While making the documentary My Mic Sounds Nice: A Truth About Women in Hip Hop, which premieres on BET tonight at 10pm, what surprised director Ava DuVernay most was "the vulnerability of the women," citing one in particular, the Lady of Rage. "You think of emcees as invincible on the mic and my view of Lady of Rage is always in "Afro Puffs" [video below] and she's got her leather jacket, and she's grabbing the mic, and she's killing it, and Snoop's to the right and Dre's to the left," said the LA based director, who herself started out as an emcee. "But then when you sit down with her [Lady of Rage] she's just, she's a woman. She's a sweet, kind of vulnerable artist who talks about her journey in a really transparent, beautiful way. And I found that again and again and again, whether it was Salt n Pepa or [MC] Lyte or YoYo or Rah Digga, that they are emcees but they are also women. So it was really just sitting down woman to woman and having some really great conversations and I think I was surprised by that. I was more prepared for the emcee side but I saw more of the sister side."
As a filmmaker, DuVernay came to critical acclaim with her 2008 feature debut, the documentary about the Good Life cafe in LA where coincidentally she began her own hip-hop career on the mic. Titled This is the Life, the excellent documentary won a slew of awards at various film festivals, was released theatrically, played on Showtime, and was one of the featured films in last year's Amoeba Music Monday Movies series at Space 15Twenty near the LA Amoeba store. The success of This is the Life led to many things for DuVernay, including her two-hour concert documentary on New Orleans' Essence Music Festival that aired on TV One over the weekend, and tonight's BET documentary, which includes interviews with such artists as Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, Trina, The Poetess, Roxanne Shante, Salt n Pepa, Eve, YoYo, Lady of Rage, Jean Grae, and Rah Digga.