ISSN 1866-3419 RAP, GRAFFITI, DEEJAYING, BREAKDANCE, FASHION, FILM, PHOTOGRAPHY WWW.ANATTITUDE.NET 8.-= C / 6.- £ / 13.- CHF / 12.- $
OLD SCHOOL HIP HOP
SPARKY DROSYONE COOKIE CREWMISSY DEE LANESKI MARTHA COOPER
cover: Roxanne ShantĂŠ at Kensington Park Hotel, London on 14 march 1989. Photo by David Corio old school party flyers designed by Buddy Esquire and Phase 2. www.toledohiphop.org
I ROCK THE HOUSE FOR THE YOUNG LADIES LIKE THAT YO, YOU DON’T STOP, KEEP ON TO THE BREAK-A-DAWN... SHAMPOO OF JAZZY 4 MC’S “MC ROCK” 1980
Letter from the editor
Welcome to the third issue of Anattitude Magazine, proudly presenting the ladies from back in the days. First, forget what you heard about Hip Hop being a man’s world. “Once upon a time, Hip-Hop was a culture, not a commodity” writes Sheri Sher in her novel “The Mercedes Ladies” (vibe 2008). “It was about street respect and a way to express whatever was on your mind... There was no real money involved,...”. And the ladies had their place at every time. As a real die-hard old school fan I know how much these ladies of the 80s deserve to be celebrated years after. For more than 30 years ago, about 1976 Sha-Rock of Funky 4+1 and the girls from the Mercedes Ladies started to spit their rhymes and spin their turntables. The first female rap on wax came 1978 by the sisters Paulette Tee and Tanya “Sweet Tee” Winley. 1979 Sylvia Robinson built up the legendary Sugar Hill record label. And so on and on... Personally, this issue was a great challenge and it became the greatest pleasure. When I started my female old school research many years ago, I would never have dreamed of talking to ladies like Sparky D and Janette Beckman. But when I began the work on this issue, everything turned out to be possible. Every interview in this issue is full of great attitude, full of consciousness, of heartfullness, full of the love for a Hip Hop culture. The ladies actually loved to talk about their early days and how eveything started. They really bring this special, early Hip Hop spirit back, to share it with us younger cats, to teach us what hip hop was about at the early beginning. Without their creativity and struggle, Hip Hop would not be what it is today! So let’s dig a little deeper into Hip Hop history and give our pioneer ladies the maximum respect they deserve. Big shout-outs, we love you!
I am very proud I could talk with Sparky D, together with Roxanne Shanté the greatest Battle Queen of the 80s and still so dope. Missy Dee, thanks for your love and DJ Scientist for hooking me up with your great interview. LaneSki, thanks for coming up my way and telling your Hip Hop breakdance story, which gave me a new and different point of view about what breakdance was about in the middle of the 80s. Thanks to Janette Beckman, the woman who took the most legendary portraits of rap artists ever, your style is awesome! Thanks to Karen of Not Bad For A Girl for this wonderful british interview with Cookie of UK’s most known rap group the Cookie Crew. Thanks to Bianca for a classic Martha Cooper interview. A big shout out to Rosy One and her Dope Pose crew keeping the old school culture alive. Yo, strike a pose! Stef, thanks for your pesonal words. And last but not least, thanks to F.Lady from Catfight Magazine for the great “women in graffiti” timeline and a great collaboration. Lady, you rock it! A big shout-out to all the people who are researching and passing their old school knowledge like TG (the analog master of desaster) of old school radio hour, Missy Dee of Mellow-D crew and Sheri Sher (of Mercedes Ladies) to name just a few... We love your work! And a very big shout-out to all contributing photographers. Don’t miss the contributors list! Special thanks to Tami of powerhouse Books NYC. A big kiss to Nika Kramer and the whole “We B*Girlz crew, thanks for your support. We’ll rock it! And a bigger kiss to my man Olivier and the little Léon, without your support this would never be done! And Janne baby, you are too far away.... also Lil’ A... kisses to you!
But now it’s time to shout out the “Year of the Hip Hop women 2008” and celebrate!
HIP HOP HISTORY
JANETTE BECKMAN3822 THE LADIES WILL KICK IT ...
MARTHA COOPER 66 ROSY ONE HERE’S A LITTLE STORY... 72
ANATTITUDE IS A MAGAZINE BY JEANNETTE PETRI. THE THIRD ISSUE COMES WITH A SUPPELMENT OF CATFIGHT MAGAZINE. ANATTITUDE MAGAZINE #3 IS PRODUCED WITH FUNDS FROM MAECENIA - FRANKFURTER STIFTUNG FÜR FRAUEN IN WISSENSCHAFT UND KUNST. CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: DJ SCIENTIST (RAPHISTORY), BIANCA LUDEWIG, STEF GOCHEVA AND KAREN JANE (NBFAG) CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: CHARLIE AHEARN, DAVID CORIO, JANETTE BECKMAN, MARTHA COOPER AND GEORGE DUBOSE ANATTITUDE IS PRINTED BY ANTILOPE (BELGIUM) ANATTITUDE INVITES YOU TO CONTRIBUTE! PLEASE SEND YOUR MATERIAL TO 23 RUE DU SCEPTRE, 1050 BRUSSELS, BELGIUM OR EMAIL TO CONTACT@ANATTITUDE.NET. FOR ADVERTISING AND DISTRIBUTION INQUIRIES PLEASE CONTACT OLIVIA@ANATTITUDE.NET ANATTITUDE MAGAZINE 23 RUE DU SCEPTRE / 1050 BRUSSELS / BELGIUM TEL: 00 32 (0)2 513 529 4 CONTACT@ANATTITUDE.NET WWW.ANATTITUDE.NET ISSN 1866-3419
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label sticker from Sparky D “Don’t Make Me Laugh” (Next Plateau) 12” 1986
SPARKY D BY JEE-NICE IT’S A BIG PLEASURE TO PRESENT YOU SPARKY D, THE LEGENDARY BATTLE MC OF THE 80S - FIGHTING WITH ROXANNE SHANTÉ FOR THE CROWN! SPARKY IS SERIOUSLY AND VERY SWEEPING TALKING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED AT THE PEAKPOINT OF HER CAREER. SHE’S BACK AND STILL MCING... HERE SHE COMES - WITH GREAT ATTITUDE.
SALT-N-PEPA, I USED TO HELP THEM, TELL THEM ITS OK:
“YOU GIRLS JUST GO OUT THERE LIKE DIANA ROSS, CLOSE YOUR EYES AND KNOW ITS YOUR WORLD”.
EARLY 80S Sparky, you were born in Brooklyn, NYC. How you grew up? I grew up with a happy childhood. I played until I couldn’t play no more. I was a dancer when I was young. That was my first love: I always performed in front of a big crowd. How came Hip Hop into your life? Were you first breakdancing at jams? Hip Hop came in my life in 1976. I used to see flyers everywhere my mom took me, about all the crews in the Bronx like Grandmaster Caz, Red Alert, Kool Herc and Grand Master Flash. But it was one day, my neighbor called me down to his house. His name was Will, and he played “King Tut” and it was history. We formed a group and started singing in the hallways. I lived in Brownsville “King Tut” is a novelty song performed by Steve Martin and the “Toot Uncommons” 1978. The song paid homage to Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun and presents a caricature of the sensational Treasures of Tutankhamun travelling exhibit that toured seven cities in the US from 1976 to 1979.
Brooklyn and on the fourteenth floor we were rocking. My mom used to tell us to get out of the hall, to stop banging on the walls. Later she used
to chase Markie D from the Fat Boys, The Playgirls and myself out the room. But, she knew in her heart, we fell in love with Hip Hop. Breakdancing was fun, I never tried it, but I hung out with the New York City Breakers as well as the Rock Steady Crew. The Roxy was a club in the lower Manhattan and Africa Bam and Flash and the Us Girls (Sha-Rock, Debbie D and Lisa Lee), we just became friends and we went on and on. Smile. How was the atmosphere that time, at the jams in the parks? With whom did you hang out? The surroundings were so much fun. I am writing you this smiling, wishing we could get the feeling of Hip Hop back. I hung with Sha-Rock, New York City Breakers, Rock Steady Crew, Fearless Four and Cold Crush Brothers and most of all Spyder D. You were part of the all-femalerap-crew The Playgirls before you started your solo career. The Playgirls released some tracks on Sutra Records. Who was in that group and how did you meet the girls? Mona as Moski, Lisa as Cityslim, we were all from Brownsville Brooklyn. We used to rap in the hallways and Slim and Mona already had their little crew. Remember, I used to dance, so I wasn’t afraid and I said: let’s start a
group. And we became The Playgirls. How did you meet your producer Spyder-D? Was he looking for a new talent? We were with a guy named Rob, and he said “look I know a guy named Spyder D”. He had that hot record at the time, “Smerphie’s Dance” (1980). Rob took us to the studio in Queens. I told Moski and Cityslim don’t act like we are on his jock (DJ). And when we met him he was cool. He turned on some music and we began to rap. At that time Spyder said that Leon Isaac Kennedy and Kurtis Blow were looking for a female group for a movie, and they wanted the record we made. But Sutra signed us. Spyder wasn’t giving us away.
The Roxy was a popular nightclub at 515 West 18th Street in NYC which opened the doors as a roller disco in 1979 and closed in March 2007. British expatriate Ruza Blue a.k.a Kool Lady Blue founded the allages, all-races Hip Hop parties “Wheels of Steel” first at N.Y.’s club Negril and from June 1982 on at The Roxy. Hip hop pioneers like Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmixer DST, Jazzy Jay, Grand Wizzard Theodore and Grandmaster Flash were DJing in the center of the floor on a podium. The club sponsored MC battles, Zulu Nation gatherings, breakdancing competitions with the Rock Steady Crew, graffiti murals, and double dutch competitions. The club had a major influence on the evolution of Hip Hop culture over the next few years. The club was also used as a setting for the 1984 film “Beat Street”. Since 1991 The Roxy hosted NYC’s largest weekly gay dance night “Roxy Saturdays” with performances of Madonna, Chaka Khan, Yoko Ono and others. Since 2007 its closed and been sold to developers.
Round 1- Roxanne Shanté vs Sparky Dee (Spin) 1985
In the telephone interview with TG for the “old school radio hour” you called yourself “the second female MC”. Who was the first and who the third? Well, first of all Sha-Rock is the mother and that’s a fact. Hats
off to my girl and not knocking Blondie and the early rest. Thank god for them, but make way for the big mama Rooooooooxxxxxaaaaannnnneeeeee…… she is first in my book, I am second and we haven’t passed the torch yet...............MC Lyte.
Back in the days, have you been in contact with other female MCs? Did you support one another, or was it rather like fighting? Well, the Us Girls at the Roxy. We got into it at first because Lisa was going with Mr. Wiggles and he
started talking to me and that started a mess. So the Playgirls and the Us Girls had a show on the same night and we just rocked the house, but they were great as well and after that we became friends. Salt-N-Pepa, I used to help them, tell them its ok: “you girls just go out there like Diana Ross, close your eyes and know its your world”. I used to encourage the Real Roxanne all the time. She was afraid of me. THE LEGENDARY ROXANNE SHANTÉ– SPARKY D BATTLE Tell us about the legendary Roxanne - Sparky D battle, how did that all begin? What happened in the night of new year’s eve when Spyder-D was hearing Shanté’s “Roxanne’s revenge” on famous Mr. Magic’s radio show? We were at my house and we heard this song on Mr. Magic’s show and Spyder said: “you’re going to answer that song”. The next day we were in the studio and it was history. Spyder took it to The Aleem on Nia Records and they waited for the ok from Mr. Scott and off to the races we went. Tony Humphries on 98.7 Kiss FM played it in the middle of rush hour and the rest was history. That day the world shook. The Shanté - Sparky D battle is often described as an Muhammad Ali - Joe Frazier fight. What does that mean? And was it also a battle between Marley Marl - DJ Red Alert and the radio stations? This was so real that Spyder actually got sick. The tension in the air… The world took this battle and embraced it. We were enemies, ready to fight
at any time. The world loved both of us, but we were young and we were ready to fight for the crown. Yes, radio stations began to battle as well. We started as a can of worms back then, but now we are snakes. Smile… Your legendary fight on the mic with Shanté was also put on wax. Over how many tracks did you battle and if somebody won, who was it? I have battled over a whole lot of tracks but I can tell you she got mad when I was rapping. She says it in the song and she went longer then me and didn’t stop. I was very upset because she was only supposed to do 8 bars and they let her keep going. But I believe we were both winners and the world has their picks. But it’s all well. Roxanne Shanté did a lot of really hard diss tracks. Was that diss culture in rap music also important to you? Well, back then it didn’t bother me, but no, it wasn’t important because I am versatile. Over four and a half years Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier met three times (19711975). The greatest trilogy in boxing and a major narrative in boxing history. The first fight was sold as the “Fight of the Century”. Both men were unbeaten champions. Frazier won the first fight, the second and third (“Thrilla in Manilla”) won Ali. Both Ali and Frazier fought to their absolute limit and maybe beyond.
D’s World”. By whom or what was this distinctive Sparky D style been inspired? Tell you the truth, it’s me! I was born to perform it’s in me, but I use to love them all. But my style comes from meeeeeeeeeeeeeee. “This is Sparky D’s World” was released on B-Boy Records, but the Playgirls tracks were released on Sutra, your answer tracks on Nia, „Don’t Make Me Laugh” on Next Plateau Records on so on. Why did you choose B-Boy records for your first long player? That’s who picked me up, so I ran with it. Just heard the original “Lodown” by Boz Scaggs from ’76. Is that right that Spyder-D didn’t get the permission to sample it for “Throwdown”, but did it anyway? Yes, we did it, but we also give them credits. I saw your in great photograph of Janette Beckman from ’88, what kind of suits do you and your dancers wear? It looks very fashionable! I always thought that Finesse & Synquis have been the first who brought that fashion style of MCM and Gucci suits into the rap game?
THIS IS SPARKY D’S WORLD
Millie Jackson wanted my Gucci dress. It was very important and still is. We had Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi....
I adore the “This is Sparky D’s World” album and in particular “Throwdown” and “This is Sparky
How it came that you did the first commercial promotion as a female rapper ever - for Mountain Dew in
THE ROXY WAS A CLUB IN LOWER MANHATTAN AND AFRIKA BAM AND FLASH AND THE US GIRLS (SHA ROCK, DEBBIE B AND LISA), WE JUST BECAME FRIENDS AND WE WENT ON AND ON.
’88 on “Never Ran, Never Will”? Going for it again… but Spyder said they want you to do a Mountain Dew commercial with Gwen Guthrie. She sang “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent”. Remember, so that was great.
