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Album Cover Various Artists - Fat Beats & Brastraps: Women of Hip-Hop (Rhino)

This is definitively the definitive collection of female rap stars from the '80s; from Queen Latifah to The Real Roxanne; from when the genre was gloriously stripped-down of all technical artifice same a bad drum machine and a turntable and the voice was the only part of the show worth paying attention to. The songs here range from tough-girl bullying to almost sweet love songs (loaded with less-than-subtle sexual overtones). These are the exact flipside compliment to the female punk rock movement of the same time; angry young women finding their voices and actually getting paid attention to for the first time and not just dismissed as hormonal.

It all sounds kind of passé now, ten years later, but this stuff was really a big deal once, and people like Courtney Love and Shirley Manson owe these trailblazers a huge debt for making their own climbs to popularity comparatively effortless.

by Holly Day.