Hurricane G’s Voice Will Live On

Image via YouTube
Image via YouTube

“Yo, yo, Redman, man, what the fuck, man? Get the fuck off that punk smooth shit, man,” Hurricane G barked on “Tonight’s Da Night,” a ’92 classic by her friend and frequent collaborator, Redman. “Get with that rough shit, man, you know how we do.”

Hurricane G, who died on Nov. 6, had one of the more recognizable voices of rap’s golden era in the ’90s. The Puerto Rican, Brooklyn native, who was 52, had a rambunctious Nuyorican accent cut through Def Squad tracks like a machete, making her sound undeniable.

Artists from Xzibit to Puffy looked to her when their tracks needed more flavor. You can hear her on Xzibit’s debut album At the Speed of Life on tracks “Just Maintain” and “Bird’s Eye View.” On the former she spits a verse and on the latter she’s kickin’ her signature shit. Years later, fans (including myself) speculated that she may’ve signed to Bad Boy when Hurricane shined as the master of ceremonies on Puffy’s “P.E. 2000.”. Not only could she spit, but her choruses, ad-libs, and all around shit-talking were instruments in their own right, often taking tracks over the top. “You public enemy number one right now, but fuck that dance shit, spit that hydro, ghetto shit,” she tells Puff in her iconic voice through the console of his Lambo.

She was one of the first bilingual rappers to rhyme in both English and Spanish, representing for Latino hip-hop heads around the world. Her unreleased song “Milky” is a late-night mixshow classic first heard on 89.9 WKCR-FM’s The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show. The record isn’t available on DSPs and finding a high quality rip still proves to be a challenge. All that’s floating around are dusty cassette dubs on YouTube and it still stands the test of time.

“Not only was ‘Milky’ one of the illest demos that me and Stretch ever premiered on our WKCR radio show, the song was actually anthemic for our era of being on air,” Bobbito tells Complex. “Like people identified that joint with us. How it never came out is still a mystery to me, but that’s what made ‘Milky’ so special for our listeners. It was super exclusive, at a time when resources to hear amazing music was limited.” Stretch Armstrong, who originally got his hands on the record, explains, “‘Milky’ wasn’t just a demo. It was a full-fledged song that for whatever reason never got properly recorded, mixed, mastered, and released. It was an absolute neck-snapping banger that would have placed Gloria quickly and firmly on the map had it been released.”

“That Barbara Mason sample with the Skull Snaps drums was ridiculous; Gloria’s verse is funky and hilarious; and the final verse by Redman is peak Reggie Noble,” Stretch adds, though he doesn’t remember exactly how he came across the song. “I’ve long forgotten how I got my hands on it—maybe from Redman? But regardless, that song is so indelibly woven into the fabric of our show—even Erick Sermon mentioned how much we loved it in his tribute post to Gloria, who was the mother to their daughter. That record was an example of why heads were so locked into our show, with their finger on the record button, ready to catch rare musical gems.”

Stretch concluded, “Coincidentally, I spoke to Gloria last year to see if she’d be down to record the record so that it could finally get a limited vinyl release. With her blessing, I was going to see if Erick and Red would be down. I wish someone knew where the multitrack for ‘Milky’ is.”

Erick Sermon—her frequent collaborator and father to her daughter Lexus Cannon—broke the news on Instagram. “​​My heart is hardened today,” he wrote. “One of my good friends…. my oldest daughter’s mother passed away today.” Their daughter confirmed in May that Gloria Rodriguez unfortunately had Stage 4 lung cancer. With rap music being in a female rapper renaissance of sorts, it’s important to note how groundbreaking Hurricane G was. She was one of the first female rappers to join a collective and while her solo career didn’t quite take off like it should’ve, she still managed to become a legend because of her unique voice and style.

A few months ago, the subject of Latinos’ place in hip-hop came up on Twitter. A certain misinformed sector of people were trying to argue that we were tourists when it came to this thing of ours, not truly understanding the dynamics of Latinos and Blacks in the NYC area. We broke bread together, we fought each other, we loved each other, we bombed the city with each other from the very beginning. Caribbean culture is ingrained in rap music and Hurricane G symbolized that.

Her much-delayed debut album All Woman was released in 1997 via world-renowned dance producer Jellybean Benitez’s H.O.L.A. Recordings. The record suffered from poor promotion but her single “Somebody Else” still managed to hit the rap charts. The album is underrated and always deserved more recognition for being a feminist manifesto. Through the project, she was able to capture the life of a Puerto Rican woman coming up in the rough and tumble streets of NYC during the late ’80s and ’90s. Themes of womanhood and deep Puerto Rican culture—with references to Chango, Ogun, and more—took center stage on the project.

Like many legendary figures in hip-hop and rap music, Hurricane G was ahead of her time. Seeing people give her flowers after her untimely passing was heartwarming. There isn’t anyone quite like Hurricane G—her voice and name still ring bells many years later. To really understand what she brought to the table, play Redman’s “We Run N.Y.” where she steals the show and Cocoa Brovaz’s “Spanish Harlem,” where she floats between English and Spanish as many Nuyoricans do on a daily basis. And let us never forget her and Diddy made a Spanish version of “P.E. 2000” and filmed it during the Puerto Rican parade.

A legendary personality with an unforgettable voice. Rest in peace, Hurricane G.