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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

FMC Rap Fanatic Magazine Article :: The Female Emcee

The Female Emcee

I was as hesitant to write about this subject as more are in lending credibility to the female M.C. We no longer associate the lady lyricist with the motherly advice of mis-education or the powerful prowess of U.N.I.T.Y. Instead we have made a bed for the sexually starved female and the cliché hard core chick. Its hard to believe that women have changed so much since the days of 'blue and green five-elevens', white and gray tube socks with laces to match.' The shoes we now fill are too uncomfortable for even the strongest Diva to uphold but, no one says a word about a day in the life of the ride or die chick you all are apparently looking for; until I had the opportunity to speak with a few real female emcees'.

"I hate it when somebody approaches me with 'you got to sound more like a dude.' That's the stupidest thing I have ever heard. Making a woman sound more like a man when she spits, is like masquerading peaches for bananas…both fruits got their own particular flavor. Why not embellish what was naturally intended. I once read a fortune cookie that said a woman who strives to be equal to a man has no ambition." (Amina) "Being a female you go through so many struggles and we go through so many emotional drama in our relationships, with friends...we wear many different masks for different situations but…you can still be hard and raw but vulnerable." (Mecca Dawn)

Strength and femininity have always gone hand in hand, mastered by woman like Lauren Hill. However, in hip hop it seems as if, the combinations of the two in a female emcee are obsolete. Practically all the female lyricists I spoke to graced sheets of poetry with words aimed at womanly topics, before pursuing hip-hop. Nevertheless, in today's Hip Hop chapter of life, our pages are missing.

"The truth of the matter is none of us have really become front runners in their camp. We settle do hooks appearances on songs, but we are never the main course and if we are then the issue becomes the road block. I'll be dammed if all I'm good for is a hook." (Amina) "When a female is in a male group she's being held down creatively, I don't care what nobody says, right now for a female to really get those issues out and really represent, she's going to have to do it by herself. (Hedonis Da Amazon).

The misconception across the board is that females are unable to work happily with each other and this message has carried over into hip hop and forced many females to believe that in order to succeed she must attain the place of leading lady at all cost. "An A&R once told me 'there is no room for another female emcee, there can only be one.' We are all subconsciously running this rat race to the top to see who is gonna make it, and a lot of us get duped into despising one another. That's why I'm careful about the females I work with. Truth be told we have the capability of running with our own styles and coexisting with one another but we don't." (Amina)

With an industry so focused on sporting clones as new acts, the avenue to success for the female emcee crew has found a way to make the seat for opportunity an entire arena. There latest mix C.D. entitled 'Independence Day,' which includes (Mecca Dawn, Madame Madon, Lady Rezult, and Hedonis Da Amazon) among others across the U.S. and overseas, is a testament to the theory that women can work together in hip hop and pump out quality material. "We go into the studio together support each other with our different projects." (Lady Result) "Being a part of F.M.C had been a real good experience. Just the unity of it all….to see other people with talent especially females with talent out there doing there's just a real good message…to empower women." (Mecca Dawn)

While essentially the word feminism is the belief in a woman, the adoration of them and their power only remains a topic in our music around mother's day. As life knocks on the doors of court dates, final exams, matrimony and grand opening, its the females in your life: your mother, your sister, your wife or your girlfriend who are by your side. Nevertheless the female image in hip hop has been tarnished by the glorification of the 'video hoe' and the countless rhymes that reiterate the thoughtful treatment of a woman is comprehensive to a ride in your Benz. Our importance has been quieted.

"We can't get nothing in a box no more because we don't have a podium to say listen this is how a woman needs to be treated; pull up to the front door with flowers. They don't know how that feels they just know there being abused and it's comfortable. We need that podium and it ain't up to us it's up to an executive or an A&R." (Hedonis Da Amazon)

In an industry once nourished by the words 'you're all l need to survive,' women in hip hop have lost weight on a legitimate scale. "You don't get taken seriously. When we walk into meetings and interviews we are on display." (Mecca Dawn) "When I'm selling myself as an artist or networking with a man in particular, being the dominate on the business end of things, they never know if they want to help you or sleep with you. I have to be constantly on point to be taken seriously." (Vonna Jewelz)

