She was a storm that shook everything, from being the first female member to join the hip-hop collective, Hit Squad, to being the creator of a key album that portrayed the big picture of late '90s, All Woman. Gloria Rodriguez, an American rapper of Puerto Rican descent, is a musical gem that deserves to be heard yesterday, today and tomorrow. KEXP's Albina Cabrera and Larry Mizell, Jr. share a recent conversation they had via WhatsApp about Hurricane G's music and their desire to see her debut album All Woman re-released.
Albina: Larry, how are you? Are you there? <3
Larry: Hola Albina! I’m good, a little busy but ok! What’s up? :)
Albina: Hey, I've been listening to Hurricane G over and over again for months. Do you know her? I think she's perfect for Black History is Now. She is amazing!
Larry: Yooo what?! I LOVE Hurricane G! She is so underappreciated. Albina, I love this idea. How do you know about her?
Albina: I discovered her two years ago when I was looking for hip-hop in Spanish for El Sonido and she appeared on a Spotify playlist. Of course, it was with her song “El Barrio” in its Spanish version. I listened and became an instant fan. I did a little research and found her All Woman album from 1997 which completely won me over. Although the album later appeared in the news in relation to the contemporary Argentine artist based in Spain, Nathy Peluso, who has a song called “Sandunguera” and many comments that it is also identical to “El Barrio.” I personally like Hurricane G, but they’re even great when mixed in the same set.
Larry: “El Barrio” is great. I think I played that during The Afternoon Show last year!
Albina: To be honest, I wasn’t able to listen to our friend Gloria Rodriguez when she released this incredible feminist musical work that is the album All Woman. Do you remember her in the '90s? What place did she occupy in the hip-hop scene at the time? Because, now the genre is full of women artists throughout Latin America and the world. I wonder what it would have been like to do it almost 30 years ago now...
Larry: *puts on hip-hop scholar hat* I first heard Hurricane G around 1993 on a song by the rapper Redman, “Tonight’s Da Night.” She’s not rapping on it, but you hear her voice on it, interrupting the song, telling Redman he needs to rap harder. Then a couple seconds later Redman says, “Hurricane G packs the gat, son”! I was like, who is that? Someone told me she was a rapper, and she and Erick Sermon had a baby. She was part of the Def Squad, which included Erick Sermon from EPMD, Redman, Keith Murray, and Jamal. You would hear her voice pop up all over their songs.
Albina: Even more so, then! I think Gloria deserves to have All Woman reissued. She released it in 1997 through H.O.L.A. Recordings and since it had no sale, she was left without a contract soon after. I refuse to believe the same would occur if a re-issue came out now. This album is a jewel of New York hip-hop and the result of the Latin musical diaspora of those years from what you have told me. It is even rapped in the native New York Puerto Rican dialect. Hurricane G makes it clear from the intro and in the 15 tracks that make up the album. She comes and goes from English to Spanish, swimming in all waters. I want her on my team always, Larry! How would you place her as an Afro-Latin artist in the music scene at the time?
Larry: Afro-Latin rappers were pretty unique on the scene back then, and like most Latinx rappers at the time, were more prevalent on the West Coast. The first I remember was Mellow Man Ace, an Afro-Cuban American rapper, the first to have a song (“Mentirosa”) where he rapped in English and Spanish. His older brother, Sen Dog, was in Cypress Hill. The Bay Area rapper Husalah, who’s Black and Mexican, first started to make a little noise at the very end of the '90s. Later, I found out Prince Whipper Whip, who was down with the Fantastic Romantic 5 in New York, was Puerto Rican, so he might have been the first Afro-Latin rapper.
But those are all men! Hurricane G was pretty unique even among those few. I don’t think there were any other Boricua women rapping on the scene yet!
Albina: HEROA. I would like to know her zodiac sign. Muy jefa.
Larry: I’ll definitely have to make a clean edit of one of my favorite songs of hers to play.
Albina: A song like “El Barrio” immediately becomes a hit on albums such as these in contexts such as this. You will find the Spanish version in both languages, although I recommend the one in Spanish. To open up a set, it is spectacular. This song converses perfectly with her contemporary peers such as Rebeca Lane from Guatemala, the beginning of Ana Tijoux from Chile, the young Nakury from Costa Rica, or Princess Nokie herself. While I love the entire album, I would like to pay attention to other songs. Any recommendations?
Larry: She’s on a Redman song called “We Run NY.” She totally stole the show. She was able to be tough, sexy, and crude, but still cool as hell. Her voice, roughness, and delivery just made her stand out. It was hard to tell when she was actually rapping and when she was just talking shit!
Larry: She’s on Keith Murray’s “Bom Bom Zee”
Larry: Oh! And how can I forget the Spanish remix of Puff Daddy’s “P.E. 2000”? I think she wrote Puff’s verses for sure. I thought she might sign to Bad Boy!
Albina: We most definitely had to talk, Larry. Hurricane G has united us even more. I'm going to listen to this RIGHT NOW. Gracias and see you on Monday!
Larry: De nada Albina, I’m so glad you hit me about this. This made my night. I’m always happy to talk Hurricane Gloria! She brings people together! Happy listening!