THE DISAPPEARANCE & RETURN OF SPARKY D What happened after “This is Sparky D’s World” which was a big success – “Throwdown” was a best seller? Why didn’t you release a second album?
youth against violence educational programs. I have to give back. My motto is “it’s my pleasure to find your treasure inside yourself”. Drugs had my life and I tried to get clean but, the devil had me, at least he thought. God is good all the time................... You are back after a long break with so much energy like nothing has happened. In 2000 you gave your life to Christ. Since then you are working for the church, you start up “Treasure Ministry”. What’s that exactly and please tell us about your other projects?
they are cursing. I do youth conferences, showcases, I go in schools and bring hope to their lives. I tell the girls to keep their clothes on, I tell them they are virtuous woman. I teach abstinence off sex. Are you still in contact with Spyder D, DJ K-Wiz, Roxanne Shanté, etc? Yes Spyder D lives across the street. He, my daughter and son father and Wiz, my DJ for life and Roxanne talk every other week. As we are doing a special about Hip Hop old school history, and most of us were little cats in the 80s. What do you think has
I AM WRITING YOU THIS SMILING, WISHING WE COULD GET THE FEELING OF HIP HOP BACK. Sparky D’s mother had passed away when I was doing a show in Hollywood. After that I felt all alone. I had a white mother and a black father. No family, I took to the streets. I didn’t say no to drugs, I started doing cocaine. From there a new drug came out. I tried that and crack cocaine had me running for seventeen years. I became homeless, went through domestic violence and prostitution. The world was over for me so it seemed. I would call Red Alert, ask him about the industry. I used to cry but Red never gave up on me. He said keep pushing and I got on my knees one day. Jesus Christ relieved me of everything I was going through. So please know that there is nothing to hard for god and please just say no to drugs. Now I am a youth pastor. I teach high school girls and middle school girls life skills, social skills, and I also do
I believe I was set up by god. He knew that this world was going to be corrupt through music through TV through it all. He knew our children were going to show out in gangs, in drugs, in prostitution. So he had to put someone in the limelight back then and knew that I was going to go through and make it, to use me for a time like this. God knows all and sees all. The devil can’t do anything to you unless he gets permission from god. The bible says in Jeremiah 5: “I knew you when you were in your mothers womb”. He could have used anybody but he picked me. For none of our kids are dying some one needs to tell them the truth………………………. I love the youth. I am crying right now because I am in school doing this interview. They are taking a test and they are singing rap records and
changed in the Hip Hop culture and Hip Hop business from the mid 80s to nowadays? The music. We didn’t talk about drugs and how to use them, nor about sex. And we didn’t take our clothes off nor kill anyone. But it’s all about the money today … To end up this great interview, last words of Sparky D? Can you give an advice to the young upcoming MCs? Please stay focused, stay in school, get an education, say no to drugs. Never give up or give in. Know you are Kings and Queens. P.U.S.H. Pray until something happens, and just know god loves you and so does Sparky D. Sparky D “This Is Sparky D’s World” (B-Boy) 1988
YEAH YO! STREET WEAR IS PART OF HIPHOP, MAKE YOUR STYLE!
WELL, FIRST OF ALL SHA-ROCK IS THE MOTHER AND THAT’S A FACT. ...
Sha-Rock at outdoor jam with Funky Four Plus One, June 1980. Photo by Charlie Ahearn
...BUT MAKE WAY FOR THE BIG MAMA
ROOOOOOOOXXXXXAAAAANNNNNEEEEEE…… SHE IS FIRST IN MY BOOK, I AM SECOND AND WE HAVEN’T PASSED THE TORCH YET…………………………………………MC LYTE.
Roxanne Shanté 1989. Photo by George DuBose
LANESKI BY JEE-NICE, PHOTOS COURTESY OF LANESKI JUST TO START I DON’T HAVE MANY PICS OF ME BACK IN THE DAY BECAUSE B-BOYING BACK THEN WAS SO HARD AND RAW, IF YOU SHOWED UP WITH A CAMERA: WACK, WHAT A POSER. WE HAD THE ALL CITY DANCES AT SEATTLE CENTER AND A NOTABLE PERFORMANCE AT THE SEATTLE CAR SHOW BUT A LOT OF MY BATTLES WERE WITH A STRANGER ON THE STREET. BESIDES THAT, NONE OF US WERE THINKING THAT PEOPLE WOULD CARE TO SEE A PICTURE OF US BREAKIN 25 YEARS LATER. HOME VIDEO CAMERAS WERE NOT COMMON AND THEY WERE HUGE ( IN TWO PIECES) WE WERE THINKING - I WANT TO “GET THIS GUY” INSTEAD OF I WANT TO “GET THIS ON VIDEO” THEY ONLY PEOPLE WHO HAVE VIDEO REALLY ARE THE ONES WHO GOT ON TV. IN THE EARLY 80S WE HAD NO CELL PHONES, NO I-PODS, NO CDS, NO YOU TUBE, NO INTERNET, NO COMPUTERS AND WE DIDN’T HAVE ORGANIZED B-BOY EVENTS LIKE WE DO TODAY, (MAYBE A CONTEST) BUT MOST OF MY ERA WENT UNDOCUMENTED.
Where did your B-Girl name “LaneSki” come from?
The Seattle Circuit Breakers Crew came to teach breakdancing at the club and being an elite level gymnast In the 80s we would often use some- I got some of the hardest moves, one’s name or initial and add “ski” or sometimes on the first try. Back then, women were not raised to be active “rock”. My crew the Seattle Circuit Breakers gave me the name LaneSki. or do sports; it was seen as unfeminine and strange, so for a 14 year Now in what I call the second comold girl to be physically strong and ing of Hip Hop in the 21th century, I added the name Yoda. So now I have coordinated was shocking to most. The guys in the crew sort of adopted a first and last Hip Hop name Yoda me by the end of the 4 or 6 week LaneSki. I chose the name Yoda beclass and began asking me to dance cause I am sort of like him; I hobble around with all my sore joints until it’s with them whenever I could which at 14 was never as much as I wanted, time to battle because then I know “the funk is with me” and we have to but each time I met up with them, it was like the highlight of my life. defeat the dark side of Hip Hop. Yoda LaneSki Where did you grow up and how did you start being interested in breakdancing? I was born in Nashville Tennesse in 1970. I left when I was 8 and moved to Seattle. I fell in love with Michael Jackson and had posters of him all on my walls and cellings. I knew every move in each of his videos and so obviously that’s what lead me to want to learn to breakdance. Basically, my Hip Hop story is much different than most back in the day. My family were members of an upscale country club called the BAC (Bellevue Athletic Club) where a breakdance class was being offered.
Mr. Supreme, Short Circuit a.k.a. Carter now known famously as Fever One in NYC Rock Steady Crew, DeeSki a.k.a. Joel Herd, Judski, King Louie, Quito and I don’t remember the names of the others. How was the spirit back then?
In the 80s, battles and circles were meant to resemble a gang fight. It wasn’t like now where the circles are more friendly. It was like if someone did a backspin you had to do a helicopter into a backspin and then the next time you had to top that and on and on until the last man with the most moves was the winner. If you couldn’t keep up with the circle and So you started breakdancing in the moves you had to dip out. It was 1984? quick, some uprocks, footworks, a move and freeze in less than a minI think I actually started in 1983, but ute at times, boom- boom -boom. the main years for me were ’84 and ’85, by late ’86 people kinda stopped It wasn’t like now when people will just uprock and footwork forever and breaking and it was all about the never do a move. I laugh when all the cabbage patch, the prep and the new schoolers try to claim the early peewee herman, we battled with those dances to but it never had any- 80s were all about style. In Seattle at where near the energy that B-Boying least and all my videos from NYC, it was certainly about “power moves” did. I think B-Boying really died out from like late ’86 to the early 90s and back then. It was raw and we were making it up as we went along. You that’s when it kinda started back up didn’t hear people saying that’s the again. right way or wrong way to do something. It wasn’t wrong, it was new. Who were the other members of That’s what’s lacking now in the Byour crew? Boy scene today, breakers may have Dee Rock a.k.a. Danny Clavsilla (our a lot more finesse when they dance but it looks so practiced that it all leader) now known famously as DJ
Yoda is a fictional character from the Star Wars universe, portrayed as a wise and powerful Jedi Master.
... BATTLES AND CIRCLES WERE MEANT TO RESEMBLE A GANG FIGHT. ... WE BATTLED ANYTIME, ANYWHERE, AND EVERYWHERE. ...IF YOU HAD YOUR SHOES TIGHT B-BOY STYLE,YOU WERE FAIR GAME. MY FRIEND USED TO GET MAD AT ME WALKING AROUND LOOKING AT EVERYONE’S SHOELACES ALL THE TIME LOOKING FOR A BATTLE. LaneSki practicing in her back yard on the deck with the cardboard 1985
IN THE 80S
WE WOULD OFTEN USE R O E M A N S ’ E SOMEON D D A D N A L A I INIT . ” K C O R “ R “SKI” O
LaneSki & homegirl 1/2 Pint at Run DMC concert late 1986
starts to look the same after a while and everyone’s so worried about if they did it right or wrong instead of just gettin funky and being spontaneous. Style was important too, but the word style didn’t necessarily mean footwork or dance steps; it meant gettin at someone and making people laugh at them, B-Boys used to really get at each other. Style also meant that you had to be up on the fashion and how to tag your name
Being a girl back in the 80s was such a novelty, it wasn’t really a problem like it can be now, plus I had more power moves than most the guys so they had to give me respect. My friend Half Pint a.k.a. Sara Peters danced a little, but she was never with me when I was dancing in the big circles at the center and the big events. As far as I remember, I was the only girl. I heard about another girl in Tacoma (or out that side
were leary of it, including my parents who grew up in the deep south in an era where they still attended segregated schools, went to white only bathrooms and I guess interracial marriage was still illegal. So it was kind of a big deal for me to be mixing it up with Hip Hop. White people were still kinda scared of brown people back then and had all kinds of weird stereotypes that were common conversation. Having the chance to
HIP HOP BROKE THE CURSE OF RACISM THAT PASSED DOWN MY OWN FAMILY AND HAS DONE A LOT TO BREAK THAT CURSE IN OUR WHOLE COUNTRY. and maybe even be able to scratch a little or something. Hip Hop was a lifestyle that you invested in not a sport, a career or a claim to fame. We battled anytime, anywhere and everywhere, I went to the mall to find battles and if you had your shoes tied B-Boy style, you were fair game. My girlfriend used to get mad at me for walking around looking at everyone’s shoelaces all the time looking for a battle. We also danced right on the street corner, one of my most memorable moments was dancing on the street in NYC with a crew called the Majestic Rockers. It’s the only picture I have of myself breaking back then because my Dad was there and he took the picture. That’s why Hip Hop really brought people together in the 80s; there you were dancing with or against someone you walked by in the street or in the mall on the other side of the city, in another state or whatever. It was such a rush that way unlike now where it is more organized and we all kinda know each other and we know what everyones going to do and we don’t get chased away by the cops.
somewhere), but we never crossed paths. There must have been other girls, I just never saw them. Even though they made fun of me all the time, having the support of my crew helped give me a lot of confidence because I wasn’t all alone. They would tell me to go in the circle and “do 1990” or “do flairs” and the whole circle would stop and move somewhere else. Half the time, I didn’t know if it was because I won or if it was because they just didn’t want to battle a girl. How did Hip Hop influence your life? In the 80s being caucasian was as much or more of a barrier for me since people didn’t really get out of their ethnic circles too much back then. The B-Boy scene in Seattle did not seem to have any problem with including the white girl, I never got any racial slurs against me, my friends who were with me insist that we did get our fair share of looks, but mainly I just got picked on a lot which was okay with me; it was fun. It was the other white people who
interact with these kids in my crew and downtown gave me a different perspective about “people of color” and of all the stereotypes I grew up hearing. I actually enjoyed embracing the differences we shared instead of feeling that different was bad or wrong. I think that is the significance of Hip Hop. In my opinion, Hip Hop broke the curse of racism that was passed down in my own family and has done a lot to break that curse in our whole country. Besides B-Boying, listening to the music alone for 25 years has given me a better understanding about the issues of black people, poor people and others in America who have shared their voice through Hip Hop. I would have never even heard about most of these issues had it not been for Hip Hop. It gave me and continues to give me Freedom from the ignorance that plagues so many people who are not able to get out of their own little group. It has challenges my Christian faith and made me a lot stronger since I am hearing the voice of other Christians who read the same Bible, but have
“To me this marks that time that b-boying had become almost a toboo and nobody did it anymoe, otherwise I never would have ben wearing a skirt to a Hip Hop event”
L.A. WAS WACK AND N.Y. WAS FRESH different values, due to their different circumstances. It has truly showed me how to respect one of God’s greatest commandments which is to “Love your neighbor as yourself” Mark 12:31 You said you have been also to NYC. Was the scene different to the scene in Seattle? I have been to NYC about 5 times, but have not really spent hard time with the B-Boys there. We worshipped New York and their style back in the day. L.A. was wack and N.Y. was fresh! My experience dancing on the streets with Majestic Rockers was a good one though. They enjoyed my company and you can see it on their faces in the picture. I have been in situations there however where there is a lot of racial tension, but it was not particularly in the Hip Hop scene. Too be honest, when I went back to Seattle last year it reminded me of how cool people are there. People are pretty color blind in Seattle and it is a weight off everyone’s shoulders when that is gone. After breakdancing you started your career as a surfer, also in the mid-80s. How did that come that you changed into surfing? Inspired from breakdancing? My parents decided to move to Hawaii late 1985 and I felt like I was
stranded in Hawaii away from Hip Hop. Funny thing, it was a couple of my Hip Hop friends who encouraged me to surf. When I moved there, people were like “well man, I’ll guess you’ll have to try that surfing”. So in 1988, I did. I lived on the Big Island (not Oahu where I live now) which in the mid-late 80s was very rural with only one stop light in the whole town and ha’ole (white or foreigner) were not that common in Hawaii like today. In some ways B-Boying was like my warmup for the heavily localized and male dominated line-ups I would encounter when I began surfing. I think because of my background B-Boying I wasn’t afraid to be the only girl or the ha’ole. There was one other girl who surfed all the time. I went through all kinds of hell learning to surf and I think at that point it was probably worse being a girl than a haole, but they were both pretty bad. In the local public schools they had an unofficial holiday called “Kill Haole day” and they would tell the “cool haoles” not to come to school that day so they wouldn’t get beat up. Was it a similar experience, a girl in a male dominated sport? It was worse, I think, in surfing because I was in the B-Boy era when it was just forming whereas surfing had already been developing an opposition to women for many years, so it was harder to break in and I will never be accepted by some of the
surfer guys ever. At the same time, I get a lot of respect from most the guys now (20 years later) because they just can’t believe I stuck it out through all the scrutiny. What I have learned about the gender issue is that it has two sides. Some guys will never let the girl thing go, but the majority of them will if you genuinely earn your place whether it be in the line-up or in the circle. If you want respect, you have to respect the guys who are better than you for being better and know your place and your skill level and position yourself accordingly regardless of gender. I see girls surfing and B-Boying who aren’t good, but they think because they are cute they don’t have to play by the same rules as everyone else so they go in the circle and do the same basic footwork 10 times in a row or go surf at the peak and run everyone over. These girls make all of the rest of us look bad. Girls have to be willing to earn their respect, just like the guys and not use the fact that they are a girl as a crutch. Also, a large part of the girl problem is that the girls are constantly tearing each other down instead of helping to build one another up and are less likely to give you respect even than the guys. How can we expect the men or the industry to uplift us when we can’t even say nice things about one another? As far as the industry and commercialization of women in the media, it has always been like beating my head against the wall
LaneSki visits NYC 1985. Just walking by and joined Majestic Rockers in the circle. LaneSki is doing her signature move, the Thomas flair.
no matter what it is. Nothing makes me more frustrated than the constant imagery that we constantly see with women in the media and it just breeds upon itself. The majority of women who make it to the mainstream plasticize themselves and act dumb and then that becomes the media’s standard and even worse, the men’s standard for women, then more and more women aim to be like the plastic dummies on TV. Even if a talented artist gets in there on her looks, her time is limited to the time of her looks and does not give her the longevity to make the impact we need. It’s truly a pitfall that we must fight and unite to overcome as BGirls and as women in general. After so many years, are you still interested in the Hip Hop culture? Yes, I am actively involved in Hip Hop. I went to B-Girl Be in Minneapolis for the past two years representing Hawaii and my clothing line Us Girls. I attend Hip Hop events and dance at clubs here from time to time, I am currently uploading all my 25 year old B-Boy videos on You Tube www.youtube.com/usgirlshawaii, I sent my old school Pumas and pictures to the Smithsonian for the new Hip Hop museum and you can see them in their collection on myspace.com/americanhistoryhiphop I am hoping to make it to Berlin this summer.
