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America, Ass, and Bad: Music CONFESSIONS TUMBLRCOM IP-HOP HOORAY ee q eers of the music world celebrate their rise to the top of the charts -and ther newfound industry power By dames Patrick Herman. Photographed by Elig-FEs TUMBLR.COM s Lauryn Hills Grammy sweep last February proved, America is, offi. cially, a hip-hop nation. And after two decades under male leadership, women now rule. Just ask rap kingpin Sean "Puffy" Combs "Female MCs always had it so hard-no respect-it was like thcy was livin' in Siberia, he says. "But it made 'em strong. Now their shit's so hot, they dont needa mike to be heard." In fact, soon every one will be hearing the new albums from hip-hop queens Mary J. Blige, Aaliyah, Lil' Kim, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, and Da Brat, all friends as well as frequent collaborators. They're even making plans to take their act-The Bitch Tour-on the road with a funky twist on Lilith Fair, coming to a sold-out stadium near you. But dont call them divas (except perhaps for Ms. Blige, who cited personal drama at the last minute and was unable to attend the photo shoot). Mary J. Blige, 28. Claim to fame: The queen of hip-hop soul. There's something about Mary: "Hip-hop plays a big part in my music. I've always been sample-orient ed-Barry White, Isaac Hayes. The strcets is gonna be happy with my record. You'll cry to it, dance to it, fuck to it. I've done a lot of love songs. Most of'em are about how fucked up women are treated. It's good to know my music helps people. Im goin' through it, too-the same tears, the same black eye, the same stomachachc and I'm gonna get us through it. I'm at such a place now, such a peace, I cannot be knocked down. Im Mary the lone woman. Mmm-hmmm," What becomes a diva most: "Someone who got through tough times and paid dues, like Tina Turner and Aretha Franklin. Good God, those were war storics they had to tell. Men wanted to rule them and treat them like shit, and they got through it." The Mary Jane girls: "People expect us to be com- petitive, but I didn't give Lauryn Hill her career-that was somethin' she worked for. And she didn't give me my career. Why should I think about competition if she got somethin' she could contribute to my project? I cannot be jealous. It's wasted energy. Ijust did a duet with the Queen of Soul herself, Miss Aretha Franklin I keep quiet when the veterans are in the room-and honey, she is a veteran. When I came out of the booth, she said, 'That was very nice.' And then she went in Power players (from eft): Aaliyah, Lil Kim, Missy Misdemeanor" Ellot and Da Brat. Not pictured the booth and killed me. FOR CAADEY CURRY MANAGEMENT MAKEUP BY NONKA FOR TE CEBCRAHMARTIN AGENCY. MSSY VAR DyCH NA POTTER FOR a NAS 00LL HOUSE NY, MAKEUP UY CF0G FER ELL 8RAT l-Kim-CONFESSIONS TUMBLR.COM aliyah, 20. Claim to fame: The R&B Lolita is now filming Joel Silvers Romeo Must Die for Warner Bros. Ready for her close-up: I want people to look at me as a full-on entertainer, not just as a singer or a dancer. It's taking my career to another level and showing every side of me." Foxy lady: "My mom will say, 'There is some- thing about her that was always sexy.' My image isnt a put-on. When you listen to me and hear the smooth tones--that's what I'm givin' off. As a child, I didn't notice. Now Im in tune with it. It can definitely be a power, and I use it to my advantage." Fierce competition: "People try to bring negativity my way, especially with Brandy and Monica. If Im competing with anybody, I'm competing with myselfto be original." What becomes a diva most: "Oh, that word. The Websters definition is an opera singer who has a lot of range, but that's changed over time. Now a diva is a bitch. Were not all bitchy. Its just a myth thatš not goin' anywhere. If you're gonna describe somebody, call her a queen.I shows respect.Is royaly." issy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, 