While many Hip Hop publications will invite their readers to celebrate motherhood with lists of the best lyrics, best dressed, and most popular mother’s associated with the Hip Hop world, we’d like to take this Mother’s Day to observe the women that haven’t been recognized for their contributions to Hip Hop. There are a number of mothers that go unnoticed for the support they’ve supplied to nurture a culture that represents diversity more dynamically than any other on the planet. Here are a few women, although they may not have children themselves, that have lived lives building a foundation and securing physical and figurative space for the art of Hip Hop today.
Brenda Greene is not only Talib Kweli’s mother, but she is professor of English at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, NY. She was also one of the founders of the Annual National Black Writer’s Conference that takes place on Medgar Ever’s campus. This conference invites writers from all over the country to participate in debate about writing creatively and how to contribute.
Gwendolyn Brooks was an inspirational writer and poet that received national recognition by winning a Pultizer Prize for Poetry. Although she past away in December of 2000, her work affected the writings of many writers such as The Last Poets who are credit with creating the prototypical style for what eventually became rap.
Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey is the mother of the late super producer J Dilla. In 2008 she lost her home and learned that her son’s estate would be turned over to the government due to the overwhelming debt brought on by his disease, Lupus. Today Ma Dukes is not only fighting for her son’s estates, she is also fighting the same disease that took her son.
DJ Beverly Bond created a national awards ceremony for black women. She began Black Girls Rock because the message to women of color was imbalanced; there weren’t enough role models for women to look up to. It was something that I felt was long overdue, for black women, women of all backgrounds, to have something promoting positivity.
These women’s grittiness and dedication helped perserve and build the culture that is now Hip Hop. Their contributions are noticeable through their offsprings, but also through the creative space they’ve created through their own work. There is something about a mother’s contribution that is so pure she doesn’t even look for credit. Mothers want to see good in all children, not just their own. Hip Hop was built on the back of women that did nothing but give and care, just like these four women. There are so many out there that continue to add and go unrecognized. Take the time today and affirm the spirit of a mother by spending some time with a woman with these qualities. Maybe even come back here to share that person’s contribution. Have a great mother’s day.