Illinois (GREED) – A female, looking fierce while using her intellect in the form of words to express her thoughts through rhythmic poetry, is not typically the first thing that comes to mind, considering the plethora of women using their sexual appeal as a way to sell music. Noteworthy female rap artists are there, however, ready to spit content better than pretty much any commercialized rapper you would find when flipping through your local radio station.
Let’s face it, regardless of the element, the hip hop scene is male-dominated. To stand out from the rest for something other than simply being a female in a group of males can’t possibly be an easy task, but these ladies are doing it consistently, while earning mad respect from their male counterparts. From artists such as Gavlyn and Snow Tha Product on the West Coast to Dessa and K.Flay in the Midwest to Jean Grae and Nitty Scott on the East Coast. These women are not just expressing themselves lyrically, but also using their minds to display their talents in other areas; Jean Grae is a comedian. K.Flay makes her own beats.
“And to everybody talking about my tits
I guess that it’s
Because you can’t find shit to diss
about the way that I spit
upload my nip for kicks
another feel that you couldn’t cop
But I got shit to do in protools
while you’re fucking around in photoshop
The road don’t stop where you go out to take a breather
Either I’m an over eager emo alcoholic with a nice chest and press list
Or maybe you’re just jealous.”
Dessa has been extremely influential in Minnesota. She’s taught at various music institutions, hosted a live public television music series, and presented at a three-day Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg College in addition to being CEO of the group Doomtree, who she performs with regularly. She even has an ice cream flavor named after her, “Dessa’s Existential Crunch.” Oh, and if you haven’t heard her amazing keynote speech at the 2012 commencement ceremony for the University Of Minnesota College Of Liberal Arts, you can (watch it here). It’s 22 minutes well spent.
In her speech, Dessa gives advice about failure being important – to invest one’s self completely and to risk losing as opposed to not trying for fear of failure. “Go and find out empirically what you can and what you can’t do. Don’t leave that decision to speculation, to yours, or to your friends, or to your parents, go find out.” K.Flay demonstrated this idea when she began her career. Joking with her friends that she could write similar songs to the ones on the radio, which she considered, “simplistic, misogynistic and formulaic.” She wrote and performed “Blingity Blang Blang” realizing she actually enjoyed writing music. A couple of years later she released a mixtape which she produced on her laptop.
As amazing as they are, Dessa and K.Flay are just two examples of the many women out there rocking the mic while doing great things. Stay tuned as we delve deeper into the underground hip hop scene and look at other female artists as well underrepresented artists, both male and female.