Becoming Isis Tha Saviour: Hip-Hop And Giving Birth In Prison : Louder Than A Riot Hip-hop loves a hero's come-up, but the culture often has a hard time seeing women as heroes. Two years ago, when Louder Than A Riot editor Chiquita Paschal discovered she had a sister — who rapped — she quickly saw how that double standard can take shape. Chiquita's sister is Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter, aka Philly rapper Isis Tha Saviour. In this episode, Chiquita takes us on Mary's hero's journey — from her time as a ward of the state to finding her voice in rap. And together, they delve into incarceration's ripple effects on families like theirs, and how hip-hop can help transform trauma into freedom.

'Prison To Prison Pipeline': Isis Tha Saviour

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Isis Tha Saviour. Dale Edwin Murray for NPR hide caption

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Dale Edwin Murray for NPR

Isis Tha Saviour.

Dale Edwin Murray for NPR

Hip-hop loves a hero's come-up — those stories of underdogs who make it to the top. But the culture tends to have a hard time seeing women as heroes, often diluting them into tropes instead: sex symbol, sister, mother.

Two years ago, when Louder Than A Riot editor Chiquita Paschal discovered she had a sister — who rapped — she quickly saw what it takes to push back against those stereotypes. Chiquita's sister, Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter, is Philly rapper Isis Tha Saviour, an identity born out of the need to save herself.

At age 11, Mary had to make the impossible choice to either remain in the custody of her mother who has schizophrenia or become a ward of the state. She chose the latter, and was shuffled from institution to institution: group homes, hospitals, behavioral programs and, eventually, a prison stint. Mary had to look for solace in places other than home. She found it in friends, music and the mythology of the goddess Isis.

In this episode, Chiquita takes us on Mary's hero's journey. And together, they delve into incarceration's ripple effects on families like theirs, and how the art of hip-hop can help transform trauma into freedom.

To follow along with the music in this episode, check out the Louder Than A Riot playlists on Apple Music & Spotify. We'll update them every week.

To connect with us, follow the show on Twitter @LouderThanARiot, or send us an email at louder@npr.org.