What do you think has changed in Hip Hop from back in the days till today? In some ways Hip Hop has lost its message and its power through the highly commercialized pop music industry which screws everything up. We never had that hunger for fame that today’s artists do and changing the motive, changes the music, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing if we can start moving the right artists to the forefront who can truly portray our own message of unity and continue to bring awareness to real issues. I think Hip Hop is slowly being realized as a real movement that has brought positive change and it will continue to give a voice to those in need. It is the modern day civil rights movement which has expanded across the globe to every nation. It gives me goose bumps to think of what we started 25 years ago with a piece of linoleum and a boombox. Aloha
I will be teaching 3 free breakdance classes on the other side of the island this summer which will cost me time, money and probably some pain, but I feel a real calling in my life to teach the dance and more importantly spread the message of Hip Hop in Hawaii which is suffering with the worst ICE drug dependency in the whole country and a homeless problem which is pushing a lot of native Hawaiians out of their home.
“I am wearing my name chain and a kangol. We used to scrunch the kangol down into the hat to make it look like a saucer.” 1987
IT GIVES ME GOOSE BUMPS TO THINK OF WHAT WE STARTED 25 YEARS AGO WITH A PIECE OF LINOLEUM AND A BOOMBOX.
LaneSki visits and homegirl Sweet T NYC 1987
JANETTE BECKMAN BY JEE-NICE - PHOTOS BY JANETTE BECKMAN - COURTESY OF POWERHOUSE BOOKS NYC JANETTE BECKMAN IS ONE OF THE EARLIEST PHOTOGRAPHER WHO SHOT HIP HOP ARTISTS FOR MAGAZINES AND RECORD COVERS. FROM NWA TO RUN DMC TO ROXANNE SHANTÉ - HER AWESOME COLLECTION OF HIP HOP AND 80’S STYLE IMAGES, “THE BREAKS: STYLIN’ AND PROFILIN’ 1982-1990”, IS PUBLISHED BY POWERHOUSE BOOKS 2007. WHAT A GREAT HONOUR TO TALK TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST PHOTOGRAPHER EVER!
BOTH PUNK AND HIP HOP CHANGED THE FACE OF MUSIC. THEY BOTH CAME FROM THE STREETS...
MY IDEA OF A GOOD PORTRAIT IS TO LET THE SUBJECT POSE THEMSELVES.
DOUBLE DUTCH GIRLS LONDON 1982
ERIC B & RAKIM MANHATTAN 1987
RUN DMC HOLLIES, QUEENS 1984
....THE PHOTOS OF RUN DMC AND POSSE IN HOLLIS QUEENS, HANGING OUT ON THE STREET WHERE THEY LIVED. I LOVE THE DAPPLED LIGHT. THE WAY THEY ARE JUST HANGING OUT, CHECK THE SNEAKERS WITHOUT LACES, THE HATS.
KOOL LADY BLUE
I MET HER WHEN I WENT TO PHOTOGRAPH THE ROCK STEADY CREW FOR THE FACE. WE GOT ON VERY WELL, SHE’S ANOTHER BRITISH GIRL OF COURSE. WE ARE STILL FRIENDS. SHE MANAGES BAM AND GRAND MASTER FLASH NOW AND BOOKS THEM AROUND THE WORLD.
BGIRLS LONDON 1982
THE BEGINNING How was it to shoot the first Hip Hop photographs for The Face magazine on the first rap tour ever - “NYC Rap” in 1982? Nobody at that time knew much about Hip Hop in London (and the rest of the world) because it was so new! Who did you shoot at that tour? That tour was amazing! The UK had never seen anything like it, break dancers, graffiti artists, Double Dutch Girls, Futura 200 Fab 5 Freddie, DST, Afrika Bambaata. It was like a renaissance movement, the new thing to follow punk, which was fading by then. How did you start photographing Hip Hop artists for magazines and record covers? I had photographed the punk, ska rockabilly, 2 Tone bands from 1976- 1982 for Melody Maker and The Face magazine. I went to visit a friend in NYC and ended up staying. The Hip Hop movement was just getting going. Kool Lady Blue had brought the rappers from uptown and the Bronx to the NYC downtown clubs. Since I was living in NYC the British magazines started to get me to take pictures of what was happening. The Face sent me to Brooklyn to shoot Run DMC, Melody Maker asked me to shoot Public Enemy. I ended up meeting the band managers and taking photos for their artists for covers.
I became their unofficial NY photographer. Did you also try to work for American magazines in the early 80s? Yes I was working for some American magazines in the early days like Mademoiselle (shooting fashion), Paper Magazine (shooting style & culture) and even Rolling Stone. Where did you learn photography, at art school? I learned photography at an art school in London. You shot a lot of punks and people out of the ska, rockabilly and skinhead scene before starting to photograph the Hip Hop world. Knowing both subcultures, where do you see the differences and similarities between Punk and Hip Hop? Both punk and Hip Hop changed the face of music. They both came from the streets invented by working class kids who had no money and little hope of getting jobs, but lots of ideas creativity, style and attitude and a spirit of rebellion, trying to break out of their circumstances.
The “NYC Rap Tour” organised by Kool Lady Blue in the autumn of 1982 brought Bam, Grand mixer DST, Fab 5 Freddy, Phase 11, Mr. Freeze, Dondi, Futura 2000, and Crazy Legs to Europe (Paris, London and Berlin).
When and why did you decide to move from London to NYC? Was Hip Hop the reason to move? I went to NYC to visit a friend from art school for Christmas and just ended up staying. When the British magazines found out I was still there
SPARKY D MANHATTAN 1988
OH YES SPARKY D WAS SO STYLISH, SHE LOOKS AMAZING IN THAT DRESS. FEMALE MCS BACK IN THE DAYS You took photographs of many female MCs between 1986 and 1990 like MC Lyte, Shanté, Real Roxanne, Ms. Melodie, Queen Latifah, Monie Love, Isis, Sparky D, Salt-NPepa, etc. Who was the first female MC you shot and the first female MC for a record cover? The first female MCs were Salt-NPepa, it was their first photo session. I had them meet me in “Alphabet City” Avenue B in NYC where I was living at the time. Back then it was still a cool neighborhood, if dangerous, lots of drugs. We spent the hot summer afternoon taking photos in the neighborhood. They were so much fun, laughing, hanging out, seemed like best friends. The photos ran in Sky magazine in UK, and afterwards they asked me to shoot their first album cover. That was when? That was in the summer of 1986. You shot this amazing group portrait of female MCs in 1988. Who was the client and what was the reason to bring them together? The client was the super hip downtown magazine Paper. They were always on the cutting edge – I was friends with the 2 people Kim and David who started the magazine, and
I used to shoot for them all the time. In fact I first met David Hershkovitz when he came to London with that first NYC Rap tour in 1981. And Sparky D and her dancers in these cool all-in-one suits! How was it to bring her in that cool pose you shoot her? Oh yes Sparky D was so stylish, she looks amazing in that dress. I think all the ladies at the shoot were so happy to be photographed together that I had no problem getting them to pose. My idea of a good portrait is to let the subject pose themselves. I just have to take the photo at the right time! How was the atmosphere between 1986-1990? The atmosphere was super friendly and a lot of fun. I think a lot of the girls were intrigued by me because I was a British woman. Back then people didn’t travel that much, no internet, no MTV, they were curious. Who impressed you most? Hard question. I will always have a soft spot for Salt-N-Pepa, such cool girls. Given the huge number of female MCs you took photographs of between 1986-1990 I got the impression that the females were really
on the top of rap business at that time. Can you confirm this impression? Actually I think they had to work twice as hard as the guys to get respect. They were brilliant but the guys still dominated. MC Lyte wrote such brilliant lyrics, Salt-N-Pepa were super smart and funny, but they never seemed to get the respect they deserved. What do you think has changed, seen from a special female angle of view, in Hip Hop from then to nowadays? Now the females seem much stronger, and in definitely in charge. Kool Lady Blue is one of the most important women in the Hip Hop business. She managed the early Rock Steady Crew, but is relatively unknown to most people in Europe. How did you meet her? I met her when I went to photograph The Rock Steady Crew for The Face. We got on very well, she’s another British girl of course. We are still friends. She manages Bam and Grand Master Flash now and books them on tours around the world. The Hip Hop photograph you are most proud of? The photos of Run DMC and posse
in Hollis Queens, hanging out on the street where they lived. I love the dappled light. The way they are just hanging out, check the sneakers without laces, the hats. That’s also the one I love most, because you got them so intimate. And also the one with Eric B. & Rakim. Eric B. so serious, Rakim so much posing. Yeah the Rakim and Eric B photo is very cool too. Someone blew it up last year and made it into a pool table top. Has Hip Hop and rap music an important role in your private life? Well I still listen to a lot of Hip Hop music. Now I like Hip Hop sampled with house or things like MC Solar and Guru… And Hip Hop from Africa and around the world.
Where are the differences between a shot for a record cover or a magazine? Where lays the most liberty in?
I’ve been working on a project with documentary filmmakers in NY about illegal girl fights in Brownsville. The movie is called “Brooklyn Girls”.
Usually magazines send me out to shoot on my own - there is more freedom. Record covers are often more controlled environments, with stylists, hair and makeup, a crew of people, more of a team effort.
That sounds strange? What’s that about?
The movie is a documentary about some girls in Brooklyn that have an illegal fight club. They fight barehanded, for money, the girls are 15 -35 years old. Some are single mothWho are your idols in ers, it’s a pretty tough neighborhood, photography? maybe one of the most dangerous My idols in photography are: August in NY. Crazy scene. The movie is directed by some friends of mine and Sander (brilliant early 20th century German portrait photographer), Irving they asked me to shoot some stills Penn, Richard Avedon William Klein, for them. Sebastain Salgado, … Do you still work for record labels and music magazines photographing Hip Hop artists? I just shot the cover for Hip Hop Connection - Pete Rock. And yes I work for labels.
WAYS OF WORKING How do you work? Are you working more in a documentary sense? Most photographs seem to be very planned, with a lot of assistants and extra light? I really like to shoot with daylight, it is the best. Sometimes I use an assistant. I like to shoot on location. My portraits are definitely somewhat documentary in style. Of course I also do studio portraits. A lot has changed since digital and I am finding that people have the attitude that everything can be fixed in photoshop. I don’t work like that.
And have you shown your amazing work in galleries? Are they interested in your work? I have a gallery that represents me in America called the Morrison Hotel Gallery, they just show rock-n-roll photos. In Europe I am represented by Rockarchive. I have shown my music photos everywhere from Shanghai and Tokyo to Paris (Colette) and London. What are your plans for the future? Your next projects? I hope to keep taking photographs of musicians and people forever.
I WILL ALWAYS HAVE A SOFT SPOT FOR SALTN-PEPA, SUCH COOL GIRLS. 34
REAL ROXANNE BROOKLYN 1986
ROXANNE SHANTÉ MANHATTAN 1986
WHENEVER I’M IN A BATTLE,YO, IDON’T PLAY, SO YOU BEST GO ABOUT YOUR WAY AND HAVE A NICE DAY... Roxanne Shanté “Have A Nice Day” (Cold Chillin’) 1987
THE LADIES WILL KICK IT, THE RHYME THAT IS WICKED! ESSAY BY STEF GOCHEVA (SOFIA)
There are so many things, people, situations end emotions that inspire me to dream, to create, to allow feelings come over me, but first off there is this one thing called music that can inspire me 24/7. And I don’t even think about the influence that music has on me, it just became part of me! Yep, so I am a simple girl, lovin’ music and art. It speaks to me, it nourishes my soul, it keeps me moving and is always introducing me to different genres of music. I love to dig so deep into the roots of Hip Hop - time slip into the era of jazz, blues, funk and soul - I am like a child who is filled with excitement to discover the treasure of so-called sample songs. I don’t remember exactly when I fell in
love with Hip Hop, but I am thankful for that moment! My heart beats for the rhythms, my ears are happy while listening to some nice jazzy beats with bangin’ lyrics over it. This can make me smile for hours, for days. So with this quick introduction I want to tell you that it is possible to be passionate about something, to love something with your flesh and bones, which makes you feel better, happier! Back to the old school, y’all. While going through some of my old school tapes last week to find some ill shit to bless y’all with, I came across one I didn’t even know I had. Well, I thought I lost it and didn’t even expect to find.
