With a solid 83% of the votes over her fresh competitor, Noname, Lauryn Hill is your Femcee Champion! Congratulations to Ms. Hill, to all her committed voters, and those who called her as the winner from the beginning! I think even Noname would be supportive of this decision, considering how she idolizes and emulates her competitor.
We happen to agree whole-heartedly here at OnRecords. In case you’d like to dive deep into the archives, I did happen to write about a couple of Lauryn albums a few years ago. The links are below, but fair warning: the formatting is weird – especially on the post about The Score.
Thanks again to everyone who listened to playlists, watched videos, had conversations about women in rap, and voted in the polls. Look out for March 2018 for a whole new set of brackets. In the meantime, I’ll try to write about great albums a little more regularly.
The Final Four is finally here! Thanks to all of you, 67 femcees have been voted down round by round to 4 remaining artists, each representing one quadrant of brackets. Let’s take a closer look at these four women and their journeys here before we vote.
What. A. Trip.
(1) NICKI MINAJ
Obviously a boss in the rap game, Nicki has been one of the most consistent mainstream rappers over the past decade. Although her clap backs to Remy Ma’s epic dis-track, ShETHER were a little underwhelming, enough of you refused to dethrone her in the final round of Femcee Madness. Actually, the closest call Nicki had was in the Sweet 16 match against Sri Lankan-Brit, M.I.A. Now she’s going up against a young favourite, but at least she has a deep resumé to work with. Here are just a few:
This is the one rapper in the final four that I could never have predicted. Don’t get me wrong, Noname is absolutely one of my favourite rappers right now, but her catalogue is still fairly limited. That’s what makes it particularly impressive that she was able to knock out other current favourites, and now actually stands a chance against the self-proclaimed queen, Nicki Minaj. After consistently winning against other freshmen, I was genuinely shocked when she received more votes than my personal pick for the final four – Rapsody. Whatever you think of this Chicago poet/rapper, she is not to be underestimated.
(3) MC Lyte
MC Lyte’s most recent album is aptly titled, Legend, and it’s absolutely true. Like no other femcee in this final four, Lyte has navigated 3 whole decades of hip hop, and continued to create fresh, relevant music in every era, reinventing herself over and over again. She just barely made it to this point, scraping out a tight win over the last group left in the competition, Salt-N-Pepa. Now she’s looking to represent the veteran side of the brackets, just as she so regularly represents the very fabric of hip hop’s history.
(1) Ms. Lauryn Hill
I don’t think I know of anyone who did not include this amazing artist in their final 4 predictions. The truth is that the size of her discography does not come close to MC Lyte or even Nicki Minaj. She has two truly iconic albums (The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and The Fugees’ The Score), and a handful of guest verses, and although she clearly is still talented and touring, it’s questionable whether she’ll ever give us another really great record. Then again, what she has produced is already enough to make her a contender, not only here, but in nearly any rap blog’s list of possible G.O.A.T.’s. Her flow is flawless and incomparable, and roughly every rapper since has been inspired by her work.
The time has arrived. Here are your two polls:
The youngest group of femcees are the last to go to battle. This has been by far the most turbulent, unpredictable bracket, with upsets in every round. And just like every other quadrant, the choices are about to get even worse. Welcome to the madness! As has been my custom (for the past 2 rounds), here’s a Spotify playlist if you’d like a few more selections from the competition: https://play.spotify.com/user/dancevera/playlist/5RMykuLs7H41u08BGP6Ofc. Otherwise, the polls are open and waiting for you below.
(8) Noname vs. (13) Lizzo
Yes. This is really happening. It was finally Noname who gave Little Simz – the biggest upset of the competition – the boot last round. Noname’s been consistently blowing up, having to swap for larger venues and add nights to her tour. Her poeticism is something like we haven’t heard before (or at least since Lauryn Hill). And now she takes on another force to be reckoned with. Lizzo has similarly jumped from underground hip hop organizer to being nearly a household name (at least my kind of households). On top of her clever wordplay and energetic flow, she is known for preaching a message of self-love and acceptance, so that’s great. This poll might just kill me, so I get it if you need to take a minute. Tell you what, if you go ahead and purchase both of these rappers’ albums you might feel better about having to pick just one.
