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The Search for A Non-Horrible Lady Rapper

nicki

I love hip hop. I grew up listening to it. I’m a fan. I’m especially a fan of female MCs, something that was much more commonplace in the 80s and 90s, but not so much now. Now, it’s pretty much Nicki Minaj. And I, initially, did not like Nicki Minaj. She’s since sort of grown on me like a fungus as I’ve accepted the reality that she’s it, Hip Hop Nicki or Pop Nicki, this is it, complications, giant booty and all.

Why this is a one Lady MC at a time kind of game has everything to do with how horrible the recording industry is right now, where nearly every song on the top 40 is produced by some dude out of Sweden and hip hop is in the middle of a marketing/money induced identity crisis. People want something guaranteed to make money. This is why Nicki went the attention grabbing, talent-downplaying route she went. No one cared if she could switch up personalities and give off a monster flow. She had to be her own video ho too. And now everyone has to be their own video ho. It’s not good enough to be good enough. Now, as a female MC, you have the same pop expectations of your generic pop princess auto-tuning her way through a Max Martin track.

But lack of industry support hasn’t stopped me (and my friend Yesha Callahan), from searching for a female MC to love, to root for, to celebrate. At least once a month, we scour the internet to find some chick on YouTube trying to make it in the game. Some have some talent. Some are struggling, but have a nice hustle. Some can’t seem to get their albums out and keep having beefs on Twitter. And some we were really hot for three years ago, but now are listening to their new album like that mess sounds like a wet fart.

I’m sure, if you follow YouTube lady MCs, you can tell exactly who I was talking about in those last two mentions. Yesha and I were all about the “Azealia” wars. We wanted a return of the “Real Roxanne” battles of old when Roxanne Shante was shutting all comers down, yet other Roxannes kept trying to get in her face and steal her throne. The fact that there were two very different female MCs with extremely similar names made this seem like a real possibility. They had natural beef. They were appealing to different audiences (Iggy was rolling with T.I. trying to turn her Aussie accent into a dirty South drawl. Banks was on some goddess Crystal Waters steez), but both wanted the same cred. All they needed to do was PUT OUT AN ACTUAL ALBUM.

Not an EP. Not a mixtape. Not other bootleg show I was too lazy to fight through teenagers to go to. AN ALBERM. Like people used to put out. Like “Thriller.” Or “The Eagles Greatest Hits.”

Three years after discovering both of them … one finally has to mixed results. And, um … well. More on that later. First things first … here are the YouTube girls Yesha and I were rooting for, why and why they will or will never make it.

Kreayshawn

No.

Dominique Young Unique

Best Album: Stupid Pretty

Claim to Fame: She’s a hype girl

I am the only one rooting for Dominique here. Yesha was IMMEDIATELY turned off by the fact she seemed to have an initial look that said, “A shower. Get one.” I realized she was going for dirty girl aesthetic, owning “ratchet” and turning it into something else altogether. I liked her flow because it reminded me of how 80s female MCs used to sound, the more pop, booty bass ones. Like Tigra and Bunny who liked those cars that went boom but with better wordplay. Or Oaktown 357 going “Yeah Yeah Yeah” but, again, better wordplay. Basically, shit only someone from the Midwest, West Coast or Dirty South would like. Yesha is from Jersey. So she’s all “Real hip hop, I don’t like 90s R&B or Southern rap something, something annoying, blah blah pre-Jimmy Fallon Roots WU-TANG!” Whatever. Midwest/Dirty South forever … except Chingy and Nelly and Master P. I’ll claim Twista though. Twista was/is a genius. An unheralded, unappreciated genius. Dominique is no Twista. But she’s better than Tigra and Bunny and her cars go beyond boom. I don’t know if her hype hype, jump jump, pop pop, hip hop ass will ever cross over. (Probably not.) But I want her to. I want that skinny “Stupid Pretty” girl to do it.

L. A.

Best Album: The One Where She Stole Kanye West’s “College Dropout” (The Presentation)

Claim to Fame: I know who she is. That counts, right?

I don’t appreciate L.A. beats changing so drastically from “The Presentation” to whatever she has shortly after it. I didn’t like it. I did not like it. I DID NOT LIKE IT. But on “The Presentation?” Yesha and I were so hyped. The best song was her alleged Nicki Minaj diss song (but she swears that’s not how she meant it) “The Reformation (New Brand).” She’s still working and she’s still really fun. But, I don’t know. I think she’s doomed because her voice is too similar to Nicki’s.

Also, lack of giant ass. How you gonna be your own video ho when you still want to leave something to the imagination? That’s not how the game works, Latasha Alcindor. That’s not how that shit works at all.

Angel Haze

Best Album: All of them. Mix tapes. “Dirty Gold.” She’s great.

Claim to Fame: Being actually good. Possibly dating the daughter Alec Baldwin once called a pig.

She’s beautiful. She’s authentic. She’s unique. If it was 1996 she’d be opening for TLC or the Fugees or Janet Jackson. I’m going to blame racism here, … and sexism and homophobia, on why she’s still not insanely wealthy and famous. I haven’t been so hurt by lack of mainstream success for a female MC since my fav Jean Grae. (“Attack of the Attacking Things” changed my life.) The fact that she’s not hugely famous (her debut came out last year) is evidence that we can’t have nice things (like Jean Grae). That the apocalypse is neigh and the Illuminati is real. At least she’ll always have Ireland Baldwin.

Azealia Banks

Best Album: The EP where she pretended she was Crystal Waters

Claim to Fame: Got Twitter beef? Hers is so good it’s filet mignon.