It’s a tape, yeah…a real tape I made for myself when I was about 15 to rock it while cruisin’ thru the city. The tape is special to me because I had no idea about the background of the tracks or the artists by the time I decided to put them on tape… These were tracks that simply caught my ear…only joints by female Emcees! Yep! I was impressed by their power and knowledge. Ladies like Antoinette, Sha-Rock, Tanya “Sweet Tee“ Winley, Roxanne Shanté, Monie Love, Queen Latifah, Emcee Lyte and so on, were ladies with style, with enthusiasm and love for this culture. I’ll never forget the first time I heard “Vicious Rap”- a classic track leaving the reminiscence of the early years
of Hip Hop, “The Real Roxanne“ or “I Cram To Understand U (Sam)“. All of a sudden I heard a tremendous amount of bass coming through my speakers. I thought to myself: “what the hell is this?” I realised the drum pattern was different from the production of that time. It was much funkier, much grittier than the other jams of that era. It was special! When the vocals of those ladies came on I was totally blown away. For example Ladybug of Digable Planets with her soft voice and feminine revolutionary lyricism still gives me chills. The lyrics were different from anything before or since. “Commentating, illustrating, description giving adjective expert…” It was like hearing a voice from the beyond and it was describing the future of Hip Hop to us. Women in Hip Hop definitely raised the standard for good music. This “new” thing made me educate myself more on this type of culture, so that I could speak, and write with more knowledge when talking to other people about the music that people have been creating for centuries. I am not talking about grabbing some books or magazines and studying them, I am talking about diggin’ for music with my own hands and ears because I just loved it! That’s why I didn’t even realised when and how music became some kind of my best “silent” friend. And there was this special thing which didn’t caught my ear, but my eye - their unique style. I even was influenced by the style those women had. It was unique, it was never before seen and so fresh. Some consider the Hip Hop style as the missing element of the Hip Hop culture, well I don’t! Fashion is a vision that only you have. You can learn the business and marketing aspects of fashion but not the design part. It’s how you combine accessories, it’s the way you feel good in the clothes you’ve chosen. I like people with unique style. Vintage accessories are my favourite, I really love 1980‘s gold door-knocker
earrings, and Gold bamboo hoop earrings. I think they are adorable and are a nice retro addition to any young woman‘s wardrobe. You have to have personality to put them on though. For example Rakim, Kurtis Blow, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J helped popularise gold necklaces and other such jewelry, and female emcees such as Roxanne Shanté, Salt’N’Peppa and MC Lyte helped popularise oversized gold door knocker earrings. This was their way of expression and I still love it. A lot of people took fashion cues from the disco styles surrounding them by that time, while others developed individual styles of their own. As graffiti and break dancing united with music to create the beginnings of a cultural movement, eyes started to focus on the emcees and breakers. Black leather jackets and pants, black fedoras or Kangol hats, large, chunky chains and, of course, Adidas – this was THE style. Let me just say that I still really like this kind of dressing, those years you can’t forget that easily. Ok, I was probably a baby when all this started, but I am happy that it somehow hit me straight in the heart so I can enjoy it now. Breath in every aspect of the Hip Hop culture, dress the way I want, the way I feel. I love colours, I surround myself with lots of colours. Isn’t it like that, that we just expose our inner feelings to the outside by our way of style? The 80s was a most interesting and diverse decade for fashion. Many styles came and left in that decade, and most young people today didn‘t have a chance to wear these styles, so they are doing their research and reviving this style.
showed a collection deeply influenced by Hip Hop fashion and was inspired by his elevator operator who wore a heavy gold chain. The models wore black catsuits, „gold chains, big gold nameplate-inspired belts combined with black bomber jackets with fur-trimmed hoods“. Women’s Wear Daily called this look the “homeboy chic”. I watch reruns of 90’s classics of television and I notice I am admiring their clothes, maybe not their hairstyles, but little aspects of their style here and there. Don’t ever say that you will never like a certain look, because you don‘t know when it going to turn around and look fabulous once again. Also in the early 1990s, Chanel presented Hip Hop inspired fashion in several shows. And in one of them the models wore black leather jackets and piles of gold chains. In another, they wore long black dresses, accessory with heavy, padlocked silver chains. Hip Hop is one of the most influential cultural movements ever to transpire in the United States and its impact isn‘t confined to one continent. So is the style of many Hip Hop icons. Hip Hop still cradles a soul, we just got to believe in it, search for it and it will reach to all open minded people. Be yourself and be proud of it!
Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) is a fashion-industry trade journal, sometimes called „the bible of fashion”.
Hip Hop fashion has changed significantly during its history. Nowadays it is a prominent part of popular fashion as a whole across the world and for all ethnicities. It has influenced even high fashion designs. In the late 1980s, designer Isaac Mizrahi
Roxanne ShantĂŠ at Kensington Park Hotel, London on 14 march 1989. Photo by David Corio
MISSY DEE BY DJ SCIENTIST (BERLIN), PHOTOS COURTESY OF MISSY DEE
II TOTALLY THOUGHT TOTALLY THOUGHT II TOTALLY TOTALLY THOUGHT THOUGHT IIIIWOULD DIE WOULD DIE.. .. WOULD WOULD DIE DIE FLASH, FLASH, FLASH, FLASH, GRANDMASTER FLASH GRANDMASTER FLASH GRANDMASTER GRANDMASTER FLASH FLASH WANTED ME WANTED ME WANTED WANTED ME ME TO TO TO COME TO TO COME TO COME COME TO TO THE FEVER! THE FEVER! THE THE FEVER! FEVER!
A LOT OF PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW THIS, BUT I WAS THE FIRST GIRL EMCEE WHO ROCKED FOR MASTER DON. ...PEBBLEE POO CAME LATER.
“I REMEMBER IT BEING THE BEST MUSIC EVER. THE BEATS WERE SO FUNKY THEN”, ANSWERS MISSY DEE WHEN BEING ASKED ABOUT EARLY HIP HOP. REMINISCING ABOUT PARK JAMS AT THE HARLEM “BATTLEGROUND”, THE PARK WHICH WAS JUST AROUND HER BLOCK. IT WAS THE RECORDS THAT THE DJS SPUN THAT REALLY WANTED HER TO RAP. STILL A TEENAGER AT AGE 15, RHYMIN’ AND ROCKIN’ THE MIC WAS JUST FOR FUN AND A CHANCE TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE. AT SCHOOL, MISSY SOON GOT INVOLVED WITH MASTER DON AND THE DEATH COMMITTEE. “MASTER DON AND A DJ NAMED MR. FREEZE WERE WALKING THROUGH THE LUNCHROOM IN MY HIGH SCHOOL AND THERE WAS THIS KIND OF FREESTYLE SESSION GOING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN EMCEES THAT WENT TO THE SCHOOL. I STARTED RHYMIN’ AND BY THE TIME I FINISHED, DON ASKED ME TO GET DOWN WITH HIM. A LOT OF PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW THIS, BUT I WAS THE FIRST GIRL EMCEE WHO ROCKED FOR MASTER DON. PEEBBLES (PEBBLEE POO) CAME LATER”. SO, MISSY DEE STARTED TO ROCK PARTIES FOR THE DEATH COMMITTEE AROUND THE HARLEM AREA AND WRITING RHYMES. AT THAT TIME, HIP HOP STILL WASN’T ALL ABOUT MAKING RECORDS. HOWEVER, ONE DAY IN LATE 1980, MANNY MANN A FRIEND OF MISSY AND MEMBER OF THE FABULOUS 3 MC’S ASKED HER IF SHE WANTED TO COME ALONG TO THE STUDIO, WHERE THEY WERE ABOUT TO RECORD A RAP RECORD. MISSY WENT WITH HIM AND WAS INTRODUCED TO THE PRODUCER NATHANIEL YISRAEL. AFTER RHYMIN’ FOR NATHANIEL, MISSY DEE WAS ASKED IF SHE COULD GET A FEW OTHER GIRLS TO FORM A GROUP. SHE DID, AND IT RESULTED IN A WONDERFUL PIECE OF OLD SCHOOL PARTY RAP: MISSY DEE & THE MELODY CREW “MISSY MISSY DEE”.
“Missy Missy Dee” is known and considered an underground classic amongst old school rap collectors. A hard to find gem. When exactly was the track released, the 12” label shows no date? I find it hard to believe that “Missy Missy Dee” is considered to be a classic. There was hardly any real distribution of the song. I think more 12”s were given away than sold. When I first saw it being sold online (on ebay) a few years ago, I was totally buggin’ out about it. But, I did notice that most of the people that were selling it were part of the underground. And, I just never thought about it being a classic. Then when the Numero Group contacted me about re-releasing it, I was totally buggin’. But to answer your question we actually recorded the song in late 1980 and I believe it was released in early 1981. How old were you when “Missy Missy Dee” was recorded? I believe I was about 16 years old. Back in 79 and early 80s there were a couple of female rappers heard on wax such as Sha-Rock, Lady B, or the Sugarhill group The Sequence. Who were your influences MC-wise? From my perspective, when I was rockin’ there weren’t too many girls
rockin’ the mic, although there were a few. Everybody knew about ShaRock, and as far as I am concerned, she is the Queen of Lady Emcees. But my favorite was Pebblee Poo. She was really good. Lady T from the People’s Choice was nasty too! I got Lady T to get down with me on “Missy Missy Dee”. Who exactly is the Melody Crew? Any of the ladies released a solo record as well?
Pebblee Poo became the first female MC for Kool Herc and the Herculoids. The MCs Sondra Dee and Sweet & Sour were coming up when she left. Then she joined her brother’s crew Master Don and the Def Committee at about 1981. Pebblee Poo brought out her solo single, “A Fly Guy”, the answer track to Boogie Boys’ “A Fly Girl” 1985 on Profile Records.
The Melody Crew. First of all I want to say that their name was supposed to be the Mellow-D Crew. When the record was released I was really upset that the crew’s name was spelled wrong. To me the “Melody Crew” made it seem as though they were a singing group and not an emcee crew. Anyhow, the Melody Crew consists of Lady T (Tanya Barnes), who as I said before, was down with the People’s Choice, who had a crew of girls called the Choice Girls. Next is Apple-C (Arlene Rogers), my homegirl from high school. Apple and I used to sit in the lunchroom in high school and write rhymes together. Apple was nasty also. And the last girl Easy K (Kim Scott) is my sister. We needed another girl for the group so I put her down. Lady T has quite a few songs listed with BMI, but I am not sure of any releases. I haven’t seen Lady T in quite some time. Nor have I seen Apple-C.
Missy Dee took these photos at a modeling agency a very long time ago. Her hairstyle “Jheri Curls” were in style big time back then.
Were you and the Mellow-D Crew also active as live MCs supporting a DJ and hosting parties, or was this more of a male domain? No we were not. I was actually a lone emcee without a DJ. However, I did a lot of rockin’ with Master Don and the Death Committee. That’s how I got further into emceeing. I ended up rockin’ with Don wherever he was in Harlem: 23 Park, The Dome, Randy’s Place on 125th, etc. As far as Hip Hop being male dominated, you are exactly correct. That was one of the reasons why I got out of it because I felt that the girls weren’t being respected for the craft as much as the guys were. Although, I would say now that the ol’ skool girl emcees receive much more respect than they did years ago. We did a couple of shows as a group for Nathaniel Yisrael. But overall I rocked alone for Master Don and Lady T rocked with the Choice Girls. What are your most significant memories about early Hip Hop? I remember it being the best music ever. The beats were so funky then, and emcees were actually listened to. We didn’t have all of the pyrotechnic applications that are applied to rap songs today. One of the most significant memories that I have is the day I met Grandmaster Flash. That is a day, I will never forget. You have to understand that when HipHop began, I was very young, and my moms wouldn’t let me and my sister hangout and party. So I kinda got into Hip Hop as a way to get out the house, or so I thought. Anyway, we were in this park in Harlem called “the Battleground”, I believe I was about 15 years old. One day this crew named the People’s Choice was there and TJ the DJ was playing some music. It must have been “Seven Minutes of Funk”, cause that’s one of my favorite beats to rhyme off. I think Kurtis Blow was in the park
also, I’m not 100% sure, but I believe he had to be because why else would Flash be there. (Note: Grandmaster Flash was going to different places to scout!) Kurtis Blow rocked in the Battleground quite often. The People’s Choice was the house crew that rocked in the Battleground, and I would get on stage sometimes. This particular day, I got on and tore that mic up. Grandmaster Flash walked up to me and told me that he wanted me to come up to the Bronx to a club called the Disco Fever and rock on the mic. I totally thought I would die. Flash, Grandmaster Flash wanted me to come to the Fever! I ran down the block and upstairs to tell my moms, and can you believe, she told me that I couldn’t go, that I was too young, “yada, yada, yada”. I cried and begged her to let me go, but she said no and kept telling me that “all that stuff ya’ll doin’ out there ain’t nothing but noise”. I remember that day, like it was yesterday. I don’t know if Flash would remember it, but I do, and many of my friends from the neighborhood remember that day too! So, at some part of your life, do you think you would become a famous MC or a superstar? Or was it all about having fun? I don’t think that any of us thought that Hip Hop would become anything more than what it was at the time, and to me it was pure fun and the love of those funky ass beats! But when the Sugar Hill Gang recorded, everybody was trying to put something on wax. Kurtis Blow, however, in my opinion, was the guy that really opened the door for everyone else.
“Missy Missy Dee” was originally released on Universal Records Co. (not the major label) and recently has been re-released as a 12” and on a compilation called “Don’t Stop - Recording Tap” by the Numero Group label. Photo by DJ Scientist
BACK WHEN WE STARTED THINKING ABOUT DOING A COOKIE CREW HOMAGE TEE, LITTLE DID WE EXPECT THAT IT WOULD LEAD TO ACTUALLY HOOKING UP WITH ONE HALF OF THE FAMOUS LONDON CREW. THESE WERE THE FEMALE CREW THAT INSPIRED ME AS A SCHOOL-DODGING 15 YEAR OLD WITH THEIR FIRST LP “BORN THIS WAY” BACK IN ’89. SO WHEN I GOT TO FINALLY TRACK DOWN REMEDEE A.K.A. DEBBIE PRYCE, A.K.A. COOKIE, IT WAS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY - NOT ONLY TO LACE HER WITH NBFG TEES, BUT ALSO TO GET THE STORY ON SOME THINGS I’D BEEN WONDERING FOR A WHILE. SURE, DESIGNING IS USUALLY MY BAG, BUT THIS WAS TOO MUCH OF AN INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY TO MISS... GAINING RESPECT WITH A COOL BRITISH DIALECT...
BY KAREN JANE (LONDON) - PHOTOS COURTESY OF KAREN JANE
From the beginning there is always someone who gets you into the music - for me it was at school. There was always older kids or my older brother who had the latest wax or mix tapes. Who first got you into music? And how did you come to be forming a crew and getting on the mike so early on in the development of the culture?
have to be hooked up to get the newest tunes. Were you buying a lot of wax? If so, do you remember where you would go to pick it up or any early tunes that inspired you?
