A couple weeks ago BET premiered My Mic Sounds Nice: A Truth About Women in Hip-Hop. I had heard about the show coming on but truthfully I hadn’t paid much attention to the actual airdate. The only reason I caught it live was because while flicking through the channels I got roped into watching Brown Sugar, which was the lead-in to the women in hip-hop doc. If not for the fact that was a good-ass movie, I probably wouldn’t have been tuned in at that moment.
#NoShots but I wasn’t really expecting much from My Mic Sounds Nice—still not sure why they called it a “documentary.” I mean, the women in hip-hop discussion is pretty tired at this point and I doubted that a 60-minute BET special was going to shed any more light. While I wasn’t proven wrong in either regard, it was a surprisingly good show.
They didn’t just speak to the usual suspects (Eve, Missy Elliott, Salt-N-Pepa) but dug in the archives and landed interviews with a couple pioneers (Roxanne Shanté, Medusa, Poetess) and underground mavericks (Jean Grae, Tiye Phoenix). Shoot, they even dug up a few MIA MCs like Lady of Rage and Ladybug Mecca. The end result was a pretty decent effort, but it’d definitely need another hour or subsequent volumes to truly do the history of women in hip-hop justice.
That’s all beside the point. The reason I’m writing today and the explanation for the bold statement in the title is what I want to get into.
At some point during My Mic Sounds Nice the conversation shifted to Trina and the fact that she’s been basically holding down female MCs mostly by herself for the past 12 years. While she’s far from the most lyrical woman on the mic, she definitely has been the most consistent.
Over the course of the past decade, the Miami madam has dropped a new album just about every two years. Okay, big deal? Well, with her five albums Trina has put out more music than her female contemporaries—Da Brat has only dropped four albums since 1994; Eve has only put out three albums since 1999; and both Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown have released four albums each since their 1996 debuts. The only female MC to put out more music than Trina is Missy Elliott, who has six albums to her credit, but her last project dropped in 2005.
**Queen Latifah has six albums also, but her last three discs were alternative/singing so I won’t even put them in the conversation.**
Now, I know quality trumps quantity any day, but Trina’s clearly found some way to remain relevant while most of her peers haven’t. She broke it down with bittersweet truth on My Mic Sounds Nice when she said, “They don’t wanna really see you in the baggy jeans. They wanna see you sexy because, ‘You a female, I’m a dude, I’m not learning nothin’ from you, I just wanna see you. So whatever you’re talking about I probably don’t really care, I just wanna look at you and whatever you’re saying it all sounds good to me.’ That’s just real. That’s just how it is.”
Sad, but true.
There are female MCs that can spit with the best of them, but for whatever the reason male and female fans don’t bite. Personally, I think Remy Ma dropped a dope ass album with There’s Something About Remy: Based on a True Story but that fact didn’t impact her sales.
Take a look at Nicki Minaj. When she first came out she was spittin’ hard with a little bit of sexual innuendo, now the majority of her music is off-the-wall Barbie talk with a few darts sprinkled in between and her buzz is bigger than ever. It’s like she had to sacrifice a bit of her rawness to have a better shot at mainstream success.
Whether or not that will be the case when it’s all said and done has yet to be seen. Skills and buzz are one thing but they don’t necessarily equal a long-running career in hip-hop—especially for female MCs. So as crazy as this may sound, I wonder if Nicki will have a career as consistent as Trina? —Anslem Samuel