The New New: 15 Female Rappers You Should Know
The 1990s have come and gone, and with them went a generation of some of the most talented women hip-hop has ever seen. Hip-hop has often been described as a young man's game—with the operative word being man—but today's crop of female MCs can give the Golden Era a run for its money. Nicki Minaj, Angel Haze, Azealia Banks and Iggy Azaelia may steal the spotlight, but the likes of Jean Grae and Rapsody have been killing the game for years. And while it's tough to single out rappers for their gender, women are criminally slept on in hip-hop.
With the New New, XXL tries to spotlight burgeoning acts who we feel haven’t gotten the shine they deserve, the up-and-comers who haven’t received the notice that they should be getting. On that note, the XXL staff has pulled together 15 rappers that we believe you need to know. It’s the ladies' time to assert themselves as heavyweights in the hip-hop world. This is the New New. —Dan Rys, Eric Diep, Eric Thurm, Christina Kelly and Jasmina Cuevas
Previously: The New New: 15 Seattle Rappers You Should Know
The New New: 15 Atlanta Rappers You Should Know
The New New: 15 New York Rappers You Should Know
The New New: 15 Boston Rappers You Should Know
Hometown: New Orleans, La.
Notable songs: "Dear Old Me," The Kill"
Sounds like: Nicki Minaj without all the extra voices.
Why you need to know her: 3D Na'Tee isn't your typical rapper talking the tough talk but not really living it. The lyricist has lived the life she raps about and keeps it real enough for all those listening. Though she sounds a bit like Nicki Minaj, she is rougher around the edges and speaks on truths that the music industry is not used to.
Hometown: Philadelphia, Penn.
Notable song: "No Chaser," "Pu$$y Rappers"
Sounds like: Remy Ma's ferocity mixed with an A$AP Rocky-esque ear for beats.
Why you need to know her: Asia Sparks' looks aren't the only thing everyone is focusing on. Her demeanor is tough and rugged and her lyrics back her attitude up as she raps about running male rappers out of the game. Sparks can hang with the hardest of them and hold her own.
Hometown: Queens, New York
Notable song: "My Vag"
Sounds like: While there have been comparisons to Kreayshawn, Awkwafina is actually creating her own lane with her entertaining and intelligent concept-driven songs. “My Vag” helped put her on the map, but its songs like “NYC Bitche$” and “Mayor Bloomberg (Giant Margaritas)” that show her versatility.
Why you need to know her: Asian Americans are still underrepresented in hip-hop, and the Chinese/Korean MC is looking to change that. On top of everything, the girl can also rhyme with the best of them.
Hometown: Boston, Mass.
Notable song: "Love Is"
Sounds like: The self-confidence of Lauryn Hill with a Beantown twist
Why you need to know her: Simply put, she's one of the best rappers coming out of a city that's nearly bursting at the seams with fresh, up and coming talent. With a strong, confident flow backing up formidable lyrics, Dutch should make a higher-profile breakthrough once she drops her upcoming mixtape, The ReBelle Diaries. The streets is watching now.
Gift Uh Gab
Hometown: Seattle, Wash.
Notable song: “Dead Wrong”
Sounds like: Gift uh Gab has an aged, classic-hip hop flow, reminiscent of the New York sound of classic female lyricists like Queen Latifah.
Why you need to know her: Repping Moor Gang, Gift uh Gab seems serious about putting the Northwest on the hip-hop map, crafting an impressionable image with her nonchalant flow yet hard-hitting lyrics. With her self-touted title “Queen LaChiefa,” which is also the title of her latest EP, Gift uh Gab carries a sound that has the potential to contribute to, or even spurn, a new age of quality female lyricism in the industry.
Notable song: "Stitches"
Sounds like: Lil’ Kim's unabashed sex-driven lyrics.
Why you need to know her: Jungle Pussy is as loud and unpredictable as her music. She recently opened up for Lil’ Kim in New York, with the Queen Bee a purported fan of the upcoming rapper. If you think her lyrics gave you good insight to what Jungle Pussy is all about, take a look at her Twitter; Jungle Pussy consistently takes to the medium not only to discuss her music, but also speak explicitly on racial and gender politics.
Hometown: Philadelphia, Penn.
Notable song: “Yesterday” featuring Lil Snupe
Sounds like: A harder, faster take on the flow of classic 1990s female rappers.