We never bought records... We’d hangout with the DJs who used to. I was a tapes girl so every time I went to New York I’d tape all the Hip Hop and mix shows and bring ’em back Our parents, they had great music... and we’d listen to them for hours. We grew up on music so it was We went to a lot of Hip Hop jams always around us. We loved singand listened to pirate stations back ing and dancing. We always said then. My tapes were so important to we want to be in the music industry me I had hundreds! We’d be hangbut as singers. But then Hip Hop ing out with the likes of Cutmaster came and we embraced it as it was searching for us for years. It’s weird it Swift, Imperial Mixers, Mixmasters all just came natural to us and before and more... That’s how we heard our break beats. A lot of DJs used to we knew it, we were a part of the give me a vinyl shopping list when whole movement and pioneers. We I went to New York and I’d have to grew up together and lived a couple travel far and wide to find these speroads away. We went to the same cific shops who sold the exclusive primary school, church and youth break beats. I liked when DJs used club. So we’ve known each other all to blank out their labels so other DJs our lives. When we started the crew couldn’t see the name of the artist it originally had 13 members.... Only and track titles. It was serious back because we had a dream of having then, trust me. the largest Hip Hop girl crew ever. We did for a bit but one by one they fell off. The passion wasn’t there and it was us two left and carried it to the end. We were talking before about how back then you’d have to really hunt down the music you were into travel, make tapes and generally
...WE HAD A DREAM OF HAVING THE LARGEST HIP HOP GIRL CREW EVER. Cookie Crew “Born This Way” (Ffrr) 12” 1988 signed sleeve by Cookie for Karen
IT WAS LIKE WOAH! ...
we never signed of course). Anyway, the Friday night we went down to the club which was packed, to put our names on the list... They had so many entries that the competiI still know people who do that! Haha! Tell me about the early days tion had to be carried over into a 2nd week. The 2nd week we went of the Cookie Crew. That must back to take our names off but our have been an amazing time, to be so determined to refine your skills peoples around us told us not too. We were soooooooooooo nervous enough to step up. You both must that we didn’t even talk to each other have been practicing a hell of a until our time came. It was unreal... lot? The feeling in the club was unreal They were exciting days... Everything back then... Hip Hop was raw and natural. Anyway our turn came up was exciting. We looked forward to and we went up there and ‘killt’ it. It raving no matter how far or near it was incredible... Our performance was. We’d plan what we’d be wearwas incredible. We did two cuts... ing cos we were b-girls and needed to make sure we rocked it better than One over B-Boys Breakdance and the rap that took us to the top was the guys. The Lee jeans, shell tops, rocked over “Planet Rock”. We were goose jackets, name belts... We known as the Planet Rock Girls. The were on point on all levels... When feeling I can’t explain when we won... we walked into any jam it was on. It was like WHOA!! We were literally We practiced all the time and we enjoyed it... It was fun, not a task but lifted off our feet. It was a special moment and verified that we were fun. It was a great feeling when we officially here. wrote a new rap and memorized it and couldn’t wait to perform live. All day everyday we breathed Hip Hop. I was training to be a chef at Westminster college in Battersea and in every FROM THE SOUTH... lesson I had pen and paper. For a Yeah damn right, you’d arrived! whole year my best friend thought I Winning that competition must was taking notes and to this day we have changed a lot for you and laugh loud when we talk about it. I Suzy? wrote most of my lyrics which made live shows and the album during my It solidified our status amongst a chefs training course at college. We were always nervous before a perfor- predominantly male scene... But that mance but once we hit the stage it all never scared us. They embraced us with the utmost respect - that was fell into place. lovely. We rolled with the best, we hung out and ate with the best, we I love the story of the open mike went to Hip Hop jams in London and competition you won at the Wag. How did that come about and what all over the country. And back then can you remember about the night we never had cars, it was London transport and British Rail. Hip Hop you won? was real good back then and we were there to witness the realness. Well Westwood announced the competition on his radio show (pirate You guys were also in the BBC back then)... It was at the Wag club. The prize was a trophy, I think £50 or documentary “Bad Meaning Good” £100 and a recording contract (which weren’t you?
It is still amazing to watch that and it really puts you in context of the whole London scene back then, especially the live show part. What was that time like? It was amazing, there were so many crews back then. Hip Hop was authentic, pure and derogatory free... Bitches, hoe’s, guns and violence... We’d have never imagined that Hip Hop and I use the term ‘Hip Hop’ loosely, would end up being like it is now. And when it was on TV... That was equally exciting... Such a buzz. It’s just amazing to see. The crowd, the fans, the people who were there for the music, culture and lifestyle. I haven’t seen that footage in many years... I’d love to see it again. In mid 1987 BBC 2 screened the documentary “Bad Meaning Good”, centered on Tim Westwood and his work as a DJ on Kiss FM when it was still a pirate. The film cuts interviews with the Cookie Crew, the Beatmasters and the Wee Papa Girl Rappers with shots of performing.
Another bit that I love on there is with London Posse’s Bionic and Sipho doing Beatbox Reggae Style in the back of Westwood’s car. You must have hung around with those guys a lot right? Of course it was compulsory... The crews hanging out together gave us inspiration... We were family... Hip Hop was all about family... But you weren’t accepted into the fold unless your reasons for embracing Hip Hop meant to live for the cause. What about other UK female artists around, like the Monie Love, She Rockers, Sweet Pea, Betty Boo? Did you have much to do with any of those ladies? Not really... Just us and Monie Love hung out. But the competition between us and the other girl crews gave us inspiration to keep us at the top of our game.
stills from the documentary “Bad Meaning Good“ of Remedee (Cookie) and Suzy live on stage.
So did being in the mainstream limelight mean you got a lot of unwanted male attention?
COOKIES ON WAX When you had chart success with “Rok Da House” with the Beatmasters did you get much stick from the people around you about selling out?
That’s an interesting question... We were renowned for having male fans who were fans (if they fancied us, well whatever)... But in all honesty male fans gravitated to us because of what we truly represented as women in Hip Hop. We were one of the few who carried ourselves in a manner where we commanded respect. We were all about the music and what Hip Hop really stood for. I don’t think we would have known any other way. To us our image and self-respect was more important than
OF COURSE WE HAD BEEF... Of course... We weren’t too pleased with ourselves ’cos back in those days it’s all about street cred and that was one of our first Hip Hop records. But you know what? That record opened up all the corporate doors and that’s when we were propelled into the mainstream limelight. We thought it wasn’t cool at first, but you know... That record did so much for us (£) whether we loved it or not. We went to New York to meet the US label (which was TVT Records) who were gonna release our material and they took us to the art department and showed us the artwork for “Rok Da House”. We went ape shit cos no-one told us they were about to release it in the US and no-one told them how much we despised it. I think they pulled it, but I’m not 100% sure... But we kicked up such a fuss ’cos we didn’t want to ruin our ‘hardcore’ reputation in the Big Apple. But that tune did well chart and publishing wise.
life itself. That’s how serious we were about our craft and being the way we were we felt there was a genuine level of respect from male fans. So what was “Females” inspired by, did you have a lot of beef with other females at the time? Of course we had beef, everyone had beef with us ’cos we were hot and if they tried to touch us they’d burn. That song was definitely inspired by the suspect so called Hip Hop girls on the scene back then. And it also tackled girls who danced round their handbags... It was all fun nothing controversial at all. We just wanted to express that we kinds stood different from other girls/females whether they were on the scene or not.
Cookie Crew “Born This Way!” (Ffrr) 1989 - Cookie Crew “Got To Keep On” (Ffrr) 12” 1989
The cover of “Females” is pretty distinctive too - you said you didn’t like it when it was done, but what was the story - how come you never got to reject it?
like what, 18 years ago....Damn!
We tried hard to ensure it wasn’t used. The designer just got it wrong!!!! We tried to explain that we wanted to appear like graffiti cartoon characters and when we went to see the artwork that’s what he came up with. I don’t know what happened and I don’t know why it did end up being the sleeve (timing maybe maybe there wasn’t enough time to change the artwork completely)..... Oooohhh we were not happy!!! But it was different I guess.
Shows were fun... Some were awful but mostly we had a blast. We toured with many greats from the day: Public Enemy, Stetasonic, EPMD, Guy, Bobby Brown, De La Soul, Schooly D. The audience were die hard fans, they really were. They were there for us and our music. We had girl fans who wanted to be like us, dress like us, walk like us. It was an honour. We did do a few shows that were crap but hey, that’s how it goes. Our policy was to open and close every show we did no matter where we appeared on the bill.
Ah no, how annoying is that? That was before “Born This Way” though wasn’t it? What was it like when you released that? It must have felt like a massive achievement? It was a grand achievement... A feeling of WOW we’ve completed our album. I remember it so clearly. We recorded it in New York and the night we finished (which was early hours of the morning), we hit the streets of New York and eventually made our way home to the Bronx on the Subway. Just thinking about that night brings a smile to my face. That was
What was it like when you did live shows? Did you tour a lot? What were the audiences like?
I’m really interested in the photos on some of your sleeves - were these shoots something that you and Suzy would have a big part in creatively? Absolutely...They were taken in locations where we lived...Outside my house, in Susan’s living room, another friends house in Catford. It was all local and in places that meant a lot to us. We were very proud of where we lived and wanted to bring that across in our artwork.
The photo on the cover of “Born This Way” is kind of iconic to me, but there again that’s been on my shelf since I was at school. What’s the story behind those outfits? We were very big on Afrocentric type of wear. But we didn’t buy off the shelf. We sourced material and had it designed and made up. We loved those outfits... I think I gave mine away. What about your experiences of the music industry - you hear lots of stories about artists getting ripped off from back then, was that a problem? BOWY thats was bad luck on their behalf! We never encountered any problems like that. We had a lot of people approach us wanting to manage us and wanted us to sign contract ‘n’ shit. But we just weren’t interested... We just wanted to dress fly and rock da mic. Man, we’ve heard some story but if your weak in your game you will get ripped off... Not Da Crew! You’ve worked with some pretty heavyweight producers too Daddy-O, Prince Paul, Black Sheep and Premier. What were your most memorable experiences when it came to working with those guys?
Cookie Crew “Born This Way” (Ffrr) 1989
CAN’T SLEEP ON... So, if you could bring back some aspects of the early music culture that you were involved in growing up what would they be? The movement, the people, the music and the scene that was!
Everyone we worked with were people we wanted to work with and we were lucky to fulfill such a dream. We just had fun all the way. It was great working with those people. We ensured that we bonded with them so they knew what we were really about before we done any studio work. We wanted to ensure they knew yeah we’re ‘girl rappers from London’ but cos we are girl rappers from London we don’t want anything substandard. Didn’t want it to be a case of “oh we getting paid to produce some chicks from the UK”. We built a genuine professional relationship with them and it all turned out superb. When we worked with Daddy-O and Prince Paul we both had the same management (Rush) and when we came to work with Gang Starr we were both managed by Empire. And Black Sheep were label-mates. We also worked with Davy DMX. The two tunes on the “Fade To Black” album: “Watch The Cookies Crumble” and “Going Freestyle” produced by Black Sheep are
amazing, and really sounds like it was a total collaborative thing as far as the blend of the Cookies and Sheep styles, what were those projects like to work on? They were interesting to work with... It was kind of cool ’cos Black Sheep were new and their stuff hadn’t come out yet and they were slated to be the next big thing (out of Native Tongue’s I think). They were so cool and calm - think they were from one of the Carolina’s so had a really chilled vibe about them. That was fun.
Cookie, thanks very much for chatting to us, it’s been inspiring for sure. It’s also been a pleasure to represent the Cookie Crew with the “Keep On” tees... The T-shirts were awesome.... a grand salute to the crew!!!!! I haven’t worn mine yet.... keeping them safe like when DJs keep their vinyl wrapped up in plastic ;)
Do you have much Cookies memorabilia? Are there things that you got rid of but wish you had kept? I have a few, but yes there’s a whole bunch of stuff I wished I had held onto (trainers/jackets) and other Hip Hop paraphernalia. But back then it never crossed my mind that these things would no longer be. I got all my memories though. Cookie Crew “Females” (TVT) 12” 1987
HIP HOP IS WHAT YOU CAME TO REPRESENT
NATTIT UDE MAGAZINE Photo by Jeannette Petri
MARTHA COOPER BY BIANCA LUDEWIG (BERLIN) - PHOTOS BY MARTHA COOPER
MARTHA COOPER IS A RECOGNIZED ANTHROPOLOGIST AND PHOTOGRAPHER FROM NEW YORK. TO THE HIP HOP COMMUNITY SHE IS ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT, BECAUSE SHE DOCUMENTED THE EVOLVING HIP HOP CULTURE FROM 1979 - 1984. SHE GOT HER FIRST CAMERA AROUND 1946, FROM HER FATHER WHO OWNED A CAMERA STORE. IN 1966 SHE GOT HER DIPLOMA IN ANTHROPOLOGY AT OXFORD UNIVERSITY AND WORKED AFTERWARDS AS A FOLKLORICPHOTOGRAPHER IN THE US. AROUND 1978 SHE DISCOVERED GRAFFITI AS AN EXCITING NEW YORK PHENOMENON, AND SHORTLY AFTERWARDS BREAKDANCE. IN 1984 SHE PUBLISHED WITH HENRY CHALFANT “SUBWAY ART”, THE BIBLE OF GRAFFITI. IN SEPTEMBER 2004 SHE PUBLISHED WITH AKIM WALTER FROM MZEE GERMANY THE BOOK “HIP HOP FILES”, WHICH SHOWS AND PRESERVES HER ENTIRE WORK ABOUT HIP HOP FROM THOSE EARLY YEARS. IN 2004 SHE FOUNDED WE B*GIRLZ WITH NIKA KRAMER, A PLATFORM FOR WOMEN IN HIP HOP AND PUBLISHED WITH HER IN 2005 A BOOK ABOUT B-GIRLZ UNDER THE SAME TITLE. IN 2008 SHE PUBLISHES “TAG TOWN”, ANOTHER BOOK ABOUT GRAFFITI CULTURE. MARTHA COOPER IS DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY FOR THE NEW YORK CENTRE FOR URBAN FOLK CULTURE AND CITY LORE.
