There are those who might take me to task for this, who’ll say that this memory fulfills no portion of my self-imposed litmus test. Erykah Badu isn’t “Atlanta,” especially not O.S.A.M.y, old school. She ain’t a female rapper either. For the purposes of exposition, I’ma claim her as both anyway. Why? Because:
1.) I’ve always wondered if she woulda stayed ‘Apples’ the rapper had she not had to coo (and mumble) her lyrics to get some playing time in the game (and chivalry from all them big ol’ balls).
2.) If ya baby got a granny in the A, close enough. You got cherished “A”lien spawn so you’re eligible for citizenship papers, a work VISA by association if you have a unique skill to offer the masses. ‘Nuff said.
3.) Save for Diamond and Princess, it ain’t hardly no female rappers FROM Atlanta – new, old, private or any other school. Left Eye was Phillyfied and heavily influenced by that; DaBrat is Chicago all day. Umma love and claim them both as sistas in the struggle in life and death, freedom or…otherwise, but both are VIA Atlanta. I can’t seem to find anyone of their caliber who is from or of Atlanta.
**In the KRS1 voice I ask, why is that?**
This is an open, Sandman-esque challenge to my fellow ATLiens. I’m not saying you can’t do it, but I’m admitting that I can’t and I been in this ‘burg since ’77. The groundbreaking duo Silk Tymes Leather notwithstanding (Gotcha! What?), find me one female rapper who is from Atlanta, was in Atlanta when female rappers started banging, like Cheryl-‘n-Sandy-Super-Nature-ly, Safari Sisters era banging that anybody outside of your senior class remembers. I’m serious. Mind you, Diamond and Princess weren’t even born then so you gots lots of time and space to search. If you find this phenomenal woman, let her know that I want to feature her this month because she appears to be history – in all senses of the word.
“The Woman in Me” ~ Silk x Leather
I had a friend back in middle school who told me that rap was just not an Atlanta Lady-like thing to do. With the buying power of African-American females estimated at $403 billion per year in 2005 and a record business sinking lower than Middle Earth’s Hades, don’t it seem like somebody would finally want to figure out a way to put out quality and respectful hip hop that doesn’t pander but appeals to the ears and wallets of those doing the ‘Single Lady’ dance at the club and/or the Electric/Cha Cha Slide/Cupid Shuffle at the boule’?
Music journalist extraordinaire Sonia Murray appeared to very sincerely ask a similar question in an Atlanta Journal Constitution blog a few months back that originally started out as a forum to discuss VH1’s Miss Rap Supreme. Umma let you see if you can find that conversation on the AJC’s site. Look on Vh1’s, too. This ain’t just an old school Atlanta phenomenon and it appears to be spreading. Umma let you see if you can find the nominees in the Female Rap Performance Grammy category this year. Google it. Ga’head. I’ll wait.
I got a peeve I’m petting and Women’s History Month is just as good a time as any to set it off. Everybody deserves a chance to speak their peace/piece, so I refuse to judge the speakers. See, I was raised to believe life and death is in the tongue, so if you speak it, you will reap it. The choice is yours. But, I’m tired of justifying the lyrics with the beat. I’m tired of women going to the party and dancing to stuff they feel is demeaning or out of touch. I’m tired of boycotts. I’m tired of having to play the Hidden Beach version of everything (which I love, btw) just because the kids are in the room and the jazzy horns appeal to the more……effeminate(?).
My thing is, if you don’t like the situation, make the marketplace (and there is still one of those) change it and meet you where you are. Just as many well-known male artists are as tired of hip-hop right now as I am (We’ll miss you, B.O.B.). Could that be because ain’t nobody but the men gettin half’a shine? Eating meat all day, everyday, without the potatoes is boring, no matter the grade of the steak. Yet and still, I admittedly remain carnivorous and part of the problem. I’d much rather prefer to be part of a solution.
So, let’s see if we can work this bee out of my Braves cap. Here we are at the beginning of the end and we’re all feelin’ it in the wind. Maybe Diamond and Princess will reunite as a duo, realizing that if you have any skills and connects at all, right now, it’s best to put the other stuff aside to pay them bills. And finally, according to NARAS, none have swagger like M.I.A. Except Ms. Badu. And Mars.
Mars of the beautiful skin. Who woulda thunk she’da Tweeted her way onto this planet at this juncture to do……..Mars. I am assured that she will do no less than herself in this lifetime, be neither swayed nor persuaded by nothing but her world and worldview. Maybe she and Puma will be the E(rykah) & J(oi) or the Salt ‘n Pepa of their generation? It’s in the genes. Both girls; both sides. Maybe one day it’ll be my lil cousin Kweli, only days younger than Miss Mars, fondly reminiscing on the first time she saw this groundbreaking sista/sister act in concert and by then female rappers will finally, finally be ok. Or maybe, just maybe, these stimulused chicas will grow up to be pediatricians or astronauts or financial analysts or presidents or something yet discovered totin’ $806 billion collectively in their Birkin and vintage bucket bags. All of ’em’ll be slidin’ and shufflin’, single ladies looking to put a ring on it (or not) right alongside them married ladies who got their own.
Meanwhile, Rashan Ali’ll be bumping female rappers (by then an extinct breed) at their old school parties like Youngblood now does Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.
HAPPY WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH!!!!! 🙂
“You shake that load off and sang ya song, liberate them minds, then you go on home.” – Erykah Badu from “Liberation”
**O.S.A.M. is a weekly feature on StraightFromTheA.com. We will be turning back the clock each Friday to reminisce about Old School ATL. Hit us up at [email protected] to share your favorite Old School Atlanta Memory. **