ERS+ peeps City Winery Boston’s Poetry Vs. Hip Hop Event!

written by Bryan Edouard aka Bishop Toussaint

Queen Sheba and Jamello
Check it, right? Bostonions from all over the city gathered at City Winery to watch local Hip-Hop performers and poets go face to face in a battle of wits.

Through the doors of the wine venue was the Grammy nominated artist, Queen Sheba and her right-hand man Jamal Moore aka “Jamellow,” emceeing the event. Queen Sheba has been a host for the Poetry vs. Hip-Hop slam for nine years, but this event marks the first one she’s hosted in Boston.

Amanda SheaNajee Janey and his band

The pair greeted the energetic crowd whilst servers opened wine bottles, and conversation and laughter traveled through the room. Once the crowd settled they introduced the special performers of the night before the competition took place. Boston brand ambassador Amanda Shea began the show with her iconic poem “Social Media,” while a Sax player played in the background. Next up was the cheeky comedian Corey Manning, who made the audience hold their stomachs from laughter. The last performance before the battle was Roxbury native Najee Janey and an ensemble. He is a Hip-Hop songwriter, rapper, and poet. He temporarily turned the venue into a dance floor with his suave performance and funked it up with sweet tunes and groovy vibes.

King David

After the special guests were finished, the main event ensued. The hosts explained and demonstrated the rules of the competition, emphasizing that this battle is one of peace and love. Queen Sheba displayed her classy style which explained why she was Grammy nominated and Jamellow slammed the mic with such a poetic sway that it could’ve started a revolution.

Team Hip-Hop was led by Queen Sheba and Team Poetry by Jamellow, and boy it was intense. We had King David, Brandy Blaze , and Milkshaw Benedict on team Hip-Hop while Cloud , Anita D, and D for Team Poetry,  all over the Boston metropolitan area. The battle was an enticing one and kept you entertained while educating you on the arts alongside the artist showcasing their craft. Poets and rappers ranged from lighthearted topics, to their own personal grief. 

The audience laughed and cheered towards the end of it. If you want a chance to join in on the fun, you can, when they swing back to City Winery, July 10th. So make sure you swing on by before and after the event in July by checking out City Winery on 80 Beverly Street, Boston, MA and check out the website at to see what’s happening around if you’re ever in town. This is Bryan Edouard aka Bishop Toussaint from ERS+, the sister station of WERS 88.9 FM and I’ll Catch you on the Flip. God bless, GodSpeed, and GodBody.

Bryan Edouard aka Bishop Toussaint

Rapsody performs at BAMSFest

Rapsody shares her ‘gratitude’ with ERS+ before performing at BAMSFest!

Rapsody photo

written by Bryan Edouard aka Bishop Toussaint

During June’s Black Music Month, I had the honor of interviewing Marlanna Evans who’s known to the world as the three-time Grammy nominated Hip-Hop emcee, Rapsody. Rapsody is known for her lyrical bars, cadence, direct openness, and beyond. She’s been a professional rapper for over a decade and continues to reign supreme.  Rapsody recently dropped her newest album, “Please Don’t Cry”, this past May 17th, 2024.

Rapsody graciously sat down with me for an ERS+ a phone interview prior to her performance. We talked about her career path thus far, her album  “Please Don’t Cry” and memories about why she enjoys performing in front of a Boston audience. She shared thoughts about how covid assisted her creative process. From the cover art, to making new friendships like the one she formed with Erykha Badu, and overall growth she forged, Rapsody continues finding herself and provides first hand testimony within her music projects.

Rapsody will be performing in Boston, Massachusetts for BAMSFest aka  Boston Arts & Music Soul Fest June 29th and June 30th at Franklin Park Playstead FieldFor more information about this festival an other scheduled local and national acts go to

Bryan Edouard aka Bishop Toussaint

DJ Wheres Nasty

DJ “Where’s Nasty” chopped it up with Mo Wilks prior to droppin’ beats at BAMSFest!

DJ Where's Nasty

DJ Where’s Nasty

written by Bryan Edouard aka Bishop Toussaint
interview by DJ Mo Wilks

Our second profile guest for June’s Black Music Month is a DJ performer and producer who will be showcasing his talents this summer at BAMSFEST, which happens for two fun days, Saturday and Sunday, June 29th and 30th. Jason Almeida goes by the DJ name  Where’s Nasty  hails from neighboring Providence, RI. Nasty, who first caught the desire to move the crowd at the young age of 16, specializes in crowd rockin’ family fun.  His DJing abilities have allowed him to travel nationwide as well as led him into the remix production sphere.  Using digital production software, he has created numerous mixes and remixes, which can be streamed on SoundCloud like Formation by Where’s Nasty and Heard It All Before by Where’s Nasty.  His philosophy is to keep the party jumping no matter where his spinning travels take him.

Nasty’s entrepreneur endeavors also extend into managing companies. He is the co-founder of Stay Silent and Trade, which are both non profit organizations. He not only sets the mood for parties to vibe, but creates an eventful series that continues to grow, not just in numbers, but inside communities in and out of Boston.

Where’s Nasty will be performing in Boston, Massachusetts for Boston Arts & Music Soul Fest aka BAMSFest June 29th and June 30th at Franklin Park Playstead FieldFor more information about this festival an other scheduled local and national acts go to

Bryan Edouard aka Bishop Toussaint

Berklee celebrates Hip Hop’s 50th and it’s Boston area roots

Roxanne Shanté center stage with Berklee College's Dean of Africana Studies Dr. Emmett G. Price III right, Ph.D. and Public Enemy's Flava Flav left

Roxanne Shanté center stage with Berklee College’s Dean of Africana Studies Dr. Emmett G. Price III right, Ph.D. and Public Enemy’s Flava Flav left

written by Kathia Dawson Plus DJ Mo Wilks
photo curated by Bryan Edouard

As the month of November closed, Berklee College of Music – an institution known for developing premier music talent – recognized music pioneers of the past locally and nationally. Hip-Hop fans from and around the Boston metropolitan area filled the seats at the Berklee Performance Center, where the members of the Africana Studies hosted a showcase honoring the 50th Anniversary Celebration of Hip Hop as well as inducting the first class of the Berklee Hip-Hop Hall of Fame. The evening’s honorees included Boston’s own Prince Charles Alexander and Ed OG as well as national recording emcee/rapper and one of the first female emcees in the Hip Hop game Roxane Shanté, the headliner of the show.

