THE MOTHERLODE: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop, by Clover Hope. Read by the author and a full cast.
Clover Hope’s “The Motherlode” pulses with beats of hip-hop history, from its hidden figures to its success stories, all told from a woman’s perspective. Borrowing its title from the West Coast rapper Yo-Yo’s 1991 debut album, “Make Way for the Motherlode,” the audiobook celebrates hip-hop’s 50th anniversary this year by correcting the male-dominated record, re-contextualizing the genre’s history in light of the contributions made by female artists from the 1970s to today.
In between archival sound bytes from the music itself and excerpts from old articles providing historical context, Hope speaks directly to the reader, often breaking the fourth wall with footnotes explaining why she made certain editorial choices, like using the term “female rapper” despite the book’s argument that this distinction is rooted in misogyny. References to her own past interviews and personal experiences as a music journalist provide rich context throughout.
From Roxanne Shante’s battle records and Megan Thee Stallion’s Texas swagger to M.C. Lyte’s vocal delivery, Cardi B’s marketing savvy and Salt-N-Pepa’s asymmetrical haircuts, Hope highlights each artist for the particular mark she’s made on the pantheon of capital-H hip-hop. Arranged almost like a mixtape, the chronological chapters are read by an alternating cast that includes Hope as well as Nia Long, Angie Martinez, Chloe Bailey, Lauren London, Janelle James and others. The rappers M.C. Lyte and Remy Ma narrate sections of the audiobook, lending a rhythm and cadence to the storytelling that echoes the music itself.
To maintain its linear timeline, the book has to jump between regions and pop-cultural landmarks in a way that can feel disjointed, even dizzying. And yet these transitions only add to the impression of just how rapidly and organically hip-hop grew from a localized movement of sound systems, party fliers and outfits into a global sound and style that has been mimicked, modernized, demonized and deified ad infinitum.
THE MOTHERLODE: 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop | By Clover Hope | Read by the author and a full cast | Audible Originals | 7 hours, 58 minutes
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