A large part of hip hop music has often been conscious lyrics and an expression of the artist’s experience, usually in their struggles against the ills of society. Spanish hip hop is no different and now, in Mexico, the genre is more on the rise than ever before. Mujeres Trabajando is just a sample of the artistry happening in Mexico, and a good one at that.
Born in Mexico City, under the guidance of MC and organizer Jezzy P, the collective is a collaboration of women MC’s, beatmakers, breakdancers and graffiti artists; representatives of the “four elements of hip hop”. These women are professionals in each of their mediums and, despite full schedules of recording and/or performing, they also dedicate themselves to the mission of working with women in different urban and rural communities of Mexico.
The idea for this collective was born 10 years ago when Jezzy P formed part of “Rimas Femeninas”, a project where female MC’s throughout Mexico performed together before thousands of people at the 2007 “Festival De Quinceañeras”. There the seed was planted and two years later Jezzy and Ximbo (another popular Mexican MC) followed up with “Mujeres Trabajando.” From that point forward, Mujeres Trabajando invited women break dancers, graffiti artists, beatmakers, and other rappers to become part of this multi-disciplinary group with the objective of supporting one another, the way that their male counterparts did, while empowering women in their communities through music, art and shared activities.
Jezzy P describes the work as, “Leaving a mark, leading the way and inspiring woman of all ages and social status to manifest their own creative capacity through art. [Teaching them] that in unity there is strength… if one of us can make it then we all can.”
Today the group is made up of nine members and during their time together they have been invited to social awareness events, cultural centers, universities and rehabilitation centers to share their work and inspire others. “We also take home a great deal of learning from all these places and the people we meet, whom let us know firsthand what is needed and the problems young women face. This is how we plan more activities that go hand in hand with their futures.” says Jezzy.
Some of the projects completed during their time together is Salón Bombay, a breakdancing exhibition featuring female dancers from Sonora and Oaxaca; participation and shows in the conservatory of Centro Cultural España in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; the music album Mujeres Trabajando Vol. 1, featuring female hip hop artists from Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Sonora, Puebla and Oaxaca; a recent event entitled Amazonas Urbanas with the Participation of the of the group Mujeres En Patineta; and, last year, Mujeres Trabajando were able to perform at various Juvenile and Women Social Rehabilitation Centers (correctional facilities), an experience that allowed them to spend time with inmates whom danced and rapped along with them and introduced the organization to their own work and crews inside these centers.
So, who are Mujeres Trabajando?
As leader of the group Jezzy P maintains a full schedule both as coordinator and artist, balancing community projects with interviews, recording and her own presentations at different events in Mexico. She has been active as a hip hop artist since 1998, when she formed part of one of the first female hip hop groups in Mexico named “Pollos Rudos”. Often invited as a judge in rap competitions, she now has five albums and several EP’s and collaborations under her belt. Her work has also appeared on the soundtrack of various television series in Mexico, most recently on Netflix’s “La Ingobernable”.
Twice nominated for Best Rap/Hip Hop album in the “Indie O Music Awards”, nominated to Best Hip Hop Artist in the DJ Concept Awards and recently featured as an artist to listen to by Red Bull’s Batalla de Gallos, Jezzy P is also a social activist working to support at risk and marginalized migrant and indigenous women alongside groups like Zazanilli Cuentos Viajeros A.C., Casa Hogar Xochiquetzal and the indigenous female dance group ‘Jñatjo Ndixu. This woman gives new meaning to the word “unstoppable”.
For a sample of her music here is a link to her page and Sound Cloud:
Rising star, Audry Funk has seen her projects as an artist flourish faster and further than she had expected because of her work with Mujeres Trabajando. “The group taught me to make my work more professional, give it the right quality… I learned a lot from them, and I continue learning.” says the charismatic singer/MC from Puebla, Mexico. When asked how she feels that hip hop has helped her connect with other women, especially young women, she says, “I believe hip hop is “chido” because the message in your lyrics is concise and direct. You can say a lot of things in rhyme and, I believe, that with that structure it is easier for people to relate to conscious messages or messages about life itself, and it is wonderful to know that you can have positive messages like that over a fresh beat.”
Also on Red Bull’s Batalla de Gallos list of artists to listen to and featured on Univision’s list of “Canciones para recuperar el orgullo latino”, Audry has recently brought her talent to New York, where she currently resides, and she has wasted no time in hitting the stage at local music venues, events promoting social activism and immigrant rights, as well as becoming involved on a radio series out of Brooklyn, NY entitled Loca Vibes Radio. With a fresh style, fresh lyrics and a fresh voice, Audry Funk is an artist to watch for.
An MC from Torreon, Mexico, Rabia Rivera started her career in 2004 and most recently released her album Luz Purpora in 2016. She has continuously served as commentator and spokesperson for Proyecto Vision Renazca and in short films and documentatries. Officially joining Mujeres Trabajando in 2011, she is the second female rapper to emerge from the north of Mexico and as part of the group.
Considered by many to be one of the sharpest MC’s in Mexico, her style is direct and to the point. She doesn’t beat around with funky metaphors to say what she means; as the Spanish expression goes, “Sin pelos en la lengua.”