Berklee College of Music Conservatory Ensemble

Berklee College of Music Conservatory Ensemble

emcee Amanda Shea

emcee Amanda Shea

The Performance Center room tone was set courtesy of one of Hip Hop’s signature elements: the DJ.  After the crowd was warmed up with familiar tracks, Berklee’s dean of the Africana Studies, Dr. Emmett G. Price III, provided the opening welcome to the sold out Berklee Performance center audience. Following Dr. Price’s welcome, the lead emcee/ local poet and host was the renowned 2022 Boston Music Award Spoken Word winner, Amanda SheaShea took to the stage and moved the crowd not only with her infectious energy, but her provocative spoken words as well. 

emcee Amanda Shea at Berklee Performance Center

emcee Amanda Shea at Berklee Performance Center

Amanda Shea initiated the festivities with heartfelt gratitude, extending thanks to all those in attendance.  A special shout-out was given to the Roxbury community eliciting applause from many in the crowd. She emphasized the significance of celebrating Hip-Hop and its profound impact on the Black community. Shea literally passed the mic to the future movers and shakers in music, Berklee students, to share their interpretations of selections from the evening’s honorees.

Berklee students from the College and Conservatory performed from the songbooks of Prince Charles and Ed OG. The students poured their energy into captivating performances dancing across the stage and igniting excitement in the crowd. They consisted of 2 guitar players, one keyboarded, three rappers that seamlessly transitioned between vocals and instrumental prowess. The stage was filled with rapping and singing. The mesmerizing performance, drew the audience’s attention in every direction. 

Oompa at Berklee College of Music

Oompa on stage at Berklee Performance Center

Following the Berklee ensemble, an emerging new local emcee – Oompa from Roxbury – controlled the stage, solidifying that  Boston’s Hip Hop future is in very good hands.  The 14-time nominated and 3 time Boston Music Award winner Oompa matched the playful production by bouncing across the stage while the lights bounced with them while also rapping about the struggles of the streets.  Oompa has been a performing fixture on the Boston scene for a number of years gracing the stages of local festivals such as BAMSFest and Boston Calling.

Prince Charles Alexander and Dean Dr. Emmett-Price III

Prince Charles Alexander and Dean Dr. Emmett-Price III

After Oopma’s standing ovation worthy performances, Dr. Price returned to the Berklee stage to commence the induction proceedings. The first inductee into the Hall of Fame was producer and Berklee professor Prince Charles Alexander. Alexander has the distinction of being one of the first Bostonians to produce a Hip Hop album. His career started as the lead of “Prince Charlees and the City Beat Band.” He released three records before focusing on audio engineering. He’s led a successful career, his clients include  Mary J. Blige, Destiny’s Child, Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, P.Diddy, Usher, Brian McKnight, and many others. He is a multi-Grammy nominee and a three time Grammy winner as a recording and mixing engineer. He has accumulated more than 40 platinum and gold certifications for record sales from the Recording Industry Association of America. He currently teaches courses in Berklee’s Music Production and Engineering Department.  Charles said during his acceptance speech,  “I will work tirelessly to push for hip hop to be recognized within academica for the valuable  human, musical, entrepreneurial and educational impact.” After his sincerely heartfelt speech, Dr. Price moved the ceremony to the hall’s next recipient Ed OG.  

Ed OG and Dean Dr. Emmett Price

Ed OG and Dean Dr. Emmett Price

Roxbury’s Ed OG, real name Edward Anderson, is one of only a select few early Hip Hop pioneers – rocking since the late 1980’s – to not only be successful internationally, but to proudly rep the Boston area. His group Ed OG and The Bulldogs – (an acronym for The Black United Leaders Livin’ Directly On Groovin Sounds) jazz-soul infused songs “I Got To Have It,” “Love Comes And Goes,” and “Be A Father To Your Child,” are Boston Hip Hop classics. “ I Got To Have It,” off his first album Life of a Kid in the Ghetto went to number one on the Billboard Rap Singles charts nationally. Ed O.G is still performing and producing with other Hip Hop artists locally and nationally such as Boston’s Fakts One and New York’s Pete Rock and the Juice Crew’s Masta Ace. Ed humbly accepted the induction and urged the Berklee crowd to keep Hip Hop in their hearts and keep believing the power of it moving forward.

The final induction was saved for pioneering female emcee and trailblazer Roxanne Shanté. Shanté, born Lolita Shante Gooden, was an inspiration to the plethora of female emcees who followed her when she single handedly took on U.T.F.O. in the infamous Roxanne Roxanne Hip Hop diss-track vinyl wars of the mid-1980’s.  Her 1984 single, “Roxanne’s Revenge,” was one of the first of its kind during Hip Hop’s pre-teen genre youth. It wasn’t rare for the reply, but it was definitely a first as a female emcee to oppose a male emcee. Gooden’s gift of gab grabbed attention at age 14. Shanté challenged other rap crews including New York’s Boogie Down Productions with KRS-1 as well as west coast area rappers like JJ FAD. She worked on projects with other recording artists like record label mate Biz Markie, and funk master Rick James.  Roxanne is a two-time Breast Cancer survivor.  She shared her love for music, and the struggles it took to get her success, the sexisim she faced, being a single mother, the people who cheated her out of money. WIth that said, she performed just as fearlessly. 

Roxanne Shanté and Flava Flav hug

Roxanne Shanté and Flava Flav hug

Roxanne Shanté, Flava Flav, and Dr. Emmett Price III

Roxanne Shanté, Flava Flav, and Dr. Emmett Price III center stage

Currently, Roxanne Shanté can be heard on L.L. Cool J’s ‘Rock The Bells’ channel on the Sirius/XM satellite radio network. Introducing and welcoming her into Berklee’s Hip Hop Hall of Fame was another genre icon, Public Enemy’s Flava Flav. Shanté, who didn’t have a prepared acceptance speech, revealed she usually speaks from the heart, emphasizing that
“Everything for me, including my life, is a freestyle.”  

