There is much that defines Hip-Hop and much that shapes its influence within the world. However, nothing has more formative power and influence in Hip-Hop than the artists who step to the mic to tell their stories.
While some MCs spit about money and their shine, others flow about the street, the upsets, and the climb. Some come from a place of proximity, relaying experiences from a distance. Others from straight off the front lines.
Not everyone’s course is through a field of roses; some crawl through the trenches with scars to prove how far they’ve come. So here is a list of female MCs who’ve stumbled. At some point in their careers, they have had brushes with the law. Now they bear a record as proof.
Nevertheless, their past scars are a testament to their humanity and evidence of what is possible with refocusing.
Female MC #1 Remy Ma
Remy Ma hit the scene in 2000 as the newest artist on Columbia Records. 2006 saw the release of Remy’s debut album, “There’s Something About Remy: Based on a True Story.” There was no doubt that Remy went hard.
A year after her debut, things took a left. Ma had one of the most publicized run-ins with the law. As a result of her arrest, she would serve a seven-year prison bid. Remy’s charges stem from an argument with a friend, which turned lethal.
During their struggle, her friend, Barnes-Joseph, was inflicted with multiple gunshot wounds The penalty for such a crime carried a 25-year maximum.
However, the prosecution sought thirteen. Some believe the tenor of the MCs’ testimony was most influential in the judge’s final decision. According to XXL Magazine, Remy’s statement was to this effect,
“I’m not a thug. I’m not a hardcore anything; I have feelings. I’m a wife, mother, daughter, a big sister.”
And reportedly, her speech bore extreme remorse. Judge Rena Uviller’s response was an eight-year sentence. Ma won her second appeal walking free in 2014.
Female MC #2 Lil Kim
When it comes to Hip-Hop and female MCs, Lil Kim’s name is everpresent. Lil Kim, Kimberly Denise Jones caught the eye of the Notorious Big. Her talent was impressive leading Biggie to take her under his wings.
Lil Kim soon became one of the most popular mainstream female MCs. However, her artistry is not the only thing she is known for. Lil Kim takes second place regarding the most highly publicized brush with the law.
Lil Kim was convicted in 2005; her sentence was a one-year prison sentence. However, in addition to incarceration, she was also ordered to 30 days in home confinement and three years of probation.
Kim’s sentencing was the result of four counts of a criminal offense. Count one was for perjury before a grand jury. And the other three counts were for conspiracy.
When Lil Kim took the stand and was questioned about her knowledge of Damion Butler’s and Suif Jackson’s involvement in a shooting. According to a 2005 Billboard article, Kim testified she overlooked two of her close friends at the scene where the shooting occurred.
The New York Times reported, “Ms. Jones said she did not see Damion Butler at the radio station that day. She also said she did not know the person in the photograph.”
Later Lil Kim was found guilty of lying before the grand jury. Finally, Kim walked free in July of 2006.
Female MC #3 Foxy Brown
Foxy Brown is not only a contemporary but a former MC rival of Lil Kim. Lil Kim hit the booth in 1996 with her debut album “Ill Na Na.” Her debut was hot right off the press, and it wasn’t long before everyone knew her name.
Unfortunately, like Kim, she also takes recognition for her jail time. Reportedly Brown got into a fight with two stylists at a nail salon resulting in assault charges. Initially, the Hip-Hop femcee pled guilty.
However, she later attempted to rescind her plea. According to Reuters, Brown’s told the judge, “I feel I am innocent. I was coerced, and I want to take back my guilty plea.”
Of course, she was denied and given three years of probation for her involvement in the altercation. Aside from the probation, the judge’s orders would include anger management classes, drug testing, and a restraining order.
In addition, Brown could not have any contact with the stylist for five years.
Sadly Brown, Inga Marchand’s three years of probation turned into a one-year sentence. The sentence resulted from the artist refusing to attend her court hearing. According to Reuters, the defendant’s rationale for not appearing in court was due to tooth extraction. As it is now a public record, Brown was sentenced in 2007.
However, four months before her sentence was complete, Brown was out.
Female MC #4 Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill is one of the most well-known female lyricists in Hip-Hop history. Her influence is generational. In 1996 Hill and her fellow collaboratives of the group The Fugees broke records with their second debut album, “The Score.”
However, success and stardom do not keep one free from entanglements with the law. Lauryn Hill also had her brush with the law in 2012. Unfortunately, Hill had three counts against her for failing to file taxes. But, also in 2012, Hill pled guilty to the crime of tax evasion. As a result, Hill was sentenced to 3 months of jail time and three months of in-home detainment.
A year of probation was to follow. Sadly, her sentencing was only part of Hill’s penalty. According to Justice.gov, Judge Arleo ordered Hill to pay the IRS a $60,000 fine and restitution.
Arleo also ordered Hill’s full cooperation with the IRS, including payment of outstanding interest and penalties on her tax obligations.
Female MC #5 Da Brat
In 1992 Da Brat signed with So So Def Records and made her presence known. Her album “Funkdafied” made history. According to famouspeople.com, the album made her the first-ever female solo rapper to earn a platinum certification.
However, Da Brat would gain notoriety for something else, also. Foxy Brown was not the only female emcee sentenced in 2007. Da Brat also saw jail time in 2007 for assault.
DaBrat, whose real name is Shawntee Harris, had a run-in with a waitress at a Halloween party. According to Rap-Up, she struck a waitress with a rum bottle. This incident led to the waitress’s hospitalization.
As a result, a judge sentenced Brat to 3 years in prison. The MC also got seven years of probation and community service. Da Brat served her time, and sources indicate she was released early as part of a work-release program.
Female MC #6 JT of City Girls
The spotlight now spins to JT of the Hip-Hop duo City Girls. City Girls is a hot rap lyrical duo from Miami. JT and Yung Miami have been etching in the Hip-Hop scrolls since featuring with Drake on “In My Feelings.”
Unfortunately, JT learned success was not the only thing that got recognition. JT went to prison in 2018 for the crime of fraudulent credit card activity.
According to XXL, JT used the credit cards of three different people between 2016 and 2017 and spent more than $1,000. JT later turned herself in. As a result, she received 24 months in prison. However, in 2019 JT walked free.
One of the most significant components of Hip-Hop is the people who stand behind the mic. Unfortunately, every person has shadows, and some loom larger than others. While these female MCs have committed crimes, they have also done their time.
And thankfully, a fall doesn’t define the whole of a human being. Despite where these women have been, they remain inspirations. It is not for what they went through but for the heights they have risen because the real inspiration comes from how one rises from the ash heap to be reborn and reformed.
Written by: Renae Richardson