Know Your History: A Spotlight on Queen Latifah

Queen LatifahCover of Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah has achieved more than any other female artist in the history of this hip-hop. She has starred in movies, a few television series, has written books, earned a Golden Globe, two SAG awards, a Grammy award, and several other nominations for a variety of award shows. She continues to act, sing, and rap as well.

Very few rappers ever achieve the level of fame and list of accomplishments that Queen Latifah has. It’s really impressive, and to think. it all started with the success of this track. Here’s “Ladies First” featuring Monie Love.

Listen to this track and don’t go anywhere as we continue our look at Queen Latifah for our special evening dedicated to the Women of Hip-Hop. You can download this radio show for free or stream it with the player below. We’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day all night long here for DOPEfm. putting “Ladies First.”

That was Queen Latifah “Ladies First” from her debut album “All Hail the Queen” that was released in 1989. Born Dana Owens, she adopted the regal sounding name because she liked the sound and meaning of it. Latifah means gentle or kind, and of course, by adding the Queen in front of that, she was saying a lot about how women should be seen and treated.
Queen Latifah showed us a strong, intelligent woman with a no nonsense attitude. She did so with style and grace as well. In her first video and several album covers, Latifah wore clothing with an Afrocentric theme. There was an entire movement in hip-hop in the late 1980s to early 1990s that looked toward Africa and the roots of these artists. They were celebrating their heritage and history and in doing so, calling attention to problems of racism, sexism, and issues of unity.
In fact, one of Latifah’s best knows songs is called “U.N.I,T.Y.” I remember being taken aback the first time I saw this music video. Queen Latifah rides a motorcycle in it and berates the hip-hop community for using derogatory terms for women. She yells, “Who you calling a bitch?” and the television network realized how relevant the content of this song was and played the video without censoring it.
Let’s listen to this inspirational track now and we’ll be back as we continue our celebration of the women in hip-hop for our tribute to International Women’s Day!
That was Queen Latifah “U.N.I.T.Y.” from her third album entitled “Black Riegn.” Classic, classic song with a great message. There is no reason for all of the misogyny in rap music. I don’t know why it is there. Queen Latifah is not the only artist to point this out and fight against it either. She does happen to be one of the best though.
Rap has the power to educate and influence a wide variety of people. At its best, hip-hop calls attention to issues and gets the listener thinking about things they might not otherwise have been exposed to.
In that song Queen Latifah talks about how she let men treat her bad and how she simply won’t allow that to happen anymore. She demands to be talked to respectfully and not to be man-handled. She talks about why some women choose to stay in abusive relationships and how they have the power to do much more than simply take it.
Queen Latifah is an inspiration for women everywhere. Even better than that, she is an inspiration for men. She used the same conventions that perpetuate sexism and misogyny and turned them on their ear. She raps with power and authority and packs a lot of social commentary into her rhymes.
Truth be told, we could spend the entire evening focusing on the work Latifah has done both on and off the microphone. She is a pioneer of hip-hop as she explored themes and issues in her music that weren’t really touched on prior to her arrival on the scene. She opened up a lot of doors for female rappers.
Of course, Queen Latifah had to fight hard to be heard and taken seriously. I still don’t understand why women are so disrespected in our culture. Why is hip-hop dominated by male artists? Why are we afraid of threatened by the success of our women? It’s really frustrating and I completely understand why “Latifah’s Had It Up to Here.”
That was “Latifah’s Had It Up to Here” from Queen Latifah’s second album “Nature of a Sista.” In it, she talks about how she is still a levelheaded person, how her success hasn’t gone to her head, how she has not sold out who she is, or compromised her ideals. She proclaims that she is all woman and doesn’t apologize for it at all.
This is a voice in hip-hop that we really need to hear.
Let’s close out the show with the DJ Premier remix of Queen Latifah’s first single “Wrath of My Madness.”
I can’t say enough about Queen Latifah’s accomplishments and the influence she has had in popular culture. She has legions of fans who cross generations, genders, and genres. She is definitely one of hip-hop’s greatest stars. Speaking of which, she actually was awarded a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame a few years back. She was the first hip-hop artist to receive that honour,
I hope you’ve enjoyed our series about the women in hip-hop. Know Your History: Episode 15 focused on the Women in Hip-hop from the 1970s. Episode 16 dealt with the first half of the 1980’s, and this latest episode focused on two of hip-hop’s biggest success stories from the late 1980’s and onward (If you missed the spotlight on MC Lyte, go back and read it now)
I hope you will pay more attention to hip-hop’s better half and realize that women continue to be involved in every aspect of hip-hop culture. We have amazing female emcees out there who need to be more readily heard. We here at DOPEfm will continue to celebrate the Women in Hip-Hop each and every single day here.

Today, though, it’s all about the ladies as we dedicate the entire overnight to the women who have blessed us with great music. Stay tuned as we celebrate International Women’s Day all night long.

You can download the entire 7 hours of our Women in Hip-Hop Special, you can stream this episode with the player below or download it for free.

Thanks for tuning in and remember to keep your dial or browser on DOPEfm each and every week.

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