Why you need to know her: She’s flexible enough to battle in one breath and tackle a smooth piano line the next. As the first female artist signed to Meek Mill’s Dreamchasers imprint, we’ll probably be seeing a lot more of her.
Hometown: Oakland, Calif.
Notable song: "2 Cups," "Squirt"
Sounds like: As a former member of the White Girl Mob, Lil Debbie embodies the attitude of her running mates with an abrasive steelo. Don’t be fooled by her hardened exterior, though; she likes to make fun songs similar to her buddy Riff Raff.
Why you need to know her: The 23-year-old Bay Area rapper is helping to bring the spotlight back to the West Coast. Her latest EP California Sweetheart is a solid effort and has the potential for listeners and critics alike to take her more seriously.
Notable song: "Tear The Club Up," "Tap It"
Sounds like: A sassier, more cinematic Lil Kim
Why you need to know her: Lore'l has a soft, raspy voice that caught people's attention on season three of Love & Hip-Hop, but there is more to her than being a reality star. The female rapper has been featured on tracks like Fabolous and Red Cafe's "Tonight" and released the hit mixtape, Leading Lady, hosted by Power 105's Angela Yee. It's clear that the lyricist is making quite the noise with her music. Love & Hip-Hop’ was just another fun day at the office.
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Notable song: "Lost," "Paradise"
Sounds like: Emotional, honest storytelling with a quirky perspective.
Why you need to know her: There's not much material to go by so far, but if we'd only had her deep, dark sixteen on Chance The Rapper's "Lost" from his Acid Rap mixtape, it'd be enough to keep her on our radar. Luckily she's been serving up some more verses in the buildup to her debut project Telefone, which is set to drop next year. In a city on the come up, she stands as one of the most exciting voices around, and her buzz can only get bigger from here.
Hometown: Jamaica, Queens
Notable song: "Juice"
Sounds like: Salt N’ Pepa with more grime and hard-hitting beats.
Why you need to know her: Backed by Timbaland, she’ll never lack for a solid producing mind behind her rhymes. More than anything though, she’s a consummate performer, with flair in her visuals and choreography that suggests we should really make it to her live show.
Hometown: Leimert Park, Calif. by way of Richmond, Texas
Notable song: “Trill Bitches” and “P.A.P.E.R.”
Sounds like: Quick spitting, twisted party raps.
Why you need to know her: An L.A. MC by way of Texas, Sorvino has taken to the sun-drenched coast on tracks like “Gold Chainz.” Her just-released Queen Of HeArtz EP, executive produced by WoodysProduce, casts her as the host of a dope party constantly on the verge of turning into a nightmare.
Notable song: "XYXX," "Snakes"
Sounds like: A quick-fire spitter with something to prove.
Why you need to know her: The first lady of Pro Era sounds every bit her twenty years, but though her voice may be a touch lightweight, her flow is anything but. Capable of carrying a hook (like on Joey Bada$$' "Snakes") or holding her own in a fiery verse alongside some of her rapping cohorts (as on CJ Fly's "Thee Heiiist"), she represents a welcome change of pace for the Brooklyn collective. She's one to keep an eye on these next few months.
Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.
Notable songs: “Jay Z” And “Twisted”
Sounds like: Some may mistake Foxx’s gritty and in-your-face rhymes to Lil Kim’s style, but don’t get it confused. The St. Louis beauty makes her presence known with a tough swagger coupled with her exquisite fashion tastes, which makes up the essence of what she calls street couture.
Why you need to know her: There aren’t many female rappers who can run with the boys like this, and Foxx proved her lyrical prowess at this year’s BET cypher. With Kimmy Blanco on her side, she has the proper support to be a dominant force in 2014.
Hometown: Calumet City, Ill.
Notable song: “3 Hunna Freestyle”
Sounds like: Tink’s unapologetic tone and street-seasoned sound can be likened to Nicki Minaj’s original mixtape grind.
Why you need to know her: After tweeting one of her freestyles over Chief Keef’s “3 Hunna” beat—which he then retweeted—Tink began to attract much local attention throughout the Chicago area. Her mother a gospel singer, father a music producer and her brother a sound engineer, Tink definitely knows her way around music. Though she has a long way to go, her recent mixtape release, Alter Ego, promises some of the raw female talent that hip-hop has been missing for the past few years.