemixtape.com in which she discusses her return to the industry and what she believes the ladies in the hip hop industry are missing. I won’t spoil it, but I believe she hits the nail right on the head.
Check out the interview below:
So that’s where a few of yesteryear’s “femcees” have been. I’m rooting for them to make strong comebacks in one capacity or another really soon because the glass ceiling has existed in hip hop for way too long.
By the way, I know I have only scratched the surface of notable, yet lesser-known “femcees” and will be bringing you more on them in future posts.
What do you think? Is there a glass ceiling in hip hop? Why do so many female artists find it hard to break through? Is sex appeal absolutely necessary to be a successful female hip hop artist? Let me know in the comments section!
Main Image: TeenDiariesOnline