Common once said he “Used To Love H.E.R.” when referring to hip-hop, but despite his feminization of the culture, ladies in rap haven’t truly gotten the respect they deserve.
We’re celebrating Hip-Hop’s 50th anniversary all year but today is a truly special day because we’re highlighting Clover Hope’s incredible new Audible Original podcast The Motherlode: 100 + Women Who Made Hip Hop which is based on her book of the same name. Over five episodes Hope and special guests including Remy Ma, MC Lyte, Nia Long and Angie Martinez dig deep into the history exploring the powerful women both famous and lesser known who’ve navigated the often misogynistic landscape and left a lasting impact. From foundational figures like MC Sha-Rock and Roxanne Shanté to revolutionaries like Salt-N-Pepa and Lil’ Kim to modern chart-toppers like Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, Hope’s in-depth look at the many untold stories of women in hip-hop spans 50 years of excellence.
We caught up with Clover ahead of release to discuss both her book The Motherlode: 100 + Women Who Made Hip Hop as well as the Audible Original and learned all about the acclaimed culture writer and former editor at Vibe and XXL who has profiled luminaries from Beyoncé to Usher, Maya Rudolph, Kid Cudi, and Regina King for notable outlets including Vogue, Esquire, GQ, Essence, Elle, Wall Street Journal Magazine, The New York Times, and Billboard, to name a few.
“The goal was to \create this index of women in a way that was expansive in a way but also with some volume to it,” Hope told BOSSIP’s Sr. Content Director Janeé Bolden. “It’s a challenge for even the super-duper hip-hop head to name ten women rappers outside of the obvious names and so the idea was ‘OK let me add some names to your repertoire. Basically like, if you can name 10, maybe you can’t name 20, if you can’t name 20, here there are 50 and then here are 100 women that you can reference and learn their histories. It was a learning process for me too because even being in hip hop for 15 some odd years, there were women whose maybe names I knew, or stories I knew, but not in depth. Or women I hadn’t heard of and I was almost embarrassed, but then also it was like ‘OK if I haven’t heard of them that’s the whole point of this book.’”
The names that Hope and her cohorts are introducing with The Motherlode span the timeline from the 70’s to now and also cover a wide range geographically.
“There’s definitely people like MC Sha Rock — who I maybe vaguely knew by name, but in speaking to her and getting her story and reading her book I learned so much.That era in the 70’s that was lost — her story fell through the cracks. It’s people like her who I just discovered more about, Lisa Lee being part of this trio with MC Sha Rock and and Debbie D, a lot of the women from the 70’s, The Mercedes Ladies… It’s funny because those are the foundational women and a lot of the hip hop heads who I would have conversations with would not have known those names. Or people from the 90’s or kind of 80’s on the West Coast like Oaktown’s 357 or The Conscious Daughters because I had this East Coast bias, I wasn’t listening to those records. I knew Lady of Rage maybe but I didn’t have those notches on the timeline, so I think it’s like filling in those notches in the historical timeline. Here are some women women who give a fuller version of history.”
Clover revealed that she does have at least one female MC to thank for sparking her interest in hip-hop culture — the Queen Bee herself, Lil Kim.
“I remember Lil Kim ‘Crush On You’ video coming out,” Hope told BOSSIP. “I just remember being in the gym and all the girls were rapping along to ‘Crush On You.’ Kim was just such a formative artist for me, someone who was embracing her sexuality and also had such a colorful stylish aspects of her that appealed to me. That’s when the girls wanted to wear Guess and we wanted to look like Kim and Foxy and so those were like my earliest memories of even just wanting to be fashionable or just wanting to be like the cool girl.”
She’s definitely a cool girl now, one who is admittedly ecstatic to have MC Lyte, Angie Martinez, Nia Long and Remy Ma be equally excited to take part in her Audible project.
“She’s one-of-a-kind,” Hope said of Lyte’s participation in The Motherlode, “Having her, not just narrating the book, but being sort of like this guiding light that is taking us between chapters, just she’s that overarching voice of The Motherlode and to have somebody who is one not just the voice of Hip Hop but also an announcer who is recognizable — she can say two words and people are like ‘Oh that’s MC Lyte.”
“Seeing the like some of the like the narrators in their sessions how happy they were, seeing Angie Martinez just be like excited about being a voice in my book is, I can’t even describe that feeling,” Hope continued. “They all bring their own unique voices to the project and I think people will just kind of enjoy the range you know of soulfulness and sweetness and that is what I’m excited about.”
The Motherlode: 100 + Women Who Made Hip Hop was created and executive produced by Clover Hope. Gabrielle Horton serves as director as well as executive producer.
Listen and download the series on Audible HERE
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