Chuck D's Crew Grrl Order Resuscitates the Art of Femceeing (Rolling Out Magazine)

July 24th, 2009

In the early '90s, female emcees delivered unbelievable flows and amazing lyrics, all while remaining completely clothed. Toward the start of the new millennium, however, the image of the female rapper morphed — almost beyond recognition. Today, rap trio Crew Grrl Order hopes to revive the essence of the golden era, and inspire the next generation of female artists. With Public Enemy's Chuck D behind them, the release of their debut album, All Bets Off, and a lead single featuring MC Lyte, these three femcees; Lady Payne, Retina and Cleo Jones, are well on their way. –nadine g. graham

What's it like working with Chuck D?

Retina: It's funny, because people always think he's so aggressive and 'Power to the People' all the time. He is so passive. He's always like, ‘What do you wanna do? We can do whatever you want to do ...' Just a really sweet person — like your favorite uncle.

Payne: Yeah. He's very loving, like your best friend. We can sit and talk to him about everything and anything.

How do you deal with being female emcees in a male-dominated industry?

Payne: Stay focused. Stay grounded. Just keep on pushing. Don't give up. You've gotta believe in yourself.

Retina: Don't sacrifice your self-respect. We got it so much harder than men.

Have you ever been with a man who felt threatened by the attention you draw?

Payne: My man is my number one fan. He knows this is my passion; it's what I love to do. So if you wanna be with me, either we can work this out or keep moving forward. I won't hurt your feelings, but I will tell you how I feel.

Retina: I had a recent situation where he felt like he wasn't getting enough attention. He had a problem with … all the attention being on me. That's a no-no for me. If you can't stand to see me shine then we're not compatible, because I can stand to see you shine.