vh1 to honor hip hop's greatest women
The network will resurrect its annual 'Hip Hop Honors' special for the first time in six years with a celebration of rap's female ‘trailblazers and trendsetters.’ We’ve got some ideas about who should step up to the mic.
Photography Steven Klein
I don't know about y'all, but I watched an alarming amount of VH1 in the mid-2000s (I don't even want to think about how many hours I wasted on my dad's couch as members of The Donnas debated the grossest Garbage Pail Kid on I Love the 80s). The ultimate music nerd channel bestowed many throwback gifts, but none as epic as Hip Hop Honors, the annual gathering in which up rap's current all-stars paid tribute to the storied greats that influenced their sounds and styles. Its inaugural special in 2004 saw the likes of Nas, Fat Joe, and (somewhat inexplicably) Debbie Harry sing TuPac and Public Enemy's praises. But after seven star-studded specials, Hip Hop Honors went off the air in 2010.
Earlier this week (probably gassed up by Bad Boy's insane Brooklyn resurrection over the weekend) VH1 announced plans to resurrect Hip Hop Honors. And like that Bad Boy extravaganza — which Pitchfork argued "was actually ladies night" thanks to Faith Evans, Lil Kim, and Mary J. Blige — the first Hip Hop Honors in six years will pay tribute to the game's long reigning queens.
In a statement released to The Associated Press, VH1 announced the show will air live from New York City on July 11. "While no honorees were announced," the AP reports, "VH1 said it would focus exclusively on female 'trailblazers and trendsetters' in the male-dominated field."
Between its initial 2004 - 2010 run, Hip Hop Honors has given only five women their well-earned shine: the original three members of Salt N Pepa, MC Lyte, and Missy Elliott. So not only have female rappers made unmatched strides in the six years since the show has been off the air (Nicki Minaj's blockbuster debut Pink Friday arrived about six months after the final broadcast), there are many iconic women whose accolades are overdue.
We're guessing former Hip Hop Honors performers and presenters Queen Latifah, Foxy Brown, Lil' Kim, Eve, Trina, Remy Ma, and Da Brat are on VH1's shortlist for the other side of the bill. Lauryn Hill, in this writer's opinion the best female MC ever, has never stepped on its stage — neither has the powerhouse phenom Minaj, the highest selling woman in the game. Bizarrely, Angie Martinez — the beloved Power 105.1 radio host who Barack Obama called "The Voice of New York" — has never been tapped as a presenter, though she's undoubtedly one of hip hop's most powerful women.
In terms of new blood to honor these pioneers in performance, VH1 has a seriously exciting pool of emerging talent to choose from. We recommend Brooklyn native Junglepussy, Timbaland protege Tink, London spitter Little Simz, Detroit fireball Angel Haze, and LA cyborg Brooke Candy to keep things really interesting.
We're also hoping that if VH1 elects to keep the series on the air, it continues to honor women in each subsequent gathering rather than hosting one major event dedicated to them.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Steven Klein
Styling Patti Wilson