Roxanne Shanté and DJ Cool V at Berklee Performance Center

Roxanne Shanté and DJ Cool V at Berklee Performance Center

After all three recipients happily received their Hall Of Fame medals and took photographs together, Shanté was backed by Biz Markie’s DJ CutMaster Cool V for a magical performance that saw her walk through the audience and interact with them. Roxanne took the Berklee crowd on a historic ride through not only some of her own hits, but Hip Hop’s golden era hits including Run DMC’s Sucker MC’s and Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.” More importantly, she reminded everyone about the struggle, lifestyle and culture associated with inner city living. 

Ed OG accepting his Hall of Fame medal

Ed OG accepting his Hall of Fame medal

Berklee’s Hip Hop anniversary celebration revealed something that the Boston faithful inside the Performance Center already knew.  Hip Hop and Boston, are inextricably linked. Some of Hip Hop’s biggest supporters, performers and creatives have roots that originated right here inside Boston Massachusetts, be it Roxbury, Dorchester, or Mattapan. The event was a testament to the enduring influence and versatility of Hip Hop and serves as an affirmation of the power in uniting through music. 

As this celebratory year closes out, may we remember Hip Hop has outlasted early critics who deemed it wasn’t real music and just a passing fad. Hip Hop is the story of young Black America and has evolved into a national phenomenon of global importance and power. As Rakim so eloquently penned, “It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at!” Props to Hip Hop and Boston’s contributions to it.

LL Cool J, A F.O.R.CE. at TD Garden!

Hip Hop’s F.O.R.C.E. on full display for 50th finalé.

ERS-Plus is turning up the volume on MCs across 50 years of Hip Hop. Want more Hip-Hop and R&B? Check out ERS-Plus on 88.9FM HD2 and online at

L.L. Cool J performing at TD Garden during the F.O.R.C.E tour

L.L. Cool J at TD Garden, the F.O.R.C.E tour

by DJ Mo Wilks, Photos courtesy of Jim LaCreta
To say a good time was had by all would be an understatement. LL Cool J’s FORCE Tour stopped through the TD Garden on Sunday November 19th, celebrating 50 years of Hip Hop with royalty that included a Queen, the DJ of a Fresh Prince and surprise guest performers that straight up did the damn thing. For real, for real: the FORCE (Frequencies Of Real Creative Energy) Tour was a Hip Hop trip from the ABC’s of it, to the OPP’s and DMC’s of it.

Questlove at TD Garden


One Hip Hop’s signature ingredients, the ‘boom bap’, is the boom of the bass and the bap of the drum. Both elements were more than adequately taken care of thanks to the Legendary Roots crew featuring The Magnificent Jazzy Jeff on the turntables under the musical direction of drummer Questlove. LL specifically selected the band for their versatility and because of lead vocalist rapper Black Thought, who LL dubbed at evenings end, “your rapper’s favorite rapper.” Black Thought provided backing rap vocals to keep the artists on task, on pace and on point. Never has there been a rapper more flexible to provide every rapper’s style, cadence and flow as Black Thought. He was flawless.

DJ Jazzy Jeff

DJ Jazzy Jeff

Master emcee Doug E. Fresh was the opening act. An emcee of his caliber commanded the TD Garden stage and could have done so on his own for the entire night. A historic moment occurred when he and storytelling great Slick Rick reunited to perform their classic, “The Show”. Rick would also rhyme to “Mona Lisa” with Jazzy Jeff on the turntables. Slick Rick was draped in his signature full chain along with backup dancers, The Slick-ettes. The human beatbox trainer, Doug E. Fresh announced this was not only Hip Hop’s biggest party, but the biggest Scorpio birthday party.

Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick at TD Garden

Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick

LL Cool J, possibly the best in-shape rapper in the game, took the stage for the first of his two performance sets. Seamlessly, Uncle L and The Roots were synced up to the mammoth background screen that projected music video memories for the crowd to reminisce to. His set included: “4,3,2,1,” “Around The Way Girl,” “Head Sprung,” “Jingling Baby,” “Nitro,” and “Going Back To Cali”. The sold out Garden audience was put on notice while the Bronx, New York may have been Hip Hop’s birthplace, Queens had a hand in the art as well. When he brought out DMC of Run DMC, they rapped together to “Here We Go”. Shortly after, DMC rocked out and rhymed to “It’s Tricky”.

LL Cool J and DMC of Run DMC

LL Cool J and DMC

DMC of Run DMC at TD Garden

DMC of Run DMC







There was a pause in between performers with The Roots Crew showing their creative musicianship. The Roots took the arena on a journey that covered icons Earth Wind and Fire, blended into a DMX tribute, then made a segue from Stevie Wonder’s vintage hit “Knocks Me Off My Feet” into WU-Tang’s ODB “Shimmy Shimmy”. The Flavor Unit was next to rock the mic.

Queen Latifah at TD Garden

Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah took the TD Garden stage to a standing ovation as is deserving of rap royalty. She began with her first hit 1989’s, “Wrath Of My Madness” giving a loving shout to the track’s producer, the late DJ Mark The 45 King. Latifah decked out in sparkling gear moved the crowd, through her catalog of jams including, “Just Another Day,” and “It’s Alright”. A true supportive sister, Latifah would bring to the stage another Native Tongues/Flavor Unit member: Monie Love. The duo recreated their hit collab, “Ladies First” and Latifah gave Monie the stage to show some love, having her perform “Monie In The Middle”.

Monie Love at TD Garden

Monie Love

Queen Latifah showed why she’s on par with any male rapper in terms of flow, celebrity and influence. She introduced her fellow New Jersey rapper Treach of Naughty By Nature to the roar of the crowd.

