We all know the classic female rappers. From Lauryn Hill and Lil’ Kim to now Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion, female rap has been a powerful force in music for decades. One of my favorite things about female rappers is their ability to thrive in a male-dominated industry. Black women are so powerful and female rappers continue to exhibit that not only in their music but in their navigation of the industry as a whole. Another thing I love about female rappers is they tend to make misogynist mad which, I for one, always love to see. So, in honor of black history month, here are some female rappers to listen to that you might not know about.
If you asked google who Noname was, it would say Noname (born Fatimah Warner) is an American rapper, poet, and record producer from Chicago. However, if you asked Noname herself you might get a different answer. While Noname gained attention appearing on Chance the Rapper’s 2013 mixtape, Acid Rap, and then later gaining a larger following after releasing her 2016 mixtape, Telephone, many people may know her from her Twitter where she has never been afraid to speak her mind. Not only is her musical talents good for the soul but her battle against capitalism and advocacy for the abolishment of the prison-industrial system, amongst other issues, is a plus too.
Additionally, in 2019 she started a book club dedicated to uplifting POC voices by highlighting books written by authors of color. Through her book club, she also created the Prison Program which allows them to send the monthly book picks to incarcerated folks around the country. While I may not always completely agree with her ideas on Twitter, she is easily one of my favorite female rappers who is not afraid to say whatever the fuck she wants!
Rapsody (born Marlanna Evans), is an exceptional “lyricist” breaking boundaries in the rap world from Snow Hill, North Carolina. As a Grammy-nominated artist, she has definitely made her mark in the industry. She is admirable in a variety of ways but her rejection of stereotypical labels is the icing on her women-empowering cake. In a 2019 interview with Genius on For the Record, she says:
There’s always going to be labels. I can’t stand labels, but I know there always will be labels. People have always tried to make me a female MC and ever since I first came out, I was like, ‘I’m not a female rapper.’ Don’t put me in that female rapper box. I don’t make music as a female rapper, I make music as an MC. I just happen to be a female, so I can talk about the female perspective. But, I can talk about everything.
She also emphasizes how her influences for her music go deeper than other female musical artists which is definitely apparent. She then continues to say how even the term “lyricist” can’t limit her and her refusal to be put in any box that people can come up with is just as unique as her musical endeavors. So, while she technically does not fit within the terms of the title of this article, I couldn’t not include her! Check out one of my favorite projects by her, Eve, where every tack is titled after a different black woman as a “love letter to black women.”
While she may be one of the lesser-known names on this list, that does nothing to diminish her talent. Brittney Carter, the 28-year-old Chicago native, is one of the rawest artists you should be paying attention to. Everything about her musical career so far has been completely organic from her talent to her production. In 2018, her talents started gaining recognition when she won a spot opening for Top Dawg Entertainment rapper Jay Rock at Concord Music Hall with support from local fans.
Starting as a poet in a beginner’s writing workshop, Carter’s story is an inspiring tale of a normal woman exploring her creativity and making something beautiful for all of us to enjoy. Carter is especially admirable for taking a chance on herself. With no real backup plan, she quit her full-time job to focus on her passion for making music with only enough money to pay her next month’s rent. This lead to her getting a part-time position at her mother’s day-care giving her time to focus on the music we now know and love. As of October 2020, Carter released her first album, As I Am, further showcasing her talents not only in music but in poetry too.
The first lady of Griselda Records is definitely an artist you should know about by now. Armani Ceasar is a female rapper from Buffalo, New York who grew up immersed in hip-hop culture. “Discovered” by Westside Gunn, Ceasar is an empowering force who does not let being a woman in a male-dominated field stop her. She will let you know, do not be deceived by her looks, you will not get what you may expect from her. In an interview with REVOLT.TV she discusses her individuality saying:
I also can put on and be sexy, be fly, be all of the things girls want to emulate and look up to. Being able to diversify myself, I never wanted to be a cookie cutter female rapper. They’re doing their thing, but I didn’t want to get put in that pool of every girl sounding the same. I wanted to make sure I put my stamp down. Armani’s sound is Armani sound, period.
I agree 100% with this statement. Caesar is an artist who cannot be put into one category and listening to her music that is clear! She has so many different styles and her unexpected lyricism in certain tracks keeps her music unique and fresh. Caesar’s most recent project, The Liz, proves this with its wittiness and is only the beginning for her. The project also pays homage to fashion designer Liz Claiborne who the project is titled after and is on the front cover. This project truly connects her passion for music with her passion for fashion and is the creative crossover the rap industry needs.