I am often asked where did the female MC go, as if there is only one and somehow she’s hiding and I might have some type of top secret info as to where she took off to. LOL, well, if I’m going to speak of the female emcee as if there is only one, I will look at her as the true culmination of many young women who have rocked the mic from the beginning of this mighty culture called hip-hop. I will take it from the perspective of the first known emcee and I use that word respectively, because there may be others who remain tucked in the under belly of the sub-culture and have yet to be identified. The first I am familiar with was young lady who was part of a crew called The Funk Four Plus One More and her name was and still is— Sha-Rock!
But of course I have to pay homage to every female emcee who came after and that would be Sequence, Salt-N-Pepa, Shante, The Real Roxanne, Sparky D, Sweet T, Finesse & Sinquess, Queen Latifah, Ms. Melody, Harmony, Lin Que, Yo Yo, Rage, The Champ MC, Tara B, Nefertiti, JJ Fad, Lil Kim, Foxy, Eve, Missy, Heather B, Bahamadia, Ice Cream T, Non Chalant, Cha Cha, Da Brat, Remy Ma, Babs, Shawnta, Mia X, Trina, Lil Mama and the list goes on and on. This list represents a wall of the hip-hop structure, not to mention many of the women and young girls who bless the mic using the internet as their platform to be heard. However, the names mentioned here are the women who are responsible for laying the foundation from which all female hip hop was born and too shall grow. Although the wall remains, in these times, it is much more difficult for a new female emcee to make her mark by implementing another brick; and so she settles for simply tagging her name in yet another art form of hip-hop.
Today the female emcee as we see marketed and promoted looks very different from the emcees of yesterday. They sound different as well, they don’t particularly flow, however they do rhyme words together and carry a melody. I’m speaking of the Fergie, Nelly Furtado, Lady GaGa and a host of others who have managed to entice super hip-hop producers and audiences all over the globe. They play with melodies, sing hooks, but most importantly they move units and really that’s the bottom line! Major labels have found a niche and it appears to me that upon further investigation (of my own that is lol), many have duplicated the innovative work of Missy Elliott. Yet, not only have the majors reaped the benefits, but so have the likes of many producers such as will.i,am, Timbaland, The Neptunes and a few others. By all means please don’t misunderstand my choice to confront this issue. I love all the music that has come from all the above mentioned names, I sing them all and I completely understand the business of having to sell records to remain in business. So it’s quite clear when someone asks, “Where did the female MC go?” exactly where they went and why.
In order for the female MC to surge and not just drop the occasional hot record, there first must be a demand. People say they want to see more women rock in hip-hop, but they actually now must take a stand and support them, by either purchasing their new product, or showing up to a performance. Then and only then will you see the female emcee emerge from the darkness and soar to new heights.—MC Lyte