Retrospective: Underrated & Under Appreciated Women Pioneers in Hip Hop

We are aware of the many legendary men pioneers & innovators of Hip Hop like Grand-Master Flash, Cold Crush Brothers, and D.J Cool Herc. However, throughout Hip Hop’s history, there has always been iconic female artists who were influential MC’s, producers, and D.J’s. These ladies have never really gotten their full credit compared to their male counterparts. Here is a  brief description of some underrated women Hip Hop innovators & pioneers who deserve much more recognition than they have received so far. Of course, this list is not meant to be exclusive to only the women mentioned here. There are many equally notable underrated women pioneers not included, such as Nikki D, Oaktown’s 357, The Sequence, and so many more. Despite their lack of recognition, they will always be a major influential part of Hip Hop culture and it’s foundation.

238BEATS: #ClassicPic Sweet Tee & DJ Jazzy Joyce

Pioneer D.J Jazzy Joyce (left) with rapper Sweet Tee. 

Although D.J Jazzy Joyce is considered a pioneer female rap D.J/producer, she is still not as celebrated as her D.J/producer male counterparts. She was born in Bronx, New York and has collaborated with other female rappers such as Sweet Tee & produced her 1986 single ‘It’s My Beat’. She began recording in 1983 with Whiz Kid and Globe as a vocalist on the song ‘Play That Beat’.  She participated and won many D.J battles, including winning her first D.J award in 1983 at the New Music Seminar. Some of the artists she has deejayed for and collaborated with includes the 90’s rap trio ‘Digable Planets’,  M.C Lyte, Rich Nice, Africa Bambataa, and Nenah Cherry. Black Girls Rock awarded Jazzy Joyce and named their D.J award the ‘Jazzy Joyce D. J Award. Currently, she is a producer on New York’s Hot 97 radio station.

MC Debbie and DJ Wanda Dee - Harlem World by MC Debbie D on ...

D.J Debbie D (left) & D.j Wanda Dee

Here's a Tribute to Some of the Women MCs Who Raised Hip-Hop (THE ...

D.J Debbie D

D.J Debbie D was born in Harlem, but raised in the Bronx. She was the only female M.C with the 1979 rap group D.J Patty Duke & The Jazzy 5. She got her first start as a M.C while attending summer D.J block parties in 1977. After going solo in 1981, she began calling herself ‘The Grand Mistress’ and was one of the first Hip Hop female soloists. After joining the group US girls, she was featured in the film Beat Street, and collaborated with the Juice Crew as an M.C Soloist as well. D.J Debbie D is not only one of Hip Hop’s first female rappers, but a fashionable pioneering Fly Girl who is now a published author, earned a doctorate, and a preacher.  She has a non-profit organization called Us Girls, which aims to empower women and girls.

 

Sweet Tee | Discography | Discogs

Rapper Sweet Tee and her 1988 song ‘On The Smooth Tip’

M.C Sweet tee was born in Queens New York and was signed to Pioneer Records. Her first single was the 1986 ‘It’s My Beat’ featuring female D.J/producer Jazzy Joyce. Her debut album included the hit ‘On The Smooth Tip’ in 1988 . Some of her associated acts includes Kwame, Salt-n-Pepa, and Antoinette.

Bahamadia - Hip Hop Golden Age Hip Hop Golden Age

Rapper Bahamadia

Underrated lyricist and rapper Bahamadia was born in Philadelphia, and debuted her first album Kollage in 1996, which featured the classic single ‘Uknowhowwedu’. Throughout her career, she has collaborated with artists such as The Roots, Jedi Mind Tricks, Morcheeba, Guru, and Erykah Badu.

