I'm honored to say I'm one of the first female MCs in hip hop culture! Although I am a Harlem native, I relocated to the South Bronx in the mid 70s, was introduced to hip hop at 14 years old and in the Summer of 1977, started rhyming on the mic. My first crew was DJ Patty Duke & The Jazzy 5 and later we merged with DJs Kenny Ken and Greg Ski as the K Connection. In both crews, I was the only female MC and was considered an equal partner in the crew who participated in writing routines, handling the business and presenting ideas on how to increase our notoriety. We performed at jams outside in the parks and schoolyards and later in Bronx clubs such as the T Connection and the Ecstasy Garage, alongside all of the pioneer Bronx crews such as DJ Kool Herc, DJ Afrika Bambaataa and his crews, Soul Sonic Force and Cosmic Force, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5, Funky 4+1, The L Bros, Grandwizzard Theodore and the Fantastic 5 and others. Early hip hop flyers depict my title as The GrandMistress of the Ceremony or Queen MC Debbie D. After my crews disbanded, I combined my lyrical skills with my strong church roots as a lead Gospel singer, and decided to continue performing in hip hop alone, emerging as hip hop's first female soloist!
In 1981, to enhance my show, I merged with a new female DJ by the name of Wanda Dee. Our show was incredible! Instead of dressing in sweatshirts, jeans and sneakers, we wore custom two piece outfits and blazed the stage! With my showmanship, bodacious voice and strong lyrics, coupled with Wanda's DJ ability and unique skills on the beat box machine, we became the most sought after female act throughout the Tri State area during the early 80s. We did shows every weekend throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut; sometimes as headliners! Hip hop flyers would list our names right alongside the Cold Crush, Treacherous Three, Fearless Four, Crash Crew, and others. As hip hop battles took place in the clubs in the early 80s, my name was the only female MC among the list of male MCs in the soloist category, and I was oftentimes one of the last three finalist in the competition. Click the link to hear MC Debbie D and DJ Wanda Dee perform live on stage at one of the hottest hip hop clubs in the early 80s, Harlem World.
My success as a female soloist, prompted my peers, pioneer MCs Sha Rock and Lisa Lee, to ask me to join them in a new girl group called Empress, later known as Us Girls. In 1984, we became the first female rap group to appear in an international hip hop movie entitled, Beat Street. Our song, Us Girls Can Boogie Too, was also featured on the movie soundtrack album. In addition, as a 20 year old savvy businesswoman, who worked as a legal secretary in a law firm, I secured contracts for the group, giving us lifetime residuals from SAG and BMI. Following Beat Street, Us Girls recorded the first "break" rap single for the legendary New York City Breakers. Our collaboration afforded us an opportunity to do a hip hop tour in Europe!
In 1985, I returned back to the stage performing again as a solo artist. At that time, hip hop was heavy into "battle rap" among female rappers, but I focused upon empowering women and recorded two singles, Tom, Dick & Harry and The Other Woman, produced by DJ Marley Marl. Under the management of Fly Ty (Cold Chillin'), I became the first female MC, among the girls, of the iconic list of rap artists in the Juice Crew. For Black History Month, me, MC Shan, Kool G Rap and MC Glamorous, Juice Crew All Stars, recorded, Evolution, the first record, in rap form, that depicts the work of prominent Black civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Harriet Tubman and Maya Angelou. To hear my entire discography, click here.
In 1990, I shifted my attention from the music industry to family and furthering my education. Today, I have attained six degrees and is the first hip hop artist to earn a Doctorate Degree (D. Min.) and the first rapper turned preacher. Aside from hip hop, I am an Author, Ministry Coach and the Founder of Us Girls Can, (nonprofit) where I educate and empower girls.
As a Hip Hop Matriarch and a first hand eye witness to the birth of the culture, my present passion is to help maintain the integrity of the origin of hip hop. One way is by serving as a Flyerologist, who studies and provides intricate details on the only written authentic archives on early hip hop flyers. Click below to contact me for serious speaking invitations.
Early Rhymes of MC Debbie D