Quick, name
ten truly great female emcees in Hip Hop history. Can’t do it, can you? Digging
into crates for estrogen-laden lyricists, there’s Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill, Jean Grae, Mystic
Hell, even if you give ol’ school originators like Roxanne Shante and Salt N
a pass on the sheer influence of their legacy, or give new-school
innovators like Missy Elliott a pass
simply for changing up the game, coming up with ten impressive female lyricists
in 30 years of Hip Hop is still something of a mental exercise in futility.

This is precisely what makes Chi-town native Psalm One’s Rhymesayers debut so damn impressive. Already heralded
in URB Magazine’s “Next
100” as an emcee to watch, the self-proclaimed quirky B-girl comes out
mics a-blazin’ on the title track, dropping dazzling lyrics atop an off-kilter,
string-laden groove that sounds a little like Prince Paul’s quirky work with MC
Paul Barman
. On “The Living,” she recounts in remarkable detail her daily
life as a struggling underground Hip Hop artist; balancing the mundane minutiae
of her day job as a chemist with long nights of mic checks, performing for
small but appreciative crowds, and trying to sell a little merch before heading
home to sleep and do it all over again the next day. “Rapper Girls” is a
sizzling diss of the ambitious young ladies who use their T&A and
stripper-pole moves (yes, Lil’ Kim,
this means you) to get ahead in the Hip Hop game, with bitingly incisive lyrics
like, “You’ll never be more than
that girl who raps good for a girl/But really those titties is giving wood to
the world/They keep you around to prevent a sausage fest/And you’ll do just
fine cuz of the gloss and chest

But it’s “The Nine” that truly showcases Psalm
prodigious storytelling abilities best, with a funky, laid-back beat
supporting her memories of her mom, who “got mugged on the front porch of our Inglewood home/He greeted her with
a .38, took her bag and her bones/Your girl was in a deep slumber, didn’t hear
it go down/And when I woke up I was choked up, couldn’t cope, I broke down.”
The song goes on to recall her childhood as “a loner, a rebel, a stoner, a
,” describing herself as a chubby kid uncomfortable in her own
skin who gained confidence through her Hip Hop skills. Fuck the gangsta
bullshit– THIS is keeping it real, raw, and full of heart and guts. It’s the
best Lauryn Hill imitation since The Miseducation of…, and, along with
the rest of Death of Frequent Flyer, deserves
to be Psalm One’s first step towards