500 Female Emcees: Meet the Cookie Crew-Hip Hop Pioneers from the UK

Cookie Crew (South London)

Cookie Crew (South London)

When we talk about Hip Hop  and its history its good to not only know the pioneering figures in New York where the music and culture was born, but its good to know who were the pioneering figures in other places. When we talk about the vibrant Hip Hop scene in London, you can’t talk about its early beginnings without noting the music accomplishments and social and political advocacy of MC Remedee (Debbie Pryce) and Suzy Q (Susan Banfield) collectively known as the Cookie Crew.

The duo formed Clapham, South London in 1983 which was about 2 years before  groups like Salt-N-Pepa formed. Their career took off after winning a national rap championship and recording two sessions for the John Peel BBC Radio 1 show. They gained a recording contract from the UK dance record label Rhythm King and were put in the studio with the production trio Beatmasters, who put them in a house music direction.

In July 1987, the resultant single “Rok Da House” was popular in the nightclubs. many consider it one of the first Hip-House songs. Their follow-up single “Females” also was a minor hit in October 1987. The continuing popularity of “Rok Da House” in nightclubs eventually renewed interest in the track and garnered a couple of television appearances on the No Limits programme.

The record was re-issued at the end of December 1987 and crossed over into the mainstream. The song became a Top 5 hit in the UK Singles Chart at the beginning of February 1988, and was even used for an advertising campaign. The track is often quoted as being the first hip house record.[who?]

Cookie CrewThe duo moved on to another record label, FFRR and different producers, resulting in a string of hit singles in 1989, with “Born This Way (Let’s Dance)“, “Got to Keep On” with Edwin Starr and “Come and Get Some“; plus the album Born This Way! which reached number 24 in the UK Albums Chart. “Got to Keep On” also reached #33 in the U.S. Dance chart.[2]

By 1992, there were differences of opinion between the duo, who wanted to pursue more of an orthodox hip hop/rap style, and FFRR’s parent label London Records, who wanted to steer the duo towards more of a pop oriented style of rap. This resulted in the duo parting company with FFRR and retiring from the hip hop/rap scene. Despite this, Pryce and Banfield have remained involved with other projects within the music industry.

The two continued to perform and travel the world. Banfield is the sister of The Pasadenas’ singer Andrew Banfield, and Pryce was formerly a chef for the Ministry of Defense.

Reach Debbie Pryce on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cookiepryce

Check out the full list of 500 Female Emcees Everyone Should Know

Cookie CrewFemales’


Cookie CrewBorn this Way’


Cookie CrewSecret of Success’


Cookie CrewHow Long has This Been Going On?’


Cookie CrewRok the House’