Hi. My name is Psalm One. I’m a rapper, and I’m a woman.
There’s such a motley crue of us: the ubiquitous b-girl, the sexually ambiguous tomboy and the
hoe. Yes, I said the hoe. As the minority of the minority-based cult of global hip-hop, the woman
remains the enigma. She is the oft-disrespected diva of doubt; the muse of insecurity, but mostly
she is absent. Like James Brown said, she has a touch that makes the world better, and somehow
her touch is virtually disregarded in the realm of rap.
I’ve been a minority all my life. I was born in a well-to-do neighborhood and sent to private
school where I was one of very few black children. When I was six, my life changed: my family
moved to one of the most notoriously impoverished neighborhoods in Chicago, Englewood.
Funny enough, I was a minority there too. I was the girl that “spoke different” and was “weird.”
At age nineteen, I went away to college and majored in Chemistry at the University of Illinois; I
was one of the only women and certainly one in a handful of blacks.
So when you ask me about being different, being a minority, or being a woman in a male
dominate ﬁeld, just know this: I’m used to it.
People always want to know, “How does it feel to be a woman in Hip-Hop?” Yawn. We could
talk about this all day every day… and at the same time we probably wouldn’t even scratch the
surface. How can I describe the feeling of being on the road for a month and all my tourmates
can talk about is “pussy” and “hoes” and somehow I’m not offended? How can I describe the
feeling of meeting my rap hero for the ﬁrst time and all he wants to do is talk about fucking?
How can I describe hearing “Oh, we already have a girl” when there’s 15 boys on a show line-up
or an album? How can I describe the feeling of knowing that I have a huge voice because I am a
woman who raps? Maybe I just did.
Hip Hop makes my stomach turn and my eyes water. It stresses me, releases me and changes my
life. I was well on my way to living the American dream. I had an education and a great job; a job
as a scientist. A job that most people can’t even dream of…and I gave it all up to rap.
Seems simple enough, right? Wrong. Am I stressed? Always. Am I happy? Most times. Am I
wrong? Absolutely not. A rapper friend of mine always brings up the issue of the “rapping
female” and he always seems like he wants to tell me to stop. It’s as if he knows too many women
who have been disheartened or kicked by the game and he doesn’t want to see it happen to me.
As much as I appreciate his concern, it just motivates me to do this hard thing (no pun intended)
Similarly, as blessed as I am to be the lone female on one of the most prolific and powerful indie
hip-hop labels, the curse of being potentially great is potentially suffocating.
So let’s open the windows. I’ve let my hair down. I’ve taken deeper breaths and I’ve added a few
layers to the skin. This life shit, this rap shit, this is my shit. I’m the one dealing with a new life, a
new role and a new industry. I’m the odd ball. I’m the hood-nerd, weird girl, off-putting cool-ass-
rapper. I’m working harder than ever, and I’m smiling more than ever, as you can see.
It means alot that you’re reading my words. So here’s some new music for your patience and
cooperation. Thanks. Oh, and I really hate being called a “femcee”. They really don’t gender-ize
any other genre.
Psalm One's Woman At Work EP is available May 1 on Rhymesayers Entertainment.