At the turn of the last decade, Hip-hop was a predominantly male-driven music genre. We had some influential women within rap, but there weren’t many new stars rising among the ranks at the time. Nicki Minaj was the only new female rapper to truly blow up during the early 2010s. At this point in Minaj’s career, she is a living legend. In 2017, Cardi B crashed into everyone’s playlist with her breakout hit, ‘Bodak Yellow’. She is now an industry leader as well. But for most of the last decade, women were few and far between within hip-hop. Over the last few years, we’ve seen an influx of women sprouting across the country becoming rap superstars. This list will showcase some of the best and brightest stars in hip-hop.
Megan Thee Stallion
Honestly, Megan Thee Stallion shouldn’t even be on this list. She is already a superstar in the industry. In two short years, Megan has skyrocketed to not only one of the most popular female rappers, but she is arguably one of the biggest rappers out today. In 2018, she released her first big hit, ‘Big Ole Freak’, and she slowly began to gain traction. It wasn’t until her 2019 release, “Fever” that she became a huge star. ‘Fever’ was the perfect introduction to Megan. The mixtape features some of her best music to date, raunchy lyrics, and club anthems that would ring off anywhere you go.
Megan’s fame only grew throughout 2019, and it hit a new peak when she released her ‘Suga’ EP in early 2020. She received her first Billboard Hot 100 number one with the Tik-Tok assisted single, ‘Savage.’ The song was so popular it even got the attention of fellow Houston legend, Beyonce. Beyonce hopped on the remix of the track, that would eventually win the duo a Grammy. The trajectory of Megan’s career is astronomical. She has the magnetic charisma, the skill, and the hunger to be one of the biggest artists in the industry. Her debut album, “Good News” proved Megan’s success was no fluke.
Contrary to popular belief, Doja Cat may be a new artist to many, but she’s been making music for nearly a decade. She is one of the offspring of the “SoundCloud rap” era. Doja Cat blends rap, pop, and R&B into a song like no other artist. She could be singing on the hook, rap a verse, and have smooth R&B production as the backdrop. She started on Soundcloud and she garnered a cult-like following on the platform. She remained a niche artist until her debut studio album “Amala”.
“Amala” launched her to new heights with tracks like the viral hit, ‘Mooo!’ and ‘Juicy’. She capitalized on this newfound popularity by releasing her sophomore album the following year. “Hot Pink” featured monumental hits such as, ‘Juicy (Remix)’, ‘Say So’, and ‘Streets’. All three songs became viral hits on TikTok, which translated to charts success over time. Similar to Megan, Doja Cat recruited legend Nicki Minaj, for her remix of ‘Say So’ and dominated the charts.
City Girls have been in the limelight longer than most on this list. The first radio hit they appeared on was Drake’s number one song ‘In My Feelings’. They utilized the hype they got and released their debut album, “Girl Code” in November of the same year. It featured Cardi B-assisted twerk anthem, ‘Twerk’. The album also featured ‘Act Up’ which arguably could be their biggest song so far. Their blow-up was put on pause due to one half of the duo, JT was in prison. Once JT was released, they began work on their sophomore album, ‘City on Lock’.
After they reclaimed their title as the most relevant duo in hip-hop, they began appearing on every remix imaginable. The City Girls are now the faces of raunchy rap. They along with a few other women in rap are flipping gender stereotypes on their heads. It is a breath of fresh air to hear JT and Yung Miami rap about the things their male counterparts have rapped about for years.
Saweetie strolled onto the scene with her 2017 sleeper hit, ‘ICY GRL’. It was growing in popularity in the underground scene but never hit mainstream audiences. Although it didn’t break through to the mainstream, the single did lay down the foundation for a very successful career to come. In the past few years, she has seen success with multiple hits such as her 2019 hit, ‘My Type’. After the success of ‘My Type, she came back with the one-two punch of ‘Tap In’ and this year’s ‘Best Friend’. Saweetie has a magnetic personality and you can hear it throughout her music. She began dating high-profile rapper, Quavo in 2018. And after their very public breakup, it is debatable who is the more relevant artist in 2021.
Big Latto (F.K.A Mulatto)
Big Latto is known for her larger-than-life personality and her adjacency to Atlanta legend, Gucci Mane. She started on the reality show, “The Rap Game”. She even won in season one. In 2020, Big Latto was a part of XXL’s Freshman Class list. After her first radio hit, ‘B***h from da Souf’, she captured the attention of a major record label. She then released her second single, ‘Muwop’ (a play on Gucci Mane’s nickname “Guwop”). Both singles would then appear on her debut album, “Queen of Da Souf”. She is now the first female rapper from Atlanta to have a solo record be platinum.
