By Tamara Palmer
The world of music and the Bay Area hip-hop scene, in particular, lost a Special One this weekend. Karryl Smith, half of the East Oakland-bred group the Conscious Daughters, better known as Special One, passed away on December 10. Her cause of death is unknown at this time.
As the Conscious Daughters, Smith and Carla Green (aka CMG) were a breakthrough act in the early Nineties, a pair of street-smart and fly ladies who rapped as relentlessly tough as any of their male counterparts. Buoyed by the singles “Somethin’ To Ride To (Fonky Expedition)” and “We Roll Deep,” the debut album Ear to the Street dropped in 1993 on Priority Records via Scarface Records, an imprint helmed by the politically charged rapper Paris. The album hit the Billboard Top 200 and R&B/Hip-Hop Top 25, and Gamers followed in 1996, with its’ title track affirming that women had considerable macking and sporting skills of their own.
Paris also released the group’s third and final album The Nutcracker Suite on his Guerilla Funk label in 2009, praised for its balance of street hard tracks and female empowerment anthems. More recently, Smith and Green had departed the label and signed an agreement for their own company Llerrad Music to be distributed through Sony Red. CMG released a solo album, Jane of All Trades, in June, and the duo was getting ready to drop the fourth album from the Conscious Daughters.
The stereotypical image of the female rapper in 2011 is hyper-sexualized and animated, but back in the Nineties, women such as the Conscious Daughters were allowed to be rugged, strong, and smooth and still be recognized for their lyrical talents and abilities.
Carla Green posted a message regarding Smith’s death on her Facebook page, writing, “Thank you to everyone for your prayers I need them. I am sick over the loss of my sister. The cause of death is still unknown but I will try to share info when I get it. Pray for me and Karryls other sisters Jessica and Tonya. We are all together trying to get through this.”
“We know inside that we’re the best at what we do,” Special One told Bay Area writer and activist Davey D in a 2009 interview,“We love what we do and we can flow with the best of them.”