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Lady MC Bahamadia's razor-sharp lyrics set her apart in Philly hip hop heritage

Philly is known for many of its male MCs, but rapper Bahamadia has been repping the city since the 90s.
Bahamadia is a lady MC who has been rapping in Philly since the mid-90s. (Provided)

From ‘80s stars like DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince to current chart-toppers like Meek Mill, Philly’s hip-hop heritage has always been rich. But less well known is lady MC Bahamadia, a razor-sharp lyricist who dropped her first album in 1996. Now she is emerging as an integral part of Philly’s hip-hop tradition, having earning the respect of hip-hop lovers worldwide and reputation of a timeless trendsetter.

“Some people perceive me as old school and others consider me to be a ‘90s rapper since I got a [record] deal in the ‘90s,” Bahamadia said. “I just for once would like people to know from the source who Bahamadia is, but not too much, because I believe artists’ work is supposed to evoke feelings and start conversations.”

With influences ranging from jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald to German electronic group Kraftwerk, Bahamadia creates music that reflects the voice of the people.

“[My debut album] Kollage was the first project of its kind where a female hip-hop artist wrote her own lyrics and co-produced a project,” she said.

Having collaborated with hip-hop icons like The Roots, Bahamadia enjoys her status as an urban legend in hip-hop circles and takes solace in letting her work speak for itself.

“I come from the last era of individuality where you got signed with your own organic voice,” she said.

Mindful of her role as an elder statesman, Bahamadia bridges the gap between a generation raised on complex wordplay and one that is fonder of catchy beats and hooks.

“I have respect for the Kendrick [Lamar]s, the J. Coles, Vince Staples, Vic Mensa and any other artists carrying on traditions of organic hip-hop.   I think that’s the dopest thing. Hip-hop doesn’t belong to any one person,” she said. “It belongs to all of us. Each generation’s creative offerings are indicative of the times.”

Bahamadia’s creative energy is a direct reflection of the music she enjoys, so her favorite female MC of the moment should come as no surprise. “I love Cardi B so much because I can relate to the resilience of a person wanting to be better and be the person that they want to be.” 

While coming off extremely humble in person, Bahamadia’s affinity for creative individuality and high standards for hip-hop come from a very proud place. Perhaps most notably, Bahamadia’s legacy is strengthened by her courage to be herself in an industry often known for putting women in a box.

“I was always androgynous and another thing that protected from being exploited was being a full-grown woman when I signed. I was already 27 with two kids so I wasn’t impressionable. I was drug-free and wasn’t trying to self-medicate so I had a clear mind.”

With new music on the way and a highly supportive international fan base, Bahamadia continues to captivate listeners, one hot bar at a time.

Three Female Philly MC’s To Know

Lady B: Lady B owns the distinction of being one of the first female MCs in hip-hop history and continues to share her love for hip-hop culture with listeners today as a radio personality and host.

Ms. Jade: Skillful MC Ms. Jade earned the attention of music heavyweights like Timbaland, who would ultimately produce Jade’s 2002 debut album, Girl, Interrupted.

Eve: Famous for her role as rap crew Ruff Ryders’ First Lady, South Philly native Eve has spent time at the top of the charts as an MC and on the big screen in films like Barbershop.