Considering Hip-Hop has begun forging its own path in history, is it time for a Hip-Hop history month?
I believe so. Hip-Hop has been around for thirty something years. I was blessed enough to know Heavy D and blessed enough to attend his funeral service where Rev. Al Sharpton spoke. He said such wonderful and delightful things about Dwight. It was really on point with the kindness and generosity that Heavy D embodied. More importantly, Rev. Sharpton shared a story of having done the same thing at someone else’s funeral who was a power player and humanitarian. After the service, a young man walked up to him and said, “Wow! I can’t believe all of the things you said. I would love for you to speak at my funeral.” Rev. Al Sharpton said, “Well I guess that means you need to start doing some things so that there’s something to be spoken about.”
That’s really where I think Hip-Hop is. We did a lot of groundbreaking work in the beginning and in order to continue that mission, we’ve just got to come from an enlightened space. Right now, I think there’s just not enough balance being pushed to the forefront of it. Soon, yeah, possibly a month where we can celebrate those in Hip-Hop who deserve celebration. That would be awesome.
You are one of Hip-Hop’s pioneers. When you sit back and take a look at your journey, how do you feel about your contribution to the history-making movement known as Hip-Hop?
I think about how blessed I am to know places that no longer exist. I’m blessed to know of a time that really isn’t captured in any book. You had to be there to experience it and to really feel what it was like. I feel extremely blessed to not only have been there, to have and live through all of that, but to still be here today and to have a voice that people still want to hear.
Why is cultivating the minds of young women so important to you?
Well, it’s all minds in general, but I am a woman. So when it comes to young boys, there needs to be a man speaking to young boys on how to be men. So with young girls, because I once was one and I did a lot of writing, I know what it can do. I know the freedom that it afforded me and I know my imagination was set free. It helped me to become more of me and I would only hope that with Write Girl that with the 350 girls they serve that what is being promoted is individuality and the freedom to be you and have your own unique voice. In speaking with the executive director of Write Girl, that’s exactly what their after and what happens is these young girls come in very shy and soft-spoken begin to understand how much power they have and how powerful their voice is. They also learn how strong words can be and using their strength in a positive way.
In 1994, Da Brat was the first female solo rap artist to go platinum. What did that milestone do for women in Hip-Hop and female rappers in general?
I think the milestones that were hit along the way contributed to us feeling like we could do it. It was inspiration when I first heard Salt-N-Pepa, they are the reason I believed I could even have a voice and that people even cared to hear it. And with the Da Brat going platinum in a male genre, it confirmed that we at least had a foot in the door to compete.
How do you want to be remembered as an artist and a person?
That’s funny because I don’t think I am what I want to be remembered as yet. I’m still working on it. In making history everyday, but I would at least want to be viewed as kind and I treated people the way that they should be treated. I want to be viewed as a person who spoke truth and that I was able to help with a little bit of whatever it is that I had. I was able to give that in order to help and create a stepping stone for the next generation to see clearer.
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