Hip Hop Heroines: Where Have They Been? (Pt. 2)
Since female rappers are largely underrepresented in the hip hop industry, I’m back to show them some love with this article (not that it’s any consolation). For this installment, we’ll catch up with a few sisters on the mic that we haven’t heard from for quite some time.
While most people remember the Harlem-bred rapper from her 1998 hit, “Party Ain’t A Party,” featuring Mr. Cheeks and Freaky Tah (RIP)of The Lost Boyz among others.
The versestress was one of the first to deal with same-sex relationships in her hit song, “Girlfriend.” In the song, she taunts a man by telling him that she stole his girl the night before.
Both of those songs were from her debut album, My Melody, which was released in 1997. Queen Pen, who got her start as one of musical genius Teddy Riley’s musical protégés, went on a three-year hiatus after her debut. Her sophomore album, entitled Conversations With Queen, was released in 2001.
Since then, the Grammy-Award winning rapper has had her share of ups and downs. She has switched careers, keeping her pen but using it to write novels instead of rhymes (however she still uses her stage name). Her first novel, Blossom, is widely praised by readers and critics alike and was released in 2006.
In 2008, she survived a vicious and brutal beating at the hands of the father of her children. Earlier this year, she reportedly threw a drink on – and got into an ensuing scuffle with – BET television personality and host of 106th & Park, Rocsi.
She has also dedicated much time and effort to a charity called Children of Promise, which serves and supports children with incarcerated parents.
There is much anticipation for her next book.
NYC representative Amil first burst onto the scene due to an assist she provided for the one and only Jay-Z. She continued to record with Jigga on songs such as “Can I Get A…” and “Jigga What.”
After gaining popularity and a large audience through these high-profile guest appearances, Amil dropped her debut album. Released in 2000, her album was entitled A.M.I.L. - All Money Is Legal. The first single for her album was “I Got That” which featured (guess who?) Beyoncé.
Sidebar: What are the odds that, long before their relationship (at least as far as we know), Amil would work with the Knowles-Carters?
Despite the added star power, Amil’s album sales were largely unsuccessful. She was soon dropped from Roc-A-Fella. Since then, Amil has spoken of being publicly and privately scrutinized by labelmates and label executives (Jay-Z, most notably) due to weight gain and changes in her look.
In a 2006 interview with HipHopGame, she had a lot to say:
How did it feel when Jay-Z had criticized your weight gain?
I had just gained a couple of pounds, but the rumor was that I was pregnant. I wasn’t pregnant until the very end of 2001 and I had my son in 2002. He must have talked it up or whoever was saying it must have talked it up. It happened. I can’t really get into all the images and everything that’s out there. It’s human to gain a couple of pounds. It happens. The one thing I am grateful for is my sons, so it turned out all good anyway. I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Are criticisms about weight something a female MC has to endure? It’s not likely that Jay would have criticized Beanie Sigel for gaining weight.
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Definitely. You have to be picture-perfect and you have to meet the standards of the perfect woman. That’s unreal to me. Real women do not have plastic-looking bodies. The average woman is not a size 0. You can do what you have to do to keep yourself looking like that or you could just be you. Me, I choose just to be me.
In the interview, she goes on to say that she has no relationship/communication with Damon Dash or Jay.
She has been working on an album, tentatively titled Amil Az Iz, that was expected for release this year. While that’s unlikely, we wish her a speedy recovery to the game. I will certainly be listening for whenever she returns.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Mia X actually started her rap career in New York City. After the break up of her group, New York Disbanded, she moved back home and met Master P. Of course, after that meeting, she became the first lady of No Limit Records.
Her first album, Good Girl Gone Bad, failed to chart. However, she regrouped and released her second album. Entitled Unlady Like, the album was certified gold. Mia’s third and final album on No Limit, Mama Drama, entered the Billboard 200 at No. 7.
Here’s Mia in 1997′s “The Party Don’t Stop” featuring Master P and fellow femcee, Foxy Brown.
Since 1998, Mia X has been quite quiet.
That is, until she resurfaced on the 2006 Southern Smoke mixtape series. Since then, she was featured on two tracks for C-Murders’s 2008 album, Screamin’ For Vengeance.
She is currently producing and working on music with her son and with her nephew. The two of them are aspiring solo artists.
Other than that, she is planning on releasing an album, “Betty Rocka Locksmith,” in 2010 on her own label, Musiclife Recordings. She has released two singles from the album: “1 Life 1 Love” and “Get Da Paper.”
In a recent interview with UrbanBridgez.com, Mia X sent a message to all of her fans.
“I want them to know, I’m working really, really hard. So that they are impressed and so they are forever locked in with me. I’ve thought about them, all of these years I’ve been gone. And I wondered if they would still care about what I would have to say. I wanna thank so many of them for reaching back and for supporting me and telling me that they love what I have done. I’m just trying not to let y’all down. I’m in the studio, every single night. I’m just trying to make the perfect pot of gumbo for y’all. I’m going to keep it all the way real and 100% in the middle of the street. I love y’all and I thank y’all because I do realize that they have a choice, they don’t have to fool with Mia X! There are other female artists out there, they can latch on to and just side with them. So I am humble and honored that so many of them are still checking for me. And I’m going to do everything in my power not to let y’all down. And thank you for taking the time out to interview me, because you have a choice to and you don’t have to be checking for me either. So thank you so much, I am honored.”
Here’s hoping these ladies can make major comebacks for the new year.
Main Image: MackDiva Does Hollywood