Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hopefully, She the Hard Way will "Breakdown" the femcee stereotype

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2009 at 8:23 PM

There was a time in hip-hop when a woman rocking the mic was described, first and foremost, as a woman rocking the mic — as if to say: "she's good for a female MC."

But right now in Atlanta, the fact that some of the best MCs happen to be female is almost beside the point.

Almost.

It's impossible to ignore the combined lyrical assault of StaHHr (formerly StaHHr tha F.E.M.C.E.E.), Khalilah Ali, Rita J, Boog Brown and Sa-Roc — the five MCs collaborating with producer and DJ Sol Messiah for the upcoming album She the Hard Way.

But it's not like they want you to forget that they're women, either. Their first single, "Breakdown," drives the point home with Messiah sampling "Carry That Weight," from the Beatles classic Abbey Road album.

The above video, edited by Renaylon, features film snippets from blaxploitation-era star and brown bombshell Pam Grier (Coffy, Foxy Brown, and later, Tarantino's Jackie Brown) whose prototypical ’70s roles featured her seeking revenge — often by using her sex appeal as a double-edged sword to infiltrate prostitution rings before kicking mucho misogynistic, slave-master, pimp ass.

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No doubt, contemporary rap could use a heavy dose of that. Since the ’80s golden era, female MCs have gone from queens (MC Lyte, Queen Latifah) to homeboys (Lady of Rage, Da Brat) to straight-up hoes (Lil Kim and the rapper Foxy Brown, who obviously missed the subtext behind the aforementioned film's character that she jacked her name from) to having almost zero commercial presence at all.

Meanwhile, indie/conscious female MCs (often called femcees) have often gone to the far extreme, extracting every bit of sexuality imaginable, to present themselves as an alternative to the whored-out mainstream. With the rare exception of a Bahamadia, Lauryn Hill or Jean Grae, what hip-hop fans often end up with are top-notch lyricists with personas as one-dimensional and stereotypical as the hoes they're trying to counter.

From the sounds of the first single, She the Hard Way could help signal the dawning of a re-imagined, if not altogether new, era. The title of the collaborative album is a play off another blaxploit-flick, Three the Hard Way. Hopefully, it's meant to suggest that Stahhr, Khalilah Ali, Rita J, Boog Brown and Sa-Roc are out to kick mucho ass — all while keeping their femininity intact.

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