Exhibitions, events celebrate hip-hop culture | Cornell Chronicle

MC Sha Rock (center) of the ‘Funky Four Plus 1’

MC Sha Rock was born in North Carolina, but raised in the Bronx, New York. She is one of the first female rappers and is often dubbed as the ‘Mother of the Mic’. The Funky Four + 1 was one the first rap groups to appear on television and MC Sha Rock inspired many other legendary female rappers like MC Lyte and ‘DMC’ of rap trio Run DMC with her style of rapping on early mixtapes. She began rapping with the Funky Four + 1 in the late 70’s and also began her career as a b-girl/break dancer as well. She was affiliated with the Zulu Nation, and she had her first hit as a member of  The Funky Four + 1 with their 1979 hit ‘Rock The House’ on Sugar Hill Records and the 1980 hit ‘That’s The Joint’.

 

 

Bill Ray’s Watts Riot Photography: ‘Still Seething Collection’ Analyzed

The 1965 Watts riots can be analyzed from different perspectives depending on someone’s personal viewpoints. Some considered it a rebellious act inspired by systematic racism that differentiated the 60’s youth from their ‘We shall Over Come’ peaceful protest-only minded elders, while others consider it a community that caused more damage to their neighborhoods than progressive help/change. These remarkable photos are in vivid color and captured by Life photographer Bill Ray (1936-2020) one year after the bloody and tragic Watts Riots events of 1965.

I remember hearing about the Watts Riots from my parents, whom did not share the same perspective on activism as their elders. Like other baby boomers who were youth in the late 60’s & early 70’s, their ‘icons’ were outspoken young activists like Fred Hampton, Stokley Carmichael, and Malcolm X. It was a time when positive empowering songs like James Brown’s ‘Say It Loud’ was being played on stations and the youth were becoming increasingly angry by the mistreatment they were continuously experiencing.  I also recall seeing the 1993 movie Menace to Society, in which the main character Kane spoke about the infamous Watts Riots in the beginning of the movie, and how it changed the area permanently. At first I always wondered, ”why destroy the businesses and homes in your own neighborhood?” However, now I examine these unfortunate events from multiple viewpoints, and closely analyze the built-up intensity & frustration these youth were feeling leading up to the the Watts Riot.

I love these photos for several different reasons,  partly because I am a history & vintage culture enthusiast. I look at photos like these and wonder what happen to the subjects.  While analyzing the Watts Riots and the community’s transformation, I also think about the historic important neighborhoods in my native city Atlanta, like my father’s childhood on Troy Street. Before drugs like crack and crime infested the area & other  communities across America, these historic areas were filled with families that shared a positive strong connection with their neighbors. There were constant random peaceful block parties with feel-good soulful music blasting throughout the community,  neighborhood fish fry get-together’s full of laughter, kids safely riding their bikes outside and playing until the street lights came on, and just a different type of community-feel then what is present now.

Here are some interesting photos from Bill Ray’s Watts Riots Life Magazine collection.

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Molotov cocktails in Watts, 1966.
Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Watts Los Angelos,1966. Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Pictures

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Molotov cocktails in Watts, 1966. Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Pictures

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

The words painted on the grocery store alerted rioters that the stored was African-American owned. Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Bill Ray/ Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966
Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

The Fire Last Time: Life in Watts, 1966

Watts, Los Angeles, 1966.
Bill Ray/Life Pictures/Getty Images

Why Aren’t Mentally Wounded Inner City Youth Receiving PTSD Help As Well?

Numerous research studies show there are some inner city children that may experience post traumatic stress disorder symptoms at rates comparable to veterans of war. Some of these youth are being immensely affected by traumatic experiences, which can cause haunting flashbacks, paranoia, emotional detachment, unwanted thoughts, and violent outbursts. When an inner city African-American youth experiences traumatic/stressful situations, & commits an illegal or violent act, their mental health & experiences are rarely emphasized. Inner city youth like Michael ‘Little B’ Lewis, a 13 year old sentenced as an adult for the murder of a man in 1999, do not receive professional mental health support. Michael ‘Little B’ Lewis grew up in the drug-infested & neglected ‘Bluff’ area of Atlanta. His only guardian was addicted to drugs, he was homeless by age 11, not enrolled in school, and experienced a plethora of traumatic events while trying to take care of himself. Yet, he remained invisible to most until his first arrest…and when he finally got a ‘home’ it was in a Georgia state prison with adults at the age of 13. Michael ‘Little B’ Lewis is still incarcerated, and there are still questionable inaccuracies in the case that do not support true justice for the victim or the accused.

