On Friday, the Shadow League was in attendance at the Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem for the 3rd Annual Women of Hip Hop gala. It was the kickoff of an affair dubbed The Women of Hip Hop 3-day Celebration Weekend, an affair produced by MC Sha Rock, the first female emcee to rock the mic solo, in conjunction with veteran journalist and marketing maven Cynthia Horner.
The gala was hosted by Lady B (To the Beat Y'all). The Alhambra provided the perfect venue for fans of true school hip hop to mingle, network or just have a good time.
Fly Ty of Cold Chillin' Records was in the building, as was Kangol of UTFO, the Real Roxanne, Roxanne Shante, Sheri Sher of Mercedes Ladies, Peebly Poo, Angie Stone with Sequence, the incomparable Bahamadia and more.
(Roxanne Shante: Photo Credit: dailynews.com)
"Any event where I can come out and support my sisters is a beautiful thing for me. We don't get a chance to have too many things that are specifically for us. So, it was a pleasure to be here with my sisters. I'm a huge fan of all of my sisters," said Roxanne Shante - best known for her '80s battle with rap icons UTFO. "We have so many female rappers that do not get a chance to get into the industry. What they need to see is sisters that do not take their clothes off at all, sisters that came out and did it their way. So, it's a beautiful thing."
She also touched on an upcoming biopic about her breakout hit and the circumstances surrounding it.
"It's the Roxanne Shante story and the movie is called Roxanne, Roxanne," she said. "I must say that it was definitely a long time coming. I think a lot of people can relate to that era. We will be filming it throughout the summer and it should be out by the holidays."
"I'm saying this because our legacy matters. We are, and will always be, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, according to Billboard, according to the world, the first female rap group opening doors for female rappers," Angie Stone told the audience before introducing the rest of Sequence.
The low vocalizations and lyrical leveraging possessed by Bahamadia has made her a favorite on the underground rap scene for years and has earned her many loyal fans across the globe. I spoke with the former phenom from Philly after she ripped a rhyme accapella for the assembled audience.
''The importance of this event is to highlight the need for a balance in the aesthetic of hip hop," said Bahamadia. "It's not even right now. It's very important that we be supported by every facet of the industry. We need support from all participants in our culture, globally. I work with disenfranchised youth, I'm developing a music act, working on my projects, I've got a 20-year commemorative project coming out in the fall."
Fly Ty, aka Tyrone Williams, has played a significant part in helping place hip hop on its current arc. He helped found Cold Chillin' Records and managed the Juice Crew, which featured MC Shan, Marley Marl, Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, Roxanne Shante, and many other notables.
"I've come here to honor Women in Hip Hop," Williams said. "I honor anything that has to do with women. Really, because women have had a hard time in every facet of life. Especially in a male dominated field like Hip Hop, where they really have to prove themselves in order to be accepted. I credit Roxanne Shante with making record labels take women seriously. After her, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Monie Love, Salt & Pepa. They found that women can sell records and make money."
Universal Hip Hop Museum president Rocky Bucano spoke with the Shadow League about how far the culture has come and its enduring importance globally.
''When we were doing it, it was just because we wanted to have fun and we wanted other people to have fun," said Bucano. "I've been a part of it since the '70s. So, I've got an interesting view on the dynamic of hip hop. I have seen how it has saved peoples' lives and how it has uplifted communities."
The 3-day affair culminated with a panel discussion at the Old Courthouse in the Bronx titled "Know Your Worth", featuring the Universal Hip Hop Museum Women's Advisory Board and an informal gathering at Van Courtlandt Park in the Bronx.
MC Sha Rock informed attendees that the Women of Hip Hop affair will be traveling to other locations in upcoming years.