"I learned that I get more attention showing my stomach or my body but, when I open my mouth I can put my shirt down. It's a sad thing but that's just how it is. You can't play a commercial wit out some chick showing her body to sell toothpaste. This is the harsh world we put ourselves in. Salt and Pepper lead the way and said you can do whatever you want to do and we messed it up because we supported somebody that wanted to come in that sexual way. I think that being sexy is beautiful, I love looking good that that don't mean I'm a whore…in this industry it's hard to be a female if you grew up with morals and respect for yourself! If you've been on the streets and been ran through then you'll come in wanting to get ran through. A lot of chicks have a hard time because they refuse to bend and I'm one of them." (Hedonis Da Amazon)

"You got to have some sex appeal. If you don't have that in your pocket expect to be overlooked regardless of how talented you are. Everybody knows they don't lay that type of pressure on dudes like they do on girls. Why else do women got these songs about how we should embrace our self image. Name one dude busting 'every freckle is where it belongs' like India Aire or "Un pretty" like TLC. All of sudden your hear crickets because there is no such thing. Men get embraced for being ugly. If a motherfer got a scar on his face, a fat gut, and a broken leg people would be like 'damn, he been through some shit.' Everybody like the standard trials of life rhyme, but in a woman's case she's still go to look sexy after all she been through." (Amina)

There is a fine line between accentuating your attributes and covering up your imperfections. Whether it is a new fitted over a misshapen dome or a shade of foundation for blemished faces every one of us is less that perfect. There is a misconception in order to be talented you must have exceptionally perfect looks but, didn't we love B.I.G; with or without a lazy eye?

"You can be the prettiest girl in the world but you're going to be called ugly. You could be the best emcee in the battle but you're still going to called a hoe or something along the lines especially if your opponent is a dude." (Nina B) "We're not pretty enough, we're not built enough, so we're altering our soul, ass, titties, abs…not to deal with ourselves for real. I think Missy was okay being big, that's my opinion but…you cannot escape sexism we already started a war of the body and the face. It's already a war! Till we destroy ourselves! I'm not excluding myself, I work out everyday cause I want to be pretty….I'm caught in it too and I want somebody to stop this shit cause I want to east cheese steaks! With my Album I try to approach it the best way I can …its called kiss my scars, kiss the mother fucker! The only way you can know you love somebody is that you accept there scars, that's what I want the industry to do for females. Accept our imperfections." (Hedonis Da Amazon)

Although there is something good to be said about eight year old Young B rocking the roughest waves in NYC with 'Chicken Noodle Soup' her older counterparts are not welcomed as quickly and has everybody wondering is being low maintenance the key to the city? "Right now the industry doesn't love females and I understand why; big budgets for hair and make up and all this image up keep for what? Girls that don't something different but when you come to the table with they reject you because there scared." (Madame Madon) "You got these industry know it alls who don't want to take any risks on truly talented females, my personal ongoing experience has been that many industry professionals think there is no longevity in a female emcee' career. If I had a dollar for every time that I heard that, I'd have the only to start my own label.

Although it is easier said than done to allow a female emcee to mark her territory in this industry it all boils down to the thought because we are female we have no knowledge of hip hop history and obviously if you don't know the past you can't have a future. "Just because I'm a female doesn't mean that I don't know half of what these dudes know. This is my love too! Hip Hop, I grew up with it too!" (Mecca Dawn) "We don't got many female rapper careers to follow and improve upon. I got to look to a Tom, Dick, or Harry' career to outline my own, and what works for a dude might not make it and try understanding why their careers have been so short lived." (Amina) On the other hand we have artists such as Nina B who feel the length of a female's career is as long as she wants it to be. "Latifah , M.C. Lyte , Lauren hill , who make the choice 2 fall back can probably come back at anytime just off the strength that their legends & actually talented." (Nina B)

Growing up with role models such as Salt and Pepper, Left Eye, Coco Channel, Roxanne Shante and even Angie Martinez made me believe that being a female pursuing the hip hop industry was never something to be ashamed of. I find it disconcerting that in a community where words and music once gave us power and love letters that it so difficult to foresee that a female emcee has to offer than the size of her jeans. Is there enough room for us to stand be side our kings?

WORDS BY Rosario Velazquez
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