If a young inner city black boy rob’s someone, he is often quickly deemed a thug or menace to society, but if his white counterpart commits a crime like a school shooting, then he is labeled as a troubled mentally ill youth that did not receive adequate help. Both boys may have experienced traumatic events, but only one gets sympathy or a diagnosis. Racism isn’t the only reason because there are older African Americans from previous generations who also look at these children as thugs with no hope as well. Neglected inner city children like Michael ‘Little B’ Lewis never receive mental health resources, help, or immense sympathy after all of the traumatizing events they’ve experienced. Of course, we cannot always give a PTSD diagnosis to every person who commits a crime with their own free will. However, it is wrong and dangerous to just help certain groups of victims while neglecting others.

There is a substantial amount of youth/children that are mentally wounded, neglected, suffering from un-diagnosed PTSD, and by the time many people care to pay attention to what they are going through…the damage has been permanently embedded. These children have never fought in Iraq, the Vietnam, or Afghanistan…but they are experiencing PTSD like some war veterans. They’re often quietly traumatized and mentally affected by what they’ve experienced, but do not receive enough genuine support to help them. Instead they are often conditioned or forced to think it is enough to just ‘stay strong’, ‘keep their heads up’, try to rise above their situation, and ‘move on’ with life while still struggling mentally.

Here are a list of good organizations that support and focuses on the mental health of youth/children:

The Annie E. Casey Foundation

MindRight Organization 

Covenant House

Baton Foundation

Snowfall: Season Two’s Crack Era Retrospective 

Season 2 of John Singleton’s FX show Snowfall will likely detail more of the effects caused by the Crack Epidemic during the infamous Reagan Era. Predictions for next season include the main character Franklin, the rising ambitious drug dealer, and how some of his own family members will become addicted to crack (likely his father and one of his friends). Will he choose to sell the product to his own blood or a pregnant woman? Will his conscience bother him after witnessing what crack is doing to his neighborhood or will financial desires triumph over virtue? The thing is, some people during the Crack era like real life drug dealer Rich Porter (portrayed by Mekhi Phifer in Paid in Full) and others may have saw selling crack as a way out of poverty, but in the end there was more tragedy than long term success. Crack money came with betrayal from “friends”, countless enemies that wanted them dead, and the people who changed into walking zombies after using the drug. I suppose some may think a multitude of different cars, fresh fits, jewelry, and other material things was worth the tragic end…but it was not a good trade. The significance of Snowfall is not to make the Crack Era seem like a desirable/glamorous time, but it’s importance involves telling true stories from different perspectives. We see why Franklin is doing what he does, but we also see how it is affecting everyone around him in a variety of ways on the show. During the Crack Era, the dealer may not have been affected in the same way as the user or a child, but each one has an interesting story that is still relevant to reflect/analyze on over 30 years later. 

Robot Bees Are Our Future? How Recent Testing on Artificial Pollination Possibilities Will Never Replace Nature’s Original

Some people may not care to emphasize how important preserving the bee population is…until one day we have no choice but to rely on artificially created bees to pollinate plants. Nothing man makes can work as hard or be as nutritious like a honeybee or solitary bee, but scientists are trying to come up with an alternative if the worst case scenario happens. Recently at Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology, there has been researchers who are creating drones that can possibly polinate flowers. Instead of focusing on creating insect drones, perhaps it is better to invest in helping the bee population grow and let them thrive without pesticides that harm them. 

