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.
(8) Noname vs. (1) Ms. Lauryn Hill
This took a while, but we have finally arrived that the championship match between a classic and fresh femcee. Representing the veterans’ side of the brackets, Lauryn Hill was not only the #1 seed, she has consistently been the top choice for winning this tournament. She goes up against Noname, who is not only one of the freshest Femcees in the brackets (she’s a strong contender for XXL’s Freshmen Class this year), she happens to be a massive L Boogie fan. It could even be argued that The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is an intentional theme of Noname’s debut LP, Telefone. So I’m not going to try and hide the fact that I think Hill will (and should) win this. The truth is that I also think Nicki should have won the semi-final match, but when I logged in to close the polls I was surprised to see it was tied. After leaving the polls open for an extra 12 hours and shouting out to the Twitterverse, Fatimah Warner aka Noname won by a solid couple of votes.
However, I am pretty stoked that the Noname fans have shown up for this competition in such a big way. She is easily one of my favourite recording artists at the moment, and if she keeps up with her streak, I could see myself saying her name in relation to a G.O.A.T. conversation. I’m just not quite there yet. But clearly I am in the minority here, so who knows what could happen in this final poll! Ms. Hill may be the favourite to win, but she has also endured a lot of criticism over the last decade, and this is a tournament of surprises.
Hopefully by now you are fairly acquainted with the two finalists singles, so for the embedded videos this round, I’ve picked slightly extended performances. Bask in the glory that is fantastic female-led hip hop, folks. Because ultimately what matters is not the winner, or the final four, or even your votes, but the celebration of hip hop, and women who use a genre to tell their own stories.
Thank you all so much for participating and humouring my project. Time to vote for your winner of Femcee Madness – have fun!
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:
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!
Round two will continue mostly highlighting featured verses of each rapper left in the competition. In order to help give you a slightly larger sample of each artist’s work, feel free to check out my Spotify playlists for each bracket. This link will take you to the one for the Veterans below. Onwards!
(1) Lauryn Hill vs. (8) Monie Love
Former Fugee, Ms. Lauryn Hill took down the sequence with one fell swoop, and is now coming for the sweet looking little boss from the UK, Monie Love. Monie Love won’t go down without a fight though, after beating the Southern beast, Shawnna with 66% of the votes. Most of Lauryn’s non-fuggee collaborations feature her singing a hook, which is a shame. Although Ms. Hill’s voice is phenomenal, in her words, “her rhymes is heavy, like the mind of sister Betty”. Both videos below are collaborations featuring a number of other femcees.
You’ll find Lauryn at 2:44.
Monie has a couple verses, one at 0:40 and again at 2:14.
(5) Missy Elliott vs. (4) Queen Latifah
The crazy thing about this match-up is that either of these hip hop pioneers could win this entire competition. Both women had no trouble in round 1, Missy Elliott taking 100% of the votes from JJ Fad, who arguably never had the chance to prove themselves outside of the very early rap they helped popularize. Queen Latifah beat out the exceptional underdog MC Trouble, who simply doesn’t have enough material to truly contend against a great like this. I get that this is a tough one, and as I write this I have absolutely no idea who I hope will make the Sweet 16.
The Queen begins this one, but if you keep watching you’ll get a verse from Yo Yo, Left Eye, and Nefertiti.
(3) Eve vs. (6) Da Brat
This feels like an especially appropriate showdown between two 90s rap goddesses. Eve flew into the second round as if there wasn’t a competition before now, while Da Brat fought against No Limit’s Mia X tooth and nail to get here.
This remix of Ludacris’ “My Chick Bad” has verses from Diamond and Trina from the NW bracket too, but it ends with Eve’s around the 2:10 mark.
Da Brat shows up on this Missy track at about 2:45
(10) Yo Yo vs. (2) Left Eye
Yo Yo provided us with our very first upset of the tournament, having very little trouble taking out the lady of Three 6 Mafia, Gangsta Boo. Meanwhile, Left Eye of TLC obliterated Nikki D, stealing every single vote you made.
Yo Yo can be found at 1:48, but the track also features MC Lyte and Queen Latifah!
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes can be found at 2:25.
If you haven’t yet voted for the north half of the veterans bracket, make sure to click that link. All the veterans polls will be open for exactly one week, closing on Monday March 19th! Thanks for voting, and share the madness!