Whether people would like to admit it or not, women have been a vital part of hip-hop since its inception. In the genre, it's pretty typical to tell different stories, whether they're about your neighborhood, beliefs, or experiences, so of course there is plenty of room to be made for the women in hip-hop who have something to say. We started off with legends like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shanté, and Salt N' Pepa. Together these artists gave the culture feminist anthems like "U.N.I.T.Y.
," fashion statements never seen outside of a NY neighborhood, one of the best rap beefs ever, and wordplay you just don't hear anymore.
Things were going strong for female rappers, and they only got better and more successful with time. Some people refer to the late 90s - 2000s as a sort of golden age of female rappers. There was Lil Kim, Da Brat, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliott, Left Eye, Lauryn Hill, Rah Digga, Remy Ma, and Trina. Really the list goes on and on, and honestly just listing them like this doesn't do them and their contributions enough justice.
But after this golden age concluded things got a little dull in the genre. Of course there were some successful female artists here and there, but you couldn't fill a stage with all the popular female rappers -- there just wasn't that many. Between 2010 and 2017, Nicki Minaj was nominated in the BET Awards category for Best Female Hip Hop Artist, she won this category from 2010-2016. Between those six years, the Queens rapper had practically no competition. Second best wasn't even close to the stardom Nicki had reached. For years people complained about the unbalanced category nominations, but the real blame should have been on the record labels and the fans for not taking a chance on female rappers for so long.
However this year, there was an upset in the category. Once again Nicki Minaj was nominated even though many people believe she hasn't released a true hip-hop album in years, but this time she didn't win. Remy Ma took the Best Female Hip-Hop Artist award home this year, which inspired both support and anger from hip hop fans -- and they weren't all Nicki fans. Many viewers made the argument that Cardi B, a new rapper coming out of the Bronx, should have won. Another strong argument could have been made in the favor of another newer artist that was nominated, Young M.A. These debates that followed the award show days later were very exciting; the fact that all the artists nominated were serious contenders means female rappers are finally on the up. There is a growing number of underground female rappers and the fans are hungry for stories told by women.
Here are a few of some awesome emerging female rappers everyone should know.
1. Cardi B
Cardi B is a 24-year old Bronx born viral social star-turned-rapper. The world first learned about Cardi B as just an exotic dancer from the Bronx who made really funny rants on Instagram. From that, she started to build her fame and ended up on the VH1 reality show Love & Hip Hop: New York
in 2015. Through that show she was able to gain an even bigger audience. Soon after her debut on the show, she dropped her first mixtape Gangsta Bitch Music, Vol. 1
. Since then she has blown up and even released a Vol. 2 to her first tape. Her most recent single "Bodak Yellow," which borrows flow from Kodak Black's "No Flockin," is the latest in her domination in the genre.
If you listen to literally any rapper from Chicago, you've probably heard a verse from Noname. The artists over there have a camaraderie that is unmatched by any city. You might have heard her feature on the song "Lost" by Chance the Rapper on his sophomore mixtape Acid Rap
. She combines her poetic flow and poignant lyrics with a jazz instrumental to captivate her fans. She first started crafting her skills in the well known Chicago poetry scene. As a teen she was a part of the YOUMedia project which was an after school program where students could write and workshop their poems. But in 2016, the 25-year old rapper dropped her debut project Telefone
which took the scene by storm.
3. Kash Doll
You may not know Kash Doll yet but I promise she should be on your radar. She's a dope rapper from Detroit who recently started to blow up. She has a rough flow with a feminine look akin to Lil Kim or Foxy Brown. Kash Doll was a dancer at a club in Detroit but always wanted to be a rapper as a kid. She first got her foot in the door with Instagram freestyle, which led to a feature on a song, which then led to her opening up for Chief Keef. However it wasn't until she released a video for a remix of Tinashe's "I'm On" that went viral and started getting radio play that she really started making it big. Kash Doll dropped her debut mixtape Keisha Vs Kash Doll
in 2015 garnering a lot of attention from many fans. This past March she released a cinematic music video which draws from the classic Hype WIlliams film Belly
for her single "For Everybody." It went viral with over 4 million views.
4. Kodie Shane
Kodie Shane is an emerging artist in Lil Yachty's crew, The Sailing Team, from Atlanta. She's only 18 but she's already garnering a lot of attention from the hip-hop scene. Her style is similar to her fellow group member Yachty in that they both use a lot of autotune and combine singing and rapping with really good beats. She's the type of artist that makes old hip-hop heads mad because her sound is unlike anything hip-hop has seen before. People try to discredit artists like her but they shouldn't, because she has a clear message and an aesthetic to back it up. She first found the spotlight with her 2016 debut EP Little Rocket.
Then she dropped two more albums, 2060
and Zero Gravity
. Her standout album was Zero Gravity
which featured her first hit song "Sad" featuring Lil Yachty, and the video for the song reached over 5 million views. Kodie just dropped another album this year called Big Trouble Little Jupiter.
Last but not least, Kamaiyah. She is another west coast rapper who is bringing the California sound back to hip-hop. I first heard about Kamaiyah on this year's XXL Freshman list. I was so shocked to see a female rapper on the list that I hadn't heard of yet that I went to listen to her music as soon as the cover came out. Right away, anybody with some hip-hop knowledge could tell you that this girl is from The Bay Area. Kamaiyah comes off as a fun loving, energetic rapper who writes a lot of narrative driven songs.
Her breakout song was "How Does It Feel," an anthem about growing up poor with dreams of living a lavish life off her highly acclaimed debut mixtape A Good Night In The Ghetto
which dropped in 2016. Since then she has collaborated with fellow California rapper YG on hits like "Why You Always Hatin" featuring Drake. It seems California has welcomed her with open arms as well as the rest of the hip-hop community. Her sophomore album Don't Ever Get It Twisted
was supposed to come out in April but has been held up because of sample clearing. As of now there is no definitive date on the album release, all we have to go on is an album cover and a pinned tweet that says #ComingSoon. But for now we'll just have to settle for her most recent single "Build You Up."