The first time I became aware of Tairrie B. was when she was one of the dancers in Everlast’s first music video for “I Got The Knack”, where she even got a shout out in the lyrics. She would be signed to Comptown Records via MCA and released her debut album in the form of The Power Of A Woman and I bought the 12″ for “Murder She Wrote” and the album. I’ll be honest, I liked what I saw but upon hearing her music, it was easy to really like what I heard, vocally and lyrically. Her self-proclaimed “mafia style” was direct and to the point and if we were to compare her to other white MC’s of the era, she didn’t sound like Everlast, 3rd Bass, the Beastie Boys, and definitely nothing like Vanilla Ice. She was on her own path and could easily be compared to the likes of Yo-Yo, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Queen Mother Rage, and Monie Love. Sadly, being on her own path would make some people feel she was on her own, if not push her away from the pack. Despite recording an album that was meant for release in 1992/1993, that album never came out when it was meant to and Tairrie B. became a hip-hop side note, never to be heard from again. Or at least that’s what people thought or expected her to do, until she resurfaced in the second half of the 1990’s as a hard rock/heavy metal singer in bands like Manhole, Tura Satana, and finally My Ruin, where she gained an all new following with the help of band member (and husband) Mick Murphy, reaching levels she was never able to achieve as that woman who was always “being in total control of herself”.
25 years after she released her debut album, she has decided to not abandon her love of metal but let her metal fans where she had come from before, which might be a shock for those who didn’t know she was a rapper. For those who were hoping to be “Swingin’ Wit’ “T”” eternally, they can do so with the release of Vintage Curses, which shows that with style, grace, and maturity, you can still show how powerful it can be to be a master, or mistress, of ceremonies, regardless of age.
Let’s be blunt and to the point: if Chuck D. can still be doing his thing as he approaches 60 and Ice-T never afraid of delivering his classic flows at 57, Tairrie B. shows you can be 50 and still sound as youthful as she was when she was in her mid-20’s. If there is one obvious difference between then and now, she sings with a lower register. That will bring a sense of maturity that isn’t forced, it’s genuine and there. Lyrically, she drops rhymes about what matters to her, her experiences both good and bad, some hopes and fears but also the confidence that has helped her not only as an artist, but as a woman. There was a time when female MC’s were plentiful, which meant you could hear diverse voices from as many locales as possible, be it Mia X, Missy Elliott, and Nicki Minaj. The only downfall is that in the mainstream, there can only be one leader of representation. By being on the indie side for years, Tairrie B. is more or less dropping songs with a statement that doing it a way that is expected is complete bullshit. It doesn’t hurt if you truly do it yourself, as long as you have a community that shows support and respects who you are.
The songs on Vintage Curses range from being dark in nature, showing shades of what she has done within My Ruin but also displaying a few songs that owe back to the hip-hop production of the early to mid-90’s, as if she pulled a few surprises from the vaults and said “I never forgot.” As LL Cool J would say, don’t call this a comeback, for she has always been here for years, but some may listen to these new songs and ask themselves “what is she trying to prove?” For one, it seems too many people in hip-hop have put faith in that hip-hop if a young man’s game and once you hit 25, if you are not on the level of Jay-Z or Eminem at that age, you should apply for a new job. However, some of the most well known rappers never achieved their greatest successes until after the age of 25. Then again, put faith in ageism all you want and you will discover that it is bullshit too. You might also say the title Vintage Curses has a double meaning, for one might say Tairrie B. is also vintage in nature. However, just because she is vintage doesn’t mean she should be expected to be prim and proper. However, she has something to say and what better way than to do it in a voice that is very much of herself, regardless of genre. She shows that just because you’re a rapper or have done rap doesn’t mean you can only be one thing or sound one way. She could easily do a country EP in 2016 and throw people off even more. For now, her Vintage Curses consists of music for today’s audiences, along with those who have supported her when she let the beat rock, however method she chose to rock the mic.
(Vintage Curses is available from Bandcamp as a free download, but definitely use the “Name Your Price” option to show support.)