A New Netflix Docuseries Takes on the Unsung Legacy of Women in Hip-Hop

After a screening of the series at MVAAFF, in an on-stage conversation with fellow executive producer MC Lyte, writer/filmmaker (and fellow Detroit girl) dream hampton said that while she felt like she’d grown up since becoming a fan of the genre, hip-hop had not. I later ask hampton to expand on that. “I think the perpetual juvenile state of being is encouraged in hip-hop, particularly amongst men,” she says. “I’ve seen people mature in hip-hop, but that usually means doing something other than the music.” Women, on the other hand, have tended to do the reverse—just see Cardi B, who went from fighting on MTV’s Love & Hip-Hop to enjoying a thriving music career and speaking out on political issues. “It was amazing to see Cardi talking about the price of groceries or engaging with Bernie Sanders,” hampton says. “Also, the way she stood up for Meg.” In 2022, Cardi threw her support behind Megan Thee Stallion after she was shot by Tory Lanez, standing up for her when many called Megan a liar.

If you ask some people, sisterhood isn’t always the number-one priority between female rappers. Beefs between women in the genre have been legendary—from Kim and Foxy to Nicki and Cardi and even MC Lyte and Antoinette. I wondered, though, if they were all real, or actually created (or agitated) by folks—specifically men—in the background. Lyte has an answer for me. “Oh yeah! It’s the men. They want to create that. Every beef that existed that I knew about seemed to be a bit generated by [and for] the excitement of men.”

Perhaps more common—if somewhat less publicized—are displays of solidarity between rappers. In Episode 4 of the series, Latto talks about how she rejected a feature from a male rapper that wanted to sleep with her in exchange, a revelation that led Trina and other female rappers to share similar stories. Many songs and stories offer further proof of that solidarity: The “I Wanna Be Down Remix” in 1995, featuring Queen Latifah, Yo-Yo, and Lyte; the iconic “Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix)” from 1997, with Lil’ Kim, Da Brat, Missy Elliott, Angie Martinez and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes; and, skipping ahead, 2019’s “Bitch from da Souf (Remix),” from Latto, Saweetie, and Trina, and—of course—“WAP,” released the following year.

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