The author pays tribute to the women of hip-hop—from the early work of Roxanne Shanté, to hitmakers like Queen Latifah and Missy Elliot, to the superstars of today. Exploring issues of gender, money, sexuality, violence, body image, feuds, objectification and more, God Save the Queens is a work of music journalism that at last gives these influential female artists the respect they have long deserved.
Iandoli's book is rigorous, insightful, and authoritative — but it's also deadly personal ... The opposing forces of sisterhood and competition propel Iandoli's narrative ... It's an interplay, Iandoli argues, that adds just one more level of complexity to the already fraught landscape that has faced woman rappers throughout the past 40-plus years. And she does so through compelling, vivid portraits of the key players in the game. In particular, her rendering of the young Roxanne Shanté — fierce, complicated, still in braces, and spitting rhymes — is masterful. And throughout the book, Iandoli maintains the measured hand of a historian while making no bones about who her personal heroes are ... As penetrating and passionate as God Save the Queens is, it feels a bit rushed in its buildup to Shanté ... it's hard not to feel that the earliest era of women in hip-hop is being given short shrift ... Ultimately, though, the book's minor imbalances pale before its primary message ... Iandoli wields an illuminating fury. But she also never loses touch with the power of hip-hop itself — an artform that so many women have seized as their own, and changed the world by doing so.
Though much of God Save the Queens covers the beefs between female hip-hop stars, Iandoli also connects these women through their shared struggle for success. Moreover, Iandoli’s own career mirrors those of the rappers she profiles, making her writing informed as well as empathetic ... Given the recent rise of Lizzo, it’s clear that the influence of women in hip-hop is far from over. Yet the history of the women who opened the door for artists like Lizzo has remained largely unacknowledged. God Save the Queens fills an empty space in music history, bringing the influence of some of the world’s most talented rappers to the forefront, giving them the platform they’ve always deserved.
Iandoli synthesizes ample source material (including her own interviews) in an efficient and quippy style, writing with admiration foremost but not glossing over salient matters like beefs and diss tracks. Her narrative becomes more personal with the stories of artists she experienced as a fan in real time ... While Iandoli shows how some struggles have persisted through the decades, like the constant battle to not be objectified, her outlook is heaped with gratitude and upward-trending.