Hip Hop and the first up are the 3 DJs of The Mercedes Ladies: DJ Baby Dee, DJ La Spank and DJ RD Smiley, respectively. The Mercedes Ladies were the sister crew to the all male hip hop pioneer crew, The L Brothers, who rocked in 63 Park located in my Bronx neighborhood, and were often seen rockin sweatshirts with the name of their group printed in large letters! While several other female pioneer mcs were a part of all male groups, the Mercedes Ladies, who formed their group in 1976 were unique in two ways, they were the FIRST all female hip hop group and, their group also consisted of the FIRST female DJs!
The invitation to become a DJ for the group was extended to each young woman while only in her teens but with her love for this new found music, she boldly took on the challenge, which included learning DJ equipment, the catalog of records, DJ techniques and scratchin’! Their affiliation with the L Brothers gave these young female DJs an opportunity to really hone their skills by being exposed to a young Inventor of Scratch, GrandWizzard DJ Theodore and the likes of DJ GrandMaster Flash and it served them well! For many years during the early days of hip hop, these 3 female DJs would interchangeably play the music for their girl MCs as they performed their routines in many shows throughout NYC with notable male hip hop counterparts. A few flyers in my previous posts will even show their influence as they appear to headline the shows.
In later years, The Mercedes Ladies went on to add background vocals on a hip hop record by MC Donald D (see pic) but sadly for hip hop, they never released their own record. However, The Mercedes Ladies and in particular, these 3 DJs, Baby Dee, La Spank (who later formed Inner City Disco), and RD Smiley, should forever be honored as the FIRST female DJs to sound the alarm for women all over the world who desire to engage in Hip Hop, to not just get on the mic, but (join the men) at the turntable! Women’s History Month salutes these Hip Hop Matriarchs and say, thank you and well done, ladies!