Where Are They Now? 9 Of Our Favorite Female Rappers From Back In the Day
I’m sure you’ve seen just enough stories about today’s female lyricists waging war on each through rap beefs, or ones telling you to pick your favorites from the slim pickings of talented female fire spitters we have available to us these days. All of ’em at this point are caricatures of other people, white women saying the N-word, straight up haters, or they haven’t been able to break into the mainstream. But back in the day, things were different. Where are the female rappers from yesteryear? We know where Lauryn, Lil Kim, Queen La, Missy, Foxy and more are, but what about the Roxanne Shantes? The Heather Bs? The Monie Loves? We’ve figured a thing or two out for you.
Yolanda Whittaker, girl, what have you been up to? The lady best known for her time spitting with Ice Cube, playing Keylolo on “Martin” and rocking those blonde braids hasn’t been one of the bad misses of rap for a while. Her last album was Total Control in ’96, and while she did try and release her fifth album, Ebony, some years later it never made it into stores. Since then, we’ve seen her perform at the BET Hip Hop Awards in ’08, and doing more television appearances than anything else. Her credits include the documentary, “My Mic Sounds Nice: The Truth About Women in Hip-Hop” and co-host of the female rap competition, “Miss Rap Supreme.” She’s been working on an EP that she wanted to drop in ’09 called, My Journey to Fearless: The Black Butterfly, but it still hasn’t been released. But if you’re still thirsty for anything from her, she has been featured on tracks with Kurupt, Brooke Valentine and DJ Quik. Come back Yo!
Okay, so maybe she’s not an icon in the rap game or one of your favorites, but Missy and Timbaland’s old protege was pretty sick on the mic. The Philly-born MC made appearances on Missy’s “Funky Fresh Dressed,” and released her own album, Girl Interrupted (with the singles “Big Head” and “Ching Ching” with Nelly Furtado and Timbaland), but unfortunately, that album was a commercial flop. Since parting ways with her Beat Club family, Ms. Jade has been trying to start over musically. She appeared on the official remix of Beyonce’s “Diva,” did a mixtape entitled, “Million Dollar Baby,” and dropped a song and video called “Blowin’ Up” with fellow Philly rapper Freeway that was on her mixtape, Straight No Chaser (2010). But since then, we haven’t heard much else. Let’s hope she’s hiding in the studio trying to create some fire…
While a great deal of people know Heather B strictly from her time in the Real World house during its inaugural season, many others know her for her rap career and rolling with Boogie Down Productions for a while. She released her first album, Takin’ Mine, in 1996 with the singles “All Glocks Down,” and “If Headz Only Knew.” She would later release the single “Do You” and drop the album Eternal Affairs in 2002. While critically approved, it didn’t chart. Last time we checked, Heather B., aka Heather B. Gardner, was working with DJ Premier on an album called Open Bar that still hasn’t been released, and she owns a business or two in Manhattan these days. If you keep up with the rap group The Bravehearts, then you probably know that she is married to the member “Horse.”
What were you doing at the age of 14? Probably not involving yourself in a war of words on wax and blowing up because of it. But that’s what happened to Roxanne Shante, aka, Lolita Shanté Gooden. The Juice Crew member got big by doing the diss/answer record “Roxanne’s Revenge” that was aimed at the guys of the group UTFO (and their hit song, “Roxanne, Roxanne”). After that, she dropped two albums: ’89’s Bad Sister, and ’92’s The B***h is Back, jumped on a track with Rick James (“Loosey Rap”), and by 25, was ready to take a break from the game. And she sure the hell did. Once she finally came back around, she was a mentor to contestants on “Miss Rap Supreme” in 2008, and did a few guest appearances on tracks for many different folks. There was even supposed to be a biopic on her starring Keke Palmer, but because of financing issues, it was put on hold. Nowadays, you can see Shante speaking at different events looking pretty great, but we think she’d look better back in the booth!
