Female Emcees Take the Mic as Google Pixel Remixes Classic Tracks

Fresh artists get a boost from the greats

Lola Brooke is "Grindin,'" Clipse-style, thanks to Google.

The young rapper is the first voice featured in a new campaign from the tech giant. The push aims to boost the profile of underrepresented women emcees—and Google's Pixel phone—by inviting up-and-coming artists to reimagine classic records for Hip-Hop's 50th anniversary

For Brooke's entry, titled "Blind Em," she croons and growls over the sparse, martial beat from Clipse's 2002 hit (produced, obviously, by The Neptunes—a.k.a Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo), in a tone and flow that evokes her fellow Brooklyn native, the late great Pop Smoke. 

Artwork for the new single similarly pays homage to the original's Lord Willin' album cover. Here, Bed-Stuy replaces Virginia Beach on the "Welcome" sign, with a nod to Brooke's charming Gator-themed worldview among the graffiti in the background. 

Created in partnership with media and pop-culture company Mass Appeal and Sony Music Certified (the label's decades-deep hip-hop and R&B catalog division), the visuals and behind-the-scenes footage were helmed by Myesha Evon Gardner. She has done incredible photo essays covering underrepresented people and cultures—including collections on her hometown of Cleveland and Black women's bodies—for Google's Creator Labs, a partnership with talent agency SN37. Such efforts showcase works shot on the Pixel phone. 

In the BTS video for "Blind Em," Brooke—who signed to Sony's Arista a few months back—recalls freestyling over the "Grindin'" beat in the lunchroom as a kid and identifying as a tomboy. She parses the higher standards women face in hip-hop, and talks about growing up listening to Missy Elliott, Eve, and Nikki Minaj. She explains that she did homework on artists like Lil Kim and Foxy Brown while developing as an artist. (Also worth checking out: her "Google Me" segment with iconic NYC radio personality and rapper Angie Martinez).

Overall, it's part of a refreshing trend of higher-visibility billing for female rappers in ads (which tracks, unsurprisingly, with commercial success—think Cardi B's Super Bowl ad after a banner 2019 for women emcees). Meanwhile, Latto and GloRilla featured alongside Nas and Rakim in Sprite's Hip-Hop 50 version of "Rapper's Delight" last month.

Hopefully the culture's tradition of remixing and advertisers' desire to pay homage will mean more tasty collabs to come.

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Gabriel Beltrone
Gabriel Beltrone is a contributing editor at Muse by Clio.

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