Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., Lauryn Hill – these should all be familiar names to the average rap enthusiast. Unfortunately, female MCs have historically been far and few to come by in contrast to the ceaseless number of male rappers in the business. With many female artists set to drop their albums this year, I have high hopes that 2014 will be a progressive year for hip-hop in terms of challenging the industry’s previously established gender roles. As a proficient consumer of both underground and mainstream rap, I firmly believe there is female potential that goes unnoticed in the male-dominated industry. In response to this, I have comprised a list of, what I believe to be, the most promising female pioneers in rap music:
Artist K.Flay graduated from Stanford University in 2004. During her freshman year, a conversation about the formulaic nature of rap music on the radio initiated Kristine’s first written parody titled, "Blingity Blang Blang." She enjoyed writing the song so much that she continued to do so, in addition to performing. Myspace was critical to the eventual success for this rock-esque rap talent. Although she has been in the scene since 2004, K.Flay will definitely bring more good things to the rap world.
The Foreign Talent
Australian native Amethyst Kelly released her first mixtape Ignorant Art in 2011. A year later, Iggy Azalea was signed with Island Def Jam. Although her YouTube profile has gotten some criticism from others for being “white trash” and fake, 30 million people still decided to watch it – which must count for something. Be sure to catch the pop rapper’s upcoming release, The New Classic, this March!
The Spoken-Word Soul
Dessa is not your standard “rapper,” but she is considered an artist of the spoken-word. She is currently a member of Doomtree, a Minneapolis-based indie hip-hop collective. One of the aspects that I admire in Dessa’s music is her distinct soulful tone – take a look at Dessa and her fellow members on an episode of NPR’s quirky Tiny Desk Concert:
You might recall Azealia Banks from her legendary 212 verses. Azealia’s creativeness in her pace and insolent lyrics are the attributes that will most likely landed her a record deal offer at age 17. Keep your eyes peeled for her 2014 debut, Broke with Expensive Taste, out this summer. Rumored notable contributors to the album include Pharrell Williams, Disclosure, and Theophilus London.
The Mexican-American MC
Snow Tha Product is most accredited for her mixtape Good Nights & Bad Mornings. Exposed to and talented in hip-hop verse at a young age, Snow decided to take music seriously at 19 and dropped out of college. She truly gained momentum after collaborating with Jaime Kohen, a popular Mexican artist, to make the song "Alguien." I am anxiously awaiting the release date of the “rapid-fire” rapper’s newest album set to come out this year.
The Most-Promising Voice of 2014
Angel Haze summed up: obsessed. Her 2012 EP Reservation was revered, landing an 88/100 score on Metacritic and a deal with Universal Republic and Island Records. Angel’s vulnerable and authentic lines, particularly in her cover of Eminem’s "Cleaning Out My Closet," is what distinguishes her as an artist. A lot of Angel’s themes pertain to personal experiences from an unsafe and cult-affiliated upbringing in Detroit. I guarantee you will hear more from the 22 year-old as her career develops – so listen up.