I recently caught up on the Oxygen reality/docu-series, Sisterhood of Hip-Hop*. It follows five young women at various periods in their newish careers, trying to find success as emcees. I love that this show is all about what Love and Hip-Hop implicitly promised and repeatedly failed to deliver: a view into the life and work of a real person who makes hip-hop. With every episode featuring at least one scene of someone rapping in the studio or on-stage, Sisterhood proved over its eight episodes that it was about much more than the fights and sex that bait the lowest common denominator on some other reality shows. There was a bit of label and relationship drama too, but thankfully the show never lost its focus. I think there should have been more time spent showcasing the women’s music through longer performance scenes, but it still did enough to prompt me to research each emcee.
As all the rappers are in the (re)building phases of their careers, each should have a single or mixtape that they are currently promoting. So I decided to listen to at least that one song, then write up my judgments. Sounds easy enough, right? Let’s get started!
Since U Left
Brianna did NOT impress me on the show. The one song of hers that I remember is Marilyn Monroe, and I hated its breathy vocals and simplistic lyrics. Clearly it was not for me. Neither is Since U Left. The beat is an abomination of bubblegum hip-pop, and her rhymes haven’t gotten any better. She has a decent voice for rap but her writing needs to greatly improve. Just for sanity’s sake I also checked I’m That B.I.T.C.H. Expecting some hardcore bragging a la Lil Kim or Foxy Brown, I was instead treated to this heap of R&B that doesn’t even really have any rapping:
Brianna Perry does not seem at all interested in making hip-hop that I might like. Everything doesn’t have to be slicing heads off or Black Thought level lyricism, but I need some edge to grab onto! Also, stronger rooting in the culture she claims would go a long way!
Chain Swang ft Pharrell and Fam-lay
Immediately, this is going much better than the above foray. Pharrell’s beat simply knocks! It’s actually very similar to Clipse’s Grindin’, but is faster and has a couple more instruments besides percussion. Bia starts the song strong with a verse full of intricate rhymes that show her passion for emceeing. Her punchlines didn’t do anything for me but her complex rhyming never failed to interest. Per the title, the topic is basic emcee bragging which is just fine with me as each rapper does a decent or good job with it, even the resurrected Fam-Lay. Chola Season, Bia’s mixtape that includes this song, will have to be put on my to-do list. Good job Bia.
*Unfortunately, the broadcast season is over and the episodes don’t seem to be available on either hulu or oxygen.com. In case you’re as late as me, maybe you can catch it on demand?