After listening to “At Last” by Eternia I figured I had to put this post together because real female MCs are so rare now and it is just painful to hear the other bullshit these ladies put out. A few months back NPR had some pop music writers speak about Nicki Minaj like she was the illest shit going. I wrote them in response to the segment but truth is we are not getting enough females who really can spit and make great songs.
All we’ve been hearing these last few years is “where are the Females MCs at?” What that really means is “where are the more marketable female MCs?” The thing is until Salt-n-Pepa dropped “Let’s Talk About Sex” (the remix did really well which MTV even used for their safe sex ads) and definitely after “Shoop” they really weren’t considered mainstream. Until (Queen) Latifah signed to Motown records and was starring in the Fox sitcom Living Single she really wasn’t mainstream either. Even with the “Ladys First” single coming out way before that. Hell Moni Love did commercially better at that time. All that being said, back then SKILLS was what female MCs got credit for, yeah a few female MCs were sexy, but they never really sold sex. Even the most sex driven themed songs by Salt-n-Pepa, in the end were nothing more then three to four minute teases. Those who didn’t flirt with you with in their music or videos simply just went hard and showed they had skills and that was what mattered to them and dudes who listened to them.
Somehow when Lil Kim and Foxy Brown came in the game they tried to have the best of both worlds. They definitely could spit (right now I’m not concerned on who actually wrote the shit) and both wanted to sell sex. The problem was not when they debuted but when the copy cats came in and left out the skills aspect that Kim and Foxy brought to the game. The game for female MCs at that point became an either or situation, either you were about skills or selling sex. At that point sex got airplay, the more you were willing to showoff in your video, BET would play your video and mainstream airplay came quicker. Sex became such a motivating force that on their second albums both Kim and Foxy became more sexual. It became a thing where to get airplay and have men to listen, you had to tap into their fantasies.
However sometimes being more sexy, backfired. Case in point: Da Brat. Da Brat came on stage one year at an awards show in a tight blue outfit with her hair down and make-up on. It started a frenzy of how sexy Da Brat looked showing up on the music scene after being away. Once the rough, aggressive, rapid, fire-bar-spitter, she had been replaced by a more sexy and sexual persona. The fucked up thing is that guys though liking the eye candy didn’t fuck with the music anymore and females, who only knew of her from her first single “Funkdafied” and her guest spots on various singles, only invested in her for as long as her current single at the time was hot.
To me the game can be summed up by Lauryn Hill. I think Lauryn Hill to female MCs is like Eminem to Hip Hop (I spoke on that here by the way). She took the game to a new height and other ladies couldn’t go there. I mean here it was 98’ and L. Boogie had the world in her hands winning every FUCKING thing, I mean everything from The Source Award, Grammys, AMW, global shit and I want to say a MTV VMA too. She truly opened the game to those who may have not listened before. The thing is no one went out of their way to follow what Lauryn Hill did. Instead what happened was something many Hip Hop artists say happened to conscious Hip Hop, things got really watered down. See Lauryn picked up a lot of non black and inner city listeners who hung on her every word. Yeah like anything that becomes pop you get people who aren’t going to be fans, it’s a fad to them, but some ladies credit Lauryn Hill for opening the door to listen to more lyrical female MCs and Hip Hop in general. So what seemed to happen without anyone paying attention is Lauryn wasn’t considered as “hood” (She grew up in the burbs anyway) and females in the hood gravitated more to what they could identify with sadly. Sad because it was saying love, a strong sense of spirituality, a strong sense of self and independence was unidentifiable to ladies in the hood. Chicks in the hood don’t even mention Lauryn Hill at all while a chick who went to college will still credit for being a source of inspiration. Still by 99’ Trina really got pushed extra hard, Eve was getting ready to get a hold on the game and then came Kira. Things truly hit its stride once Kira got in with “My Neck My Back”. The industry didn’t look for the next Lauryn they pushed past her and focused on selling ignorance.
As far as urban and mainstream radio is concerned things haven’t went back to Female MCs just being nice and somewhat asexual. You have to have something sexual going on now to even get some sort of shine. I mean for a hot minute Lil Mama was that chick, just a minute mind you. Hip Hop was filled with females who held it down at one point and now it’s nothing more than one chick and few hoping to knock her off her hill. Even now if you look online you’re hear more Nicki Minaj wannabes then say a younger version of Jean Grae or Bahamadia. There are some ladies who still are focused on being respected as MCs first and are mastering their craft. I doubtthey will blowup because so much money is being made with this “Hoe Flow”. Again going back to Eternia, I’m sure there are more young female MCs like her out there and one or two may even reach mainstream success and bring back the true female MC vibe we really are missing now. I keep checking in search of it myself and I know I’m not the only one.