NEW YORK — Where the ladies at? With Foxy Brown in jail, Remy Ma on trial and Rah Digga missing in action (not to mention Lil' Kim and Lauryn Hill making headlines for anything but new music), it seems that question has been asked over and over again in hip-hop circles. And the response is getting smaller and smaller.
Sure, Eve had a hit single last year, but then she never followed it up with an album. The project was delayed, then scheduled to include new tracks, and now the release date is back to TBD status.
But instead of looking for answers from the big names, maybe we should focus on the smaller ones. Then we'll finally see where the ladies are.
Lil Mama ushered in a breath of fresh air last year with "Lip Gloss," and her balance of rapping and singing seems to be a sign of the times for so-called "femcees" nowadays. Like her, Kid Sister and Teyana Taylor are both able crooners and rhyme spitters.
"It's hard to explain a style when it's just natural," Taylor told MTV News about her mix of singing and rapping. "Since I was little, I always wanted to dress myself, so I'd just throw something on and just do me. It's like when you shop, you just see something, and you just pick it up. And I like to collect things from different places, not just one set place. And same thing for my album — it's no set genre. It's from so many different places. So many different producers came through together to do it. So when you hear the album, you'll see what I'm about. I'm not big, so it's hard to explain what I'm about when no one has heard the music."
Taylor, who was first made famous in an episode of MTV's "My Super Sweet 16," is backed by Pharrell Williams of the Neptunes. Williams mixed his spacey beats with Taylor's unique sense of artistry for her debut, From a Planet Called Harlem, due May 20 on Interscope Records.
The first single, "Google Me," produced by Jazze Pha is already drawing a buzz. But Taylor said the Pharell-produced "Switch It Up" is likely to draw even more attention.
"It's crazy," Taylor said. "It's cra-zee. Like, it's so hype it's gonna make you want to move, breakdance or vogue, whatever it is. It makes you want to do it all."
Like Taylor, Chicago native Kid Sister got an assist from a big-name producer. Kanye West's DJ A-Track is Kid Sister's boyfriend, and 'Ye hopped on the remix to her hit "Pro Nails," taking the already rising star into a new stratosphere. The guest verse brought the attention of many hip-hop fans, and soon Kid Sister's sound broke out from the Windy City house-music scene and merged with downtown Manhattan's hipster-hop scene.
To hear Kid Sister tell it, her mixture of house, hip-hop and dance, is a natural representation of who she is.
"I come from a biracial family. My mom is white, my dad's black, and I like to reflect that in what I do creatively," Kid Sister told MTV News. "I think it would just be a disservice to myself to put out there anything that's not authentically me. So it's just me.
"My dad was in a Talking Heads cover band, a black man," she continued. "Wow. [Laughs.] And then my mom was into John Philip Sousa marches. And they [both] liked Paul Simon."
Her summer 2008 debut, Koko B. Ware (a nod to the professional wrestling she and her brother, Josh from Flosstrodamus, watched as children), will have danceable tunes, Kid Sister said, but she's also interested in a mix of music that may surprise some.
She recruited producers Infamous and Develop, who worked with Cam'ron's Diplomats crew, to man the boards on some records.
"The Dipset beats sound like something you can kill somebody to," she joked. "It's for the killers and the drug dealers. But, like, in Chicago, you can go kill somebody and then do the vogue dance afterward.
"Chicago house is like disco house," she added. "But the thing about it that's really interesting is that you could be the hardest dude, you could be so street and they're like, 'This is my cut!' "
Hopefully, these two ladies' future will generate more hits than headlines. Both admitted they try not to think in terms of gender, but with so few females artists in the industry, sometimes it's impossible not to.
"I feel pressure in that women get pegged, like, 'Kid Sister did my nails; Lil Mama did my lips,' " Kid Sister said. "People scrutinize women because there's so few of us doing what we do, so it's easy to pick on the meek and the few. But me, personally, I don't feel affected by anyone else. I feel like I have the freedom to do whatever I want to do."
Taylor agreed, adding that while she's trying to establish herself, she has one eye on the competition and hopes they have one eye on her too — but for support, not challenges.
"Anything that's creative, I'm down with it," Taylor said. "I support it. Especially another young broad coming from where I'm coming from, doing what I'm doing. I feel like it's dope. We need to support each other. We're all young.