Tonight when I sat down to write this post, I was feeling particularly bummed about a bad haircut. I really was not in the mood to do anything but I began to think about women and what is important to them. Female rappers in the 1980's overcame a whole lot more than tragic hair cuts and dealt with not only their own problems, but society's problems through their work.
When I think about the 80's and the new styles that poetry embraced, it is easy think of hip hop and to associate it with groups like NWA and Public enemy. It is easy to forget that women, such as Queen Latifah and Salt-N- Pepa were making a name for themselves in the world of rap.
Queen Latifah was born Dana Owens on March 17, 1970 in Newark New Jersey. Latifah loved rap and was inspired to form a group with two of her friends called Ladies Fresh. This was Latifah'f first experience getting her music heard and by the time she graduated high school, her first two singles had sold over 40,000 copies. In 1989 Latifah released her first album, All Hail the Queen which sold over 1 million copies. She was influenced by many political and social issues such as apartheid, women's rights, and poverty. In 1993, Queen Latifah was influenced more by her personal life when she released her first Motown album Black Reign. This album was greatly influenced by the 1992 death of her brother, who lost his life in a motor cycle accident. Since then Latifah has released several other albums and branched out into almost every area imaginable. She is a rapper, actress, cover girl, and successful business woman. Watch Queen Latifa's music video for U.N.I.T.Y.here.
Salt-N-Pepa are pretty much badasses because they were the first all female rap crew, and like Queen Latifah, they broke into hip hop, making it easier for women in the future to do the same. Cheryl "salt" James and Sandy "Pepa" Denton found their first rap success when Salt's boyfriend Hurby Azor asked them to rap on a song that he was producing for a music class. This song evolved into an underground hit, rising to number 46 on the R&B charts. Their success elevated from there; (who says love and business dont mix). Many of their early songs were moderate hits, however once they teamed up with a rapper and DJ named Spindarella their music took off. The group eventually split from Azor, who had broken up with Salt years before. Like many poets, Salt & Pepa's style evolved and matured over time.