Ladies First

Queen Latifah with Monie Love, 1989

How does the song play with the meaning of the common saying "ladies first"?

How were Queen Latifah and Monie Love trailblazers?

How were the women whose images are shown in the music video also trailblazers?

What stereotypes about African American women does the song challenge?

"Ladies First" performed by Queen Latifah, featuring Monie Love, on All Hail the Queen. Available on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube (official video).

For more information on Queen Latifah, visit her official website.

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Queen Latifah was born Dana Elaine Owens in 1970. Her nickname, Latifah, which means "delicate and sensitive" in Arabic, was given to her by a Muslim cousin when she was eight. Her early musical experiences include singing in the choir at the local Baptist church, performing in The Wiz in a school musical, and rapping in a group called Ladies Fresh in high school.

Ladies First album cover

"Ladies First" single cover.

"Ladies First" appeared on Queen Latifah's first album, All Hail the Queen, which also included the hit "Wrath of My Madness." The lyrics contain a pun on the phrase "ladies first," which is used in the song to refer to trailblazing women, thus subverting stereotypes of women. The song makes clear that Queen Latifah, as one of the first female rappers, is also a trailblazer: "A female rapper with the message to send the / Queen Latifah is a perfect specimen." In "Ladies First" Queen Latifah also introduces American audiences to another early female hip-hop artist, British rapper Monie Love (Simone Gooden), with whom she trades verses.

The video for the song features shots of Queen Latifah and Monie Love in a housing project, images of African and African American female activists (Madame C. J. Walker, Sojourner Truth, Angela Davis, Winnie Mandela, Harriet Tubman, and Cicely Tyson), and footage of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. This imagery draws parallels between life in government housing, apartheid, and other struggles that Blacks have faced throughout history.



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