A lot of people are referring to 2012 as ‘the year of the return of the female MC,’ but I can’t really agree. Firstly, because ‘the year of the return’ sounds clunky as shit, but more importantly because I don’t think female MCs ever really left. But what do I know? If you’ll refer to the comments section on my last piece, apparently not much.
Either way, it’s undeniable that there are a lot of decent lady-rappers coming into their own and spanking their male contemporaries all over the place. So here’s a handful of some of my current favourites – there’ll be a few recognisable faces, but I tried to sprinkle in some surprises along the way.
I had to start here, because frankly she’s a boss. Since the video for ‘212’ dropped last summer, Banks has received a tidal wave of much-deserved attention, having since released the ‘1991’ EP and her full-length mixtape, ‘Fantasea.’ With a fierce musical style that would sit just as well alongside ‘90s UK garage as it does today’s rap/dance/pop amalgamation, Banks is a force to be reckoned with. For any non-believers, the buzz surrounding her is a lot more than just hype, and don’t let the dance-flavoured beats put you off. This isn’t Nicki Minaj all over again. Speaking of whom there’s already beef in the air, as a few (not-so) veiled insults got thrown from camp to camp, culminating in Banks’ recent turning down of Minaj’s invitation for her to tour as an opening act, blaming album-scheduling difficulties. I’m not so sure.
Tink spits hype-as-fuck verses over beats that would get Lex Luger bouncing, with as much flair and confidence as someone twice her age.
Chicago’s been doing big things recently, most notably the come-up of 16 year old Chief Keef and his co-sign list that stretches from Kanye West to Wiz Khalifa – so now I’d like to shine a little light on 17 year Trinity Home (AKA Tink), the next artist to add to the Chi-Town alumni of energetic talent. Her first mixtape, ‘Winter’s Diary,’ came out in March, a smooth collection of true-story R&B that everyone loves to describe as ‘strikingly mature.’ Watch the video for ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ – the music touches on stripped-down, Jhené Aiko-style balladry, with visuals that peel away any of the pretty girl bullshit. Which brings us to the other Tink, the Tink who spits hype-as-fuck verses over beats that would get Lex Luger bouncing, with as much flair and confidence as someone twice her age. (That’s my cop-out way of saying ‘strikingly mature'.) Start by listening to her freestyle over Chief Keef’s ‘3Hunna,’ then move on to her latest mixtape, ‘Alter Ego,’ which came out just three days ago and has racked up over 6000 views on Dat Piff. Next hype.
Iggy’s from Australia – no, I don’t know where the accent came from either. Her first mixtape, ‘Ignorant Art,’ was made ‘with the intent to make people question and redefine old ideals,’ so maybe I should just question and redefine my ideal of an Aussie chick rapping like a New York hoodrat, but whatever. Iggy has some hard tunes (‘PU$$Y’ is unstoppable) but I can’t say I’m in love with her music. Still, she definitely deserves a mention, having signed to TI’s Grand Hustle label, and making history as the first female rapper in XXL’s Freshman List (Class of 2012.) This prompted a backlash from Azealia, who branded Azalea a racist for a line that referred to herself as a “runaway slave master,” picking up from a tweet last September, in which she offered a simple: “And fuck Iggy Azalea, I had a song called 'Pussy' before she ever did. Here’s a link to my song. It’s better.” I agree, but go get that money, Iggy – you don’t need me or Azealia Banks.
A lot of people first clocked Lady Leshurr in a 2010 freestyle for SBTV, where she bodied SX’s ‘Woo Riddim'
I’m actually quite proud of our long-standing tradition of female MCs in the UK. Ladies went hard on garage tracks throughout the ‘90s and we’re still producing some undeniable talent. A lot of people first clocked Lady Leshurr in a 2010 freestyle for SBTV, where she bodied SX’s ‘Woo Riddim,’ rivalling D Double E for my favourite bars on the beat. She worked with Lioness and Baby Blue as part of The Female Takeover, has four mixtapes and two EPs to her name, and has spent the first half of 2012 releasing DIY videos through her Youtube channel, ‘ItsLadyLeshurr’ – ‘Easy On the Beat’ is a choice favourite. With co-signs from Wiley, Tim Westwood, and Ms. Dynamite herself, Lady Leshurr has a successful career ahead of her.
Nitty Scott is under-rated and, much as I hate to say it, I think she always will be. The ‘About’ section on Scott’s website sums her up better than I can: “Nitty prides herself on making big strides in the music industry in a very short amount of time, with no financial backing, no gimmicks, no major co-signs/affiliations and no payola.” Scott strikes me as the type to jump straight into any cypher and start throwing out crazy bars like it’s nothing, but there’s just something about her that suggests she’ll never quite achieve any sustained mainstream success. The best thing is she doesn’t need it. Scott’s got a legion of dedicated fans willing to fight her corner, and she’s building her own movement of like-minded people – “The Boombox Family is grassroots music at its finest, with a vision to house a community of upward thinking creatives under one lifestyle brand.” In short, Nitty Scott spits fire and she’s not the type to compromise her vision to sell a few records, which is pretty refreshing to see in 2012.
Njena Reddd Foxxx
If you haven’t watched Zebra Katz’ ‘Ima Read’ yet then you’ve missed out on something pretty special. If you have watched it, then you’ve undoubtedly been hypnotised by the woman with the braids, in the short skirt, giving looks to camera like she’d smack your teeth out if you asked for her number. That woman is Njena Reddd Foxxx, and she’s way overlooked because every interviewer wants to talk to Zebra Katz about his stupidly addictive song and how great he is. Ever since ‘Ima Read’ I was looking for any solo output with Njena’s name on it, resorting to a couple of lo-fi Youtube videos for the songs, ‘The Tricker’ and ‘Silly Bitch.’ The latter sounded good then and it sounded even better when the Wndrbrd-produced track got posted on Njena’s SoundCloud back in May. ‘Silly Bitch’ does everything right where Nicki Minaj’s ‘Stupid Hoe’ went wrong, with Njena’s rapid-fire delivery over a hype dance-hop beat. I’d really love to tell you more about her, but from what I can scrape together on the internet there isn’t a huge amount to tell. Her ‘Class President’ EP drops soon, so if it lives up to this one track I’d expect a lot more recognition for the New York (I think) native.
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