Education/knowledge on the issue is a great key for all of us. This process affects all of us, so why not learn and genuinely care about it more? Most of our healthy foods are pollinated by bees when they move from plant to plant for nectar. Pollen gets all over their bodies, and with cross pollination the bees are a vital necessity for plants’ seed making process. The Honey Bee species then takes the sweet nectar back to their beehives/colony, while solitary bees do not live in colonies, and they just travel from flower to flower collecting pollen. The bees work hard, and for Honeybees in particular, the honey they create gives them energy and other health benefits that are important for us as well.  If more bees continue to consume neonicotinoids (pesticides) that cover many plants and the nectar, then precious bees will die off until they are officially an extinct species. If these solitary and honeybees go extinct, then we can say goodbye to healthy foods like apples, mangoes, peaches, plums, berries, watermelon, peppers, green beans, cabbage, broccoli, avocados, coconut, and the list goes on and on. Artificially created pollinators will not provide us with the same nutrients that bees do. So instead of researching ways to live on without the Bee, it is better to focus on how we can grow and responsibly take care of the populations. Banning neonicotinoids is crucial, and how interesting it is that some of the deadly pesticides that are allowed in America is banned in a lot of other countries. Although magazines like Time has created issues focusing on the dying bee population, our media in America does not continuously focus on these types of issues in an in-depth matter. Yet, if our little blessings like bees’ are taken away from us…everyone will be forced to pay attention. However, it will be too late. Right now, in the present, it is not. Let’s not forget that the resources from nature we continuously use & exhaust are vital to our survival, but nature does not need us to survive or thrive. Preserving and growing the Bee population is not just a eco-conscious concern to occasionally reflect on, but it is a matter that correlates with our own survival and existence.
****For more information and great ways to help & learn more about the importance of Bees ,Bee Native.org, The Honey Bee Conservancy, & The Bee Cause Project are wonderful resources****

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons: Hypocrisy?

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (signed in 1968) is supposed to be about stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and only five nations are ‘allowed’ to have nuclear weapons…United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, China, and France.  Although it is better to be a nuclear-weapon free world, it is a form of hypocrisy for America or the other four nuclear weapon nations to not want places like North Korea and Pakistan to build nuclear weapons, but we are creating weapons with nuclear technologies/energy.  Political leaders have even threatened to ”push the button’ (use nuclear weapons) if another country that is not ‘allowed’ keeps testing their missiles.  Yet, America dropped atomic bombs on two full cities (Nagasaki and Hiroshima)…no one else has ever used nuclear weapons for warfare in history.  In my opinion, the Non Proliferation treaty is less about having a nuclear weapon free world for the future, but it is more so about power and control. It’s like: ”Yeah we can drop nuclear weapons on other countries if we have to go that far…but you guys are not allowed to build any or do what we do. Those are the rules.”  Nothing good comes from using nuclear weapons on nations no matter who is ”allowed” to have them or not. America has it’s good, but hypocrisy has always been prevalent. Destabilizing nations and then trying to ‘help’ them is one of the many problems America has when it comes to international relations. Yes, we should all help/aid other places & people if they need help or rescue…but playing/imitating the ‘hero’ is different from actually being a genuine one. The treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons is supposed to be about promoting peaceful usage of nuclear energy and a future free of nuclear weapons. However, it seems as if the ‘future nuclear disarmament/elimination goal’ that the NPT claims to promote does not apply to everyone because there are people who prefer power & control over true positive change.

Positive Thought: ‘The World I Know’ by Collective Soul Analyzed

The thought provoking lyrics and perspective of the 1995 classic ‘The World I Know’ by Collective Soul is a great song/video to analyze. How I perceive this song is that it’s okay to question and feel deeply bothered with the state of our world,  but we should always try to not let this reflection prevent us from encouraging more positivity and good progression within our planet. I love this song and whenever I listen to it, the overall composition is compelling to me. I encourage all to never give up on our world…to never be comfortable or numb to the evil & unfortunate happenings that may be prevalent in our world. One of the many beautiful reasons why hope still lingers on is because this world also includes inhabitants/souls who are conscientious, good-hearted and genuinely care to implement/spread positive change. Therefor, let’s never feel as though this world is mainly full of only gloom and despair…because it is not. We all are each equally important & vital in implementing positive change, and there are people who still sincerely care for the pain/suffering others experience.  If we can’t seem to find many, then let’s be one of the light-filled souls we seek and desire. I also love how this video encourages people to never give up on life and that there is always inspiration/positivity we can grow from and contribute to.

