WOTY: Crowned Hustle Royalty

In a remarkable turnaround from her previous year’s standing, Ms. Hustle has been unanimously crowned as the Woman of the Year in 2023, marking a monumental achievement in her career. Congratulations to Ms Hustle for further pushing the apex of her legacy and having a remarkable 2-3 year stretch of performing at the highest level. 

After landing in 2nd place in 2022, Ms. Hustle made it her unwavering goal to ascend to the pinnacle of recognition for 2023. Throughout the entirety of the year, she displayed an unparalleled level of dominance, showcasing outstanding performances across a myriad of stages and against a diverse range of competition. Battling Top-Tier men like Tay Roc & Arsonal. A Top-Tier woman like Shooney, Rising talents like Yunus & Kapo & Midtier level competitors like Myverse, Lu Castro & Jerry Wess. Battling on various leagues like URL, Chrome 23, and Houston Bar Code. Ms. Hustle’s consistency, determination, and unwavering commitment to excellence kept her head and shoulders above her fellow contenders, earning her a well-deserved title.

I like to take the moment to salute the entire panel. And briefly discuss the importance of this year’s panel

(Panelist From left to right) 
-Tai Tai (LTBR)
-Lola Dope (New Era Podcast)
-Hurricane Du (Rapper/Media Mogul) 
-Reda (Champion) 
-Josh (CEO of OTFMZ)
Winged (League Partner of RBE) 

Our Staff reporter Tai Tai has displayed yet again another brilliant performance on the panel. Major salute to Reda from Champion for orchestrating the entire ceremony. Reda has cultivated a space where the women in battle rap can receive the acknowledgment & recognition they rightfully deserve. 

Breaking Stigmas Surrounding WOTY

There were a lot of narratives surrounding the WOTY Panel this year that were deeply rooted in nothing factual. And the panel got the perfect opportunity to dispel all of them. The first one is, “If Jaz ranks higher than Ms.Hustle on the COTY list, wouldn’t she automatically win?”  The lack of nuance in the culture can never cease to amaze me at times, because the same way some people may feel that if a certain panelist were to be replaced by a specific person, the outcome would be a different result because a different perspective has entered the room, is the EXACT same logic that needs to be applied to here. Literally the same logic. It’s two different panels, of 12 different people. You can very easily have a different set of opinions, COTY ranked Jaz, Hustle & Coffee and WOTY ranked Hustle, Coffee & Jaz. The complete opposite of each other, neither list dictates the other’s outcome. Different perspectives can debate different viewpoints on the categories. So let’s put this to bed. 

Secondly, let’s address this strange notion that COTY & WOTY need to be separated. COTY has always been a list to acknowledge the Best Active Battlers for a calendar year. Two things can be true, you can be a woman & also perform at the highest level to be considered one of the Best Active Battlers. The thought process of men being slighted because they can not participate in two awards is laughable when you consider the fact that Battle Rap is a male-dominated industry. WOTY was created because the female battlers in the culture are the under-represented group that was not able to receive their proper acknowledgment. 

The women in battle rap are closer to being considered a minority group within the culture and there is a growing population of their voices that remained unaccounted for, for years, and they’re finally getting the chance to enrich their contributions. This isn’t a case of forced diversity forced on the culture to create an imbalance in equality for men. This is just a testament to how good women like Jaz, Hustle & Coffee have been. These women made a COTY list because they have beaten multiple top-tier men, had some of the best performances on the biggest cards & have headlined multiple events on the biggest leagues against the biggest names. Years before COTY/WOTY, when big mainstream media outlets like The Source and others would put out end-of-the-year lists of some of the best active battle rappers, some years you could find maybe 1 or 2 women on those lists because their years were just that outstanding and undeniable. They were able to make a bigger impact with fewer opportunities. 

The opportunity gap between men & women in this culture is insurmountable and may never be closed, over the last decade, female battlers would tend to fall short of acknowledgment because there weren’t enough opportunities available to be on the biggest cards and stages with the most spotlight. Female battle rap was like a niche within a niche. They would have to work twice as hard and sometimes still not have their excellence revered because sometimes it would just go a bit under the radar to grab the attention it deserved. 

Now with so many more platforms dedicated to the ladies, due to the rise of inter-gender matches ups against top tiers, and women being featured on marquee cards, the enthusiasm for women’s battle rap has been growing exponentially over the 5 years. More of the spotlight has been presented where the ladies can display a high level of battle rap & they bring more compelling stories of interest for the fans. From 2020 to 2023, There have been more PPV events featuring the ladies on big cards, or all-female cards, in the last 4 years, than there have been in the last 10 years before that. All of the biggest brands, and best active battlers in female battle have been exposed to a new light with a plethora of opportunities arising and the star power of the top fan-favored names has everyone watching. It’s almost parallel to how the game of Women’s basketball has grown so much over the last few years, you can feel this moment in the culture where everyone is more invested in the ladies than ever before. We are in a different time and a different place in the culture and it is special.

