In a genre that essentially invented the video vixen, it's no secret that hip hop has long been a been a massive boys' club. While we're not quite in the era of female MC dominance just yet, the tides have surely and steadily been shifting, and slew of big names have made massive impacts over the decades. From Lady B way back in 1979 to current international chart topper Iggy Azalea, women have been busting through the hip hop glass ceiling since the genre's inception. But is there a "girls' club" brewing to challenge the status quo? Oxygen's new series Sisterhood of Hip Hop documents just that, with women who are steadily shaping the scene together.
The documentary series is part of Oxygen's new mission to attract a younger 20-something audience, which incudes a slate of new shows designed to do just that, including nail art competition Nail'd It and Fix My Choir with Michelle Williams. I'm excited to see the cast work through their careers and relationships, but as previously reported by Bustle, the talent behind the camera is sorely lacking female figures, as are the slew of mentors slated for the program (though Eve is reported to make an appearance).
Regardless, the cast of women they've collected are pretty inspiring and I can't wait to see them take on the hip hop world.
Brianna Perry positions herself as a baby Jay Z and deserves credit for going off-gender norms and choosing Hova as her inspiration instead of Queen Bey. Having said that, Beyonce sure does love Perry, even featuring the newbie on her website. Although, she isn't exactly a newbie. Perry debuted as Lil Brianna under the mentorship of Missy Elliott. As reported by the Miami Herald, the young starlet faced a challenge since young male artists like Lil Romeo could easily attract preteen female fans, whereas there really isn't a demand like that for a young female rapper in the teen idol market. Perry seems confident she can change all that and I'm hoping her mentor Elliott will stop by the show.
"Never dim your life for anyone" is how Diamond starts her intro. The artist is intimately tied to the industry both in and out of the studio: she reveals in her "Meet Diamond" interview that she dated Soulja Boy, and is a teenage veteran of rap group Crime Mob. She's also a two-time BET Award nominee, making her perhaps one of the more successful cast members on deck.
Siya is my hands down favorite. Eschewing Nicki Minaj glamour for hard street energy, this rapper has come out as a lesbian and is unapologetically honest, which is a recipe for great art. She also has some of the best insights on being a woman in hip hop, and making a name for yourself outside of being a booty shaking video prop (not that there is anything wrong with some sweet dances moves, of course). Siya already has some classic hip hop beef under her belt, taking the self-titled White Girl Mob ("Gucci Gucci" artist Kreayshawn is the most visible member) to task for liberal use of the n-word. Between disrupting the Brooklyn scene and being a crusader for an evolving rap community, she's clearly the one to watch, but don't call her a token. Siya says it best in her sit-down intro with Oxygen: "it just so happens I'm gay, but I'm also a dope rapper."
Former English majors, Nyemiah Supreme will make your heart sing. Her approach to rhymes is quite classic, focusing on the art of tight simile and metaphor over shallow swagger. In her "Meet Nyemiah" video on the Oxygen site, the rapper says she got her start by actively studying guys around her in high school who were into hip hop and trying to craft her own rhymes in the same vein by demystifying the structure of their verses. The Jamaica, Queens native started out as a background dancer for artists like Lil Mama so her story is definitely one of a background artist thrust into the spotlight. Nyemiah later interned in the music industry and caught her big break in 2012, when a meeting with Timbaland resulted in her improvising some verses on the spot and ultimately inspiring the producer to invest in her career.
Bia definitely has the most "do or die" attitude of the whole cast. The Pharell protege is a survivor of a serious motorcycle accident, which is what she credits her tenacity to. The Miami artist's relationship with Pharrell has further allowed her to work and land placements with the likes of T.I. and Usher, and she pays seeming tribute to her mentor on her Twitter page by listing her location as "Planet Neptune" (a clear nod to Pharell's production duo The Neptunes).