Also check out Sandra Treviño’s piece on Rabia’s single “Hipsteria” from December ’16.
Dayra Fyah is an MC and event consultant taking up her role behind the mic since 2004. She is also the creator of Mujeres Trabajando clothing line “Mafia Colors”, and has organized to bring important figures in the Mexican hip hop genre to the outskirts of the scene while opening spaces for new artists to get their start.
In a recent interview “I know that I found my path and the way to express my feelings. They say that the street is the mother of all lost children and I was lost. Graffiti showed me way with it’s new smells and colors, it’s new shapes and forms gave purpose to my life… I felt more alive than ever, poetry was everywhere and I stopped writing poetry on walls to make poetry on the mic.”
Check her out at: https://soundcloud.com/dayra
From Sonora, Mexico, Destreza started as the first female MC in Sonora with the group Sur Gangsta in 2001. She launched as a solo artist in 2003 with the album “Verso Efe” and after a brief hiatus to care for her children as a new mom she returned in 2011 with Mujeres Trabajando to return to her own projects and support the work of fellow female artists. In 2013 she launched her work “Restauración” along side her partner in music and life, Chipes.
Her focus has been social and conscious messages, promoting positivity in culture and society. Her most recent work came in collaboration with the global project Worldwide Culture with Ilalian beatmaker Kuna and today she finds herself working on her newest material as a solo artist, “Bajo el Sol”.
Gaby Loeza is a beatmaker from Mexico DF, whom has participated with many artists in the Mexican Hip Hop scene. As a beatmaker, she is in charge of the rhythms and melodies that these artists rap over. She says Mujeres Trabajando has been important for her because “It has allowed her to reach many places and many persons through music, which is greatly satisfying. In addition to working with talented women with a beautiful vision, they are always willing to work toward making this culture grow.”
When asked how she feels that music can empower women, she answers, “Music hasn’t only been a means of expression, it has also been a voice that can give strength to women whom have stayed quiet for many years. Music is a tool that produces a transformation for good and can help many women express what they feel.”
For a sample of her work checkout the track “Ya No Quiero Estar Conitgo” featuring Ximbo, Jezzy P and Ese O.
A graffiti writer since 2005, Guari often characterizes her work as ornamental, with skulls, or carnivorous plants and vines wrapping around letters and characters but always pushing herself to further evolve her style.
“I’ve always thought that graffiti is admired most by persons with an open mind to change, those persons that don’t care about perfection or elitism. My graffiti has never been based on the belief that because I am a woman it must be delicate or what society might expect of a woman. Through my work, I have always tried to reach what I feel deep inside or I feel in that moment. That involves transmitting what I feel, through paint, to the audience. When someone asks, ‘Who is painting that?’ and then sees that it is a woman, it becomes motivating for many other women. That is when I feel I have reached my objective and my art has connected with everyone else.”
You can find a collection of Guari’s work in Pictaram here.
B-girl/breakdancer/street dancer. Laryza has trained with professionals whom have worked with everyone from Michael Jackson to Cirque de Soleil. Today she teaches at the Tecnologico de Monterrey and Hip Hop Inteligente Studios and is a choreographer at Lak’ech Crew.
Laryza’s dedication and love for this culture is most notable in her words: “The most important thing about forming part of Mujeres Trabajando is that we show to the world the work and contribution of women in Hip Hop, which has always existed but is many times invisible. Combining our talents in different areas of hip hop creates a network of support where we all help one another and share our work in our respective mediums. This generates motivation for more women to dedicate them themselves to what they like and show that to the world.”
“All artistic expression is exactly that, a form of expression. Dance and hip hop have been my form of expression and my tool for letting the community know who I am. Simply, it is the way in which I can be 100% me and present myself to the community. And, with my dance workshops, conferences and exhibitions, it has also allowed me to give back to hip hop what it has given to me.”
You can check out Laryza and her female dance and choreography crew at: https://www.facebook.com/laryza.inlakech/
Native of Tlalnepantla, Estado de México. Jenko is an adrenaline junkie adding extreme sports like parachuting, rafting and balloon flying to her dedication to dance. She has been involved in Mexico’s hip hop culture for over 14 years as both a graffiti artist and b-girl. She has performed nationally with the group “Soul Tommy”, has formed part of “Mexica Zulu (Zulu Nation Mexico) and has directed the “JamZote” project, an event taking hip hop to different parts of the Mexican republic, involving different communities in its development.
Check out the Soul Tommy crew at: https://www.facebook.com/SoulTommyCrew
What’s next for Mujeres Trabajando?
When asked what the future holds for Mujeres Trabajando, Jezzy P says, “There are always new things to learn, we can always improve what we have done and share that experience with new generations.”
“We want to continue working, give ourselves new goals, produce better festivals, open mics, expositions and workshops where new and flourishing talent can find a home. We keep finding more and more people, more women who are starting off and want a place to exhibit their music, their dance or their art. That is what want to give them, a dignified place, free from from violence, where they can explore their abilities.”
For more great female Spanish Hip Hop artists, I invite you to listen to my last tribute mix (below) for Women’s History month 2017.