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

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.

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mixtapes

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red alert

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John Coltrane’s Blue Train: A Classic Revisited

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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.

 

 

What Happend?: Back When More People ”Dressed To Their Nines”

3 Well dressed Black people.  bought on ebay from Anthony Yearwood, 42 West 88th St. #5F, NY,NY 10024   ajyearwood@verizon.net

Although everyone has their own style and there are still people who love to dress up for no special occasion ( thank you all) , I love looking at the photos taken in the early 20th century of the people looking all dapper and just all put together…just to grab something to drink, grocery shop, or go for a walk. I understand that everyone has their own fashion style and comfort is very important, but it seems as if people in those eras actually cared more about being put together, not just to impress someone, but because that was a way of life. Not just wealthy people either, but everyone because you don’t need a lot of money then or now to ”dress to your nines”. They didn’t just save their best outfits for Sundays, the clubs, or a ceremony. I don’t believe in saving a nice special outfit for a certain event, I actually feel more comfortable now being dressed up than in a t-shirt & jeans look all of the time. Yes, having casual clothes that is not dressy is good to own as well, but maybe it’s just me being an ”old-soul” or whatever. I just love seeing those photos of our grandmas in those pretty pin curls ( inspiration behind my latest hair do), those nice dapper suits on the fellas, and the children ( especially the little girls) had on those cute ”Sunday” dresses/play suits, but it was not just worn on ”special days”. Some people will claim that it is simply because that was a different era/time, but the dapper look and other vintage trends like the Pin Up Girl/ Rockabilly fashion is popular in this era for a reason. I am constantly inspired now to dress ”to my nines” more days than not whenever I look at those fabulous vintage pictures of my relatives ,images from the internet, and I just smile.  Here are a few that helped define what ”dressed to the nines are”

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