Hustle Continues To Make History

Ms.Hustle is the shining icon for this year when it comes to making history for female battle rap. She was the only woman featured on several big URL cards, and in the past few years was the first to headline serval opportunities. The first woman to headline on URL, the first Chrome 23 Headliner, being the first to do something is attached to her name in many ways. And yet, there is an audience of the culture that instead of harmonizing Hustle’s accomplishments, there is a constant effort to disunite them 

It’s no secret, that Ms.Hustle is a villain in the eyes of some people in the culture. While Ms.Hustle fell short of winning the fan vote from everyone who donated to the award (which I anticipated), she secured the unanimous decision amongst the WOTY panel, so there was no need to go to the fan vote. However, I think it does speak volumes that someone who can be as polarizing as Ms. Hustle gets her fair assessment and evaluation when it comes to the ladies & gentlemen on the panel, who are diligently breaking down the criteria and resumes of all the contenders. This culture can be divisive at times with certain individuals that have an extreme personality, or with looming narratives around their name and brand. But the most important about the process of the panel is that none of that outside noise matters. It’s all about the production you put on a stage. 

None of the members on the panel, or anyone in media who is responsible for voting on superlatives should buy into any of these hypothetical theories, unfair assessments, or personal vendettas you have towards any emcee. Just grade the work, watch the battles, and be objective about the production. All of the ladies that were ranked were evaluated strictly on their material, their performance, their Schedule, their moments, consistency & impact. Strictly off the award’s criteria. This was one of the toughest races in WOTY history because the other two contenders in Jaz The Rapper & Coffee Brown also had an outstanding year to combat Hustle’s case and it was all going to rely on the perspective you apply towards your debate. Personally, I felt like Jaz’s case had the best standout performances, Coffee’s case had the best individual wins, but Hustle’s case had a combination of both, with the least amount of flaws. 

 Her triumph serves as a testament to the power of perseverance and the limitless potential to rise to greatness. Let’s break down her year and how she stood consistent all of 2023.

Ms Hustle: A Determined Contender on the Rise

2023 Schedule:

In the first half of 2023, Ms. Hustle has demonstrated a relentless pursuit of excellence, establishing herself as a frontrunner in the WOTY race. Her year kicked off with an explosive start, leaving a mark on all media rankings at the halfway point of the year. Ms. Hustle showcased her prowess with a standout performance as one of the top performers of the night against Myverse, setting the stage for a series of commanding victories. Her dominating win against Shooney Da Rapper on The Chrome23 Anniversary card solidified her status as a front-runner early in the year. 

Notably, Ms. Hustle headlined a main event grudge match against the gun bar king in Tay Roc on the Kings vs Queens Series, further elevating her profile. And to put a nice cap in her feather, this same card featured Jaz The Rapper & Coffee Brown. And she was able to outperform both of them on this card.

Additionally, she had a one-round battle with Casey Jay, slated to be featured in the upcoming URL documentary, which underscores Ms. Hustle’s commitment to leaving an enduring legacy in the world of battle rap. Although this battle is unreleased, it still has an impact on the positive trajectory she was on. And can be considered an accolade for her career and history of female battle rap. She was then scheduled to have a battle with Loso on Bullpen in April, which she pulled out from, which caused a domino effect for the rest of the year. With such an impressive track record in the first half of the year, Ms. Hustle has undoubtedly positioned herself as a leading contender for the WOTY title.

In the second half of 2023, Ms. Hustle attempts to pick up where she left off, showcasing her versatility and resilience. Participating in a 2-on-2 battle on the NOME Impact card with her EFB partner Danny Myers, she faced chemistry issues, yet managed to deliver a performance that captivated the audience, despite losing this 2-on-2. Ms. Hustle showed her mastery of the craft in a one-round battle on Houston Bar Code against a URL rookie in Kapo Bravado, showcasing her complete control of the stage. One of the standout moments of her year came in a back-and-forth battle with another one of URL’s rookies, Yunus, on the Final Exam card. The electrifying performance in this highly competitive bout solidified her reputation as a battle rap luminary, and that battle is one of the better battles of the year. A debatable battle filled with immense replay value.

To put a ribbon on the year, Ms. Hustle was slated to face off against New Jersey legend Arsonal Da Rebel on URL’s grandest stage, Homecoming 2, marking a triumphant return to the Big Apple. With a track record of success in a previous stint on a New York Stage against top-tier opponents like Shooney, Ms. Hustle aims to replicate that same level of production, and she does just that in the highest fashion.  Her first round against Arsonal was complete fireworks and it lit up the entire Irving Plaza. She dropped the whole house on him.  That weekend was pivotal when you consider the fact that Coffee Brown (#2) & Jaz The Rapper (#3)  also battled that same weekend, and you can walk away saying Hustle arguably had the best performance of the weekend of the 3. 

She led the charge for the year. Ms. Hustle set out a goal back at the top of 2023 to contend for the WOTY Belt, and we can now say, mission accomplished. 

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