(14) Sammus vs. (2) Rapsody
Sammus is the lowest seeded rapper still in this competition, having begun the competition by taking out the 3rd seed Tink, and then last round she not only upset 6th seeded Dej Loaf, she did so with 100% of the vote. By the way she’s making it through these brackets, I don’t think it’s helpful to see her as an underdog anymore. The girl came to play. And now she’s looking to make her biggest upset yet, against Rapsody who is the highest seed left in this quadrant. But South Carolina’s own will not go down easily, if at all. Her laid-back flow paired with piercing and reference-filled lyrics are not really comparable to anyone else, although sometimes she reminds me of what MC Lyte might sound like if she were born a decade later. Then again, would Rapsody be Rapsody without MC Lyte? Or more importantly, can she defend her top seed against this up-and-comer out of upstate New York?
See you on the weekend with the Elite 8! In the meantime, make sure you place your votes for the other quads if you haven’t already. All necessary links are below. Enjoy!
The NW brackets certainly have a few more surprises than the Veterans did. Check out the updates below and make your choices to put two of the femcees below into a spot in the Elite 8! For a few more selections from each rapper, feel free to make use of this handy Spotify playlist as well: https://play.spotify.com/user/dancevera/playlist/21EGoBcWQq4EP5Q5TwWPyK
(1) Nicki Minaj vs. (5) M.I.A.
Nicki Minaj has been slaying her opponents thus far like baby dragons, but now she comes up against an far more appropriate contender in M.I.A., who has had a few close calls as she had to knock out Khia before barely coming out on top against Rah Digga. Both women are total bosses, with their interest in art and performance extending beyond their rhymes and verses. Though they are relatively new to the game (compared to anyone on the east side of the brackets), Nicki and M.I.A. have in their own ways pushed the boundaries and limits of what rap music can be. Who deserves to move on? That choice is up to you.
(3) Remy Ma vs. (10) Sa-Roc
Remy Ma has been back in the spotlight with her Nicki diss shETHER, and her album released with long-time collaborator, Fat Joe, and she is swinging she has something to prove. Her performances have an extra dose of attitude and energy, like she’s about enter a real fight ring. Sa-Roc is a very exciting underdog, who is relatively unknown, but has clearly caught enough listeners to pick her over the southern diva, Trina, making for one of the biggest upsets of the tournament so far!
Remy takes her turn at 1:37.
If you haven’t voted for the veterans yet, the links are below. Enjoy, and vote responsibly!
Eight veterans are left and it’s up to you to decide which four will move on to the next round. As with the NYC vets, the videos embedded below will be of live performances. I have done my best to post the best videos I can find that showcase their skills as rappers and performers, but never feel limited to basing your vote on these vids. If you are looking for more selections from each femcee, I have made Spotify playlists for each quadrant here: https://play.spotify.com/user/dancevera.
(1) Lauryn Hill vs. (4) Queen Latifah
While Ms. Lauryn Hill has been steadily approaching this moment with ease, Queen Latifah was very nearly beaten last round by an epic battle against the legendary Missy Elliott. Although it’s sad to see Missy go, I think this is the right match for the moment. Not only do both queens hail from the state of New Jersey, they also have low, sultry voices which effortlessly mix melodic vocals with quick, articulate rhymes. Not only do their similarities make this a tough call, but both of these women make it into regular conversations about who is the G.O.A.T. regardless of gender. Unfortunately, only one can move forward in this competition.
(3) Eve vs. (2) Left Eye
Without meaning to, these match’s have become extra-regional, with both of these women representing Philadelphia. Eve’s journey to this point got somewhat messy against Da Brat in the second round, where she narrowly came through with 58% of the vote. Meanwhile, this is the first time that Left Eye is seeing any real competition, having lost a total of two votes to Yo Yo. These are two highly talented and underrated stars who manage to strike a balance between discussions around sexuality and social issues. I’ll admit that my personal nostalgic love for both of these women make this an extra tricky choice.
You can skip to 2:55 for Left Eye’s verse:
If you haven’t already voted for the NYC Veterans – head over there next!