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The Best to Have Done it. Ever

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Who's the fairest of them all? Baddest, thickest, wickedest drawl? We give you the skinny on who wetted it the best. But first we have to get this out of the way: No, MC Lyte is not the best that ever did it. Sorry.

"Now you see that I am 68 inches above sea level; 93 million miles above these devils play me in the winter, play in the summer, play me in any order ..." and with that, the anthemic "9th Wonder" (on the "Blowout Comb" LP) was certified immortal. And she's still cool like that. She being Mary Ann Vieira aka LadyBug Mecca,formerly of the hip-hop/jazz trio Digable Planets. LadyBug has come a long way since her days in DP and opening for Sade but the woman is still deadly with a mic. To combine the beauty, sophistication, refreshing voice, conscious lyrics that she does gets her on this list, regardless of what she's doing right now.

Say what you can about the violent message, the gritty profanity, Lady of Rage was the roughest of battle-ryhmers for the now defunct Death Row Records. Although her star shone for only a second, producing one softly received album, she'll be forever known as the only female emcee featured on arguably the dopest hip-hop album of all time, Dr. Dre's "The Chronic." (see, "Lyrical Gangbang")

Eve, the self-proclaimed "Bulldog in a skirt" (Not to be confused with Sarah Palin's Bulldog in lipstick) was - in her initial manifestation - the Kobe Bryant of female emcees: Young, tenacious and rolling with a helluva team, the Rough Riders. Her bravado was one of symbols: the curled lip, bleached hair, and tatted tatas were unmistakable across the world. She had a posse that would make a New York hip-hop head cream: DMX, Drag-on, and the musical maestro, Swizz Beatz. Her lyrical content was elementary but her persona was bigger than the stage. Need proof? Name another female rapper with her own primetime sitcom? She's in on GP.

When it comes to monotone flow with rhymes schemes that border on spectacular, Bahamadia has to be mentioned. The masculine posturing, high cheekbones and gap teeth make Antonia Reed (her birthname) a hip-hop icon of the gritty persuasion, but girl can rap: Conscious as they come, quick and rapid-fire with the lyrics, Bahamadia has to be in every top 5.

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention Jean Grae, the sickest vocabulary we've ever heard. She's the unsigned hype that's signed but still unhyped.

Music and dancing go together like Obama and Biden, Cheech and Chong. Missy Elliott is synonomous with party music: Her specialty is the uptempo joint. Since parting ways with her musical backbone, superproducer Timbaland, she's lost a step, but Missy back a few years ago was the fiercest party rocka out there. Still she is to videos what Michael Jackson was to videos in the 1980s, only with top-notch hip-hop choreography. Her rap skills are not as tight as they used to be, but she has expanded her focus to visual as well as audio strategies, and it's shown.

"I go below solo like, lady-like on the mic, psyke is where I when my battles you? I'll handle you like a baby with a rattle..." And just like that Salt and Pepa's "Take Yo Man" stormed the NYC airways in the early 1980s. The girls were well put together and featured exceptional flow that still ranks high-calibur more than 20 years later. Salt and Pepa are, without peers in the industry, as far as duos. They are the RUN-DMC of female rap duos and on untouchable status.

There are a few notable others, known largely not for their lyrics as much as for their propensity to take off their clothes. The high notes remain though, Foxy "Inga Marchland" Brown propelled Jay-Z's first hit record with the classic "Aint No Ni&&". Rah Digga's finest moment may have been guest-starring on the "Whoa" remix with Black Rob and a baseball team of other rappers. Lil Kim is more known for the company she kept (Biggie, Sean Combs, rival to Faith Evans) or going to jail than she is for any music she's put out; And Trina? Get serious.

There are a whole stable of female emcees that never even got the light of day. The honorable mentions will be short but recognizable all the same: Da Brat, one of the few female rappers to have a hit record; Shawnna from Ludacris' DTP; Jackie O (Okay, I don't know why I included her.).

The GOAT: Surely you've heard the ever-debatable theory of the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object? Queen Latifah has the qualities of both: Rapper/actress/singer/jazz artist extraordinaire. Dana Owens has been working it for more than 15 years, and we feel like she's only midstream. She's the biggest female rapper alive. Period. Like Will Smith, never has a rapper translated energies like Queen Latifah has.


Kitty said...

Hey thanks for visiting Y&R. Love your site! Great list. McLyte was one of my favs back in the day too. And Salt n Pepa.

November 14, 2008 at 11:25 AM

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