Here at g.o.a.t Hip—Hop we’ve been celebrating women’s history month by re-visting the history of women in hip-hop. I’ve always had an affinity for a woman who could spit and I came of age when there were a lot more of them getting mainstream airplay than there are now. When Paulie Rhyme asked me for my favorites tracks, it was easy for me to come up with a list (Lost ones, Push it, You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo, Ruff Neck, Big Momma Thang, Monie in the Middle…and so on and so on!)
The more I thought about it, I realized that some of my favorite verses from a woman have been on tracks that she shared with her male counterparts, either as a guest feature or in the case of artists like Lauryn Hill and Ladybug Mecca, when she was in a group with men.
In the male-dominant world of hip-hop, women have always had a lot to prove. Nobody is more suited to explain this unique challenge than the Queen herself. “Having to create your own identity and become known and respected in a male-dominated field – it requires some guts. There are times you have to be strong, and times when you have to stand alone for what you believe in.” -Queen Latifah
I started my list of favorite female rap verses with with one of my favorite throwbacks, “I got a Man” by Positive K. When I went to google the name of the woman on the track, I discovered that the female parts in the song were also done by Positive K, raising the pitch of his voice with studio. Technology is amazing, my mind is blown!
I may be showing my age a little here in my choices but I had a lot of fun compiling this list of my top ten favorite moments where a female mc has bodied a track shared with male rappers. I came up with some fun facts and quotes about each, enjoy!
In no particular order…
1. Rapsody – Complexion (A Zulu Love) – Kendrick Lamar
Rapsody on being labeled a femcee:
“I still think the title is irrelevant. We don’t label men “male rappers.” You can look at me and know I’m a woman, the same as I can look at guy rappers and know they are males. Labels like this only cause divide and instantly put females in a box. A box that says women in hip hop are different than men in skill and talent, and that just isn’t true.” -bet.com
Rapsody is one of two guest rap verses on Kendrick Lamar’s long-awaited sophamore album, To Pimp a Butterfly. The only other rap feature is from the legendary Snoop Dogg.
2. LeShaun – Doin’ it – LL Cool J
Although she never got her proper due, this song wouldn’t be the modern classic that it is without LeShaun’s vocals. Most people don’t know that “Doin’ it” is a remake of her song, “Wild Thing.”
Unfortunately LeShaun was excluded from the Hype Williams-directed video and replaced with a model because she was 7 months pregnant at the time. So, she sued… and she won. She’s now a photographer and lives in Florida.
3. Nicki Minaj – Monster – Kanye West
On her now classic verse, another feature on the track, Rick Ross seemed suprised that Nicki wrote it: “To see her construct her verse and lay it — she did it herself — I commend her,” -mtv.com
Unfortunately some male mcs are still surprised that women can actually write! smh
4. Lil’ Kim – Quiet Storm – Mobb Deep
A remix featuring Lil’ Kim was released as the second single for Mobb Deep’s fourth studio album, Murda Muzik. Though many believed that Lil’ Kim’s verse was a jab at Foxy Brown, it’s actually believed to be directed towards up-and-coming artists, Charli Baltimore (another lover of Biggie’s) and then-Black Star member Talib Kweli.
The Lady of Rage – G Funk Intro – Snoop
*a personal favorite of mine, I love me some Rage!
The Diamond-selling modern classic, Doggystyle featured Lady of Rage on two tracks before before she had her own hit single, “Afro Puffs” from the Above the Rim soundtrack. The track reached #5 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart. Currently, Rage has been flexing her acting muscles and is also a member of the group N’Matez, alongside Daz Dillinger, Kurupt and RBX.
5. Suga T – Sprinkle me – E-40
Bay area favorite, Suga T is most known as E-40’s younger sister and founding member of his supergroup, The Click. What most people don’t know is that the multi-platinum hit, “Sprinkle me” is the Guinness World Records holder for the biggest brother and sister rap duet in history!
6. Lauryn Hill and Rah Digga – Cowboys – The Fugees
*The chemistry between these two is incredible!
Along with Ms. Hill, fellow Jersey mc and member of The Outsidaz, Rah Digga was only other female voice on The Fugee’s sophamore classic, The Score. The two seamlessly traded bars back and forth on “Cowboys.”
“The crazy thing is we actually all paired off [to write the song] in the same way we do on the record [John Forte was added on later]. I got in this little huddle with Lauryn, and I just remember our goal was to be better than the guys.” – Rah Digga (pitchfork.com)
*I’d say they easily accomplished this goal!
7. Lauryn Hill – Fu-Gee-La – The Fugees
*The Score turned 20 in 2016! Holy shyyyyt!
The song’s producer, Salaam Remi had orignially made the song’s beat for Fat Joe…Until Lauryn Hill heard it and requested it be played during a Fugees recording session where Wyclef immediatly claimed it. The song became their commercial breakout hit.
During that process, Lauryn recorded her 16 bars every day for seven days straight. She came back in every day to redo it until it was perfect. I think most people would agree when I say, mission accomplished.
8. Jane doe – Twice Inna Lifetime – Black Star
It’s almost impossible to find any information online about Jane Doe (you try googling her name!) But most hip hop heads who grew up on the music I did remember her stellar verses as a guests feature for Masta Ace (Dear Yvette), A Tribe Called Quest (Rock Rock Y’all) and more. It was her turn on “Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star,” the only studio album by duo Talib Kweli and Mos Def (now Yasiin Bey) that landed her on my list.
The only Black Star album was released in 1998, to critical acclaim. The title is a reference to the Black Star Line, a shipping line founded by Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey.
9. Ladybug Mecca – Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat) – Digable Planets
This track was the now legendary group’s only top-40 single, peaking at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1993. The song also won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
Ladybug Mecca, The Lady of Rage and Jane Doe all grew up in Maryland. Must be something in the water…
10. Foxy Brown – I Shot Ya (Remix) – LL Cool J
The infamous verse was then 15 year old mc, Foxy Brown’s debut. Her verse was sneaked into the track by producers Poke and Tone (also known as Trackmasters) after the sessions had already been finished. Having never met her, Uncle L thought she was a little boy when he first heard the track. He was impressed once he was informed she was in fact a young woman. *Yes, L, women can rap!
Check out this playlist inspired by this post:
Corina Corina is an Oakland bred, NY based writer, performer, and artist.