Submitted by Nicole Duncan-Smith
On Nov. 28 at 7:00 p.m., the Arts & Letters Committees of the Brooklyn Alumnae Chapter hosted its RED Talks: Women in Hip-Hop as the third installation of the chapter’s celebration of National Hip Hop History Month.
Brooklyn Alumnae hosted six women from various careers in Hip-Hop to talk about their experience: Nana “Carmen” Ashhurst, the first woman to serve as president of Def Jam Records; Nichelle “Nikki D” Strong, the first woman to be signed as a rapper to Def Jam; Alicia Ferriabough Taylor, Esq., entertainment lawyer; Marcella Precise, awarding winning songwriter, producer, and rapper; Mandy Aragones, Manager, Chief Operating Officer of the Victory Patch Foundation, and Director of Operations for Slick Rick Music Corporation; and Nyla Symone, the youngest and only female DJ on New York’s Power 105.1 FM radio station, one of the top terrestrial Rap Radio stations in the world.
These women ranged in gifts, job descriptions, and ages with our oldest being in her 70s and our youngest being in her 20s.
During the over two-hour-long RED Talks, the women talked about their experiences in the industry and their contribution to the culture. The conversation explored the need for women to have diverse skills and the ability to transition from being an artist to an executive, the importance of letting your work speak for you, and the challenge to fight misogyny and objectification.
One of the most poignant moments was when DJ Nyla Symone, a millennial/Gen Z woman, asked for advice from Ashhurst, a baby boomer.
Another was from soror, Alicia Ferriabough Taylor. She spoke about how intentional she is when working with young artists and the alternative ways she gets them to consider not only their careers but wealth management and insurance.
The two artists, Nikki D and Precise, shared stories about the golden age of Hip-Hop and how currently they recreated their lives as forces behind the scenes working as executives and power move makers for others.
Lastly, guest Mandy Aragones shared about working with one of the greatest legacy artists in the culture, Slick Rick, and how she has juggled every aspect of his career since the early 2000s.
The brilliant women opened up the minds of the chapter’s 100-member audience about the role of women in Hip-Hop, embraces expression while petitioning others to see past exploitation, and most importantly gave flowers to others that paved the way for them, including Sylvia Rhone and Queen Latifah (who by consensus are two G.O.A.T.s of rap music).
The program will be released publicly on the Brooklyn Alumnae Chapter’s YouTube page in December.