Hip hop may have been born in the fires of Harlem and the Bronx, but, more than thirty years later, there’s hardly a spot on Earth that doesn’t have its own scene. From Japan to South Africa, Germany to Australia, and everywhere else in between, the spread of hip hop has been remarkable not only for its speed, but also for the wide range of styles that each location brings to the genre.
Just because hip hop has traveled outside of the United States does not mean that it has escaped U.S. idiosyncrasies. Take hip hop in Vietnam, for example. While before researching the topic, I honestly expected the whole scene to be underground, there is actually a mainstream hip hop presence in the Southeast Asian country as well as a disgust for that presence in Vietnam’s underground hip hop arena. Sound similar to the tension between “street”—or underground—and mainstream hip hop in the United States?
There was a time not that long ago when you could turn on the radio or a music video channel and hear Missy Elliot, Lauryn Hill or Lil Kim, each one adding their unique and individual perspective to the male dominated world of Hip Hop. Before this, there were female artists like Salt-N-Peppa, Mc Lyte and Roxanne Shontae. These women paved the way for the female rappers that dominate the charts today. Wait, what am I saying? There aren’t any female Hip Hop artists dominating the charts today. In fact, if it weren’t for Nicki Minaj’s Pop infused Hip Hop hitting big, there wouldn’t be one single female voice in mainstream Hip Hop.
James DeWitt Yancey, known to his die-hard fans worldwide as Jay Dee or J Dilla, was one of the most prodigious producers that Hip-Hop has ever witnessed. His sound was eclectic and distinct as he made hits for big name artists like Q-Tip, Busta Rhymes, Common, Janet Jackson, and Erykah Badu to name a few. A celebrated underground hero for his work with hometown Detroit crew Slum Village and collaborative projects with Madlib, J Dilla set the bar high for aspiring producers as well as the established. Projects like Ruff Draft, Donuts and Another Batch only solidified him as one of the best to ever do it.
Before I jump into some of the differences between Latin American female hip hop artists and their U.S. counterparts, I want to note a similarity they both share: not many female hip hop artists actually make it into the mainstream.Though aside from hip hop already being a male-dominated industry in the United States and worldwide, female artists in Latin America are up against a cultural “machismo,” an strong sense of masculine pride and aggressiveness.