Hip hop is a world which is dominated by men. This is usually also the case for the audience. If you’d ask me to name 20 female MCs I would have a harder time to do so compare to male rappers. Say My Name looks at the women in hip hop and tries to find out how they experience this. A lot of well-known MCs are interviewed (Remy Ma, Rah Digga, Jean Grae, Erykah Badu, Estelle, MC Lyte, Roxxanne Shante and Monie Love) and some which are lesser known (Chocolate Thai, Invincible and Miz Korona) out of the US hip hop and UK grime scenes.
The thing which becomes clear from this documentary is that these women grew up in difficult circumstances. Their music gives them a voice and power and it’s their way to talk about their frustrations and the negative things they have experiences. You’ll see how the first female MCs like Roaxanne Shante (who got pregnant as a teenager while she started getting famous) and MC Lyte look back at their success. You’ll also see that most of them are not that busy with music anymore. Roxanne Shante is running an ice cream shop for example.
Say My Name allows almost all MCs to tell their own stories. This way you will get to know these women better, but as this is a documentary about women in hiphop it’s also important to talk about the bigger issues they are facing. Example is the way in which women are depicted in videos. The subject is mentioned (Remy Ma support it as these women make their money this way and don’t have to work in a strip club), but there is no in-depth look into it. No tough questions are asked during these interviews, which might have helped to delve deeper into the issues. How do these women look at MCs like Foxy Brown and Lil’Kim who based their careers on sex? How does the rap industry treat women and are there any powerful female decision makers that try to depict women in another way or sign promising female MCs? These are questions this documentary unfortunately doesn’t answer.
If you are a fan of hiphop, this documentary offers enough material to allow you to learn new facts about specific MCs and will give a small look into their lives and their motivations and how they look at hiphop. It’s a shame that at the end of Say My Name there are a lot of questions which will remain unanswered.