It’s sad, but true: Hip hop is still very much a boys club.
The way the industry is set up, it seems a woman in hip hop has a better shot at visibility in the background of a Rick Ross video than on the Billboard charts. And when talented women do manage to take the spotlight, the media's propensity for pitting female artists against each other often gets in the way of acknowledging their talent.
Yeah, we know under-representation isn't going to be fixed by corralling artists into lists that conflate genre with gender, but we want to shine a light on up-and-coming talent that deserves more recognition.
Because there's actually a plethora of female talent in hip hop these days. From the in-your-face attack of Junglepussy to singing/rapping double threat Tink, here are some of the ladies we're betting will make big waves in 2014.
PS: Don't see your fave? She may have been on last year's 2013 Rising Female Rappers list.
Real Name: Fatimah Warner
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Why She's Hot: Beyond delivering one of the most memorable verses on Chance the Rapper’s acclaimed Acid Rap mixtape, 22-year-old Noname Gypsy has cultivated a beautifully laid-back, nostalgic sound that flows like poetry. No, literally—Gypsy’s main game was writing and performing poetry before she eventually channeled her talents into rap. As such, she’s got the skills and sensibility of a seasoned artist, even though her debut mixtape Telefone has yet to drop. “[I] want to be the next important voice for young women in hip hop,” she told XXL last year. “[An] artist that helps push the culture forward.”
Keep Up: @NoNameGypsy on Twitter
Nitty Scott, MC
Real Name: Nitzia Scott
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Why She's Hot: Nitty Scott, MC has been at it since 2010 and how she hasn’t blown up already is beyond us. She can spit beautiful, bohemian flows (“Flower Child” ft. Kendrick Lamar) just as easily as she delivers hard-as-hell freestyles on tracks flipped from Drake and Kanye.
Her talent is only accentuated by her eloquent articulations on feminism, making Nitty impossible not to appreciate. “When people are discussing a diverse selection of male rappers, they’ll start to classify them according to what kind of hip hop they make, what vein they fall into, what scene,” she explained to XXL in 2013. “I don’t feel that as females we’re given that same diversity... We’re all so different, yet we’re all thrown into this pool of 'women that rap.'”
Keep Up: @NittyScottMC on Twitter
Real Name: Trinity Home
Hometown: Suburban Chicago, IL
Why She's Hot: Rising with the crest of young, super-talented MCs pouring from Chicago these days comes 18 year-old Tink, who recognizes the challenge and rises to it. “When there are so, so many rappers and different artists coming out of [Chicago] you have to go hard to set yourself apart,” she told Bullett last year, shortly after her freestyle of Chief Keef’s “3 Hunna” went viral and even caught love from Keef himself.
With four mixtapes in two years—comprised of both soulful R&B and razor-tongued rap—Tink is managing the mighty expectations. Her latest tape, the emotionally-charged Winter’s Diary 2, showcases her rapping, singing and songwriting abilities (Tink has been writing songs professionally since age 11) and certifies that Ms. Home has everything it takes to be a star.
Keep Up: @Official_Tink on Twitter
Real Name: Marlanna Evans
Hometown: Snow Hill, NC
Why She's Hot: This North Carolina MC delivers all the soul-bearing realness and sophisticated self-assurance of Lauryn Hill with a touch of the cerebral grit of Talib Kweli and Mos Def, serving it all over a bed of slick beats that recall '90s hip hop. Since her debut tape in 2010, Rapsody's smooth-yet-steely delivery has furnished production by the likes of DJ Premier, DJ Drama and 9th Wonder. Her most recent effort, 2013's She Got Game, had her spitting bars with a cast of MCs including Common, Mac Miller, Chance the Rapper, Raekwon, Jay Electronica and more.
Keep Up: @rapsodymusic on Twitter
Real Name: Nyemiah, surname unknown
Hometown: Queens, NY
Why She's Hot: After playing an integral role in the careers of Aaliyah, Justin Timberlake and Keri Hilson, Timbaland has taken Queens rapper Nyemiah Supreme as his latest protege. Timbo provided her one of his hottest hip hop beats in years for their collabo "Rock & Roll" off her EP There Can Be More Than 1. Why that title? Well, she's willing to share the spotlight. "A lot of people are always stuck in one mode, like something can only be done one way and that there can only be one person," she told Fuse's digital series The Mixdown. "I want to open people's minds up. There can be more than one. There can always be more than just one in hip hop... or with anything."
