Sherie Cole, aka Rie Rie, is tough as nails, both in demeanor and stature. Not only does she hold her own among many of the MCs in Denver, she can effectively break down the dynamics between men and women with as much humor as necessary to drive home the point.
For Rie Rie, misogyny is something that has existed in hip-hop since day one, yet she's never let it stop her. With her Mob Ruled Productionz, she manages her daughter, who is fourteen years old, and continues to push the envelope for women in rap.
Whether misogyny is a by-product of the record labels or a larger reflection of a society that is geared toward the objectification of ladies, Rie Rie says it's all in the choices, and that it's the women who, indeed, have the power.
Westword: How do you work through the misogyny that exists in hip-hop?
Rie Rie: For me, it's my skills. It speaks for itself. Nothing more, nothing less.
Where is the balance between being sexy and showing skills lyrically?
Some females got both. I've got both. I don't choose to do all of that taking-off-your-clothes stuff, though. Like, Nicki Minaj, she got skills. My daughter listens to her, so I know a little about her. She's all right, but some females have to use their body because their skills aren't really up to par. That's not me.
When you were coming up among the boys and battling, what types of female-centered insults would you hear?
When I was battling, the dude would always be like, "Suck my dick," and call me a bitch. I had to go off of that and become better. I wasn't discouraged. That made me want to get more grimy with it. That's why I'm hard, because dudes are rough. Nicki Minaj, in a cipher, she would get ate up because she's too prissy. In a new cipher, a dude is there to eat you up and talk smack to you. It's like playing the dozens. You gotta hold your own and be strong and be loud. Because if not, they won't even hear what you have to say.
What ways would you insult them back?
Like talking about if they're punks or scary and [how they] got little dicks or they can't fuck for long -- there's things like that [laughs].
Where is the equality?
It's not equality. It's a man's game. That's just the way it is. Women just gotta strap up and play the game and go hard. You can go hard showing your body, but you have to know where that's going to get you. When I was coming up, you didn't show your body; guys looked down on that. You didn't run around half naked, because the guys didn't like it. Now, that's all it is.
Why is it all about what the man likes?
Just cause it's male and female. They got dicks and we got pussies; that's just the way it is. As far as sexuality goes, a man can wash his dick in a sink. Being a ho, whether being a man ho or not, you can stink and be musty; you can still be on, as a guy. A woman can't do that. You can't wash your pussy in a sink. You just can't do what a man does.
What's the solution?
Women got the power. We run this shit. We plant the seeds, we grow the seeds up, we the ones that raised they ass. Most men that respect they mama ain't gonna be doing all that, unless they fronting. Half of these guys don't act like they act in the club when they get home.
To me, if you can't act the way you act in the club or in the car with your homies, then you ain't real. If you're smoking weed and then you get around your mama and hide, that's not being real. These guys, most of the time, don't even act the way they say they do. Women need to respect themselves more. If you show respect, you get respect. It comes down to that.
Is anyone to blame? Society? Record labels?
It just depends. The record labels and stuff want you to show your ass, and they want you to be sexy with it. They don't care if you can spit or not. If you got a body and people like you, you're out there. The rhymes come after that. The streets are going to take the realness, and that's what matters.
Where do you fall in the spectrum?
I do underground. I stepped out here and there in the sexy space, but for the most part, I'm underground. The label wants me to be sexy and show my ass, and that's not me. I have a daughter. I stick to whatever I gotta be, and that's underground. I can't let her see me out there like that if that's not what I represent or what I want her to represent.
Your daughter is an MC, too. What do you tell her to combat the stereotype of the female MC?
To respect yourself and to show her the different parts of female rap. She just gotta find her own way. She sees what I've been through and how the guys talk and how they are. She knows not to give it up easy. They like when they can chase you and when you don't wear a bunch of makeup.
She sees I get a lot of respect, because I respect myself. I don't have to sleep around with these guys. I've never done that. I had to get people to say my name right and spell my name right, but it took years. I had to win battles, I had to be in ciphers. My peers around me made me better, and that's how I lead.
Click through for a Q&A with Bea Shepard