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Women in old-school hip-hop

by Danielle Gasher September 20, 2016
Women in old-school hip-hop

Some of the first female hip-hop artists to influence a whole generation

These influential women made it in the game and left more than just their mark behind—they left a hip-hop legacy. Their determination, confidence and raw talent have influenced both male and female artists to this day.

The Fugees- The Score


The Fugees, comprised of Lauryn Hill, Pras Michel and Wyclef Jean, were active in the 90s, and blew fans away with their 1996 album, The Score.  The hip-hop album, Timeless and enchantingly cool, is listed on the Rolling Stone’s “500 Best Albums of all Time” list.  The group’s reggae vibe, as well as the presence of Hill’s enchanting R&B voice distinguishes this group from any other alternative hip-hop trio of the 90s. The album includes Hill’s infamous cover of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly,” and even an effortlessly cool cover of Bob Marley’s “No Woman, No Cry.” The trio is one-of-a-kind in the way that they fused soul, reggae and hip-hop, all while maintaining flawless rapping and powerful lyrics.  Hill would go on to have an equally successful solo career after The Fugees split in 1997.  Thankfully, Hill is still active—you might even have seen her at the Montreal Jazz Festival this summer. Both The Fugees, and 90s hip-hop, would have been lost without Hill.

Trial track: “Ready or Not”


Roxanne Shanté- The Bitch is Back


Roxanne Shanté’s 1992 album, The Bitch is Back, is your typical record-scratching, beat-mixing, drum machining, emceeing, hip-hop album. It will remind you of the music of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing. It’s the essence of the early 90s— a time when clothing and music were as colourful as Shanté’s style. Shanté’s career was short, but far from tranquil.  The Queensbridge, N.Y. native became known thanks to the Roxanne Wars—a series of rap rivalries during the mid-80s between Shanté and another Roxanne. The rivalry began with a dispute over a cancelled show. The disses began  with Shanté’s track “Roxanne’s Revenge,” produced with the help of New York record producer Marley Marl.  Diss tracks and rap battles have always been an important part of hip-hop culture—a culture where pride and egos are important. “On stage tryin’ to recite like me, but what I really see is Creepshow 3.  I size em’ up to die and pulverize em, so bad her own mother won’t recognize em,’” raps Shanté in her first track off The Bitch is Back, “Deadly Rhymes.”  The Bitch is Back was Shanté’s second and final album.

Trial track- “Big Mama”

Salt-N-Pepa – Hot, Cool & Vicious


If you mess with them, they’ll take your man. They made that damn straight with their very first album, Hot, Cool & Vicious. The album was launched in 1986, making Salt-N-Pepa one of the first all-female groups out there. From Queens, N.Y., the ladies formed a trio with confident and feisty raps. They were the hip-hop feminists of the 80s. If you think you’ve never heard any of their songs, think again. Does this ring a bell: “Push it. Push it real good?” Ooh baby, baby, their hit “Push It” has played in one too many commercials. Salt-N-Pepa’s overall energy during stage performances is remarkable. Their jams from Hot, Cool & Vicious were also great hits in clubs that still play on the dancefloors of today. “Shoop” is a perfect example, as it still plays in dance clubs and is frequently used in hip-hop choreographies in dance studios. These ladies were way ahead of their time in terms of musicality. Hot, Cool & Vicious will definitely get you hooked on the groups vivaciousness. A definite must for all who appreciate the classic hip-hop genre.

Trial Track: “I’ll Take Your Man”

Da Brat – Funkdafied


Da Brat knows how to let the funk flow. If this album doesn’t convince you that she is the badass queen of rap, then you’ll have to listen to her track “Funkdafied” one more time. This was her very first solo album, launched back in 1994, back when the female rap game was still very fresh. Her style is known for mixing R&B rhythms with smooth rap prose. She demonstrates strength and confidence in her verses. Da Brat is 90s hip-hop from head to toe. She brought the funk, and a sleek smooth tone of voice, with lyrically genius content. Not to mention, her 90s house party music videos were the bomb. Her jam “Fa All Y’All” is super funky and cool. The hella cool music video for the song demonstrates her class and poise. She is an inspiration to all female rappers out there. If her jam “Sittin’ On Top of the World” doesn’t inspire confidence, then I don’t know what does.

Trial track: “Funkdafied”

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