Keep Up: @NyemiahSupreme on Twitter
Real Name: Sonji Brooks
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA born, New Jersey raised
Why She’s Hot: Asia Sparks has an emphatic, pounding delivery that almost sounds like a militant chant when she goes hard on tracks like her most-viewed song "Faja." But she also displays a more relaxed, funky flow on her Old School-flavored "Sparkle Girl Cypher," which finds her bragging about her future plans to hit up the BET Awards with Bruno Mars. After her 50 Cent co-sign, that's looking more and more likely.
Keep Up: @SparklegirlA on Twitter
Real Name: Tiffany Foxx
Hometown: St. Louis, MO
Why She's Hot: Tiffany Foxx is the protege of one hip hop's most famous MCs, Lil' Kim, as part of Kim's International Rock Star Records. She's garnered buzz thanks to working with A-listers like Pusha T ("Young N Thuggin'") and gal pal Miley Cyrus (her "Twisted" video), but her no-bull delivery and melodic songcraft make her a talent to watch out for.
Keep Up: @1tiffanyfoxx on Twitter
Real Name: Shayna McHale
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Why She's Hot: Her best-known track "Feelin' Myself" is a no-nonsense feminist anthem with lines like, “Kill ‘em with my heels then it’s back to the money.” Not only has she performed with Lil' Kim, but her twerk game could give Miley a run for her money.
Keep Up: @JUNGLEPUSSY on Twitter
Sasha Go Hard
Real Name: Yaneisha Franklin
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Why She's Hot: She started rapping at 11 years old, eventually gaining Internet popularity for her self-produced single “Why They Mad.” Her last mixtape, Round 3, features production from Diplo and guest verses from Le1f and Kreayshawn. After joining Chief Keef’s GBE crew, Sasha Go Hard became the only unsigned artist on MMG’s Rockie Fresh's Electric Highway mixtape. Plus, her track with Tink (another one of our Rising Female Rappers) called "Problem" is a monster.
Keep Up: @SASHA_DARAPPER on Twitter
Real Name: Jo Mi-hye
Hometown: Seoul, South Korea
Why She's Hot: Miryo rose to prominence in Asia as the fast-spitting rapper of the boundary-pushing K-pop quartet, Brown Eyed Girls—who earned a ton of international attention when PSY featured their famous hip-swinging choreography in his "Gentleman" video last year. Her debut solo EP, MIRYO aka JOHONEY, boasted collaborations with Korean superstars (like Girls' Generation member Sunny on "I Love You, I Love You") and showcased her fiery, Nicki Minaj-esque delivery and attitude on lead single "Dirty."
Miryo's also recognized for her songwriting abilities. In March 2013, it was reported she has credits on 56 songs—the most of any female K-pop star—including BEG's genre-bending "Sixth Sense." Plus, she can spit in both English and Japanese, as proven on "Tonight," a track with her BEG member Narsha and J-pop single "Sign."
Keep Up: @MIRYOakaJOHONEY on Twitter
Katie Got Bandz
Real Name: Kiara Johnson
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Why She's Hot: Johnson started getting buzz when Chicago's teenage "drill" rap scene hit the zeitgeist in mid 2012, but she garnered mainstream attention when fellow Chicagoan R. Kelly tapped her for a 2013 remix of his single "My Story"—his biggest hit since 2009. Her ascension continued at SXSW 2014 when Epic Records rapper King Louie brought her out for a song during his G.O.O.D. Music showcase set.
Keep Up: @KatieGotBandz on Twitter
Dominique Young Unique
Real Name: Dominique Lashawn Clark
Hometown: Tampa, FL
Why She's Hot: She started as a model, sharing the catwalk with people like Cara Delevingne and Tali Lennox. The electro rapper has a verse on Le Youth's club-ready single "Dance With Me" and plenty of mixtape gems. Recently signed to Sony, the 24-year-old rapper just dropped her official debut single, the killer "Throw It Down."
Keep Up: @missyoungunique on Twitter
Real Name: Taliyah Smith
Hometown: Philadelphia, PA
Why She's Hot: She was the first female signed to Meek Mill's newly-founded Dream Chasers Records. Lee Mazin was awarded Philadelphia's “Female Artist of the Year” at the Philadelphia Hip-Hop Awards two years in a row (2011 and 2012) and she's opened for some of the biggest names in rap, including Talib Kweli, DMX and Young Jeezy.
Keep Up: @leemazin on Twitter