Queen Latifah and Treach of Naughty By Nature at TD Garden

Latifah and Treach

Treach didn’t waste a second, jumping right into the mix with his group’s hits,”Uptown Anthem,” “Craziest,” and “O.P.P.” The Queen and leader of the Flavor Unit called for a very appropriate change in the playlist, switching out her song, “Unity” for, Naughty By Nature’s, “Hip Hop Hooray”, as a salute to Hip Hop’s 50th Anniversary as well as the concluding evening of their successful national tour.

LL Cool J at TD Garden

LL Cool J

L.L. Cool J would take the stage again with DJ Z-Trip for his final set and tour bows. During this set he proved why the Ladies Love Cool James with a series of slow sensual grooves, and occasional shirt lift the ladies definitely approved of. His final set featured, “I Need Love,” and “Hey Love” featuring Boyz II Men. There were salutes to rappers who had passed away including Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest and a nod to Notorious B.I.G. as well duets he did with Jennifer Lopez. The screams were non-stop. After giving the ladies some flavor, Cool J reminded dudes that just because he has a soft side, he’s still the Ripper rapper who is not to be trifled with.

Reviving his lyrics from the rap collaboration “I Shot Ya”, L.L. effortlessly dismissed and reminded people rappers like Kool Moe D and Ice-T didn’t last long when in the crosshairs of L.L.’s path. One of his concluding songs, “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”, took us back in time to one of his break out songs which made it to the soundtrack to the movie Krush Groove. He would smooth out the set again paying tribute to spreading love to the ladies with, “Who Do You Love” and the playful track “Hush”. In what could only be described as L.L.’s tribute to his own childhood rap heroes, he rocked the audience out to Brooklyn’s Whodini and their 1982 hit, “Freaks Come Out at Night”.

It was an amazing, generational transcending event from start to finish, full of families sharing smiles, Kangols, Adidas suits, colorful graffiti clothing, large earrings and memories. Everyone reminisced and rapped along to the soundtrack of their youth; a time of Hip Hop’s infancy and growth.

Quoting the Notorious B.I.G. from his hit “Juicy”, ‘Who ever thought that hip-hop would take it this far?’ Nay-sayers surely didn’t, but the voices of the artists and their supporters knew Hip Hop was and is going far. Cheers to the spirit of Hip Hop and the next 50 years.

Hip Hop 50th Anniversary: Snoop Dogg, Icon

By Kathia Dawson, Urban Coordinator


The world of hip-hop changed when Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., better known as Snoop Dogg, entered the music industry. Over three decades, he’s become known for his distinctive style, laid-back flow and his ability to bridge generations with his music. On October 20th, 1971, a legend was born.


Hailing from Long Beach, California, Snoop embodies the sun-soaked vibes of the West Coast in his music and persona. He had an affinity for music from the age of six and honed that love for the rest of his life. He started along the path to musical stardom in the early 1990s when a tape from the collaborative group 213 that consisted of him, his two cousins and a friend landed in the hands of Dr. Dre. From then, Snoop was discovered. Snoop for his unique flavor with a distinctive, laid-back style that would later become his trademark.


Snoop Dogg’s big break came when he collaborated with hip-hop heavyweight Dr. Dre, who featured him on his single “Deep Cover,” and his landmark album, The Chronic, in 1992. In 1993, he signed to Death Row Records and released his first album “Doggystyle.” This album became an instant classic, entering the Billboard 200 at number one. Hit singles off the album included “Gin and Juice” and “What’s My Name?.” Snoop did it again in 1996, peaking on the Billboard 200 Pop and R&B album charts with his double platinum sophomore album, Tha Doggfather. The album featured longtime friend and rapper Tupac Shakur, aka “Makaveli,” who died a month before the album’s release.


Snoop Dogg’s talents don’t stop at being a musical powerhouse; he’s ventured into acting, brand spokesperson and cannabis advocate. He has a cannabis brand, “Leafs by Snoop,” as well as cooking show “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party”.  Other endorsements include: Corona, Beyond Meat, Sodastream and Grubhub. In 2018, he also published his own cookbook.  Snoop purchased his former record company, Death Row Records and is planning to dive into film production.  He’s been featured in documentaries about Tupac and Biggie, played minor roles in Soul Plane, Scary Movie, and Turbo and reality television.


Snoop Dogg’s family consists of high school sweetheart wife Shante three adult children, five grandchildren.  Shante serves as her husband’s manager and co-creating the unisex scarf line, “The Broadus Collection”.  She is the owner of Boss Lady Entertainment, a music management company.


Snoop Dogg and Tupac met through their work at Death Row Records and became close friends in their time together. Snoop co-rapped in Tupac’s “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted.” After Tupac’s death, Snoop became an unofficial torchbearer of not only Death Row Records but the west coast legacy as well. In 2017, Snoop inducted Tupac into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.


One of Snoop Dogg’s most remarkable qualities is his musical versatility.  He’s worked with artists from Pharrell Williams, on “Beautiful,” to Katy Perry, on “California Gurls.”  In 2012, Snoop Dogg turned into Snoop Lion when he released a Reggae album titled Reincarnated. In 2013, he collaborated with funk musician Dâm Funk for the album 7 Days of Funk. Snoop said in a 2014 interview with The Guardian, “When I’m recording as Snoopzila, I’m basically an offspring of Bootsy Collins.”  Snoop Dogg has had numerous successes working with R&B funk legend Charlie Wilson, of Gap Band fam — “One more day” and “Peaches n’ Cream,” just to name a few. Snoop even nicknamed Wilson “Uncle Charlie.” When commenting on Wilson in a press release, Snoop said “Uncle Charlie has always been a big inspiration for me… his testimony of what he’s overcome.”  The two also collaborated with Pharrell.


“Nuthin’ But A G Thang” (Dr. Dre, featuring Snoop Dogg) (1992). “One, two, three and to the fo.’ Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the do’” one of the most well-known intros in hip hop history.

“Deep Cover” (Dr. Dre, featuring Snoop Dogg) (1992). Dr. Dre’s introduced his protégé on the soundtrack “Deep Cover.” Snoop Dogg delivered right out of the gate with an instant classic.

