In an industry dominated by male MCees, those that paved the way for female artists is a subject that comes up. Who’s the most influential? Who’s the most lyrical? Who paved the way for others to follow and really changed the game. There are lots of options for all of this. Isn’t as easy as a singular choice but more of an all star list it seems. How do you pick one single winner in a contest lined with the brightest and best? Let’s talk about a few.
Queen Latifah. If Latifah’s name doesn’t come up in this conversation, then you’re not being honest with yourself. QL started in an industry where the percentage of female artists were next to nothing. Bringing the grit and lyrics of that New York vibe, her verses had no apologies. You knew you had to respect her or she was going to let you know. Any doubt? Just check out Name Callin’. One of my favorite female artist diss tracks. She wasn’t afraid to team up with people like Treach from Naughty by Nature either. To me, that shows that she can stand on her own even with those heavy handed lyricists and not get overshadowed.
Lyrically, my favorite female artist is Rah Digga. I was turned on to her back when I was living in Cleveland. When she hit, she wasn’t the sound you had been hearing for a while. Being released with Busta Rhymes behind her, her lyrics came strong. Her timing and flow were on point and it wasn’t all about how great she looked, which seemed to be dominating the scene at that time. Her verses had substance. Story telling, which we all know is a major factor for me. Breath of fresh air for me to hear another queen of the East bring it.
Remy Ma hit the scene with Fat Joe’s introduction. Any one into hip hop will surely remember her in Lean Back but that was just the start. Her solo album, There’s Something About Remy had lots of hard hitting lyrical joints. When she started feuding with Nikki Minaj, that’s when you saw the gloves come off and hear her lay down some serious verbal thrashings. Her lyrical skills had just continued to get better and better, as far as I’m concerned. While I like the catchy Lean Back Remy, I LOVE the Mask Off Remy.
For me, the two artists that opened up the expression door for female artists are Lil Kim and Trina. They helped sensualize hip hop and allow some of the non spoken barriers that had been in place for female artists to be removed. While not my favorite style of hip hop, I can definitely acknowledge their place in the list of queens of hip hop and how they changed the game for all of those that followed. Trina’s team up with a Trick Daddy helped elevate the hip hop flow in the south. With that Miami sound, they were able to draw some much needed attention to those artists south of New York. Lil Kim couldn’t go wrong either. With collaborations with Biggie and her stint with Junior MAFIA, she well established herself as someone to be reckoned with on the mic.
Choosing a favorite female artist is like choosing which Backstreet Boy you dislike the most. Too difficult. What you can do is relish in everything that they each bring to the table. How, just their presence, disrupted the business. How their skills can be matched up to any counterpart, male or female. They all hold the torch together, as far as I’m concerned. Paving the way for up and coming female artists for years to come.