Published on March 3, 2013 | by Rory Moore


‘Music make u lose control’


Female rappers have entered the mainstream charts in recent times [Flickr: Pete Briones]

Women’s role in hip-hop and rap has certainly been an interesting one.

Whether it be in the misguided, misogynistic slurs of countless male rappers, or in their preforming right – women in this corner of the music industry tend to make the headlines more readily than others.

And so we decided to have a look at the changing face of rap music and whether or not the new wave of female rappers that are flooding our screens are here to stay.

The history of female rappers is a long one – longer than many us may have originally thought, it also includes a few faces that we would not necessarily think of when rap music and hip-hop is mentioned.

The birth of female rappers came around the same time as the rise of the commercial success of hip-hop in 1979. This was the year that saw the 14 and a half minute pose cut Rappers Delight by The Sugar Hill Gang burst onto the scene, becoming the first hip-hop single to reach the top 40 – peaking at the number three spot in the UK.

First female rappers

The first group of female rappers was called The Sequence – their song Funk You Up was not a huge success. Many of us would not instantly recognise it today, but they certainly set the wheels in motion for generations of female rappers to come.

Since then we have seen Blondie broaden the horizons of female hip-hop with their 1980 tribute to rap, Rapture, which has been recognised by hip-hop’s elite as being an important step in the development of many people’s awareness of the sound.

Women in this corner of the music industry tend to make the headlines more readily than others.

The ‘80s saw a huge rise in the number of female MCs, and the growth of the sound that is hip-hop. These include female artists such Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and the group Salt-N-Pepa.

By the late ‘90s and certainly the early 2000s, female rappers had become commonplace and many of their tracks would be unmistakable to most of us today. They are often still played in our local clubs.

With artists like Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliot, Eve and Lady of Rage all being part of the roster, there is no doubt that this is the generation of female rappers that have really shone.

A new generation

But where are we in 2013? Who is carrying the torch for female rap and are they filling the Timberland boots of those who walked before them – or proving female rap should be left in the ‘90s?

Iggy Azalea is a 22-year-old Sydney-born rapper who has taken the online hip-hop scene by storm over the last two years, putting out two free mix tapes – Ignorant Art in 2011 and TrapGold in 2012, alongside a free EP Glory in 2012.

Known for her fast and – at times – aggressive style, Azalea is without a doubt a reputable face for female rap in the modern day.

Known for her fast and – at times – aggressive style, Azalea is without a doubt a reputable face for female rap in the modern day.

As of yet Azalea has not released any projects for the chart market but she is scheduled to release a debut album later this year titled The New Classic.

Releasing vast bodies of work through the form of free mix tapes is not uncommon within rap, with most choosing to do so in the current music market.

Measure of success

Success can now can now in some cases be based upon an artist’s view count on YouTube. Azalea it would appear is a big success with her music videos for My World and Pu$$y both sitting comfortably above the 3.5million views mark.

Can she compete with the male market and will she last in our flavour of the month music culture?

There is very limited certainty in the longevity of anyone’s career within the music industry these days. However, most of us would rather hear something fresh and different, like Azalea other than another played out Rick Ross self-proclaimed bottle poppin’ anthem – any day of the week.

Whether Azalea will last or not, she certainly deserves more airtime than a lot of her male contemporaries.

Azalea to Azealia

Azealia Banks is a 21-year-old New York-born rapper and has been unavoidable over the last two years – with huge amounts of magazine exposure. Her late 2011 single 212 was without doubt one of the most played rap songs of 2012.

Much like Iggy Azalea, Banks’ music has been released through the free EP and mixtape format.

With a debut studio album having been pushed back from winter last year to early February – for it only to be pushed back once again – questions are being asked as to whether the full length Broke With Expensive Taste will live up to the hype.

Based on past performances and her Internet exposure, with views on her aforementioned 212 exceeding 45million to date, chances are the full length will not disappoint.

Banks has well outstretched many of her male contemporaries lyrically in the popularity stakes and there is no doubt that she is one of the faces of female hip-hop. This should hopefully be cemented upon the release of her album scheduled for this summer.

West coast Kreayshawn

Kreayshawn is a 23-year-old San Fransisco-born rapper. Kreayshawn burst onto the screens of many with her 2011 YouTube sensation Gucci Gucci, which was followed by a string of similar traps – none of which quite lived up to the hype of her breakthrough release.

Following the aforementioned Gucci Gucci, Kreayshawn largely rode on the success of this one track before releasing a full length album Somethin’ ‘Bout Kreay in 2012.

The album performed terribly – selling only 3,900 in its opening week – a rather large fall in figures from the her YouTube numbers. Signature track Gucci Gucci has totalled over 41million views to date.

Many of the up-and-coming female rappers prove that they are not just a time-fitting trend. They are definitely here to stay.

Without putting the final nail in the coffin too prematurely, all signs point towards Kreayshawn’s career coming to a close fairly imminently. It would appear the gimmick that first broke her cannot really sustain a whole album let alone a career.

So it would appear that the female rappers are definitely still a part of hip-hop and rap today as much as they ever have been, and like before there are still flash-in-the-pan successes that will not be getting a huge amount of attention a few years down the line.

Eve Matthews, 20, Fine Art student at Chelsea agrees. She says: “There is a lot of music that we all grew up listening to that we wouldn’t go near now and there’s even more that we didn’t grow up with that we all listen to now.

“Its a quality thing, as with everything only the best stuff really gets remembered.” As much as our generation does not really bump Angela Martinez we doubt the next will really get behind Kreayshawn.

Despite this, many of the up-and-coming female rappers prove that they are not just a time-fitting trend. They are definitely here to stay.


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