PHOTOGRAPHY WAS ALWAYS A PART OF GRAFFITI, CAUSE THEY WANTED THE PICTURES. How and when did you meet Henry Chalfant? I met Henry through graffiti artists. They knew that we were both taking pictures of trains, so they introduced us. That was in 1980. Came Henry Chalfant up with the expression “Hip Hop”? Probably Sugar Hill Gang used it first. But then it wasn’t applied to the elements, it was just used in the song. Later it was used by the crowd to describe that type of parties. I think Henry was one of the first who applied it to the elements. You were first in England to study, how was England at that time in the 60s? Well I went to Oxford to study ethnology/anthropology and I was completely unprepared for that kind of “hip” culture with the Beatles and the Stones going on. I remember getting there feeling totally dowdy, underdressed and out of it. Cause England
was at that time “The Swinging England”. I remember psychedelic clothes and mini-skirts that I didn’t want to wear. Crazy make-ups and haircuts. I liked to look at that, but didn’t want to participate in that. I had only my old clothes from two years before... otherwise Oxford was very interesting. Was there any art in the streets back then? No nothing! When you look at England’s streets today, it’s amazing. My theory is, that graffiti artists gave everybody sort of permission to appropriate public space for art. And it makes perfectly sense. Why waiting for a gallery to show your stuff. But people were very obedient to the rules before then. In which year did you meet the old school graffiti writer Dondi?
there any connections back then between the writers and breakers? Yes, but loose connections. Often same neighborhoods and some of them did both. I realized it that day I went for a story to the police station, where they had confiscated markers and spray cans from the kids that they had arrested for breakdancing, assuming it was fighting. Did you ever think yourself about doing graffiti or at least a tag? I got interested in tagging early on, I have large files of tags that I collected. Well I tried it back then and also over the years to develop a tag but it just doesn’t seem to look right. I wish I could do one, at least for signing my books, but it seems to take a surprising amount of skills to make one, one that has this special kind of style. Do you listen to rap music? No.
In 1978 or in 1979.
This is the element you were not really interested in?
You discovered graffiti before you got interested in breakdance. Were
Right, the element, that became the most popular one. Musically I got
“Soul Sisters” 1981
Do you have any idea why Hip Hop photographing it I thought it was became so popular in Germany? only about the special situation of New York at that time. I remember What about DJing? That could I would say maybe because of Harry saying that to Henry Chalfant: “that have been also interesting for a can never happen in any other city”. Belafonte and “Beatstreet”. Belafonte photographer. Today you come to Germany and de- had a Berlin connection and they spite of the yards being guarded and allowed him to come in and present Well it’s surprising, but it took me a Beatstreet. At least some German long time to figure out, that they were everything being nice and tidy and writers told me, that is how they clean - there it is! Well, I was wrong! doing something unusual. It took found out about it. years until somebody explained it to me, cause I was always thinking they Is Hip Hop only for the youth or is But you are talking now about East it also a culture for grownups? were just playing the records. I’m a Berlin... did you ever think about all visual person and I thought all that the American soldiers that were in Anything can be a culture for anytechnical stuff, the wires and cords West Germany? body. Though I think this is for the looked kind of ugly. Today looking back, they seem very cool, old-fash- youth. But adults should appreciNo, I didn’t even realize that they had ate it for its energy and creativity. If ioned, handmade and special. I feel been here. I don’t know too much you grew up with that, you are more like I missed that. about Germany. likely as an adult to stick with it or respect it. Even I get nostalgic if I When did you realise that? hear rap music today, thinking that it How was the impact of your photos and articles in 1981? Was it Oh, when Akim was looking through is now “old school”. There is a little only positive for the development Peter-Pan-Quality in that. Well I still my pictures and he pulled out a DJ of the Hip Hop culture? photo I took more or less accidentally. do photography and luckily it is a broader category than Hip Hop to be Which is a really cool photo, where It was my idea to do something interested in. they took the electricity from the about breakdance. I looked for somelamp pole. I apologize to all those one who could write about it. Same Well many ex-graffiti artists are DJs, sorry! with graffiti. There were certain kinds now doing graphic design... What is the difference between the Hip Hop culture and other pop THE AMAZING THING ABOUT GRAFFITI IS THAT cultures? stuck in the Beatles age.
Oh my god, you are asking such difficult questions! I’m a photographer. But there is all that knowledge in you...
THIS HAPPENED.WHEN I WAS PHOTOGRAPHING IT I THOUGHT IT WAS ONLY ABOUT THE SPECIAL SITUATION OF NEW YORK AT THAT TIME.
of people that thought bad about graffiti, no matter what you wrote about it. But other people got more I’ll just say that, Hip Hop culture and tolerant through those articles, cause other ones have to do with youth, they found out, what it was all about. breaking away from existing cultures. That kids just wrote their nicknames. Did ever people in the fine art And for that developing something scene smile at your work about the But in terms of quality, when people secretive that is not necessarily unsee something new and realize that derstandable to other people outside Hip Hop culture? there might be some money involved, the culture, like their parents. And then the quality will eventually go Hip Hop had a lot of that. Especially Yes, it was very hard to even show down, cause they are guessing what this work to anyone in that commugraffiti. the consumer wants... nity back then. The only magazine I was able to publish in was Art Yes graffiti for sure, because you How did graffiti manage to overmagazine from Germany, they did a notice it worldwide entering a big very nice story early on in 1980. They come the loss of energy and fascicity. took it seriously and as a result I got nation of graffiti on canvas or other buyable items in the exhibitions? a contract with them, and I still do The amazing thing about graffiti is work for them. that this happened. When I was
Yeah and truly I think that graffiti not only changed the face of graphic design, but also of fine art, also looking at the whole street art movement.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT N.Y. IS THAT I CAN SEE SOMETHING NEW, FRESH AND DIFFERENT EVERY DAY ... I LIKE TO SEE WHO IS “UP” AND WHO THEY WENT OVER. Personally I think they weren’t overcoming it. The artists that were best in translating their work on canvas were mostly not the best graffiti writers. I documented graffiti entering the art world because I was curious to see, what would happen, not because I think it is the best solution. I don’t have any canvases on my wall! Tell us about Stefan Eins and the Fashion Moda gallery in a “black” part of NYC? Well he is an interesting man. I got connected with him through the German Art magazine. Cause they send me to him, to do a story about Fashion Moda. It was a very interesting and unusual thing that he did, running that gallery in the South Bronx at that time. And it helped to unite that uptown and downtown scene. The breakers and writers were the uptown folks, and they started going into the downtown clubs, through connections that evolved through The Bronx alternative space Fashion Moda was founded by Australian artist Stefan Eins in a storefront at Third Avenue near 147th Street in the South Bronx in 1978. It was a laboratory where untrained artists and those with art school backgrounds exchanged ideas, performed, exhibited and made artwhile the neighborhood joined in. Graffiti artists made their transition from subways to canvas here. Famous artist Jenny Holzer and famous graffiti writer Lady Pink collaborated. The first graffiti show was presented in fall of 1980, curated by Crash, a 19-yearold graffiti artist, inviting eleven of his friends: Mitch, Kel, 139TH, Disco 107.5, Futura, Ali, Zephyr, Crash and Lady Pink.
people like Stefan Eins and through his gallery. Also the (white) downtown scene would come uptown to the Bronx. What was it like when Hip Hop reached the downtown locations? Well I tell you how it was for me: it was exhausting. I like to go to bed early, and through those events I had to stay up until 4 am. Also it wasn’t and isn’t my scene at all. In order to get the pictures I would attend these events. At first it was exciting, but then it wasn’t that exciting anymore. That were heavy working conditions to me.
hitting trucks. All of these rolling art forms come from graffiti artists. What do you think about Street Art? Oh, I love it. Though there is more in Europe than in the US. But there is plenty in N.Y. What I like about N.Y. is that I can see something new, fresh and different every day when I walk down the street. I like unpredictable things. I like to see who is “up” and who they went over. It’s just added extra-excitement for me. Street art is definitely a result from graffiti.
What is to you the importance of “getting up”? The idea of doing art in public space was not new, but it was new To get credits and fame. It’s like pubto do it especially on the mass lishing a photo or a book. It doesn’t transportation system. Did you necessarily translate into money, understand immediately why the but to a special work you do within graffiti writers were fascinated by a certain group or scene. People it? like Neckface have become popular Well I understood that it was definite- through getting up on the streets of N.Y. It works. ly a great way to get your art seen, because of the way the train lines Do you have any suggestions to ran. From the northern end of the the problem of criminalisation and Bronx through Manhattan to Brooklyn. It was a new and fresh idea, one graffiti? that has been copied because of If it wasn’t illegal I don’t know if it that. Even the MTA and buses have would even exist. I’m not one of today those huge graphic designs these people who say, let’s just leon trains or buses and I’m sure they galize it and everybody go and paint got that idea from the graffiti artists. a wall. Where is the fun in that? This I just photographed in France some is an adventurous spirited art form painted trucks, people that are just
Pink is standing with her first canvas which she exhibited at Fashion Moda in the South Bronx, 1981.
that needs the thrill of being illegal to flourish. So a little punishment is fine. But if you really punish graffiti artists you are making a huge mistake. Those people should get real.
is out now.
that not more women were involved.
Had your anthropology studies an impact on your work as a photographer? In what way?
How did your work with the Hip Hop culture influenced your life?
What is to you the difference between a wholecar and the same piece on a public wall? On a legal wall? A wall in a gallery?
It had a big impact. I had lived in a Japanese village with my ex-husband for a year and a half, who was doing field work there, and I watched
It set my life off in a very different direction. Because at that time, in 1982, I had tried to be a very mainstream photographer. I was doing a cover story for the National Geo-
IF IT WASN’T ILLEGAL I DON’T KNOW IF IT WOULD EVEN EXIST. I admire the ones on trains most. But certainly I’m not blind to graffiti. If I see a nice one somewhere I take a picture. I used to go hunting for graffiti, but I don’t do it anymore. Was it all coincidence, your encounter with the Hip Hop culture? Were you just at the right time in the right place? Coincidence played a big part, my interest played a big part and my skills as a photographer played a very big part. I was photographing for Daily Newspaper and freelancing for National Geographic. So there was a very high technical expertise applied to these pictures. For example that picture of Dondi, I took studio lights and umbrellas down to Brooklyn to take those pictures. That is also what differentiates mine from those other early pictures, which were basically snapshots. I treated those pictures as if they were for a National Geographic story, and I think that is still unrecognized. I had done sports photography, fashion photography etc. And it shows. Back then, we didn’t have digital cameras, so there was a lot of work involved. I would like people to know that I was there and documented an era. Maybe somebody else did too, but so far nobody has shown up. I think within all those years I got frequently overlooked. And I think that is, because I was too early. So I’m very happy that the book “Hip Hop Files”
him interview people. And it gave me the idea of pursuing something over time, sticking with the topic and digging a little deeper. As opposed to the work for a daily newspaper where it is a hit and run. Was working in the Hip Hop culture different from the work in art scene? Yes, cause you succeeded on the basis of skill. I had skills as a photographer, so I was in. And photography was always a part of graffiti, cause they wanted the pictures. What is a special characteristic in your work as a photographer? I have certain themes in the city that I pursue. Mostly it has to do with art, every day life and creativity. Things, that are hard to explain. You can see them on my website: www.nycsnaps. com How many of the people you photographed in the Hip Hop scene were women? A puny, tiny little amount, probably one percent. That’s why I’m now excited about B-Girls. Why is that so, from an anthropologist point of view? It’s a guy culture. It’s just a very masculine kind of culture. And I’m sorry
graphic about pollen, and I thought that was what I wanted to do, to work for those kinds of magazines. And through Hip Hop my work went in a totally other direction. So it changed my life for the better. And kids tell me how my books influenced their life. That’s great. I feel like I can die happy!
ROSY ONEDOPE POSE BY JEE-NICE - PHOTOS AND DRAWING COURTESY OF ROSY ONE
ROSY ONE FROM SWITZERLAND IS RUNNING WWW.DOPEPOSE.COM SINCE OCTOBER 2006 - A PLATFORM FOR OLD SCHOOL HIP HOP POSING PHOTOGRAPHS. APART FROM HER KNOWLEDGE IN OLD SCHOOL HIP HOP, ROSY IS ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS EUROPEAN GRAFFITI ARTISTS.
“SAY IT LOUD, I’M BLACK AND I’M PROUD” AND POSING IS A WAY TO SAY IT LOUD. OLD SCHOOL HIP HOP IS THE MUSIC I LISTEN TO, IT’S THE WAY I LIVE, IT’S THE WAY I PAINT, IT’S THE WAY I DRESS.
Who belongs to the posse of dope pose and how did you get the idea to set up dopepose.com? A few years ago I started to do posing photos what I rarely did in the 90s. After a while I realised that other people love it the same way I do. Some people even sent me photos of their posings and I realised that there was no platform, no book, no website about posing. In fact it’s me, myself and I, who does all the work about the website, when it comes to jury the photos, it’s my man Linus, his brother Sed 140 and Shoolomate 508. We choose a collection of the best photos and the winner of the month. What does posing and old school Hip Hop mean to you? Old school Hip Hop is the music I listen to, it’s the way I live, it’s the way I paint, it’s the way I dress. It’s the look and the aesthetics of the seventies and eighties I really love. Posing is
just one way to express myself. I also love to dance or to paint. For me, it’s the most amusing way. I don’t take it too serious. Is posing an element of Hip Hop and how is Hip Hop influenced by posing? There are people, who say posing is an element of Hip Hop. Element or not, it’s fun! And it was always part of Hip Hop, but also part of afro-american culture. I think posing photos got popular with the Black Panther philosophy in the 60s. It was a good way to show how beautiful, strong and proud black people were. Like James Brown said: “say it loud, I am black and I am proud” and posing is a way to say it loud. The main idea of posing photos are to show who you are, how strong and proud you are and Hip Hop contains the same philosophy.
The Black Panther Party, founded in 1966, was an African-American organization established to promote civil rights and self-defense (to end police brutality). “The Panthers became icons among the many leftist, militant groups at the time due in part to their trademark uniform, born when Seale saw Newton wearing a black leather sport jacket, black slacks, a starched blue shirt, shined shoes and “pimp socks” – sheer black socks. “I said ‘Huey, that’s it, that’s it, man! That’s our uniform! Our people are black and blue after being oppressed and bullied. So our colors will be black and blue.’” http://swindlemagazine.com/issueicons/bobby-seale/ “Say It Loud - I’m Black and I’m Proud” is a funk song written and recorded by James Brown in 1968. It is notable as one of Brown’s signature songs and as one of the most popular “black power” anthems of the 1960s. In the song, Brown addresses the prejudice towards blacks in America, and the need for black empowerment. The song peaked at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100.
