Sunday, October 17, 2010

Evolution of the American Female Rapper

With the forthcoming debut release from much-hyped American rapper Nicki Minaj only a month away, I've been looking at past American female rappers that have reached a momentous height of public interest and with such few female rappers in the industry, it's always a moment when one actually does. Here's a chronological look back at albums from female rappers that managed to make both positive and negative impact:

Queen Latifah - Black Reign, 1993. Before there was the pornographic, sexually hard-hitting lyrical fornicating of Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown, there was the political, tough-talking lyrical anxiety of New Jersey rapper Queen Latifah and this was her best set. Following her move to Motown records she delivered this intelligent, vocally-charged set of songs. Critics liked Black Reign, but it didn't quite make the impact the other albums in this write-up did. Best: Weekend Love. (4.5/5)

Lil' Kim - Hard Core, 1996. No female MC album shook things up in the first six years of the '90s harder than the debut album from Brooklyn born rapper Lil' Kim. Critics applauded the aptly titled Hard Core for its bold and blunt exhausting of female sexuality through wildly lewd-driven amative profanities of tracks like "Big Momma Thang" and "Spend a Little Doe." The album was a height of critical acclaim she has yet to match, unfortunately it's not a height I'm too fond of. I feel it's kind of overrated and lacked any depth behind the provocative front. Is her talking about human genitles and drugs over pounding hip-hop beats what makes this a good record? It's not one I can get behind. Luckily, she did churn out some better records further down the line. Essential track: Crush On You. (3/5)

Foxy Brown - Ill Na Na, 1996. The first of two albums I feature in this write-up from also Brooklyn born rapper Foxy Brown is Ill Na Na. This wasn't her most successful but is regarded as one of her best and I think so too, whilst not as sex-craved as Hard Core, it was a main topic however what it had over that album was that it was more tastefully done--in regards to seductive delivery and more well-crafted beats, I particularly like the striking production of "Foxy Bell's," rhythmic bass lines backed with bursts of electronic guitar. The soulful duet with R&B fivesome BLACKstreet on "Get Me Home" is another highlight. Essential track: Foxy Bells. (4/5)

Missy Elliot - Supa Dupa Fly, 1997. Missy Elliot actually delivered four knockout albums in a row, but I've only chosen two and the first is her remarkable debut. Supa Dupa Fly did what both Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown couldn't do, expand from the archetypal walls of hip-hop to more experimental territories like this album. Showcasing a versatile, futuristic outlook on the genre with help from producer Timbaland, reining in influences from both R&B ("Beep Me 911") and both conventional and unconventional hip-hop ("The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)") to create more complex arrangements. It's an admirable set. One of the best hip-hop albums of that decade. Essential: The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly). (5/5)

Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, 1998. To be blunt, I love this album to pieces and there's not a lot I can say that hasn't already been said from its influence on both hip-hop and R&B, commercial success, Grammy wins to its legacy. Lauryn Hill delivered a masterpiece, one that she never followed up and height of quality that has yet to be topped. Essential track: Ex-Factor. (5/5)

Foxy Brown - Chyna Doll, 1999. The last of the two from Foxy Brown is her 1999 follow up Chyna Doll. I don't have much to say about this album as it was a disappointment, disregarding everything I liked about her first (I'm struggling to find an essential track). Ironically, the reason why I've included this is because whilst its her worst offering, it was in fact her best-selling, even becoming the first album by a female rapper to debut atop the Billboard 200. Essential track: Hot Spot. (2/5)

Eve - Let There Be Eve... Ruff Ryder's First Lady, 1999. I've never been too big on Philadelphian rapper Eve or her debut album which launched her a pretty successful career; becoming a double-platinum seller, the second album to debut at #1 by a female rapper and landed the top 40 hits ("Gotta Man," Love is Blind," "What Ya'll Want"). It's a decent set, but nothing remarkable. Best: Love is Blind. (3/5)

Khia - Thug Misses, 2002. In 2002 Philadelphian rapper Khia landed the controversial hit of the summer ("My Neck My Back") unfortunately also delivered one of the most pathetic excuses for a hip-hop album in the history of the genre. Essential track: My Neck My Back (1/5)

Missy Elliot - Under Construction, 2002. 2002 was a stellar year for Missy Elliot. As well as delivering her fourth album that met with critical acclaim--it also landed her the massive chart smash "Work It," and earned the rapper a Grammy nomination for Album of the Year, losing out to hip-hop duo OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. It's less interesting than Supa Dupa Fly but it was more contemporary. Essential track: Work It. (4.5/5)

Trina - Glamourest Life, 2005. Looking back on the 2000's picking albums that highlights the popularity of female rap is becoming tedious. I don't think Miami based rapper Trina actually had an album that sparked a lot of interest, however her fairly enjoyable third album landed her highest charting solo single "Here We Go" featuring Kelly Rowland. Best: Here We Go. (3.5/5)

Lil Mama - VYP (Voice of the Young People), 2008. You may remember her for crashing Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' performance at the 2008 VMA's but Lil Mama used to have a promising career. Before the release of her debut album, she landed two top 10 hits ("Lipgloss" and "Shawty Get Loose") then the album flopped and it was all over. It was quite a shame too, it was a pretty good set. I particularly like society-driven message of "L.I.F.E." Best: L.I.F.E. (3.5/5)


J.Mensah said...

MC Lyte should have been feature but I couldn't get her album :/

Mel said...

Look at you with your fancy new layout. BRB while I read all your new posts. :) xoxo

J.Mensah said...

Ahhh look at you commenting like it's your daily routine! Ooh! Have you seen Willow Smith's video?