Tuesday, August 31, 2010

BET Succeeds At Uncovering The Truth About Women In Hip-Hop With 'My Mic Sounds Nice' [Video]

For the past couple of weeks, BET has been promoting their original documentary My Mic Sounds Nice: A Truth About Women And Hip-Hop promising that it would be groundbreaking in telling the story and history of female MC’s then and now.

To say the least, they were being modest.

To sum it up in three words: I loved it! To get the long version of what was to love continue on.

What was great about this documentary was that it shed light on an element of Hip-Hop that is often talked about but never really analyzed. We look on the surface and wonder how females in Hip-Hop became to be or why there aren’t as many; but My Mic Sounds Nice delved deeper into these questions highlighting facts that probably went over a few of our heads.

The documentary started out by exploring the beginnings of when a female Hip-Hop artist became the norm. Traveling from the 80s to the 90s you notice that things definitely changed for the good and for the bad depending on who you ask.

For the most part, the one thing that was clear about Hip-Hop in the 80s was that it was mainly about talent; nothing more, nothing less. Perfect examples of artists that were mentioned that stood firm by this was Roxanne Shante, Queen Latifah and MC Lyte to name a few.

The glitz and glamour of having stylist and make-up artists would come much later when female artists were trying to find a way to separate themselves from one another. When the 90s came into fruition, the name of the game was being over sexual but still maintaining superb lyrical skills. Lil Kim and Foxy Brown were the examples given.

Even though the ladies of Hip-Hop were expressing their sexual dominance on Hip-Hop, there was one that was going the spiritual and poetic route and that was Lauryn Hill. One of the panelists suggested that it was a tragedy when Lauryn Hill decided to take some time off to tend to her personal life and her family and I somewhat agree. After Lauryn took her exit, there was a void left in Hip-Hop. I also feel that her album Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was a great pacifier while she was gone but now we are waiting for our bottle which would be a new LP.

After Lauryn, the influx of female Hip-Hop artists that was experienced in the 90s slowly began dipping down and that is when Missy Elliot made her entrance and pretty much changed the dynamic of what a female Hip-Hop artist could be. She was quirky, creative, and pushed the envelope with her unique way of rapping and her video style.

Once we entered the 2000s that’s when things became a bit bleak according to the doc. The fact that in 2005 The Grammys removed the category of Best Female Hip-Hop Artists (an interesting point made in the doc) was very telling.

There weren’t many female Hip-Hop artists out with the exception of artists like Eve, Missy, and Trina and the labels were supposedly not looking for them either. Apparently, they felt that female Hip-Hop artists unnecessarily increased the marketing budget and didn’t sell records.

They briefly spoke about Hip-Hop’s leading lady at the moment Nicki Minaj, with many expressing mixed feelings about her place and purpose in Hip-Hop. You can watch the video to gather what I mean by mixed feelings.

In all, the decades in Hip-Hop regarding female MC’s seem to be as followed:

The 80s was groundbreaking for Hip-Hop artists that relied heavily on their lyrical skills. They gained notoriety by battle rapping the men in the game.

The 90s was the golden age because that was when the door was held wide open for female rappers who pretty much dominated and made it clear that they weren’t going anywhere. Some used sex as their selling point while others just came as themselves or added animation to their styles.

The 2000s and beyond seems to rely more on branding and not so much on talent which works well with our new found celebrity obsessed society.

My favorite part of the doc was probably at the very end when they started naming a bevy of underground female Hip-Hop artists, pretty much slamming the claim that there are not enough female Hip-Hop artists. There may not be many commercial female rappers but there are a lot of indie female rappers.

We do need to give underground artists some more shine…

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