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Listen: Our ‘That’s My Word’ DJ Mix Honors 36 Years of Women in Hip-Hop

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A collage features Pam the Funkstress on her turntables, Kamaiyah performing in a windbreaker jumpsuit and Ruby Ibarra posing in a bucket hat.
Pam the Funkstress, Kamaiyah and Ruby Ibarra are featured in an exclusive That's My Word DJ mix by Tamara Palmer, honoring 36 years of Bay Area women's contributions to hip-hop. (Photos: Gabe Meline, Estefany Gonzalez. Collage: Becca Kao)

Editor’s note: This story is part of That’s My Word, KQED’s year-long exploration of Bay Area hip-hop history, with new content dropping all throughout 2023. 

Women’s contributions to the Bay Area hip-hop scene are rarely at the forefront, but they’re all that we’re banging in this exclusive music mix of tracks from 1987 to 2023.

More on Women in Bay Area Hip-Hop

I grew up watching the wonderful Dominique DiPrima on Home Turf (which aired from 1984 to 1992), and wanted to become a DJ after seeing teenagers named QBert and Mix Master Mike spinning live on the local weekly show. Seeing DiPrima as the host communicated to my young mind that there were no boundaries for women in hip-hop. Decades later, though, female Northern California rap legends are still largely unsung, and artists featured in this mix — like The Deffa Heffa, Suga-T, New Choice and Marvaless — are not as known as their male counterparts.

Press play and feel a spectrum of vibes conjured by mixing 36 years of Bay Area hip-hop history from a woman’s perspective. This set was recorded live with love on turntables, with no edits or premeditated order, and is dedicated to the memories of DJ Stef and Pam The Funkstress, who each make a sentimental appearance.

Please note that there are a few selections in the mix that are lacking in audio quality — that’s because they’re not currently available in digital form commercially, but they merit inclusion so that the work isn’t completely lost to time.

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Tracklist

The Conscious Daughters, “Somethin’ to Ride to (Fonky Expedition)” (1993)

Female Fonk, “Sucka Free” (1993)

Suga-T, “Suga Daddy” (1996)

Kamaiyah, “How Does It Feel” (2016)

The Deffa Heffa featuring Suga-T, “Shay Deffa” (2009)

CMG and Pam The Funkstress, “Jane and The Funkstress Interlude” (2011)

Ruby Ibarra, “Brown Out” (2017)

Rocky Rivera, “Brown Babies” (2015)

TotogangzMau, “Grow Up” (2023)

Marvaless, “Ghetto Blues” (1994)

DJ Stef, aircheck from Vinyl Exchange Radio (2007)

Mystic, “We Are The People (All Around The World)” (2020)

New Choice, “Cold Stupid” (1987)

Saweetie featuring H.E.R., “Closer” (2022)

Paris Nights, “Ashanti” (2020)

Oaktown’s 3.5.7, ”Juicy Gotcha Krazy” (1989)

Gina Madrid, “Dame La Mano” (2020)

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