hip hop music

July 2, 2004

Female Emcees (and My Blueprint for Hip-Hop Blogging)

So seriously, I've been out of the game for so long, can someone remind me how this hip-hop blogging business works?

Oh yeah, I think I remember the formula now. I unearth some obscure web page that says something clueless about hip-hop, and then fulminate with rage against their cluelessness, milk it for a few snappy wisecracks, and use it as a springboard to pontificate ad nauseum. And, whenever possible, mention some famous person with whom I've discussed the issue.

Here's a breakdown of the recipe:

Step One: Quotation
Step Two: Fulmination
Step Three: Sarcastication
Step Four: Refutation
Step Five: Corroboration (i.e. gratuitous-name-drop-ization)
Step Six: Oh So Witty Summation

And now I will demonstrate, annotating each step, with an atrocity I recently found at CNN.com:


The first female rapper? The answer is...1

No, the first woman to release a rap single was not Lauryn Hill or Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, Queen Latifah or even Roxanne Shante.

Punk songstress Deborah Harry of Blondie served up the first female voice of rap. In the middle of "Rapture," a song that dominated the airwaves in the early 1980s, Harry launched into a rapid patter of words atop an irresistible beat. The formula, merging street with sexy, proved so powerful that Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown and other female hip-hop stars use it today.

Who the hell wrote this, and what the crap are they yapping about?!?!??2 Golly, after watching CNN's coverage of the war in Iraq I would never imagined they could get a story so totally, totally wrong.3

As I'm sure most of this blog's readers will know, the first female emcees who put out a record were in a group known Sequence4, made up of Gwendolyn Chisholm aka Blondie (so if you said "Blondie did the first female rap record" you'd be sorta half right), Cheryl Cook aka Cheryl the Pearl (as cited by Kool Moe Dee on "Let's Go," where he mockingly compared LL's voice to hers), and Angie B (now known as R&B diva Angie Stone). Their single "Funk You Up" came out on Sugar Hill about a year before "Rapture."

And just as the Sugarhill Gang were far from the first rappers, Sequence were not the first female emcees by any means. Long before anyone was rapping on wax there were already female voices in the mix, includingPebblee Poo of the Masterdon Committee, Sha Rock of the Funky Four Plus One More (who later performed alongside Debbie Harry as the first rappers ever on Saturday Night Live), and the first all female crew the Mercedes Ladies.

Last Sunday the grand exalted Kool DJ Red Alert5 teamed up with my crew of DJs at Table 50 on Bleeker Street, and while he was waiting for his turn to burn G-Man and I asked Red to name the first female emcee he could remember, as a head who was around from the very beginning. He agreed with G that Sha Rock was the best female of the era, but said the first two he remembered seeing were Smiley (presumably the same one from the Mercedes Ladies) and before her a young woman known as "Little Lee" or "Lil Lee," who he said was also Melle Mel's girlfriend in the very early days.

I've never heard of Little Lee before, and neither has Google, but I would damn sure never doubt the Propmaster. Do any of our older readers remember her?

And for real though, does anyone know who I can talk to at CNN about this embarrassment? If CNN is this far off I shudder to think how Fox News would do: "and in 1988 the rap world welcomed a female voice for the first time, with the avant-garde innovations of Paula Abdul on 'Cold Hearted Snake.' Paula's pioneering work paved the way for today's reigning Queens of Rap, Northern State."6


There you go, see how easy that was? It's just like shooting fish in a barrel riding a bicycle!

Posted by jsmooth995 at July 2, 2004 2:45 AM

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