“Gin and Juice” (1994). “Laid back” like the L.A. lifestyle and Snoop’s rapstyle.

“Vapors” (1996). From his sophomore album, Tha Doggfather, Snoop Dogg covered a hip-hop classic: Biz Markie’s “Vapors” and revealed his appreciation for 80’s hip-hop culture.

“Drop It Like It’s Hot” (featuring Pharrell) (2004). Snoop teamed up with super producer Pharrell whose golden touch provided one of the best Snoop Dogg songs of the 00s. The song is Snoop’s biggest hit to date debuting at No.1 on the Billboard 100.


Bootsy Collins
Rick James
Parliament Funkadelic
George Clinton
Biz Markie
Slick Rick


1994, “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” (with Dr. Dre) — Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated
1995, “Gin and Juice” — Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated
1996, “What Would You Do” (with Tha Dogg Pound) — Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group Nominated
2000, “Still D.R.E.” (with Dr. Dre) — Nominated
2001, “The Next Episode” (with Dr. Dre) — Nominated
2004, “Beautiful” (featuring Pharrell & Charlie Wilson) — Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Nominated
2005, “Drop It Like It’s Hot” (featuring Pharrell) — Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group and Best Rap Song Nominated
2009, “Sexual Eruption” — Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated; Best Rap Song Nominated
2011, Teenage Dream (as featured artist) — Album of the Year Nominated. “California Gurls”(with Katy Perry) — Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals Nominated
2014, Reincarnated — Best Reggae Album Nominated
2016, To Pimp a Butterfly (as featured artist) — Album of the Year Nominated


1994 Billboard Music Award for Top Male Artist
1994 MTV Video Music Award for Best Rap Video · Doggy Dogg World
1995 Soul Train Music Award for Best Rap Album · Doggystyle
2002 MTV Movie Award for Best Cameo · Training Day
2003 BET Award for Best Collaboration · Beautiful
2006 MTV Video Music Award for Best Dance Video · Buttons
2010 MTV Europe Music Award for Best Video · California Gurls
2015 MTV Video Music Award for Best Art Direction · So Many Pros
2016 BET Hip Hop I Am Hip-Hop Icon Award
2018 A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
2019 BET Award for Best Gospel/Inspirational Artist · Blessing Me Again
2021 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award


Snoop Dogg was chart-topping from the beginning, setting the scene for the rest of his successful career. He effortlessly bridges the gap between the soulful sounds of the ’70s and the gritty narratives of gangsta rap with his smooth delivery and laid-back charisma. His ability to adapt without compromising his style is what has led to having such a loyal fanbase.

His music not only pays homage to the funk and soul legends of the past but also propels these retro elements into the contemporary hip-hop scene, creating a distinctive blend that is both timeless and relevant. His role in the West Coast hip-hop scene started in the 1990s at Death Row Records, but doesn’t end there. His advocacy for cannabis, his charismatic energy and his adaptability to the ever-changing landscape of fame has made him an icon.

From his early days in Long Beach to becoming a global icon, Snoop Dogg has consistently pushed the boundaries of hip-hop and left an indelible mark on the culture. Snoop’s influence extends far beyond music, and his ability to stay relevant and evolve with the times showcases his lasting impact. Here’s to Snoop Dogg, a true hip-hop legend who continues to inspire and entertain us all.

Queen Latifah - 50 Years of Hip Hop

Leading Ladies Of Hip Hop: Queen Latifah

By Ash Jones, Staff Writer


When I think of Queen Latifah, I see the embodiment of female Hip Hop. She carries herself with fearless energy and takes on the mic as if it were her destiny to do so. Queen Latifah is deservedly on a pedestal that most female rappers look up to, and her legacy continues to carry on.

Given the name Dana Owens, Queen Latifah was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1970. At age eight, her cousin gave her the nickname Latifah meaning “delicate and sensitive” in Arabic. Though her name may be gentle, her words call for action. Queen Latifah has always proved herself as a powerhouse. When she started rapping in her late teens, her abilities shined through with full force.

Being a contralto, Latifah started as a singer in the Catholic Church. However, she soon moved away from performing sacred melodies with her choir. When Latifah was a junior in high school, she formed a female rap trio with a tight-knit group of friends. They called themselves Ladies Fresh, and her early beatboxing skills caught the attention of producers in the music industry.

Around the time she went to community college, Queen Latifah became an o.g. member of the Flavor Unit, an underground crew of Jersey MCs that made music with DJ King Gemini (aka The 45 King). He sent one of Latifah’s demos to an MTV host: Fab 5 Freddy. Then, Dante Ross, who worked closely with Fab 5 Freddy, signed Latifah and helped release her first single “Wrath of My Madness” in 1989.

That same year, Latifah released her debut album, All Hail the Queen; this full-length release would go on to sell over a million copies. It featured the hit single “Ladies First,” introducing London’s Monie Love with her frenetic spitting on the track. Thematically, the song revolved around the mistreatment of Black women in the music industry.

Latifah was always known for relaying topics of domestic abuse, racism, and sexism into her music. She wasn’t afraid to present subjects that weren’t commonly heard through a Black female perspective into mainstream consciousness.

At just nineteen years old, the course of Latifah’s life changed for the better. She took time off from school, saying she’d return if her music career didn’t work out—she hasn’t gone back to school since.


Latifah released her sophomore effort, Nature Of A Sista, in 1991. This album showcased a different sound; solid Hip Hop lyrics flowed over elements of jazz, reggae, and more traditional rap production. Additionally, she effortlessly incorporated the emerging vibe of Hip House by blending in the uptempo dance-floor pulse of House music. The album’s featured singles included “Fly Girl,” “Latifah’s Had It Up To Here,” and “How Do I Love Thee.” Thematically diverse, Latifah covered sensuality in a way that wasn’t common for Hip Hop artists. She also showed more comfort and confidence in her singing abilities.

