Amid the bull market of young women in hip-hop today, one of the first ladies of the genre passed away Tuesday night. Ms. Melodie, born Ramona Parker, was a founding member of the group Boogie Down productions and the ex-wife of landmark artist KRS-One. The cause of death is yet unknown, and while reports dispute her age, she was widely believed to be 43.
The Brooklyn-born Parker earned her early fame in the hip-hop world with her 1988 single "Hype According to Ms. Melodie," followed by her Jive debut album, "Diva," the next year. Two singles became crossover sensations -- "Self Destruction," an anti-violence lament, and "Live on Stage," which earned praise for the brash feminism in its music video (note the sarcastic "Video Ho" name tags on dancers).
Her outspoken and lively charisma was undeniable, and her mike skills rivaled those of the New York greats of the '80s. She split from KRS-One in 1992, and is survived by two sons. Rap legends including Russell Simmons noted her death today. "RIP Ms. Melodie. A dope MC," he tweeted.