1992 saw the release of Apache’s seminal “Gangsta Bitch,” an over-the-top ode to the kind of female companion, “when your punk-ass boys run, you know she’s got your back.” The following year, the generally estrogen-deficient rap world was injected with even more testosterone as a number of female rappers tried to match the aura of invincibility of their male counterparts. MC Lyte (“Ain’t No Other”) and YoYo (“You Better Ask Somebody”) both presented a somewhat convincing, edgier version of themselves, but the season’s runaway success belonged to a newcomer. Boss, born Lichelle Laws, was the gangsta bitch incarnated, making it known that she didn’t “give a fuck, not a single fuck, not a single, solitary fuck.”
After introducing herself on AMG’s “Bitch Betta Have My Money” and the “Zebrahead” soundtrack in 1992, her debut album on Def Jam West, “Born Gangstaz” spawned a string of hits with “Progress of Elimination,” “Deeper,” and “Recipe of a Hoe.” Unfortunately for Boss, this was also a time when the public began to get hip to the tricks of the rap industry. In her case, a 1994 Wall Street Journal article revealed that Boss didn’t keep it particularly real. She had been raised in a middle-class neighborhood, attended Catholic school and majored in business. This is not the place to discuss the many aspects of hip-hop’s inherent hypocrisy nor the ignorance of its critics. Boss recently told her side of the story to Detroit’s Metro Times, and it’s well worth hearing.
In short, Boss and her DJ Dee (who completed the duo ‘Boss’) parted ways and Def Jam refused the material she recorded for a follow-up. She hung up the mic, settled in a Dallas suburb, became a mother and a radio host with her husband on K104. A life-threatening kidney condition required dialysis, before she received a transplant in 2003. All of this doesn’t prevent Boss from giving it one more try in 2004 (after a brief comeback on Krayzie Bone’s “Thug on da Line” album). She’s in Detroit, back where she started, has hooked up with Def Jef again to collaborate on what they call “The Six Million Dollar Mix Tape.”
As a nod to Bionic Woman Jamie Sommers, Boss dubs herself Chellie Sommers, with “a career barely alive,” resurrected as “6 Million Dollar Bitch,” “better than she was before, stronger, faster.” Well – is she? Hard to tell from just three full songs and only half an hour playing time. “Y’all Know Who I Am” is to remind us who we’re dealing with: “Am I dirt-doer? I’m a connoisseur / make shit go up in smoke like when I did the Chronic tour.” Her claims supported by 2Pac giving her props in an incorporated interview segment, Boss goes from taking a stab at her current comp (“If you didn’t know, then Boss gon’ be the first to say it / cause everybody know these rap hoes overrated”) to a BDP reference (“Everyone saw me on my first album cover / holdin’ a pistol, somethin’ from a lover”) to making fun of the criticism she faced a decade ago with sarcastic quips: “Multi-talent, even took a dance class (…) Catholic school bitch, never weak game (…) Get off my dick ‘fore I put you on the stroll / and reach back like a pimp and smack a hoe.”
Looks like homegirl is up to her old tricks again. This time around, though, people should be able to take Boss for what she is – a product of rap music, a character born out of certain circumstances. In her own words: “Boss gon’ always be that ghetto gangsta bitch first.” Rap is known to cause transformations like these. It may not always bring out the best in people, but it’s a means to vent whatever has built up inside you. You might as well believe her when she says, “this ain’t a gimmick, this is me, so this the best hand / you fuckin’ get, recognize Boss a vet, man.”
Evidently, her confidence and cockiness haven’t waned, as she calls herself “the most anticipated bitch of the decade” and claims she “could write a song, throw it out the window, shit is goin’ platinum ‘fore it hit the ground.” After all, what’s a mixtape other than self-promotion? The format also serves as an excuse for the sound quality and the song drafts. With “68 (I Owe You 1),” “On Ey’thing” and “Freeway Freestyle” (featuring Def Jef), she ventures into the realm of relationships and sex without coming up with anything with replay value. Worthwile additions however are “Boss Medley,” a cut collage courtesy of DJ Skillspinz, the reinterpretation of the Bravehearts’ “Quick to Back Down” into the slogan “this bitch don’t back down” (“Don’t Back Down Freestyle”) and finally the most professional composition, “Go Get ‘Em (Go Gitcha Bitches).” Over a a slick, sharp, almost funky keys/bass/drums combo, Boss comes out swinging at an unidentified local opponent. Though she scores lyrically with lines like “I feel like I should give her rent money, my name is livin’ in this bitch’s mouth” and “I don’t know what the fuck a mudhole is, but I will stomp one in ya,” it’s not so much what she says, but how she says it. Here, Boss finally shows that she hasn’t lost her touch, as she gets the listener’s adrenaline pumping with her precise flow and combative spirit.