Stop fighting with people on Twitter and put out a full album. Stop fighting with people on Twitter and put out a full album. Stop fighting with people on Twitter and put out a full album. Stop fighting with people on Twitter and put out a full album.

Azealia, try not to make your own words prophetic because, ay yo … I heard you’re riding with the same tall tale. Telling them you made some. Saying you’re grinding, but you ain’t going nowhere. Why you procrastinate girl? You got a lot, but you just waste all yours. And they’ll forget your name soon and won’t nobody be to blame but yourself.

Seriously. I love you. Stop hurting me.

Iggy Azalea

Best Album: Release or unreleased? Unreleased? “Ignorant Art.” Released? Nothing. Nothing is good. Nothing will ever be good again. Hold me.

Claim to Fame: The tall, booty model looking Aussie who raps like she’s from the dirty

Murda Bizness” is a good song despite the fact I can hear her thinking on it. I mean, “I kill pride. I hurt feelings” was, like, Yesha’s motto for a least a good week after the track came out. But as much as I like that “Southern Rap Paint By Numbers” masterpiece, my favorite Iggy track is (and will probably always be) “Beat Down,” a track she guested on by Steve Aoki. It features my favorite Iggy lines, “When the bitch hit the ground, how these Louboutins taste?” and the even better, “There’s a party on your face and I’m about to dance on it.” It’s the best she’s ever done. And it’s probably the best she’ll ever do after listening to the entirety of her album “The New Classic.”

Before you pronounce me (or Yesha) some kind of haters, we both really, really, really liked Iggy from day one. We liked her story about loving Tupac and discovering him long after he was dead (or chilling in Africa depending on what Illuminati theory you believe in this month). We liked how she gave up everything to come to the American South to learn how to rap while selling weave. Shit, we kind of based A CHARACTER ON HER in our comic/TV pilot “Passing.” (Only we made her American.) But there were always these nagging things about her. Like, why the fake Southern patois? Why not rap in her actual accent? Why were her tracks so hit (“Work”) or miss (“Bounce”)? Was she actually any good, or did we want to see a woman, ANY WOMAN make it so bad that we were willing to put all our wigs in the unpredictable, possibly wack Iggy basket?

For me, I think it was the fact that she was like Lana Del Rey, an instant classic online, but didn’t always make sense when she was outside of her Youtube fish tank. (For the record, I still like Lana Del Rey, but Yesha is tired of her shit. I’m still holding out hope though Lana learns how to emote.) I plan on writing a review of “The New Classic” which, sadly, does not live up to that album title, and features about five good tracks, one song I like in spite of all my good taste, and the rest? Bullshit. Such terrible, terrible, no good bullshit. Like, the bad parts are embarrassing. Like, she should have just put out another EP, embarrassing. Like, Ignorant Art, was a better album and she put that together with some weave glue and glitter. (“Ignorant Art” contains tracks I LOVE like “Hello,” Pu$$y,” “My World” and her love song to an aforementioned legendary hip hop corpse, “The Last Song.”)

Iggy will probably “blow up” anyway. It’s been years in the making. Almost all her videos go viral. She has a modeling contract. “Fancy” is a hot track with a hot video. I just worry she’s going to end up more Kreayshawn (No.) than Pop Nicki w/ Pseudo Southern Accent and white skin.

(In her defense, “Bad Babysitter” is not Princess Superstar’s best song, but it was the one they thought would cross-over and it gave her that whole “Female Eminem” title even though she’d been in the game since the mid-90s.)

Special Mention: Princess Superstar

Best album: “Princess Superstar Is” (2002)

Claim to fame: “The Female Eminem” + “Gaga stole everything including my wigs”

Long before Iggy Azalea my favorite white girl MC was Princess Superstar. (I’ll be honest, after Lauryn stopped rapping and Missy took her hiatus, Princess was probably my fav rapper period.) Her biggest rival was always Peaches, who was raunchier, which is a big claim to make considering Princess wasn’t exactly a princess with tracks like “Keith & Me” (her track with Kool Keith), “Do It Like A Robot,” “NYC C**t” and “I Like Sex.”

The Princess was supposed to blow up a decade or more ago back when people called her the female Eminem, which was kind of an insult, because I thought she was funnier and more interesting than Eminem. (Not that Em was some slouch or anything, I just didn’t see the comparison other than they were white, rappers and big on ironic flow.) She was Gaga before Gaga (seriously, Gaga stole her whole act, but was a shittier rapper/better singer/had better management/was in a different era). She was Iggy before Iggy. She was the coolest white girl rapper in history (who wasn’t Peaches). My favorite Princess Superstar track was (and still is) “You Get Mad at Napster,” her diss rap epic that no one seems to know but me and is now obviously dated for anyone who doesn’t remember what the internet looked like in 1999. I also loved the aforementioned “NYC C**t” track and her duet with Bahamadia “Too Much Weight.” (Remember Bahamadia? She’s also still rapping. But you wouldn’t know that unless you follow her online. I hate the industry so much. So much.)

Princess, like Iggy, was blonde, pretty and MTV accessible. Only, unlike Iggy, (I’m sorry Iggy) Princess had flow. Like, unforced, foul-mouthed, sexy, dirty, crazy flow. And I remain angry TO THIS DAY that she never blew up no matter how many special orders I made of her CDs that you can’t find anywhere. She’s still rapping though. Rap on, girl. In fact. Rap on, all the girls. Fake it ’til you make it.

***

Do you have a favorite female MC trying to get off YouTube and into the Billboard charts? Drop her name in the comments. Yesha and I are always looking for new talent and mixtapes to download.

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