by Magda Rucinski
Can you keep up, 2013? 2012 was the year of girl rappers. Not since the ‘90s, when Missy Elliot and Lauryn Hill ruled the old school, have hip-hop and rap scenes witnessed such an explosion of awesome female artists. Call these artists by the name raptresses, call them pioneers in a male-dominated genre – a rapper by any other name would drop rhymes as sweet. Here, we pay homage to seven standout artists who have shaken up rap and re-defined the genre’s parameters in ways we totally dig.
21-year-old, Harlem-born Azealia Banks has drawn comparisons to eccentric rapper Nicki Minaj. If these ladies have anything in common, it’s that they both have super fast flows. Azealia Banks has her own style that’s gritty and hard, with rhymes that are smooth and bitingly clever. Famed for her debut single ‘212’, Banks recently released a mixtape entitled Fantasea and has an upcoming album Broke with Expensive Taste. Watch out for Yung Rapunxel, Banks’ fierce stage alter ego.
Rhymer Iggy Azalea is an Australian rapper who spent some of her childhood in the American South, an upbringing that influenced her rapper drawl. With her signature blonde ponytail, Iggy is known for her swag as much as for her music. Her rap career took off with single, “Pu$$y,” and she won support from rapper T.I., who produced her album The New Classic, to be released later this year. Last year, Iggy Azalea Twitter-brawled with her peer (and apparent rival) Azealia Banks – hey ladies, I’d like to see a rap battle sometime.
Gucci Gucci Gucci, Fendi Fendi, Prada. Basic bitches wear it, so who doesn’t bother? Kreayshawn. Ever since her single ‘Gucci Gucci’ went viral, this Oakland-based rapper has been a household name. Kreayshawn also performs as part of hip hop group White Girl Mob, which includes fellow rappers V-Nasty and Lil Debbie. Part of Kreayshawn’s appeal is how silly and absurd her material can be – check out “Breakfast (Syrup)” featuring 2 Chainz from her album Somethin ‘Bout Kreay for a taste.
British rapper Speech Debelle has two studio albums to her name, Speech Therapy, which won the 2009 Mercury Prize, and Freedom of Speech. You may know her from track ‘Spinnin’, or her collab with Micachu (of Micachu & the Shapes.) It’s been a while since an English female rapper really hit the air waves on this side of the pond – the last I can think of is Lady Sovereign. Suffice to say that Speech Debelle’s lyrical honesty and synthy beats will win you over.
Internet darling Kitty, formerly Kitty Pryde, started out as a giggling, tongue-in-cheek YouTube rapper and is now just a little bit more serious about her art. The Grimes-approved, ginger-haired, rhinestone-obsessed rapper just released excerpts from her new album D.A.I.S.Y. Rage. Never heard of her? Start with ‘Ok Cupid’. Better yet, check out her new song, “Dead Island“.
Kilo Kish is a Jacqueline of all trades. She’s a fashion model, visual artist, and a rapper – although her rap sounds like soft, whispery song. Verdict? Her voice is completely addictive. Like Kitty, she started writing rhymes as a joke but positive online buzz has since propelled her into a more serious artist role. Kilo Kish self-released an EP Homeland and has been produced by The Internet, a hip-hop duo part of collective Odd Future (OFWGKTA). Kilo Kish’s single “Navy” came out in November 2012.
If it’s an electronica and R&B cocktail you crave, check out Philadelphia-based Amanda Blank. A member of performance art group Sweatheart, Amanda has opened for the likes of Peaches, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Santigold. Blank’s sound is similar to Swedish electropop artist Robyn. Notable track ‘”Might Like You Better” is from her 2009 debut album I Love You, produced by Diplo and Spank Rock.