A Female Rapper Sends a Shout-Out to Women in Hip Hop

For this week's staff song pick, Taylor-Brittany Ford chose MC, by up-and-coming female rapper Sirah. Taylor explains why, in the aftermath of Imus, she just can't get MC's call to female rappers and deejays out of her head.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

Today our staff song pick of the week comes from NEWS & NOTES director, Taylor-Brittany Ford.

TAYLOR-BRITTANY FORD: So we're supposed to be talking about the song that's in our heads right now. And for the last week I can't stop playing this one. It's got an intro on it, so I'll come back after the beat drops and all that.

(Soundbite of song, "MC")

FORD: Her name is Sirah and the song is called "MC." According to her MySpace page, Sirah lives in Los Angeles right now, but she was raised in New York, which explains the accent. She started battle rapping at the age of 13 and is currently working on her first album.

The thing is, beyond MySpace, I don't know much info about Sirah. When I search her name, I get multiple listings for Sirah, the type of red wine, but not Sirah the MC. So at this point you know about as much as I do about this hip-hop artist.

(Soundbite of song, "MC")

FORD: Granted, it's not an earth-shattering track and it may be because I'm just plain hungry to hear any female MC out there that can bang out a halfway decent rhyme. Sure, there's MC Lyte, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliot, M.I.A., Roxanne Shante, Queen Latifah and others, but when I want to hear a lady rap, my selection to choose from remains pretty slim. And it hasn't seemed to get any better.

Back in 1999, Lauryn Hill garnered five Grammys for her skills. That was eight years ago. And it seems to have been the peak of accomplishment for female rap artists. There actually seem to be fewer now than there were 10 years ago. But MC Lyte said in 2004 that there are a lot of female rappers out there. We just don't hear them because they don't have record deals. Instead, listeners like me have to seek them out in coffee shops, in the small clubs or on Internet sites like MySpace. And that's how I found Sirah. I found her through the MySpace page of a local DJ, this guy named DJ Hoppa whose album I had picked up at a local hip-hop show. Her voice grabbed me instantly.

(Soundbite of song, "MC")

FORD: So rappers like Sirah are scraping the change together to put out their own albums. Sirah's voice is strong and she rhymes with confidence. I think her style shows promise. I look forward to seeing what she comes up with for her first album and beyond. You know, this whole conversation really makes me wonder when I'm going to hear the next Lil' Kim or M.I.A.

Who's going to be the next female MC to garner international acclaim? Because -don't get me wrong - I'm all for supporting your local hip-hop artist, but I can't wait to see the next talented female rapper hit it big. Until then, to all the female MCs and DJs out there, keep it up. I hear you, or at least I'm trying really hard.

CHIDEYA: That was NEWS & NOTES director Taylor-Brittany Ford with her song pick of the week, "MC," by the up-and-coming female rapper Sirah.

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