MC Lyte

While doing research on female rappers, I ran across a very interesting article in the archives of the New York Times. The article is entitled
“RECORDINGS; Female Rappers Strut Their Stuff In a Male Domain by Jon Pareles.”
(Make sure you also read the second page of this article.)

This article commemorates the efforts of rappers like Queen Latifah and MC Lyte for excelling in a male dominated culture such as rap. I was attracted to this article because of its title. After reading the title I told myself that whoever wrote this had made a mistake. They could not be talking about present day female rappers. Then I noticed the date that the article was published. It was published on November 5, 1989! So that’s why the writer was so optimistic about women in rap.

The date makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately female rappers like Queen Latifah and MC Lyte are no where to be found in rap today. And if they are out there, we don’t hear their music or know much about them. This article made me realize (more…)


The article “Where Have All the Female Rappers Gone” by Nekesa Moody supports the notion that there is a lack of female rappers. Males have always outnumbered females in the game. but there is a recent shortage of female artists. Even the artists who are present are not representing for the ladies. Ice-T, a hip hop veteran said this about female rappers:

“It’s hard for a girl to rap. Rap is a very aggressive, testosterone-based, hard-core music at its base. To rap, you’ve got to stand on the stage and say I’m the best and this is what’s up. It’s a very narcissistic music. It takes a special woman to be able to pull that off.”

Why is that women have to be so exceptional, so special, to rap and men have an easier time getting signed and selling records?

Author Baraki Kitwana says, “Clearly, hip-hop remains this kind of male-dominated and almost locker-room atmosphere, and if women are going to be a part of it, they have to buy into it … they have to almost out-male the men.” This idea may sound absurd but if you think about the female artists of today, this thought of female rappers as mega-male or beyond masculine is not far fetched at all. Successful female rappers, (more…)

I thought that it would only be right if we examined females’ participation in rap music early on in rap’s history. Starting with the 1980’s, female rappers have taken the mic with something to say in response to how they are viewed and talked about by men. The most prominent female rappers from this era are Sha Rock, The Real Roxanne, and Roxanne Shante. These rappers came before the well-respected and memorable MC Lyte and Queen Latifah.

I found this clip that gives the history of one of the pioneers of female rappers, Roxanne Shante, from Queensbridge Projects in Queens, New York. The clip takes about 20 seconds to start so please be patient.

After hearing this story, it seems like Shante may be partially responsible for igniting the rap battles that are so popular in hip hop. Even if she isn’t, (more…)