Already respectfully crowned, Latifah dropped Black Reign in 1993. Subsequently, the album achieved Gold status in the United States. Standout track “U.N.I.T.Y.” empowered women to not accept the disrespect of being called out of their names. Ultimately, Latifah won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for the hit song.

Due to her stage presence and award-show success, the NFL asked her to perform God Bless America at the 1998 Super Bowl. She became one of the first rap artists to perform in football’s biggest event showcase. The Queen was no longer only royalty in the Hip Hop community; she started making waves across the country, trying her hand at other mediums such as acting, jazz singing, and producing.

When Queen Latifah made her way to the big screen, she carried her vocal skills with her. Starting with smaller supporting roles in films like Jungle Fever (1991) and Juice (1992), the Queen’s acting commanded respect in the multi-awarded adaption of Chicago (2002). Playing the exuberant role of Matron Mama Morton, she sang with an alluring charisma that wooed audiences. People weren’t expecting Latifah to have such strong vocal chops. She demonstrated her talents once again in Hairspray (2007), performing an original song for the musical’s soundtrack.

In between starring in acclaimed filmsLatifah showed her versatility in music outside of Hip Hop. The 2004 release, The Dana Owens Album, spotlighted her takes on soul and jazz standards, earning Latifah a Grammy nomination along the way.

With her 2007 release Trav’lin’ Light, she let loose the richness of her lush voice. In the same year, she performed at the Hollywood Bowl alongside Stevie WonderErykah Badu, and Jill Scott. That year was a huge turning point for Queen Latifah, and she sealed it off by receiving a Grammy nomination for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.

A multi-talented actress, filmmaker, show host, singer, and rapper, Queen Latifah’s extensive list of accomplishments and accolades make her an astounding role model in Hip Hop. In January of 2006, she received her plaque on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, solidifying her well-deserved star status.


Becoming a rapper in the late ’80s, there’s no doubt that Queen Latifah adored the groups that wrote the blueprint for what we know as Hip Hop today. She took inspiration from groups such as Run-D.M.CPublic Enemy, and EPMD.

When she starred as Bessie Smith in HBO’s Bessie (2015), Latifah noted that the blues singer was a huge influence on her later work in the 2000s. Queen Latifah enjoys all genres, and it’s reflected in her work—reggae, jazz, and house music are all present in her discography.


  • Best Rap Album at Independent Music Awards for Nature of a Sista, 1991
  • Best Rap Solo Performance at The Grammy Awards for “U.N.I.T.Y,” 1995
  • Best Supporting Actress nomination at The Academy Awards for Chicago, 2002
  • Best Female Rap Solo Performance nomination  at The Grammy Awards for “Go Head,” 2004
  • Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album nomination at The Grammy Awards for Trav’lin’ Light, 2004
  • Best Jazz Vocal Album at The Grammy Awards for The Dana Owens Album, 2005
  • Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film nomination at The Golden Globes for Bessie, 2006
  • Best Actress in a Miniseries Television or Film at The Golden Globes for Life Support, 2008
  • BET Awards Icon Award, 2021


  • “U.N.I.T.Y.”
  • “Ladies First”
  • “Just Another Day…”
  • “Latifah’s Had It Up to Here”
  • “Fly Girl”
  • “Dance for Me”
  • “Black Hand Side”


Queen Latifah’s legacy is a queendom of artistry while staying true to her core self—a throwback to a bygone era. She sings, raps, and acts on the big and small screen, produces entertainment content, and hosts daytime television shows.

Several different demographics have seen her develop into a persona with different capacities and themes. Yet, somehow, she maintains her “just another girl around the way” identity—a person who’ll bring the disrespect if shown it and someone who’ll always have your back too.

For early fans, she will always be the Afro-centric Latifah, who declared “Ladies First.” Other people see her as the unifying no-nonsense force of “U.N.I.T.Y.” To some, she’ll always be part of their favorite TV memories as Khadijah James of Flavor Magazine (her role on Living Single) or memorable Cleo from the motion picture Set It Off (1996). Some fans may know her as a jazz singer. Lastly, a whole new audience knows Latifah as a stage and screen actor. Most recently, she is the main protagonist in the television series, The Equalizer.

Her connection and authenticity with people, specifically women, allow her the fluidity to play characters who are not originally written with a female actress in mind. Her audiences have confidence in her abilities and believe all things are possible for Latifah.

This chameleon-like variety of possibilities is her legacy. Whether she mapped out this life or not, things can start out as just another day, but when the nature of a sista is pure, we all wind up hailing the queen after it is all said and done.

Leading Ladies Of Hip Hop: Salt-N-Pepa

By Kathia Dawson, Staff Writer


Few have paved the way for female artists in the Hip Hop industry like Hip Hop trio Salt-N-Pepa. The group’s influences are widely seen today, and more than three decades after their top hits have been released, their songs are still known by everyone. Salt-N-Pepa were the first female rappers to win a Grammy Award for Performance by a Duo or Group, and first all-female rap act to achieve gold and platinum status.

The group as we know them today started as a duo with Cheryl James (“Salt”), who was born on March 28, 1966, and Sandra Denton (“Pepa”), born November 6, 1966. The two met as first year students at Queensborough Community College where both were studying nursing. The group’s turntablist, Spinderella — real name Deidra Roper, born August 3, 1970 — would join the duo later, in 1986, after Salt-N-Pepa’s previous Spinderella was released. James and Roper are from Brooklyn and Denton is from Queens.

Salt described their college days in 1985 as less about learning and more about them bonding as sisters. “We were big time screw-ups,” James told The Guardian. “We never went to class. We’d just hang around in the lunchroom playing cards, and we formed this amazing friendship. Because we were polar opposites, we fascinated each other.”

In addition to going to school together, the close friends also worked together at Sears as telephone operators. Other notables who worked alongside them included soon to be Hip Hop duo Kid-N-Play, comedian Martin Lawerence, as well as Salt’s boyfriend Hurby Azor. Azor, a music student, was the main producer for Salt-N-Pepa’s early works and became a big contributor to their sound.