Has our conscience shown?
Has the sweet breeze blown?
Has all the kindness gone?
Hope still lingers on
I drink myself of newfound pity
Sitting alone in New York City
And I don’t know why

Are we listening
Hymns of offering?
Have we eyes to see
That love is gathering?
All the words that I’ve been reading
Have now started the act of bleeding
Into one, into one

So I walk up on high
And I step to the edge
To see my world below
And I laugh at myself
While the tears roll down
‘Cause it’s the world I know
Oh it’s the world I know

I drink myself of newfound pity
Sitting alone in New York City
And I don’t know why, don’t know why

So I walk up on high
And I step to the edge
To see my world below
And I laugh at myself
While the tears roll down
‘Cause it’s the world I know
Oh it’s the world I know

So I walk up on high
And I step to the edge
To see my world below

And I laugh at myself
While the tears roll down
‘Cause it’s the world I know
Oh it’s the world I know

Songwriters: ED ROLAND, ROSS BRIAN CHILDRESS
© KAREN SCHAUBEN PUBLISHING ADMINISTRATION

Boogie Down Bronx:Classic Photography

1520 Sedgwick Avenue and D.J Kool Herc are names forever synonymous with a part of the origins of rap music. In 1973 on August 11th, Kool Herc hosted a back to school party for his sister at the recreation room of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue apartment building. At the community house party, he introduced a technique that involved two turntables, a mixer, two copies of the same record, and playing another song at the beginning or middle of the record while focusing on ”the break” in each one. With D.J Kool Herc presenting his technique, his friend Coke La Rock began to rap and many legendary rappers like Afrika Bambaataa and Grand Master Flash all claimed to have witnessed this historic significant event in music history. In honor of The Boogie Down Bronx, here are some truly amazing and influential photos that shows why  The Boogie Down Bronx will always be considered a birthplace of the rhythmic poetic art we call Hip Hop.

1520Sedgwick_Avenue.jpg

dj kool herc.jpg

mixtapes

coldcrush

gman 2

 

boogiedown1

party1

red alert

zulu1

John Coltrane’s Blue Train: A Classic Revisited

john_coltrane-blue_train.png

John Coltrane’s 1958 released album Blue Train is one of his gems that is both timeless and significant in any era. Not only was the label Blue Note Records a legendary & important part of music history, but it is Coltrane’s brilliance playing the tenor saxophone, Lee Morgan on the trumpet, Curtis Fuller’s trombone skills, Kenny Drew playing the piano, Paul Chambers on base, and Philly Joe Jones as the drummer that completes this album in such a compelling manner . The album was produced by Blue Notes Records co-founder Alfred Lion and Coltrane wrote nearly all of the music, with Johnny Mercer and Jerome Kern writing the song ”I’m Old Fashioned.” The album has two sides, which includes ”Moments Notice” and my personal favorite ”Blue Train” on side one. Side two includes ”Locomotion”, ”I’m Old Fashioned”, and ”Lazy Bird”.  In 1997, alternate take bonus tracks were released of ”Lazy Bird” and ”Blue Train”. This was only Coltrane’s second solo album & although it is considered ”Hard Bop”, I think all of his music is beyond just one specific genre. Of course, not long after releasing Blue Train, Coltrane would go on to create an album that was chosen as one of the 50 recordings picked by The Library of Congress & added to the National Recording Registry…the groundbreaking & innovative classic Giant Steps.