Female MCs Redefining Rap

 

My mom and I attended the Biggie Smalls’ funeral in Brooklyn, NY in 1997. I was three years old. Consequently, for as long as I can remember, rap has been a big part of my life.

Since its inception in the Bronx, NY in the early 70s, hip hop has been an outlet for marginalized people to creatively express their hardships-- primarily, an outlet for men. When Roxanne Shante broke onto the scene in 1984, she was the first female rapper to have a hit single, and she faced extreme criticism. She retired at the age of 25.

Fortunately, times have changed and the culture of hip hop is slowly allowing more women onto the scene. From female DJs like Vashtie Kola, to emcees like Nicki Minaj, the space is becoming more accepting of female talent. With that, there’s a unique opportunity for different variations of rap to thrive. Three ladies in particular have created their own distinct voices and are flourishing in the independent rap scene: Lizzo, Doja Cat, and NoName.

 

By Christianna Wiggins 


 Photo Credit: @lizzobeeating

Photo Credit: @lizzobeeating

LIZZO


Background:

Lizzo is a vibrant alternative rapper from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Lizzo broke onto the scene with her debut album LizzoBangers, which featured pop heavy hits like Batches & Cookies. Lizzo’s impeccable rap skills combined with her impressive vocal chops make her a standout artist.

Why we love her:

Lizzo is raw with her emotions, touching on everything from her church upbringing to accepting her blackness. Her consistent and uplifting messages of self-love and body positivity are unmatched. She is a self-proclaimed big girl in a small world, and she owns it, which makes it that much easier for women that look like her to know they can own it too.

What to listen to:

Coconut Oil EP


 Photo Credit: @nonamehiding

Photo Credit: @nonamehiding

NoName


Background:

This Chicago rapper and poet is a powerhouse in the alternative hip hop world. NoName rose to alt rap fame through her features on Chance the Rapper songs like “Lost” and “Israel,” back in 2013 and 2015 respectively. The songstress didn’t come out with her own solo project until 2016, but her debut album Telefone was met with overwhelming praise.

Why we love her:

NoName’s style of rapping is unlike anything found in mainstream hip hop culture today. She is a true lyricist and a poet, delivering clever and relatable rhymes through her silky smooth voice. She refuses to conform to popular rap styles and instead focuses on storytelling. She puts the artistry back in the industry.

What to listen to:

Telefone album


 Photo Credit: @dojacat

Photo Credit: @dojacat

DOJA CAT

Background:

Doja Cat is the closest to mainstream rap with a strong flow and saucy lyrics, but her vocal range and quirky attitude sets her apart from the rest. Doja broke onto the scene with her EP Purrr! Throughout the album, Doja sings about women empowerment, loving herself, and police brutality. It quickly garnered the attention of several hip hop outlets. At just 22 years old, Doja Cat is forging her own path and quickly rising to fame.

Why we love her:

This California girl isn’t afraid to speak her mind and she looks damn good doing it. She’s known for her sultry style, both lyrically and fashionable. She can sing in a beautifully high pitch that resembles FKA Twigs, but instantly switch to a fast flow like that of Lil Kim. Decked out in lots of fur and vibrant colors, Doja is unapologetically herself at all times.

What to listen to:

Amala album

 


These three ladies are redefining rap by putting their own spin on the genre. They refuse to stay in rigid boxes by experimenting with different sounds and looks. These trailblazing emcees are keeping hip hop fresh and paving the way for future generations of female rappers. In the height of women empowerment, they are exactly what we need.