Monie’s no longer in the middle of the rap game as she was in the late ’80s and early ’90s, but dang, do we miss those days! Love debuted as part of the Jus Bad Crew before blowing up after making an appearance on the iconic “Ladies First” with Queen Latifah, and doing her thing on De La Soul’s “Buddy.” Love would go on to become a prominent member of Native Tongues, the intellectual collective of rhymers that included folks like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers and more. Her debut album (Down to Earth) gave us the classic “Monie in the Middle,” and “It’s a Shame,” and after that, she blew up big time, doing songs with Whitney Houston (the remix to “My Name is Not Susan”) and penned some lyrics for a few tracks with Prince of all people. After that, she took a break and returned in 2000 to drop the EP Slice of Da Pie. For all those in Philly, I’m sure you know Love was the morning drive host on WPHI-FM from 2004-2006 (where she and Young Jeezy went back and forth about why hip-hop is and isn’t dead). The last time we checked, the single mother was hosting a radio show called “Ladies First Radio” on XM Satellite Radio. And we’ve also seen her hopping on stage with Q-Tip (We were bugging out in the crowd at last year’s Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival).
“We’re J.J. Fad and we’re here to rock!” The Cali Girls who were signed by Eazy-E had a massive hit you probably remember called “Supersonic” off of their album of the same name. Both the song and the CD went platinum (thanks to production from a pre-NWA Dr. Dre). After that, MC J.B. (Juana Burns), Baby-D (Dania Birks), and Sassy C. (Michelle Franklin) tried to match that success with the release of Just a Fad in ’91, but it wasn’t as big of a hit, so they disbanded afterwards. But don’t get too sad! They reunited in 2009 and were said to be trying to make new material and tour again. Good luck with that ladies!
“Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” was everything back in the day, and we can thank Digable Planets for that classic jazz-infused hip-hop jam. Butterfly, Doodlebug and Ladybug Mecca were all the rage when they dropped Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) (1993) and Blowout Comb (1994) back in the early ’90s (“Swoon Units” is still my jam!). Shortly after the release of Blowout Comb, the group disbanded. However, while Ladybug was out trying to do her solo thing, the other members of the group wanted to get back together to tour, but she didn’t want to take part. So Butterfly and Doodlebug went on tour without her, giving other female MCs the chance to shine in her place. But don’t feel bad for her, because she has been making moves by hosting mixtapes, dropping a solo album (Trip the Light Fantastic) and actually being a successful DJ (DJ LadybugMek).
MC Lyte was the first solo female rapper to drop a full album and get mad shine in the industry thanks to Lyte as a Rock. After that, the rapstress dropped bangers continuously until ’98 (Eyes on This, Act Like You, Ain’t No Other, Bad As I Wanna Be, Seven & Seven), and the singles she put out were just as dope, including “Poor Georgie,” “Ruffneck” and “Cold Rock a Party.” But after ’98 and less than stellar showing numbers wise for Seven & Seven, she kind of backed out of the rap scene and rotated into television work. Her most notable roles included stints on “In the House,” “The District,” and “Half & Half.” She’s also had a huge voice-over career and was a mentor on the MTV show, “Celebrity Rap Superstar.” But don’t count her out of the game forever, because in 2007, 2008 and 2009, she released several songs on iTunes, including “Mad at Me,” “Juke Joint,” and “Get Lyte.”
Lady of Rage
You can call her Lady of Rage, but I’ve always thought of her as Baby D. You know, Baby D from Next Friday? Anyway, Lady of Rage became a sensation in the rap game after making appearances on two classic rap albums: The Chronic, and Doggystyle. But she stepped out on her own with success when she dropped “Afro Puffs,” and released her first album, Necessary Roughness. After all that success and those high profile collaborations, she left Death Row Records in ’98, and like MC Lyte, started focusing more on TV and films as well (remember her as Coretta Cox on the “Steve Harvey Show”?). But recently, she’s been trying to get back into music and has been doing tracks with Snoop Dogg again on some of his latest albums, touring with him (which she did in 2010), and releasing the album VA to LA in 2005. Funny thing is, the last time we saw her, she was doing a cypher on the BET Hip Hop Awards last year, so could we be expecting a comeback sometime soon??? Hope so…
Any female MCs that you wish would come back to the game? Who are your favorites?
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