You can hear her southern trap influences through all of her music. She has an air of confidence in her music that energizes anyone who listens. Her sound may be reminiscent of Gucci Mane, but she has proven she has her own unique sound as well. With the success of Big Latto, hopefully, we’ll see more Atlanta women coming into the limelight.
What is there to say about Rico Nasty? She is one of the most interesting artists in hip-hop today. Her music takes from multiple genres and her style can change in a blink of an eye. Her music can be described as rap, trap, punk, metal, and hyper pop. Rico Nasty first received major acclaim with her 2018 mixtape, ‘Nasty’. It was a critical darling and made it onto pretty much every year-end list imaginable. In 2020, she released her debut album, ‘Nightmare Vacation’ to massive acclaim. When listening to Rico Nasty, you can tell she loves what she does and she knows she’s one of the best. It is impossible to label Rico Nasty because she will always subvert your expectations. She is an enigma and hip-hop is better with her a part of it.
Tierra Whack is a rapper’s rapper. She has a unique flow that can’t be replicated by her peers. She released her debut album, “Whack World” in 2018. It garnered critical acclaim and gained her respect in many hip-hop circles. She has even received the honorable title of “The Missy Elliot of this generation”. Whack has said herself that Missy Elliot is a huge influence in her music. If you’ve heard anything from her album, her influence shows. Her songs can be described as short, but packed with content. Every song on her debut was one minute or less. It makes for short songs, but when an artist says as much as she does, you don’t need much time.
Yung Baby Tate
Yung Baby Tate is an example of why you should never quit following your dream. She has been making music since 2015, but rarely has it caught any mainstream traction. She has always made good music, but it seemed as though she just didn’t get the attention of who she needed to hear it. Tate got her big break when Issa Rae signed her to her record label. She then appeared on the “Insecure” soundtrack the same year. In December of 2020, she released her EP, “After The Rain”. It featured her biggest hit to date, ‘I Am’. The song has gone viral due to the opening lines, ‘I am healthy, I am wealthy, I am rich, I am that b***h’. Tate has proven she is certainly one to watch out for this year.
Flo Milli is one of the most energetic artists in hip-hop. Her songs, ‘Beef FloMix’ and ‘In The Party’ went viral on TikTok and she used that exposure to release her debut mixtape, “Ho, Why Is You Here?”. Milli has a level of confidence in her music that makes the listener feel like they can take on the world. She is unapologetically confident and clever in her music. She knows she could be running hip-hop if she wanted, and you can feel it through every bar she delivers. At only 21 years old, Flo Milli has accomplished so much and it is exciting to see where she goes next.
Audrey Nuna is most likely the least well-known artist on this list, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t just as great as the others. She only has a handful of songs released and no project announced. But her sound is so unique that what she has out so far is enough to become a fan. Nuna seamlessly blends R&B and hip-hop. In songs like ‘damn Right’, she raps like one of the best out. In her newest song, ‘Space’, she goes in an R&B direction and she has a disarming singing voice that leaves you wanting more. With only 950k monthly listeners on Spotify, she is the smallest artist on this list, but she certainly won’t be for long.
Noname is another artist that has been around much longer than most on this list. While she has been making music for nearly a decade, she has only released two projects and a handful of singles. Her first big placement was on fellow Chicago native, Chance The Rapper’s 2013 mixtape, “Acid Rap”. She featured on a track titled ‘Lost’, and it was easily one of the standout tracks on the album due to her memorable verse. After featuring on a handful of tracks over the next three years, she finally released her solo project, ‘Telefone’. It was received with universal acclaim and she was placed on many year-end lists. She then appeared on a few songs for the next two years until she released her debut album, “Room 25”. Much like “Telefone”, it received critical acclaim and was considered one of the best albums of the 2010s.
Noname employs many genres within her music. Her music can be described as hip-hop, jazz, and soul. Some of her music is spoken word poetry. She is very reminiscent of early Kanye West. The soul and the jazz within her music give off a “College Dropout” feel. It makes sense because she has said West is one of her biggest influences in music. Recently, she has announced she is working on a follow-up to her 2018 album and it will be titled “Factory Baby”.
The Future is Female
Hip-Hop has always been a male-dominated genre. We’ve had some women in the genre that have become icons throughout the years such as Lil Kim, Lauryn Hill, and Nicki Minaj to name a few. But these women were outliers in the patriarchal genre of hip-hop. Luckily now, in 2021, we have an abundance of women in hip-hop. They all have varying styles and come from across the country hailing from all different regions. Some of them may not become the next icon like Nicki Minaj or Cardi B, but that’s the beauty of it. They don’t have to. Hip-hop has enough room for all of them.