The group officially formed in 1985, at first under the name Super Nature. People began calling the women Salt-N-Pepa after a lyric from their debut single “The Show Stoppa.” The verse went, “‘Cause we, the Salt and Pepa MCs.” From then on, the now iconic nickname stuck.

Early in their rap journey, they weren’t thinking about the money that came from their songs. Their big goal was to be on the radio, but what started as a fun pastime later became a full time job.


Their first track was recorded in 1985 during a time where rap battles were big. “The Show Stoppa” was a diss track in response to big names Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh’s song “The Show.” It was ballsy for the two to take on established names for their first track in a male-dominated industry.

One day the pair were listening to the radio while driving in Queens and heard “The Show Stoppa.” Salt recalls in an interview with Rolling Stone, “Pep, being the crazy person that she is— she stopped the car in the middle of the boulevard, she jumped out of the car, and she started screaming, ’They’re playing my song! That’s me! That’s me on the radio! And I’m like, ‘Get back in the car!’”

Azor had taken it to WBLS and DJ Marl, who had a show called World Famous Mr. Magic Rap Attack. This exposure garnered the group attention, which eventually led to signing with indie record label Next Plateau. The label offered them $5,000 for the single “I’ll Take Your Man,” and another $9,000 for an album.

The duo went on to complete recording a whole album— a major feat for men or women in those early days of Hip Hop. In between the release of their first album, Hot Cool Vicious, and their sophomore effort, A Salt With A Deadly Pepa, the group produced a single which became an international sensation.

The B-side for the single “Tramp,” “Push-It,” was released in 1987. The pair actually hated this song and thought it was cheesy. Recorded in a bathroom, the track unexpectedly took off and propelled their career to a new realm of fame. The song sold more than a million copies, hit No.20 on Billboard Pop charts, and earned them a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance.

In 1986, the group continued to evolve. They added a 16-year-old DJ Deidre Roper, with the stage name Spinderella. Thematically, they grew even more unashamed about delving into taboo topics. They embraced their sexuality on titles like “Let’s Talk About Sex,” released in 1991. And at a time when it was the prevailing global health concern, they addressed the HIV epidemic in the sharply-titled public service announcement “I’ve Got Aids,” voiced by the group WeTalk from Boston, Massachusetts.


In the mid-1990s, Salt entered into the Christian music space, collaborating on the Grammy nominated “Stomp” with Kirk Franklin in 1997. This was also the year of their last album as a group. The group disbanded in 2002 when Salt wanted to focus on producing.

In 2003, Spinderella began work as a radio personality on KKBT in Los Angeles, spinning old school hip hop. Pepa was featured in the reality TV show The Surreal Life in 2005. In 2007 they flirted with a comeback, and starred in their own reality series, the Salt-N-Pepa show.

Tensions within the trio became public when Spinderella sued Salt-N-Pepa, alleging fraud, breach of contract, trademark infringement, and unpaid royalties. Spinderella is no longer a part of Salt-N-Pepa. Her departure was made official when she was barely acknowledged in the group’s recent Lifetime biopic.


Spinderella has gone on the record noting she was influenced by vintage soul music from the likes of the O’Jays and Marvin Gaye. In an interview, they stated rapper Roxanne Shanté was influential and part of their blueprint.


It’s no doubt Salt-N-Pepa paved the way for many of the popular female rappers and groups that are well-known today; however, it wasn’t easy for them. They broke barriers in the male-dominated music industry, facing off with the double challenge of being women, and Black women at that.

Their influence is extremely broad. Just a few artists they’ve gone on to influence are TLC, Lil’ KimFoxy BrownRemy MaNicki MinajCardi BCity Girls, and many more. Spinderella also made a blueprint for female DJs. Before her, there weren’t many who could flaunt mainstream success.

Meatloaf, burgers, macaroni and cheese, and more are what’s on the menu next for James and Denton. The pair are launching their own show, Cookin’ with Salt-N-Pepa, which is set to premiere on The Cooking Channel. The premise of the show is that the pair will tour their favorite spots around the country, review the food they try, and spend time with the chefs who prepared it.


  • First all-female rap act to go Platinum
  • First females to win a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, for “None of Your Business” 1995
  • MTV Best Choreography in a Video for “Whatta Man,” 1994
  • MTV Best Dance Video for “Whatta Man,” 1994
  • MTV Best R&B Video, “Whatta Man,” 1994
  • Entertainer of the Year at Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, 1995
  • Grammys Lifetime Achievement Award, 2021
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame Star, received in 2022


  • “The Show Stoppa,”
  • “Push It”
  • “Shoop”
  • “What A Man”
  • “Let’s Talk About Sex”


The strength of Cheryl James and Sandra Denton’s friendship transformed them from screw-ups to international sensations.

More than three decades after their releases, hits like “Push It,” “Let’s talk about sex,” “Whatta Man” and “Shoop” still hold a place in history as some of the most cutting-edge lyrics of the time that are relevant today.

Salt-N-Pepa were the first female rappers to be certified platinum. Their recognition and success was largely because of their fearlessness to speak on taboo topics. The band hit the hearts of their largely female audience by speaking their truth and being bold with the things they had to say. They were one of the first female groups to explore female relationships with men in their genre. Their voice gave voice to future generations of female rappers as well as millions of other women in the world.

Leading Ladies Of Hip Hop: Roxanne Shanté

By Breanna Nesbeth, WERS Music Coordinator


Roxanne Shanté is one of the first female super stars in Hip Hop. She paved the way for much of what the culture and genre is today. Ironically, Shanté has rarely been discussed as a serious player in Hip Hop’s 50 year history until recently.

Shanté, birth name Lolita Shanté Gooden, established herself through a distinctive style of solely freestyle-rapping, and it’s in Queens, Queensbridge to be exact– where we see the start of the prodigy’s journey.

Roxanne Shanté honed her rapping skills at the early age of eight.  She developed her interest in rap through watching the game show “Hollywood Squares”. During the show, Shanté would watch comedian Nipsey Russell answer questions back in the form of a rhyme.  In an interview with Ailsa Chang for NPR, Shanté shared “… people would ask him [Russell] questions, and he would answer them in a rhyming form. So I sat in front of the TV and was like, I like Nipsey Russell. I like to hustle. So what it did was it started a whole rhyming effect. And I would rhyme the entire day.”

