In January 2018, Girl Gang Music launched a whole bunch of playlists of various genres. Our mission is to help promote as much incredible work being done by women and nonbinary people within the music industry across all genres and aspects of the industry. Today, we’re launching another playlist, focused on hip hop and rap music.
After seeing statements like those from the President of the Grammys — an institution which has continually tokenized hip hop culture — it is clear that the marginalized people already kicking ass within the industry need to take control of it.
Sadly, most historic reviews of hip-hop focus on the men who ushered in the movement—the most successful recording artists and the first mainstreamed performers. Before the term hip-hop was even coined (circa 1976),”hip hop” was a happening, an event, and a 360º entertainment experience. Music, beats, and turntable scratching were only one part of the hip-hop scene. It was also about the art (namely the native self-taught expression graffiti), the street-fresh DIY clothing, the dance moves (South Bronx was not only the birthplace of hip-hop, but also break dancing), and the party vibe. At that time, all-female crews like The Mercedes Ladies were present, hosting parties, on the mic, busting the same fierce dance moves as their male counterparts. Many of these young female champions like The Mercedes Ladies are not well-know today, as they never pursued recording and releasing music—the most tangible legacy of hip-hop today. But they were some of the early seeds of the Bronx, New York movement that blossomed into a full-fledged cultural phenomenon.
Like… have you heard of MC Lyte? Lyte broke barriers in the music industry as the first solo female emcee to sell millions of singles and albums and for biting, progressive lyrics. Many feel that her songs helped evolve hip-hop from the feel-good party vibe of the late 70’s in to a socially conscious form of expression. In her work, she addressed issues like racism, sexism, and the drug culture that consumed her neighborhood. MC Lyte schooled her male counterparts on the art of freestyle rap. She became the first rap artist to perform at Carnegie Hall, the first solo female rapper nominated for a Grammy, and the first rap artist to receive gold single recognition. Major.
It feels like most of the literature and discussions around hip-hop focus on the accomplishments of men. That’s gotta stop now.
Follow the #GirlsDoHipHop playlist HERE.
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