27. Claim to fame: record business is male-dominated, and when yo're not bein' The female Pufly" runs her own record label, taken as seriously as you should, you gotta go in there screamin the Gold Mind, Inc; she rapped for a Gap TV because they'll walk all over you. And the word can be positive: ad campaign. Talkin' bout a revolution: "Fe IfIbe like, 'Thats a baaad bitch,' you know that means dope. males are takin' over. We droppin' our albums We gotta stop thinkin of it as bein' negative, 'cause it's gonna at the same time to make that point clear, so when we do our be used regardless. Men call us that when they're intimidated. Bitch Tour itll be obvious. It took a strong female like Lauryn Female bonding: "Instcad of compcting, we help out and en to be successful and open doors. Now everybody else can fall in hance cach other. When I see another female artist, we always line." Bitch, bitch, bitch: "My first single's called Shes a Bitch.' show cach other love-we just so happy that we broke that bar- That doesn't have to be your everyday personality. But the rier down of us not ein' able to do as much as the men." lKimCONFESSIONS. TUMBLR.COM 0 Music a Brat, 25. Claim to fame: Runs her own record label, Thowin' Tantrums Entertainment; she is the first female rapper to have a platinum record. She's the one: "Before me, people didnt know how to market a female rap artist. I laid the path in the way Queen Latifah and MC Lyte did for me. But you need to grow in this industry. I want to produce, act, and direct -get my hands in every thing. I got an cye and an car for good talent." Birds of a feather: "My friends all stick together. There's only a handful of us women in the industry with labels-theres not enough of us to be bickerin'. We're like the dream team. Its all about unity, havin' a strong support system. Were mature adults and we know the value of friendship. Nothin' should come between two friends- friends are forever, men aint." To each her own: "I got the tomboy thing goini on, and I can still be sexy. Missy's futuristic you dont know what she's gonna do next. Kim is like the madam-diva type-raunchy and nasty. Shell shoot your ass. Mary's sultry and spiritual and soulful, the ghetto queen of R&B Aaliyahs funky, she represents the teenagers. Shell make you party with her. We all are supa dupa fresh, and we gotta hold hands and rock together." il' Kim, 24. Claim to fame: The girlfriend of the late Notus B.I.G. runs her own label, Queen Bee Records. She's come a long way, baby: "Im really proud of my CONFESSIONS TUMBLRICOM new album. My favorite lyrics 'A queen is not a queen because she has failed/ But a queen is a queen because failure has not stopped her..../ Women are taking over for the new millen nium.' Like Puffy said, we dont need a mike anymore. We bein' heard. Its our era." What becomes a diva most: People love to use the word diva. I like queen better. A queen knows it all but doesnt let you know it right off. She's good-spirited and righteous. She's the boss: "With Queen Bee, I call the shots. I want my label to be the female version of Bad Boy. Me and Puffy may be family, but at the end of the day, I'm gonna do what I have to do. I'm also working on Bad Girl Films- ever since I did Sheš AllThat, Miramax has been offering me lots of things." In the company of women: "Were all characters. Brats the southern street girl who needs to be wild. Aaliyah's the pretty-girl type, the sexy artist that's un- touchable. Missy's like a cartoon and you love to watch her, shes so cute. Mary, you love to watch for her rength. Mary's the girl you can identify with. And me, Im like a little Mary. Lauryn's getting what she deserves. Her success made me work harder. Now we all know a hip-hop woman can make it."O ki- CONFESSIONS TUMBLR COM thabeehive-deactivated20160215: lil’ kim, aaliyah, missy elliott, da brat photographed by elfie semotan for the august 1999 issue of elle magazine.
