Are You Up On... The Motherlode By Clover Hope

December 2, 2022

Illustration by Rachelle Baker

Clover Hope has written for some of the most esteemed music publications in the world, from XXL and Billboard to Pitchfork. She's one of the handful of people in the last decade to interview Beyonce herself. So when we say that Clover Hope is an authority on music and music history, know that she has the CV to back up that statement. Her book 'The Motherlode' is a dive into the history of women in hiphop, and their profound influence.

The story of how hiphop has become the world's dominant form of contemporary musical expression has been told and retold, and in doing so a mythology has been created, one of towering icons, and great forebears. But as is often the case in these instances of history making, the women who were there, who in many ways built the genre, have been somewhat erased.

‘The Motherlode’ tells the stories of these women, but also the ones that are by no means unknown. Legends like Lauryn Hill and Nicki Minaj are given equal space, because the story of women in hiphop is not only one of exclusion, but of the ability to break through the noise and build a career in male dominated industries through charisma and talent.

"Gatekeepers, despite their role in helping women succeed in decades past, still present a fundamental roadblock to truly independent female artists."

Right now there's perhaps more talented women breaking through to mainstream rap audiences than ever before. And part of this is a result of the shifting business practices in rap spaces. Many women in this book secured entry into the world of hiphop by being co-signed by a male colleague. Gaining this ‘approval’ allowed them credibility and access to critical resources. These gatekeepers, despite their role in helping women succeed in decades past, still present a fundamental roadblock to truly independent female artists. But given the democratisation of music production through software, the ease of distributing music online, and the ways in which rap fans of all genders can now find each other and build community on social media, these barriers have been steadily eroded.

As rap music goes on to become a now 40-something year old genre, going from contemporary to historical, it's important that the people involved in telling that story take this level of care in noting everyone who influenced the music, not only those who have gone on to profit from it.

Works like 'The Motherlode' continue to assert the fact that women are not only entitled to a voice within hiphop going forward but have in fact always been there, despite attempts at silencing.

You can buy The Motherlode by Clover Hope at all good book stores.

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