HOW TO DO A DOPE POSING PHOTO:
FIRST OF ALL YOU SIMPLY HAVE TO LOOK GOOD! THERE ARE DIFFERENT TYPES OF POSING:
BAD BOY GANGSTER VAUGHN BODE OUTTA SPACE THINK ABOUT IT BODYBUILDER HOLY ADIDAS POINTER FREEEZER
THE FACE MAKES THE LOOK. PUSH YOUR BOTTOM LIP FORWARD. BEND YOUR BROWS. (TIM DOG)
CARS, MONEY, NACKED WOMEN AND GUNS ARE VERY IMPORTANT. (NWA)
BEND YOUR BODY BACKWARDS, IT MAKES YOU LOOK MORE GUM. (C. WIZZARD)
SEND LASER BLASTS WITH YOUR HANDS. (FLASH GORDON)
DIRECT YOUR FORFINGER MEDITATIVE TO YOUR HEAD. (DEF JEFF)
FORGET IT, IF YOU DONT TRAIN YOUR BODY AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK. (LL.COOL J)
IN VIEW OF THE SKY BELOW, FOLD YOUR HANDS IN FRONT OF YOUR CHEST. (AFRIKA BAMBAATAA)
POSE YOUR FEET IN THE RIGHT POSITION (MAKE THE THREE STRIPES SEENABLE.) (RUN DMC)
YOUR FINGER POINTS AT SOMETHING. (GOOD FOR GRAFFITI WRITERS TO POINT ON THEIR PIECE)
YOU STOP TO DANCE AND FREEZE TO PLEASE... (CRAZY LEGS)
What makes a pose dope? You should read “how to do a dope posing photo” on the website! It’s all about style. I can’t tell “do it like that”. You simply have to look good, that means not to look beautiful, but to have self-confidence. What are the most important items of a dope pose? Your body. Everything is important. A lot of people forget that, and sometimes even a bad background ruins the photo. Clothes are also very important to me. But in fact it doesn’t pay to wear nice clothes, to have big ghetto blaster, if you don’t know how to move your body. Can you give us some examples of a good body move? Did you ever see a Vaughn Bode comic? It’s really fresh how the characters bend their body backwards, how they pose their hands at both sides of their body. Or look at the
Tim Dog album cover where he does the “Bad Boy Pose”. This album cover is one of the most impressive. Not to forget the “Freeze”, where you stop to dance and freeze your body. And what about the background, which one is a good one and which one ruins the photo? Never ever do a posing in front of your IKEA-furniture. It just don’t look good. It’s not unique and bad taste. A nice abandoned factory or your city skyline suits much better. You were talking about the fashion style: which items would you mention if you think of clothes and accessories for a good pose? It’s not necessary to dress like at carnival, but dress carefully. So you better get your Cazals, Gold chains, Fat Laces, Lee Suits, Boomboxes, Wallabees, Shell Toe Adidas, Suedes, Mocknecks, Jeeps, Shotguns, Kangol Hats, Pro Keds, Ponys and Goose Jackets ready.
What are the criteria of becoming “the winner of the month” on dopepose.com? We (the jury) just have to love the photo. It should be something special. A good idea, a nice pose or a nice story behind the picture. The 5 most important Pose Queens and Kings on record covers, in books and films? Cheech Wizard from Vaughn Bode, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Funkmaster Wizard Wiz, The Fat Boys, Sparky-D and the Strong City Record Logo (The guy with the muscles). The most important track of striking a dope pose in rap? A rapper poses with his rhymes, for example Roxanne Shanté: “Because my name is Roxanne, and I came to say - I’m rockin’ to the beat, and I do it every day - I’m
conceited, never beated, never heard of defeated - I’m rockin’ to the beat, and you know it is me - The R-O-XA-N-N-E” or Big Daddy Kane: “Let me show you how, look here, now check my style - What I spit out, it’ll raise your brow, make you say wow”... Rosy, what is your personal favorite posing on a photo you are most proud of? I really like one old photo, where I pose in front of a fresh painted train. When did you shoot this photo? What are you wearing and which pose are you striking? And the train is one you made? I did this train 14 years ago and I pose with open arms in the middle of the rail. I seem to be very proud to present the train I did. It’s not a good photo, but I like it, because I just discovered it a week ago.
Are you an extreme fan of sneakers, Gold chains, Trainers, Cazals, etc? What’s your personal favourite dope pose item out of your collection and why?
who was winner of the month in march 2007. Posing Queens are rare, because many girls first of all like to be beautiful and this is not at all the ambition of posing photos.
My Goose Down Leather Jacket in blue. The bubbles look like muscles.
What has changed in Hip Hop striking a dope pose from the early old school days to nowadays?
As one of the most known female graffiti writers in Europe, what about Rosy’s personal relation between graffiti and dope posing? Graffiti is posing in the street or on trains. You tell the world, that you exist. What about the girls on dopepose. com?
Most of all it’s the difference between digital and analog photo. You just see the quality. Back in the days a photo was more appreciated. I don’t like these digital party photos, people do not think about the photo. Back in the days they had to think, because a photo was a special thing. Lucky the one who had a camera.
In the next few weeks, I will present an interview with a real Posing Queen. She will speak about fashion and old school Hip Hop. There is Tash from Australia, who does some very good posings, or Lil’ Rox Steady from England,
HERE’S A LITTLE STORY... THAT MUST BE TOLD
WOMEN IN HIP HOP TIMELINE BY JEE-NICE
Queen Kenya, known as the first female MC and associates with Afrika Bambaataa, inspired later MCs like Queen Latifah, Queen Pen and Queen Mother Rage with the title “Queen” in her MC name.
Irish Monica Lynch becomes president of Tom Silverman’s Tommy Boy Records and signs at first Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock”.
14-year old Daisy Castro a.k.a. Baby Love becomes part of the NYC B-Boy crew Rock Steady Crew.
High school girl Sharon Jackson becomes the MC pioneer Sha-Rock and the first female member in a rap crew - the newly founded Funky 4 + 1.
Kate Schellenbach plays the drums for the newly founded hardcore rap band Beastie Boys and releases two EP’s before she splits in 1984.
The first all-female-MC-and-DJ-crew, The Mercedes Ladies, is built up in the South Bronx consisting of 3 MCs and 3 DJs: MCs Zina-Zee, Eva-Def, Sherrie Sher and DJs Baby-D, La Spank and RD Smiley.
New York’s singer Bee-Side raps the first French lyrics on wax on the B-side of Fab 5 Freddy’s “Change The Beat” (Celluloid).
1978 “Vicious Rap” by the sisters Paulette Tee and Tanya “Sweet Tee” Winley is the first female rap to be brought on wax. Produced by mother Ann and released by father Paul on Winley Records.
1979 R&B singer Sylvia Robinson builds up the famous label Sugar Hill Records. The first release “Rappers Delight” of Sugarhill Gang is the first commercial rap hit. Philly’s 17-year old Lady B drops the first rap outside New York with “To The Beat Y’All” (T.E.C.). The Sequence crew (Cheryl The Pearl, Blondie, Angie B.) is signed by Sylvia Robinson at a concert of Sugarhill Gang. “Funk You Up” (Sugar Hill), the first release on wax by a female rap crew, follows the same year. The duo Xanadu & Sweet Lady releases the first female answer track “Rappers Delight” (Joe Gibbs Music) as response to the original of the Sugarhill Gang.
1980 Queen Lisa Lee raps with Afrika Bambaataa’s Cosmic Force on “Zulu Nation Throwdown” (Paul Winley). Blondie, the non-rap band, pays tribute to the Hip Hop culture with her rhymes on “Rapture”: “Fab Five Freddy told me everybody’s ﬂy/ DJ spinning I said ‚My My’/ Flash is fast, Flash is cool...” (Capitol).
Graffiti witer Lady Pink and MC Lisa Lee are the first female Hip Hop artists to appear in a movie - in Charlie Ahearn’s Hip Hop classic “Wild Style”. London’s Kool Lady Blue becomes the manager of the Rock Steady Crew and books the early acts of the famous New York clubs “Roxy” and “Negril”. New York’s Missy Dee & the Mellow-Dee Crew release the disco rap classic “Missy Missy Dee” (Universal), which is rereleased in 2008. British photographer Janette Beckman takes pictures of rap artists on the first rap tour “NYC Rap Tour” in London. Among them: Double Dutch Girls, Futura 200 Fab 5 Freddie, DST and Afrika Bambaataa.
1983 B-Girl Baby Love from the Rock Steady Crew raps on “Hey You” (Atlantic). Dimples D, at the time girlfriend of Marley Marl, is rapping the party diss track “Sucker DJ (I Will Survive)” (Partytime), the first success of the young producer.
1984 Martha Cooper and Henry Chalfant document N.Y.’s early graffiti pieces in the graffiti Bible “Subway Art” (Thames & Hudson). The all-female crew Us-Girls (Sha-Rock, Lisa Lee and Debbie Dee) performs “Us Girls Can Boogie Too” in the film “Beat Street” directed by Stan Lathan. Wanda Dee, a young member of the Zulu Nation, also appears as one of the early female DJs on the wheels of steel.
The most famous answer track in Hip Hop history ever comes from 14-year old Roxanne Shanté “Roxanne’s Revenge” (Pop Art) as response to UTFO’s “Roxanne Roxanne” (Streetwave). Shanté becomes the best known female MC of the 80s with raps against sexism and misogyN.Y.. She starts using “bitch” for a strong and independent woman. Sparky D is the first Hip Hop artist to make a commercial - for Mountain Dew. K-Love from Queens brings the first female human beatbox on wax - on Bad Boys 12 inch of the same title (Starlite).
1985 Famous crew Salt-N-Pepa, discovered by Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor under the name of Super Nature, releases “The Show Stoppa (Is Stupid Fresh)” (Pop Art), an answer track to Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s “The Show”. Pebblee Poo brings with “A Fly Guy” (Proﬁle) the flyness back into the Hip Hop discourse - also an answer track to Boogie Boys’ “A Fly Girl”. The MCs Sha-Rock and Lisa Lee are rapping a freestyle classic in Dick Fontaine’s BBC documentary “Beat This: A Hip Hop History”. Fighting like Ali & Frazier, “Roxanne Shanté vs. Sparky Dee – Round 1” is the first MCbattle to be released on wax (Spin).
1986 The single release “Push It” of Salt-NPepa’s debut “Hot, Cool & Vicious” (Next Plateau) is sold one million times and fascinates not only the Hip Hop heads. As the first MC to talk about weapons, Philly’s MC Ice Cream Tee is prominently featured on “Guys Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” (Champion), the sequel to the hit “Girls Ain’t Nothing But Trouble” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince. Famous 16-year old DJ Jazzy Joyce teams up with MC Sweet Tee and drops the smashing hit single “It’s My Beat” (Proﬁle). Miami Bass MC Anquette answers 2 Live Crew’s “Throw the D” with the biting “Throw the P” (Luke Skyywalker). E-Vette Money counters L.L.Cool J’s sexist track “Dear Yvette” with “E-Vette’s Revenge” (Slice).
1987 Salt-N-Pepa obtain double platinum as the first female rap crew for their second album “A Salt With A Deadly Pepper” (Next Plateau). “B-Girls Live and Kickin’” features Sparky D, L.A. Star and 5 Star Moets on the first female rap compilation (B-Boy). 16-year old tomboy MC Lyte issues her debut 12 inch “I Cram To Understand U (Sam)” (First Priority) and starts hereby the longest career in rap history. Antoinette starts a breathtaking battle on wax over several tracks with “I Got An Attitude” (Next Plateau) against the clueless MC Lyte. The Cookie Crew gains recognition as the first UK female rap crew with their Hip Hop house track “Rok Da House” (Rhythm King) with the Beatmasters. Part of the famous Juice Crew All Stars are, besides Roxanne Shanté, the less known two female MCs Glamorous and Debbie Dee (formerly Us Girls) recording on “Evolution” (Cold Chillin’).
1988 UK’s Wee Papa Girl Rappers succeed their reggae-dancehall hit “Wee Rule” (Jive) also in the US. Most silly pop rap “Cars With The Boom” (Atlantic) comes from South Florida’s duo L’Trimm glorifying the sub-woofer culture. The single release “Grab It” is also a diss on Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It”. Finesse & Synquis are among the first to bring fashion into the rap game wearing MCM and Gucci suits on stage, also on their debut album “Soul Sister” (MCA). New Jersey’s Queen Latifah obtains a deal with Monica Lynch from Tommy Boy Records and is giving the Hip Hop heads a new dose of sister power with her majestic debut “All Hail The Queen” (Tommy Boy) one year later. Compton’s crew J.J.Fad gets platinum for their debut album “Supersonic” (Ruthless), produced by young Dr. Dre and Eazy E. The Latin MC The Real Roxanne breaks the stereotype image of a female MC with her Egyptian style on her debut album. The a-capella rap crew The Yeastie Girlz are rapping “vaginacore” lyrics with instructions for sexual satisfaction on their first seven inch “Ovary Action” (Lookout).
Icey J drops with “It Takes A Real Man” (BCM) a hard diss to Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock’s “It Takes Two”.
First lawsuit in the rapgame is initiated by the “Pump It Up” host Sista Dee Barnes accusing Dr. Dre in a $ 22.7 million case of having her assaulted at an L.A. party.
Yo-Yo founds the IBWC (Intelligent Black Woman’s Coalition) to support abused women. Also the debut album “Make Way For The Motherlode” (Elektra) of Ice Cube’s protégé is full of feminist attitude.
A new perspective on woman in rap comes from Queen Latifah and Monie Love on their feminist anthem “Ladies First” (Gee Street). First white trash rap album “Power Of A Woman” (Ruthless) comes by the later Heavy Metal singer Tairrie B, another Eazy E. protégé. The dancer Sweet L.D. and Terrible T of MC Hammer are teaming up as the duo Oaktown’s 3.5.7. and debut with “Wild & Loose” (Capitol). Ms. Melodie, short-time woman of KRSOne and member of the Boogie Down Production Crew, performs like a Diva on her debut album of the same title (Jive). London’s She Rockers (formerly with Betty Boo) develop with “Jam It Jam” and “Do Dat Dance” (Jive) a new Hip-House style on wax. The early Zulu Queen DJ Wanda Dee makes a real name for herself with the bouncy rap track “To The Bone/The Goddess” (Tuff City). Later she will be the voice of the British techno-pop group The KLF. Sista Dee Barnes becomes the host of the first TV rap show “Pump It Up” and hits as MC D-Zire of Body & Soul “Dance To The Drummer’s Beat” (Delicious ViN.Y.l) the same year.
1990 Isis, next to Queen Mother Rage member of the X-Clan and part of the Black Watch Movement, raps for the strong black women on her debut “Rebel Soul” (Island).
The feminist rap duo Bytches With Problems (BWP) make fun of men with nervous ejaculations in “Two Minute Brother” on their debut “The Bytches” (No Face). The young MC Trouble, who released her debut album “Gotta Get A Grip” (Motown) one year before, dies way too young, after an epileptic seizure at the age of 21. French MC Saliha paves the way for later MCs in France with her debut “Unique” (Virgin).
