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Book Event: Nadirah Simmons’ First Things First Launch At BLK MKT Vintage In Brooklyn, NY

I’m reading it…, there was a loving intention there for women and for women in hip-hop.

April Walker on February 1, 2024


Ladies Of Hip-Hop Journalism

From left to right: Taiia Smart Young, former managing editor at XXL magazine, Nadirah Simmons, author of First Things First and creator of The Gumbo, and Me! Paula T. Renfroe, former managing editor of The Source and the first Lifestyle Editor of XXL. 👑👑👑


Last night, I attended the standing-room-only book launch event for ☛FIRST THINGS FIRST: HIP-HOP LADIES WHO CHANGED THE GAME [pub: Twelve/Hachette Publishing] by music journalist Nadirah Simmons at BLK MKT vintage in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. As a fellow hip-hop journalist from the late ’90s who’s interviewed the likes of MC Lyte, Da Brat, Lil’ Kim and Queen Latifah, ahem, I really needed to personally witness the newer generation of women writers who’ve since grabbed the baton and sprinted with it. And lemme just say, Auntie Paula is proud.


Nadirah Simmons Shares Her Discoveries While Writing First Things First With NPR’s Sidney Madden 

Sidney Madden of NPR Music interviewed Nadirah in front of a packed house, only to be followed by the author herself conversing with pioneering streetwear designer April Walker. Oh, how I wished I’d recorded more footage! But honestly, I had no plans of even posting about this creatively restorative evening. My intent was to simply enjoy the author Q&A as well as the tunes of Quinn Bee with my soul friend and fellow journalist, Taiia Smart Young. The fashion, music and Brooklyn history that April Walker bestowed upon us made it a you-had-to-be-there kind of night. “I’m reading it through loving like…, there was a loving intention there for women and for women in hip-hop,” April said commending Nadirah on her writing. “You really did your work.”

First Things First: Hip-Hop Ladies Who Changed the Game is out now. Get yours!


Women In Hip-Hop

Taiia gets her fresh copy of First Things First personally autographed by Nadirah.

While I regrettably don’t have the footage of April Walker sharing with the captivated crowd what it was like designing custom ‘fits for the Notorious B.I.G., check out April giving Nadirah her well-deserved flowers here. 💐💐


The Legendary April Walker Can Photobomb Me Any Day!

Full Disclosure: IG or WordPress won’t let me embed the reel. 😭 So I took 50-11 screenshots to capture this fly-ass photo! Check out Nadirah’s full reel here .


First Things First: Hip-Hop Ladies Who Changed the Game Synopsis From Twelve/Hachette Publishing:

This enlightening book reframes the history of hip-hop—and this time, women are given credit for all their trailblazing achievements that have left an undeniable impact on music. 

First Things First, hip-hop is not just the music, and women have played a big role in shaping the way it looks today. First Things First takes readers on a journey through some notable firsts by women in hip-hop history and their importance. Factual firsts like Queen Latifah becoming the first rapper to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Lauryn Hill making history as the first rapper to win the coveted Album of the Year Award at the GRAMMYs, April Walker being the first woman to dominate in the hip-hop fashion game, and Da Brat being the first solo woman rapper to have an album go platinum, and metaphorical firsts like Missy Elliott being the first woman rapper to go to the future. (Trust me, she really did.)

There are chapters on music legends like Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim and Mary J. Blige, tv and radio hosts like Big Lez and Angie Martinez, and so many more ladies I would name but I don’t want to spoil the book! There are games, charts and some fire images, too.

Altogether, First Things First is a celebration of the achievements of women in hip-hop who broke down barriers and broke the mold. So the next time someone doesn’t have their facts straight on the ladies in hip-hop, you can hit them with “first things first”…

Peace, Love, & Beauty,