In an extract from Flip the Script, a new book on female hip-hop stars, the UK duo remember how they shot to US stardom – but didn’t dilute their fierce politics
When considering the history of women in hip-hop, some pioneering names will always stand out. There’s Debbie D, a member of DJ Marley Marl’s Juice Crew; Pebblee Poo, who joined DJ Kool Herc’s Herculoids; and Lisa Lee, who was in Afrika Bambaataa’s Universal Zulu Nation. Then there’s Sha-Rock, considered the first prominent female MC; Mercedes Ladies, the first all-female group in hip-hop; Roxanne Shanté, the formidable battle rapper. But as in many parts of the music industry, these women were told they’re good for a girl: a patronising framework that is one of the core reasons women are left out of the history of the genres they helped revolutionise.
In the UK in 1983, two more young women were also about to be underestimated. MC Remedee (Debbie Pryce) and Susie Q (Susan Banfield) were just getting started as Cookie Crew, inspired by what was happening in the New York music scene. Cookie Crew pre-dated other prominent women in UK hip-hop such as She Rockers and Wee Papa Girl Rappers, not to mention Monie Love, who would go on to settle in New York in 1988 to massive success. As one of the first female hip-hop groups in the UK, they were also among the first to battle the hurdles women faced in the genre; constantly compared to adjacent male rappers, forced to prove themselves despite their evident success, and constantly pushed in different, and often contradictory, directions.