1992 Roxanne Shanté disses nearly every female MC on “Big Mama” (Livin’ Large) to copy her style, before leaving the rapgame three years later. The rap-activist Sister Souljah (also member of Public Enemy) is accused by Bill Clinton to call to kill white people on her single release “Slavery’s Still In Effect” from her debut “360 Degrees Of Power” (Epic). “Sisters In The Name Of Rap” is the first female Hip Hop concert broadcasted live on TV. It was hosted by legendary Sista Dee at the Ritz in NYC and 13 MCs had their appearance. “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” (Arista) by the young crew TLC about the female appetite of sexual satisfaction is cencored by MTV and has to change the explicit lyrics about the man’s penis into something really nonsexual.
South Bronx MC L.A.Star provides on her debut album “Poetess” (Proﬁle) a woman’s perspective on a gangsta life before that was a subject for other female MCs.
Heather B is one of the first female MCs to appear as an actor in a reality TV-series by MTV, “The Real World”.
Member of The Native Tongues Posse and most known UK female MC Monie Love drops her debut album “Down To Earth” (Cooltempo).
The German MC Cora E. drops her first raps on “Könnt’ Ihr Mich Hör’n?” and “Nur Ein Teil Der Kultur” (Buback).
Nikki D, the first female MC signed by Def Jam Records, raps about abortion from a woman’s point of view on “Daddy’s Little Girl” (Def Jam).
MC Lyte gets Gold for the single “Ruffneck” (First Priority) and is the first solo female rap artist to reach this status.
Female O.G. (Original Gangsta) Bo$$ debuts on her first album “Born Gangstaz” (Def Jam) with baggy trousers, black sun-
glases and oversized big guns. Ladybug Mecca wins a Grammy with Digable Planets for their unique smoothy jazzy rapsound of the album’s lead single “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” for best rap performance by a duo or group. The West Coast rap-duo The Conscious Daughters (TCD) rap about a gangsta thug life from a woman’s point of view on their debut “Ear To The Street” (Scarface). Oakland’s DJ Pam The Funkstress teams up with MC Raymond “Boots” Riley in the newly founded group The Coup and drop their debut “Kill My Landlord” (Wild Pitch). L.A. MC Nefertiti releases a debut asides all stereotypes: “L.I.F.E.: Living in Fear of Extinction” (Mercury). “Trouble in Paradise” is dedicated to the memory of the too young deceased MC Trouble.
N.Y.’s all-female-MC-and-DJ-collective The Anamolies is born with DJ Kuttin’ Kandi, MC Helixx C.Armageddon, Pri The Honey Dark, Invincible and Big Tara. 16-year old MC Sté Strausz from Paris appears on the soundtrack of the French cult movie “La Haine” directed by Matthieu Kassovitz. MC Sweet Tee, noted for her ‘86 hit “It’s My Beat”, releases her most successful track “What’s Up Star?” (Rush Associated Labels) under the name Suga. Le Shaun a.k.a. Almond Joy, known for her ultra sexual voice, rereleases her lyrics from the 88’s track “Wild Thang” on LL Cool J’s “Doin’ It”. It comes to trouble with LL Cool J who thwarts her appearance in the video because she is pregnant. Lin Que, formerly Isis, drops the classic single hit “Let It Fall” (East West) featuring MC Lyte.
1996 16-year old Foxy Brown gets a contract with Def Jam Records and releases “Il Na Na” with Jay-Z as her mentor.
The Hoes With Attitude (HWA) are performing in fur bikinis on their debut “Az Much Ass Azz You Want” on Eazy E’s Ruthless Records and release the vulgar “Eat This” as response to NWA’s “Don’t Bite”.
Lil’ Kim releases with the help of Notorious B.I.G. her debut “Hardcore” (Big Beat). Because of their explicit lyrics and sexual attitude the two Queen Bees are one of the most discussed women in the rap game.
Chicago’s tomboy MC Da Brat is the first female solo rapper to strike platinum for a rap album “Funkdaﬁed” (So So Def).
Washington D.C.’s Rap Diva Nonchalant demands her brothers in “5 o’Clock” (MCA) to stop drug dealing and gang banging.
First gay female MC Sha-Key debuts with “A Head Nadda’s Journey To Adidi Skizm” (Imago).
Heather B, known from MTV’s reality TV show “The Real World and affiliated to the Boogie Down Productions releases her hardcore album “Takin’ Mine” (Pendulum) with the hit single “All Glocks Down”, an anti-gun violence anthem.
With the help of producer Guru, Philly’s Underground Queen Bahamadia get signed by Chrysalis and drops her first album “Kollage” with the energetic track “3 The Hard Way” featuring K-Swift and Mecca Star. After collaborations with several artists from Death Row Records, the Lady Of Rage releases the hit single “Afro Puffs” (Death Row) as the first lady on that label.
Queen Latifah plays her most interesting role in the movie “Set It Off” directed by Gary Gray, where she’s playing Cleopatra Sims, the butch dyke in the hood.
Champ MC (later a member of Deadly Venoms) releases with “Ghetto Flava” (Atlantic) a dope portion of G-Funk.
Missy Elliott starts the most successful rap career with her first album “Supa Dupa Fly” (Elektra) and revolutionizes Hip Hop with her fresh style.
First female german-turkish rap comes from Berlin’s MC Aziza A. “Es Ist Zeit” (Orient Exress/GGM).
“No Disrespect”, the first autobiography by a female MC is published by rap-activist Sister Souljah who highlights the struggles of young black women growing up in a complex world. Her novel “The Coldest Winter Ever” follows 2000.
Kuttin’ Kandi is the first female turntablist who arrives at the finals of the American DMC national DJ championships. Lauryn Hill’s solo debut “The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill” (Ruffhouse) sells more than six million copies in the USA and wins five Grammys. First rap about lesbian love comes from Queen Pen’s single release “Girlfriend” from the LP “My Melody” (Interscope) and is followed by controversial discussions. The MCs Apani B Fly Emcee, Helixx C.Armageddon, Ayana Soyini, What? What?, Pri The Honey Dark, Yejide The Night Queen, Herooine and Lyric are rockin N.Y.’s underground hit “Estragen” with the lyrics “...to me the word MC doesn’t know no fuckin’ genders”.
1994 Queen Latifah gets a Grammy for the best solo rap performance in her powerful “U.N.I.T.Y.” (Motown) - telling females not to accept the word bitch.
Medusa, freestyle queen of L.A.’s underground drops her first EP “Do It The Way You Feel It” (Goodvibe).
Eve, first lady of Ruff Ryders debuts with “Let There Be ... Eve – Ruff Ryder’s First Lady” and hits number one. 18-year old Lady Luck gets contracted by Def Jam Records after winning the Phone-In MC battle on Hot97FM. Angie Stone, formerly known as Angie B of the Sequence crew celebrates her comeback after 20 years with her soul debut “Black Diamond” (Arista). Hip Hop jeweler Béa Anjuna opens the first European shop for handmade old school “Name Plate Rings” in Paris. The autobiography “Ladies First: Revelations Of A Strong Woman” by Queen Latifah becomes a bestseller.
2000 Rah Digga, female member of the Flipmode Squad debuts her solo “Dirty Harriet” (Elektra). Rachel Raimist features the MCs Medusa, T-Love and Leschea, DJ SymphoN.Y. and B-Girl Asia in her documentary film “Nobody Knows My Name”. “Jewels”, the first annual meeting of 3000 Hip Hop ladies, takes place in Philadelphia to redefine the role of the female Hip Hop artist.
2001 Oakland’s MC and singer Mystic releases her debut “Cuts For Luck And Scars For Freedom” (Goodvibe) and combines soulful har-
monizing and introspective lyricism with a mixture of rap, singing and spoken word.
UK Grime MCs such as Shystie, Lady Sovereign, Lady Fury, No Lay etc. are up and coming.
Missy Elliott follows in Run DMC’s footsteps by creating the Adidas fashion line “Respect M(issy) E(lliott)” and supports the non-profit organisation “Break the Cycle” against domestic violence.
German MC Pyranja drops her first solo longplayer “Wurzeln und Flügeln” on Dackel Enterprise. N.Y.’s Jean Grae, formerly known as What?What?, celebrates her debut album “Attack Of The Attacking Things” (Third Earth Music). Wu-Tang affiliated all-female crew Deadly Venoms, originally consisting of N-Tyse, J-Boo, Champ MC, Finesse (formerly of Finesse & Synquis) and Lin Que (formerly Isis), releases their third album “Still Standing” (Rocks The World) after two unreleased ones. T-Love releases the long-awaited debut “Long Way Back” (Astralwerks/Virgin), an ambitious Hip Hop album with soul-jazzy flows.
2003 MC Lyte drops her 8th album “MC Lyte Is Lytro. Da Underground Heat Vol.1” (Cortex) after less than 4 days of production. The single release “DJ” (Hostile) of female French MC Diam’s has an impact in France like never seen before. Missy Elliott’s protegé Ms. Jade drops her gangsta and very cocky rap debut “Girl Interrupted” (Interscope) and appears in her mistress’ “Funky Fresh Dressed”. Polyrhythm Addicts’ MC Apani B Fly Emcee releases her first album “Story To Tell” only in Japan. Queen Latifah, Erykah Badu, Bahamadia and Angie Stone pay tribute to the early days of the Sequence Crew in “Love Of My Life Worldwide” on Badu’s album “Worldwide Underground” (Motown). Miss M.C. presents the documentation “Queens Of Hip Hop” featuring Roxanne Shanté, Salt-N-Pepa, Finesse, Rah Digga, Charlie Baltimore, Anomolies, Deadly Venoms, Lady Luck, and others.
2005 Ladybug Mecca of Digable Planets celebrates her comeback with her solo debut “Trip The Light Fantastic” (Nu Paradigm). Lady Sovereign signs as the first nonAmerican MC a contract with Def Jam Records and releases “Public Warning”. First female Hip Hop festival “B-Girl Be: A Celebration Of Women In Hip Hop” is taking place once a year in Minneapolis and presents females from around the world. “We B*Girlz” by Nika Kramer and Martha Cooper presents the international B-Girl scene (A Miss Rosen Edition). First issue of female Hip Hop magazine “Anattitude” is released. All-female-graff E-Zine “Catfight” by dutch FLady drops four issues per year. The documentary film “On S’Accroche A Nos Rêves” by Keira Maameri features the French ladies MC Princess Aniès, DJ Pom, graffiti writer Lady Alezia and dancer Magali.
2006 Bahamadia’s expected third album “Good Rap Music” (Jam Music) is out after a 6 year break. Georgia Anne Muldrow is the first lady signed by famous Stones Throw Records with “Olesi: Fragments of an Earth” a mixture of Soul, Free-Jazz and Hip Hop. Casey, the French hardcore MC drops with “Tragédie D’une Trajectoire” (Dooeen Damage) a debut album full of androgynous attitude and political awareness. Missy Elliott gets her 5th Grammy for the video “Lose Control”.
2004 Martha Cooper’s early days of Hip Hop documentation (1979-1984) is collected in the book “Hip Hop Files” (MZEE).
2007 Photographer Janette Beckman publishes her legendary early Hip Hop photographs
MC Lyte “Lyte As A Rock” (First Priority) 1988 (page 72) J.J.Fad “Supersonic” (Dream Team) 12” 1987 (page 76/77) Roxanne Shanté “Have A Nice Day” (Cold Chillin’) 12” 1987 (page 79)
in “The Breaks – Stylin’ and Profilin’ 19821990” (powerHouse Books). “Hip Hop is my life, it’s just like a marriage...” raps Lin Que, a.k.a. Isis from XClan in her full-length album comeback “Godspeed” (UniVerseWorks). The Electro Band The Go! Team samples on “Grip Like A Vice” legendary freestyle rhymes of old school MCs Lisa Lee and Sha-Rock from ’84 BBC documentary “Beat This: A Hip-Hop History”. Sherrie Sher, the former MC of the Mercedes Ladies talks about the early days of the first all-female-MC-and-DJ-crew ever in her novel “Mercedes Ladies” (Vibe Books).
2008 VH-1 starts the American reality TVseries “Ego Trip’s Miss Rap Supreme”, co-hosted by female rap pioneer Yo-Yo to search the next great female MC. Anomolies’ MC Invincible drops the longawaited full length LP “Shape Shifters” on her own label Emergence and is active to promote a progressive social change. Martha Cooper drops another graffiti Bible “Tag Town” (Dokument Förlag) with photos of the early days of tags. 2008 is declared “Year Of The Hip Hop Women” to be celebrated around the world. First European female Hip Hop festival “We B*Girlz” takes place in Berlin.
© Jeannette Petri 2008
“HIP HOP LADIES WITH ATTITUDE” ORGANIZED BY CATFIGHT & ANATTITUDE MAGAZINE AND WE B*GIRLZ PRESENTS THE RICH AND PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED HISTORY OF FEMALE HIP HOP IN GENERAL AND FEMALE GRAFFITI IN PARTICULAR TO THE PUBLIC. TOGETHER WITH THE PRESENTATION OF HIP HOP TIMELINES AND PORTRAITS OF OUTSTANDING GRAFFITI WOMEN, THE VISITOR WILL BE ABLE TO CHECK OUR SELECTION OF FEMALE HIP HOP VIDEOS AND TRACKS YOU LOVE AND YOU HAVE NEVER HEARD OF. OUR LARGE “WOMEN IN HIP HOP” LIBRARY GIVES YOU THE CHANCE TO BOOST YOUR HIP HOP KNOWLEDGE BY EXPLORING THE HISTORY AND THEORY OF FEMALES IN THE SCENE. “HIP HOP LADIES WITH ATTITUDE” PROMOTES GREAT ROLE MODELS FOR YOUNG GIRLS AND BOYS AND BRINGS FRESH INSPIRATION FOR CREATIVE MINDS. IT PRESENTS EXISTING INFLUENCES AND KNOWLEDGE IN FEMALE HIP HOP AND WILL CONNECT ACTIVISTS TO BUILD BETTER NETWORKS. WWW.HIPHOP-LADIES-WITH-ATTITUDE.COM
A NATTIT UDE MAGAZINE HIP HOP IS WHAT YOU CAME TO REPRESENT.
illustrations by F.Lady
SIXEART "Retrato de familia al marchar el padre cazado" 150 x 150 cm - mixed media on canvas - 2007
G A LLE RY w w w.alicebxl.com
Published on Sep 3, 2008
Brandnew issue of Europe’s only female HipHop magazine celebrating the ladies from back in the days. Featuring interviews with Janette Beckm...