Screengrab via YouTube
Hurricane G should be recognized among the best female rappers to ever exist, as well as some of rap’s other underrated but great MCs, too.
On November 6, 2022, news broke of the untimely death of Gloria “Hurricane G” Rodriguez. The cause of death was unknown until her daughter, Lexus Sermon, shared a tribute to her mother on Facebook, revealing that the rapper succumbed to her battle with stage 4 lung cancer at the age of 52. The underrated hip-hop figure is best known for her lyricism and ability to bilingually spit daggers as one of the first Afro-latina rappers in the genre during her rise in the early ‘90s. She freestyled alongside other female up-and-comers who were equally recognized for their battle raps at the time like Rah Digga and Bahmadia, and eventually found her own lane in the New York City music scene.
G first gained attention as the first female member of the rap group Def Squad (originally Hit Squad, which disbanded later on due to internal conflict) that included Redman, Keith Murray, K-Solo, and Erick Sermon. The group often featured each other on tracks and mixtapes, with G popping up on some of them, most notably Redman’s 1992 hit “Tonight’s Da Night.” In typical New York fashion, G instigates Redman to “get the fuck off that punk smooth shit, man. Get with the rough shit man, you know how we do.” G’s split-second cameo is a testament to how distinct her voice was, her sticky Nuyorican accent stealing the intro to the beloved Redman track.
Hurricane G was also featured on “We Run N.Y.,” a standout track from Redman’s 1994 album Dare Is A Darkside. In it, her off tempo rhymes and stretched accented vowels shine as she lays down a seemingly unending verse. But the unsung hero of it all is how she accents the word “now” toward the end of the verse, punctuating it in a creative way that allows her to catch her breath and start her flow over again, ending it all with this very memorable line: “swing it over here on these big ass tits.” It’s a line that highlights how G was one of the first women in the game to cross the boundary of owning her feminine sexuality in a male-dominated genre.
As Hurricane continued to rise as a rapper, she was offered more and more lucrative opportunities, like being featured on “Just Maintain” and “Birds Eye View” from Xzibit’s 1996 debut album At The Speed of Life. Out of the two, it’s the former that stands out most, with G offering a verse that mirrors Xzibit’s own directed at rappers who are only in it for fame and glory. Her voice offers a welcome pause from the growling of her male counterparts, as she serves humility and unrelenting confidence in a few short seconds. The song peaks during her closing verse, where she flawlessly falls off the beat to talk her shit, only to jump right back on without missing her cue:
Imitating Hurricane’s flow for riches,
you don’t know the half, I got the ill vocab,
Doobie rap style, gettin’ bucked,
more freaky than your last good fuck,
milking you like ba ba pieces,
meetin’ ni**as lyrical wishes.
Another lucrative opportunity G got as she rose was getting to work with one of the industry’s heavy hitters of the time — Diddy. Ahead of the release of his second album Forever (1999), Diddy shared its lead single “P.E. 2000,” which featured G. Although she’s essentially relegated to Diddy’s hype-person on the track (similar to her intro on “Tonight’s Da Night”), it’s interesting to note that she’s actually listed as a feature on the track (which wasn’t the case for her appearances on “We Run N.Y.,” “Tonight’s Da Night,” ”Just Maintain,” and “Bird’s Eye View”). It was a nice look for a female rapper, with the collaboration blossoming into another opportunity where G was actually able to showcase her lyrical prowess alongside Diddy.
This opportunity came in the form of a Spanish remix of “P.E. 2000,” where G was able to stretch her bilingual legs and offer a spoken word delivery in the track’s beginning and ending in Spanish. Since its earliest beginnings, rap as a genre has included Black rappers and Latinx rappers alike. But it wasn’t too common to see mainstream artists dropping dual-language collaborations, which has become more prominent over time. This is what makes the “P.E. 2000” remix so interesting, with the track also having Diddy rap solely in Spanish.
Although G was primarily known for her appearances on other rappers’ work, her solo material was just as important. In September 1997, she released her first (and last) solo album All Woman through the New York-based label H.O.L.A. (Home of Latino Artists) Recordings, which had delayed the album. In an interview done around the time of the project’s release, G spoke on the delay and attributed it to “Politics, personal stuff…it just wasn’t my time,” before going to take a small dig at the label: “They just couldn’t front on one of the best females…they knew they they had something good, sometimes I think they forget. But hopefully the album I got is still gonna be the bomb due to the fans and the love I got.”
Because of a lack of promotion for the album from H.O.L.A., All Woman didn’t end up getting the recognition it deserved. Still, the album has some of G’s best work, especially in its singles: “El Barrio,” “Underground Lockdown,” and “Somebody Else,” which made it to the Billboard Top 10 Hot Rap Singles list. Even now, it’s easy to understand why “Somebody Else” became a hit. The lyrics and flow are timeless, resembling so much of what women enjoy hearing from female rappers today, as G reclaims her power from a relationship that’s taking more than it’s giving. Overall, the album perfectly encapsulated Hurricane’s ability to hone in on her great rapping ability and tackle themes of womanhood, motherhood, heartbreak, and the survival skills needed to grow up on the streets of New York in the ‘80s and ‘90s. It also allowed her to begin exploring sounds outside of the harder beats she’d contributed to up until then, as is evident with “Intro,” where G plays with the sounds of an actual hurricane and fuses that into an indigenous beat and chant, before closing the song with a prayer.
But if there’s any song that truly embodies just how good of an MC Hurricane was, it has to be the fan-favorite “Milky.” An unreleased deep cut that was first heard on 89.9 WKCR-FM’s The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show (to this day, finding a clean rip or version with no hiss continues to be a challenge), “Milky” found Hurricane offering an amusing freestyle that not only showed her niceness, but just how much fun she had rapping. From bars like “when I catch a dummy, I gets money honey” and “the first female to freak the funk, and dissin’ chumps with a little dress and high heel pumps” to “I’m livin’ like Thanksgivin’ and chillin’, never will the ever almighty stop jinglin’, the earrings I wear are called bangles shinin’ dangle do the mash potato tango,” it’s clear that rapping was a joyful act for G.
As people continue to discover her music amid her passing, they’ll see how Hurricane G’s distinct flow, lyricism, and raw talent defined her legacy as a rapper. She opened doors for other Latinx, female, and bilingual rappers, and showed that she deserves to not only be included among the best female rappers to ever exist, but among some of the genre’s other underrated but great MCs, too.
Rosy Alvarez is a freelance writer with bylines in Remezcla, We Are Mitú, Latino Rebels, and more. Follow her work, adventures, and day-to-day nonsense at @aroseinbklyn.