This week, Uzoy (pronounced ooh-zee) released her first proper tape, the 2DBZ-backed The [DEF]inition.
It's a good tape. At times, you would not be wrong if you were to say that it is a great tape. Solid production, memorable features, an attractive cover (that matters), a clear sense of purpose - all of the important pieces are there.
She's very clearly more naturally talented than many of her male counterparts here in town. But here's the main concern, and you may have actually noticed this already: Uzoy is a woman.
As such, any discussion of her capacity as a rapper inevitably spirals back to that fact, which inevitably spirals back to the novelty of the situation. A girl rapper automatically stands out among her peers because there are so few, but she'll stand out in the same way that a guy who always wears a top hat when he raps stands out. Even the best ones face that problem.
What's more confounding here, though, is that she's the first Houston female rapper (see?) in recent history who does not immediately fall into a preexisting role. Some specific examples, using Houston's best lady rappers:
TroubleSum, the Gutta Mamis and Kenika (to a semi-lesser extent) help make up the Femme Thug contingent. You'll almost certainly be threatened with some form of malice in their songs, and they'll almost always be backed by some larger male entity (ABN, Swisha House, etc.).
Perseph One: She's super-alt.
Candi Redd: Fronts Houston's chapter of the Independent Women club. These women will not tolerate any disrespect either, but earning your admiration is hardly their main goal.
Just Brittany, who is mostly known for singing, but raps convincingly on her new album: She's from the Sex As A Weapon club, of which Lil' Kim is the most famous member. We can still remember first hearing Kim talk about deep-throating someone and being like, "Yup, this is the greatest rapper of all time." She eventually went on to make one of the most influential albums in rap history, though not for reasons we had hoped.
Tawn P: New to the fray, she's a member of the Mother Earth group. These are usually pretty easy to pick out; they have an affinity for rhyming words like "proclamation," "segregation," "education" and any other kind of -ation together very quickly. Many times, they have dreadlocks or a similar hairstyle.
You get the point.
But Uzoy, little teeny-tiny Uzoy, is on the road without a lane. She's simply a rapper who raps about things in a very rapperly way. She raps like a man, but doesn't try to sound like one, which is usually something that turns a lot of people away from female rappers. Matter of fact, minus the intro to one song and two ironic skits, she spends most of the album avoiding the subject altogether.
She casually drops the word "nigga" - far more difficult for a woman than you'd assume - never sounds excessively preachy (another thing that turns most guys away from girl rappers) and asked for features from guys on only five of the tape's 18 songs.
And that's what we spent an hour or so chatting with her about last night, culminating in one block of questions:
How does one talk about an album from a female rapper that's mostly interesting because it doesn't sound like it's from a female rapper without talking about female rappers and blah, blah, blah. Beyond that, how does Uzoy exist as a rapper? And beyond that, can the best thing to say about a girl rapper today really be something that's as much of a backhanded insult as "she raps like a man"?
Her response proved inconsequential, but you should know that it did include an admission that she has not been singularly influenced by one female rapper. What's important is that The [DEF]inition fosters this kind of discussion.
Because it's good. That's why you should download it.
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Unless you don't like girl rappers. In which case, you'll think it's bad. And that's the problem.
Follow Uzoy on Twitter at @UZOY.