Where are the female emcees? The omission of women from the nominees at this year’s VH1 Hip Hop Honors and the BET Hip Hop Awards has the media buzzing, but hip-hop fans know that this problem goes way back. The Grammys haven’t even had a Best Female Rap Solo category since 2005 — they claim that not enough women were submitted for consideration.
Enter FEM (Females Earning Money), the brainstorm of radio personality Ed Lover and artist manager Uneek. FEM answers the “whatever happened to …” question a few times and unites Babs Bunny, Lady Luck, Amil and The Lady of Rage in a kind of hip-hop supergroup, the likes of which we haven’t seen for a while. Seriously, when is the last time you remember hearing about a new all-women rap group? The only example I can think of in recent history is Yo Majesty, and before that I need to time-warp back to the ’80s. Seriously.
FEM are currently at work on a mix tape, which, according to Babs Bunny, will also feature MC Lyte, Rece Steele, Bahamadia, Mia X, Rah Digga and Diamond from Crime Mob. Quite the lineup! About the project, Babs says:
We respect all female MCs, but our main objective is to have females who have been in the game that have experienced it. That’s why we won’t go through too much catty stuff. We’ve been there, done that. … FEM, the movement, is trying to make change. We’re trying to inspire women. We are not just looking for rappers. We’re looking for vocal singers, females that make beats, female lawyers, female stylists, ’cause every artist needs a team. We’re not trying to bash men, but we need dudes to support us and not control us.
How can you argue with that? Well, sadly and unsurprisingly, there’s been some hate on the internet that ranges from “They’re all washed-up” to appalling, unabashed misogyny. The latter is, pathetically, par for the course for women in the music industry, period. Come on, you’re really not interested in what the Lady of Rage has been up to since Death Row collapsed around her?
I like that FEM focuses on established, long-term female artists rather than a quartet of cute, young, inexperienced starlets (nothing against starlets, there should be room for all!). I’m curious to hear the mix tape and am hoping that this will be the start of something turning around rather than a momentary aberration. Even more awesome news? Babs says, “The whole album is set around the theme of [the movie] Set It Off.”
That’s just exciting.
What do you think of this project? Who in FEM are you most psyched to hear from again? And — very important — what all-female rap groups from the ’90s and ’00s am I blanking on?