BUFFALO, N.Y. — Ladies First was designed to showcase some local figures from an often overlooked group of creatives within the realm of hip-hop culture.
“I realized hip-hop is a male-dominated industry, but I saw all these amazing, powerful women that were working behind the scenes, and you really wouldn’t see them on TV getting exposure or in music videos, but they were always pushing these artists and pushing people they were passionate about," said Ladies First curator Schondra Aytch. "So when I saw that and saw the influence I have now, I was like, I have to do something in my power to elevate these women and support these women.”
The show was dedicated to the women driving Buffalo’s culture through music, dance and style. A collaboration between Sneakvibing, the all-things-hip-hop brainchild of Aytch, the University at Buffalo Arts Collaboratory, and Torn Space Theater, the show will highlight the diverse talents of some of the city’s best-kept secrets, proving that women are a gender, not a genre.
“I feel like once we have that representation, more people will be open to connecting, networking and we’ll really just expand their profile and tell their story,” Aytch said.
The show is as much a tribute to the city itself as it is to the women of its hip-hop scene, providing a space for local talent to perform for an audience at home; bringing some of the best from Buffalo to perform in Buffalo.
“I’ve been performing for years and years; I don’t oftentimes get chances to perform in my own city," said Aitina “A.I. The Anomoly” Fareed-Cooke, a Buffalo-based rapper and photographer chosen to perform at Ladies First. "I’m always performing in other cities, so it’s always cool to be able to do it right here in my hometown.”
The vision of representing the underrepresented is ever-expanding, as Ladies First sets the standard for showing the city’s multi-faceted music scene and unique talents.
“I really want to highlight the diversity of what all these rappers and artists are bringing to the table,” Aytch said. “So I’m hoping like Ladies First, I’ll be able to have more events and just do more things and projects that will cover the whole landscape of Buffalo, not just one niche.”