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Bad, Kelis, and Life: it, helping her disovery lay a foundation for his fledgling career The respected and in- demand artst discovered Carter singing for money on the streets of Ne York Citys Greenwich Village and signed him, then took him to the studio to work with producers Timbaland, Nokio, Bink Dog, the Flavahood team, and Gerald issac. In the studio herself work ing on her own project, Missy plans an album release later this year...Back with their master- piece, female supergroup En Vogue has a new album, Masterpiece Theatre, a 13-song work which saw them joining forces once again with the producing duo, Denzil Foster and Thomas McElroy, who helped put them on the map. Still appreciated by fans for the sophistication and glamour they brought back to female R&8 groups, En Vogue is the quintessential girl group. one of the foundations upon which rhythm 'n blues was built. WHO'S NOT showing than whats been reflected by the sales of her second album, Fear Of Flying. Not that she doein't have fans, but her skills are lacking and need serious work..Out of the gate with a bang, newcomer Kelis attracted attention with her anthemic first single, but the rest of her albun, Kleidoscope, failed to measure up. Shes gt a nice marketable look and sound. however, so there's lots to salvage for the next time around..We'll make it short and sweet. What happened to Keisha, Kima, and Pam? Once the strongest group on the Bad Boy Entertainment's roster, these three ladies exuded, street atti tude mixed with smoldering urban sex appeal, Dust 'em off, and bring 'em on back, we say! MARY J. BLIGE DA BRAT 14 WORD UP! BYJAN PETERS WHO'S HOT rhaps more than any other female rapper, Lil Kim has come to define today's hip-hop generation brash, irreverent, outspoken, vulnerable, and real. Hot since Hard Core, L Kim has upped the ante on her populatity by making strategik career moves which have kept her in demand and in the publics eye through a succession of image-making makeovers and bicoastal appearances in person and on wax. Kim's cur rent album, The Notorious K,LM is the first flight of the Queen Bee without the Notorious 8.1.G, a reality which forced her to look within herself for direction. Kim's expansion into other media, film, print ads, and who knows what else is to corme, has brought her clos er to the kind of notoriety that she says she's after, How hot is Lil Kim? Ask your mom if she knows who Lil Kim is. Chances are she will. Lir Kim's friend Mary J. Blige is also another artist whos come into her own. With her most recent album, Mary, already certitied platinum, Mary has retained her superstar status building yeary on her every woman appeal. Currently expanding her horizons as an actress and a model spokesperson for MAC cosmetics Viva Glam lI lipsticks, along with her girl, Lil Kim, Mary's longevity and popularity seems assured...New on the xene, female emcee Rah Digga classifies herself as a "serious" rapper. Not that she cant get all dolied up, but she doesn't want what's on the surface to interfere with the substance underneath. Nevertheless, with the releave of her debut album, Dirty Harriet, Rah Digga immediately established a fan base composed of all kinds of rap fans. Why? Because shes got skilk. A rapper who believes in earning her accolades, Rah Digga s the kind of everyday female to whom fans can relate. If anything, it's her dream that one day female rappers can be taken seriously without relying on the externals to help get them over. Fans cer- tainly have responded to her approach...Fashioned in the same outspoken mold as Lil Kim, Eve came onto the scene and immediately regis tered as a real-life, around-the-way sista whose rap skills secured for her a place in the hip-hop hierarchy. Touring with labelmates from the Ruff Ryders crew, Eve never fails to amaze fans who get impressed with her street cool, flavorful flow, For her, the heat stays on and on...Branded as a hip hop tomboy, Da Brat made her appearance as a rough neck femme whose image lately softened under hot lights for sexy shots as a calen dar queen. for women whe indulge the feminine and masculine sides of their gender, Da Brat was a long awaited role model whose duality they appreci- ated in addition to her rhyme skills. Currently rolling strong from the success of her third album Unrestricted, Da Brat has the distinction of being the first solo female rapper to go platinum. Since then, shes built on her fan base and remained in the spotlight while others faded away...Even when Missy Elliott inot on the charts, better believe she's always got something going on. In this case, it's the debut album release from Torrey Carter, the first male artist from Missy's label imprint, Gold Mine Records. Missy does a turn on ERNEST PANCCIOU MYA LIL'KIM EN VOGUE EYE WORD UP! 13
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