Hip-hop bible XXL recently announced their 2014 Freshman Class of 12 up-and-coming rappers. The annual list featured incredible talent like Chance the Rapper, Jon Connor and Ty Dollar $ign. One thing the list didn’t have, though? Women.
In light of that, it seemed like a good time to revisit the subject of female MCs — particularly so because female-fronted hip hop is on the cusp of a resurgence. Not only does Nicki Minaj have her third studio album slated to drop by the end of the year — and the femcee promises a return to her fiery hip-hop roots — but rapper Iggy Azalea has found mainstream success in her collaborations with both Ariana Grande and Charli XCX. Artists like Angel Haze, Jean Grae and Azealia Banks are all working hard, too, to make it in the male-dominated world of hip-hop, and they aren’t alone.
Here are seven incredible female rappers that you should be listening to right now:
Taliyah Smith a.k.a. Lee Mazin started making waves with her Lovelee mixtape, which she followed up with last year’s In My Own Lane. Her efforts behind the mic garnered her back-to-back wins for “Female Artist of the Year” at the Philadelphia Hip-Hop Awards (2011 and 2012). She’s opened for some of the biggest names in rap, including Talib Kweli, DMX and Young Jeezy, and now has become the first female rapper signed to Meek Mill’s Dream Chasers Records.
Listen: “Yesterday” Ft Lil Snupe
Sasha Go Hard
Yaneisha Franklin a.k.a. Sasha Go Hard started rapping at 11 years old, hitting the Internet jackpot with her self-produced single “Why They Mad.” Her affiliation with Chief Keef’s Chicago-based GBE crew shows in her hard-edged raps and monstrous sound, but she’s got a style all her own. She’s earned herself some big name fans along the way, and they’re now collaborating with her, including Diplo: he produced her Round 3 mixtape, which features guest appearances by both Le1f and Kreayshawn.
Listen: “Trouble” feat. Tink (another rising rapper discussed here):
In the middle of Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap track “Lost” was a memorable verse by an up-and-coming Chicago rapper named Noname Gypsy. The 22-year-old’s real name is Fatimah Warner and despite her nom de guerre, she’s making a very big name for herself with her laidback flow and poetic lyrics. Think MC Lyte meets Lauryn Hill by way of Gwendolyn Brooks. While her debut mixtape Telefone hasn’t been released yet, she has the seasoned poise of a veteran.
Listen: “Paradise” Feat. Queen SheCago
Producer-to-the-stars Timbaland has adopted Queens rapper Nyemiah Supreme as his latest protégé. When the man behind Aaliyah, Justin Timberlake and some of Beyoncé’s biggest hits turns his attentions on you, the pressure’s on — and if their inaugural collaboration “Rock & Roll” is any indication, Supreme is up to the challenge. Her EP There Can Be More Than 1, executive produced by Timbaland, shows the rapper bringing the heat while keeping it cool.
Listen: Rock and Roll ft. Timbaland
Tiffany Foxx came up as the protégé of Lil Kim, on Kim’s International Rock Star Records, but the St. Louis emcee has been rapping her way out of Kim’s shadow with her hard knocking rhymes. Her latest record “Young N Thuggin” shows Foxx holding her own against collaborators like Pusha T and Young Thug with her relentless flow and determined demeanor. Plus, hanging out with Miley Cyrus can’t hurt an up-and-comer’s career.
Listen: “Twisted” Feat. Lil Kim
Rapsody is one of the hardest working rappers in the business, cranking out five mixtapes in the last three years. Her She Got Game mixtape (download it here), featured collaborations with Chance the Rapper, Common, Raekwon, Mac Miller and more, showcasing her impressive vocals skills. The North Carolina native, whose real name is Marlanna Evans, has a soulful style that garners her well-earned comparisons to Lauryn Hill with her melodic flow, laconic beats and irrepressible rhymes.
Listen: “Dark Nights”
While Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have finally made people pay attention to the Northwest’s hip-hop scene, groups like Common Market, Nacho Picasso, Blue Scholars and Moor Gangs have all been working in the city’s rap trenches for years. In their ranks is Gifted Gab, a Seattle rapper, with a throwback flow and a way with words. She has made no secret of the fact that Queen Latifah is her biggest inspiration — in fact, she named her debut album Queen La’Chiefah.
Listen: “Dead Wrong”