The ranks of female rappers remain slim, but that poses no obstacle to Los Angeles underground queen Medusa.
Pegged as both the Angela Davis and the high priestess of hip-hop, the MC/singer declares that 2007 is her year. And she says it’s time for the music industry to change.
“The old-boy network is hard to crack,” she admitted. “Many feel if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. But the industry needs to be broken down at least and rebuilt. Threatened by the indie world of the Internet, everyone is being forced to look at things in a different light.”
Honing her style over the past 15 years at L.A. spots including the Good Life Cafe and Leimert Park’s “Project Blowed” workshop, Medusa came up alongside such marquee names as the Black Eyed Peas and Macy Gray.
She has since opened for the likes of KRS-One, Common, Dilated Peoples and Erykah Badu. Medusa also produced the film score and soundtrack to “Gridlok’d” featuring Tupac Shakur and wrote, produced and performed “My Momma Raised a G” for HBO’s “Stranger Inside.”
Her first release, the EP “Do It the Way You Feel It” (Goodvibe, 1999), cemented Medusa’s local fan base and earned admirers overseas. The title also doubles as her creative mantra. Backed by her band Feline Science, Medusa is a revolutionary force to be reckoned with, whether she’s in soul-singing or freestyle mode. Backed by music you can’t help but move to (a la the funky beats of a Sly Stone and James Brown), Medusa also slaps you upside your head with substantive lyrics that hark back to such message-bearing and musically attuned practitioners as Gil Scott-Heron, Chuck D and Lauryn Hill.
Medusa’s keep-it-real approach is an integral part of a musical philosophy she also dubs “feline science.” That thought process about love and life is cunningly revealed in the forthcoming single “This P---y’s a Gangsta.” Not to be written off as another rap song dishing up sexually explicit lyrics for a quick notoriety fix, the track is about females who sometimes misuse their sexual appeal to get what they want rather than getting acquainted with a man on a mental and spiritual level.
It’s this kind of emotional subject matter, Medusa asserted, that’s behind the lack of female rappers. “The reality is you have only the youth and a male perspective (in hip-hop). It’s very much, ‘I want to party,’ and other basics,” she said. “A woman’s approach is going to be a little more emotional, coming from a space men don’t like to speak from.
“It’s up to female rappers to stand strong to create the yin and yang in this music,” she added. “There’s a lack of connection with the male and female energy. My music speaks to that space and healing process.”
Though a major-label deal has eluded her, the two-time winner of LA Weekly’s best hip-hop artist award remains undaunted.
“I’ve heard that some major-label folks think I’m dope. But no one has sat down with me in the past, and I didn’t reach out much from my side,” she said. “I’ve continued to be the artist I am. I’m seasoned now and ready to serve everybody with it.”