By the time Shanté turned nine, she was participating in and winning local rap battles. At ten years old, she earned her first $50 in a rap battle contest. By fourteen, Shanté, still a young lady with a ponytail and braces from humble beginnings, was a respected force during Hip Hop’s infancy.

By the time Shanté turned 15, she went through significant life altering challenges. She was in an abusive relationship with an older boyfriend, which produced her son Kareem. The very same year she became officially  recognized as the first female battle rapper. This title was bestowed when she took on MC KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions in what became known as “The Bridge Wars” – a rap battle between rappers from Queens and the Bronx.

Over the course of her career, Shanté had been cheated out of money by managers and others whom she trusted. By age 25, Shanté made a decision to take a step back from the Hip Hop scene and for the most part retired from the recording industry. She continued to make motion picture appearances and book live performances, however. Shanté had acting roles in the movies Colors (1988), Lean On Me (1989), and Girls Town (1996).


After developing her freestyling skills, Shanté would take on older male competitors in rap battles, winning with her lyricism that incorporated her sharp tongue and wit. At age fourteen, Shanté was approached by neighbor and producer Marlon “Marley Marl” Williams to rhyme on an ‘answer track’ he was working on. The answer track’s beat came from the Hip Hop song “Roxanne Roxanne” by the Brooklyn rap group U.T.F.O. The resulting countersong – “Roxanne’s Revenge” – was released in 1984. It’s considered hip-hop’s first diss record, leading to dozens of response records.

In the aforementioned NPR interview, Shanté shares “‘Roxanne’s Revenge’ was a freestyle, a seven-minute freestyle where the story I was telling was the fact that when men approach you and they’re trying to heckle and – you need to be able to turn around and answer them. So if they were rappers, you just proved that you were a better rapper. And you turned around and you responded in a rhyming form.”

“Roxanne’s Revenge” hit number 22 on the R&B/Hip Hop charts, and would eventually spark The Roxanne Wars, a series of tracks that were responses to the hit song. Gooden would then go on to join The Juice Crew, a rapping crew of all male rappers and Shanté.  The roster of the Juice Crew included rap pioneers, Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, MC Shan, and Kool G Rap. She began to tour with the crew and in 1985 released a single with another female rapper, Brooklyn’s Sparky D, “Round One, Roxanne Shanté vs Sparky Dee,” on Spin Records.


There aren’t many known artists who’ve been influential in Shanté’s career, seeing the genre itself was so young when she emerged. And of all the artists on the scene who were experimenting with Hip Hop at the time, almost all were men. Her closest contemporaries who approximate Shanté’s attitude and bravado would be R&B’s Millie Jackson and Linda Clifford.

However, she has influenced many. At the height of her career, Shanté was referred to as the “Queen of Rap” by The New York Times. She’s been credited for popularizing “the diss track,” and been called “rap’s first female star.” She’s been considered a pioneer for the first generation of female MCs, all while advocating for female empowerment.

Additionally, because of the newness of the genre at the time, Shanté had not received any awards for her music.


The success of “Roxanne’s Revenge” also led to a string of other hits by Roxanne Shanté including, “Have a Nice Day,” and “Bite This.”

Her pioneering 1984 single, “Roxanne’s Revenge,” is now eligible for platinum certification in the U.S. This song– a true freestyle–is especially amazing because 39 years ago, a 15-year-old girl was able to encapsulate commentary about sexism and catcalling into a song and these are discussions society is still grappling with today.

As the only female member of Marley Marl’s Juice Crew, Shanté entered yet another hip hop beef— “The Bridge Wars”, between Queensbridge, Queens and the South Bronx. After an initial diss from KRS-One of Boogie Down Productions,  Shanté clapped back onhe 1987 track “Have a Nice Day” with “Now KRS One, you should go on vacation/With that name sounding like a wack radio station.” KRS-One responded directly to Shanté’s diss with the infamous reply track, “The Bridge Is Over” the same year.

Shanté displayed an image of strong confidence with little reverence to her male counterparts who outnumbered her significantly in all her songs, which was a rarity amongst rappers – male and especially female – at the time. On “Bite This,” she calls out top-ranking acts like Run-D.M.C., Kurtis Blow, and L.L. Cool J. Calling out artists by name became a signature trademark of hers. “I’m talkin’ to all you MC’s out there / I’ll say your name cause I don’t care.”


Roxanne Shanté is undoubtedly the blueprint for female MCs today. She was not just a pioneer for female Hip Hop artists, but a pioneer for Hip Hop on the whole. Although few music historians have given her props, she deserves her flowers.

Luckily, she’s now receiving them. Netflix has recently released the biopic
“Roxanne Roxanne”, which tells the story of the beginning of her career. Shanté, who now lives in New Jersey, co-leads an education nonprofit. She is also known to occasionally perform, and has done a series of press events where she comments on Hip Hop and rap artists of today.  You can currently hear her unique voice on L.L. Cool J’s SiriusXM channel, ‘Rock the Bells Radio’ with a show called “Have a Nice Day with Roxanne Shanté featuring DJ Sylk”.

When recently asked, Roxanne shared what she thought her legacy and status in Hip Hop was, and it’s complicated at best.  She said, “I’m not the female Hip Hop artist people talk about. I’m not invited to the awards. I’m the person who people would assume would be angry at home. And I’m the total opposite of that. I love life so much. I’m a breast cancer survivor. I know what it’s like to go through lumpectomies, through everything. Life is amazing to me. I enjoy every minute of it.” Roxanne’s legacy of true inspiration and independent thought have few rivals, if any. In the pioneering worlds of Roxanne Shanté and Hip Hop, no imitating biters can or ever will be allowed. There is and will only be one queen of the diss track, Roxanne Shanté!

So to queen Shanté, there’s only one thing to say: thank you and have a nice day.