Hip Hop Technology Key Terms

A few key analytic terms in the hip-hop culture, that I will be using in my paper and need clarification are turntablism, the three categories of women in hip-hop, Queen Mother, Fly Girl, and Sista with Attitude.

1.The first term I will define is turntablism. The turntable has been used a musical instrument since the 1940s and 1950s. The DJ’s of that time created a new sound, a certain skill, and culture. The DJ’s began to experiment by sampling, and creating new music using the turntables. But it wasn’t until the 1990s, that the term “turntablism” was created. The role of the DJ was primarily to play music on the turntable and mix the track after the next track. The DJ’s were becoming more skilled, and they were now being called “turntablists”. These turntablists were artists that moved the records and played on the turntable to create new sounds. Along with being the forefathers of hip-hop, DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa are also the forefathers of turntablism. These three men practiced and mastered the turntables. They established an art of hand eye coordination, and the skill to find certain points in a song by dropping the needle on a record. DJ Kool Herc is known for creating the break beat technique. This technique involves extending the break, the climax of the song. The method he uses is playing two copies of the same record on the turntable, the mixer then switches between them, and it creates a rhythmic beat by looping the breaks (“Feature”). This technique blew the audience away because it was something never done before. The break was often the audience’s favorite part of the song. Afrika Bambaataa was inspired by DJ Kool Herc and brought the break beat technique to street parties.

2. The next terms, I will define are three categories of women in hip-hip: Queen Mother, Fly Girl, and a Sista with Attitude.

The first term is Queen Mother this woman is an African- centered icon. She calls herself a “Nubian queen” or an “intelligent black women” in her lyrics. Female artists in this category usually wear royal or Kente cloth strips, braided styles, and gold jewelry. Their lyrics emphasize female empowerment, and identify themselves as an African queen and warrior. Examples of these female artists would be Queen Latifah and Yo-Yo. (Keyes)

The second term is Fly Girl. This artist is known for her chic clothing, hairstyles, jewelry, and make up. The female hip-hop group “Salt-N-Pepa” is the well-known fly girls of the 1980s. Salt-N-Pepa was known for their ripped jeans, glitter earrings, asymmetric hairstyles, and tight-fitting outfits. Although, they were known for their style, Salt-N-Pepa wanted the world to focus more on their rapping skills. (Keyes)

  1. The last term I will define is Sista with Attitude. A Sista with Attitude is known as being aggressive, arrogant, and defiant. But these women valued attitude as a means of women empowerment. Female artists known for this category are Lauryn Hill, MC Lyte, and Roxanne Shante. Through their lyrics and rapping skills, these women earned respect among their peers, and refused to be second best. (Keyes)


Keyes, Cheryl. “Empowering Self, Making Choices, Creating Spaces: Black Female Identity via Rap Music Performance.” That’s the Joint! 2nd ed. Eds. Murray Forman & Mark Anthony Neal.  New York: Routledge, 2012. 400-409. Print.

“Feature The Art Of Turntablism.” PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 8 Apr. 2015.