If you take a look to your left and another to your right, it's pretty obvious that female hip hop is obsolete. Foxy Brown is currently in the latter stages of getting her life back in order after several legal and personal issues; Bronx bomber, Remy Ma, is still behind bars with a release date that's uncertain; and Eve has switched gears and taken to the hills of Hollywood.
With a void so large, a slot for the female emcee is wide open for the taking. Gunna and Tee - or as they like to call themselves, Unladylike - are ready to step in. Hailing from East St. Louis, but now residing in NYC, Unladylike bears obvious parallels to legendary female duo Salt-N-Pepa, and are carefully calculating female hip hop domination over the course of the next 12 months.
After securing a deal with Def Jam in October of 2008, hip hop's newest duo started working diligently on their freshmen LP, "Unladylike Radio," an album themed around radio jockeys hosting the set.
So what's so Unladylike about this bunch? Gunna, the more experienced of the two, lights up when probed about the group name.
"The most unladylike thing about us is when we perform," she told BET.com. "We don’t perform like the average females that you see out here. We’re jumping off stages and just performing like true rock stars."
But before deeming themselves valid rock stars, Tee and Gunna pay homage to another unladylike duo that not only came before them, but provided the blueprint on carving their own unique path in such a male-dominated industry. Since they're the first female duo to hit the scene since Salt-N-Pepa, the discussion of pressure has become a reoccurring issue when it comes to Unladylike.
“As far as pressure, there’s definitely a lot of pressure," Tee verified. "A lot of people have already compared us to Salt-N-Pepa, which is an extremely good thing to hear so early on in our careers." Gunna also acknowledges the comparisons and sees it as a blessing.
"Salt-N-Pepa happen to be our career role models and definitely remain one of our main influences growing up," Gunna chimes in. "By people comparing us to Salt-N-Pepa, it’s just a great feeling. There hasn’t been a female group since Salt-N-Pepa, so the lane right there is open.”
Stepping into a male-driven industry is no easy task. Gunna knows that promotion, especially in regards to the female product, is key to their relevance.
“Basically, being females it’s all about promotion," Gunna explained. "We have to make sure Unladylike is promoted right. I follow up on the female industry and I think that’s what happened with a lot of females that were out or gearing up to come out; there was a lack of promotion. I believe we really have to be out there promoting our product heavy. We need the label behind us and we just have to stay in the public eye. We’re constantly on our YouTube and MySpace pages doing our own promotion, our own grinding. I mean, the labels will do so much, but it’s really up to us to get ourselves focused and disciplined."
Originality accompanied with creativity, bottled with tunnel vision, Unladylike might have what it takes to lead the new regime of female hip hop back to where it rightfully belongs. And according to Tee, if Unladylike has anything to do with it, a barrage of fun is also on the way.
"Unladylike has our own style; we’re bringing fun back into the game. We’re not on these records rapping about what these other females are rapping about, we’re rapping about what we’ve been through, what we struggled through and just trying to have fun with the craft again.”
For more on Unladylike and to hear their new single, "Bartender" click here!