If you’re Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B or Nicki Minaj — 2020 was a good year for you. As tumultuous as it was, these four women had multiple breakthroughs in pop music.
Stallion, Minaj and Doja Cat all scored their first number one singles, the former with her indelible hit “Savage” — later remixed by Beyoncé — and the latter two with “Say So," a Doja Cat original. Stallion and Cardi B also combined their bold, sexual energies in th chart-topper, "WAP”.
Hip-hop continues to flourish in mainstream spaces, drawing more diversified talent from different corners of the country — and the world. But despite this progress, the genre is still largely male-dominated and denoted with masculinity.
The rap and hip-hop genres are saturated with men who have been celebrated for decades — with Drake maintaining his lead. While Minaj’s discovery in the early 2010s and Cardi B’s historic entrance in 2017 have made significant strides for women in rap — allowing for rappers like Doja Cat and Stallion to be as popular as they are today — there's still so much more female rap talent to be discovered.
Here's a list of underrated female artists with eclectic tastes and backgrounds that deserve more hype:
At just 21 years old, Flo Milli is a rising star in rap. Her song, “Beef FloMix,” started catching ears on SoundCloud and Instagram in 2018 and then turned into a sensation when it reached the video application TikTok.
Milli’s musical style is infused with confidence and impressive punchlines. Her debut mixtape, “Ho, why is you here?" cements her distinct style with clever clapbacks and pop trap beats. Milli commonly samples older songs in her music, as she does in her new single “Roaring 20s," adding her own personal take and musical footprint. Don’t hesitate to check her out!
Jucee Froot is a new face in hip hop from Memphis, Tennessee who is best known for featuring in HBO’s original series “Insecure." She has written songs for many movies and TV soundtracks including “Danger” for the major blockbuster film “Birds of Prey” and “Eat Itself” for “Insecure."
Froot’s music is packaged with personal reflections and spans across the emotional spectrum. Her 2020 mixtape, “Black Sheep,” lives up to her confessional approach, alluding to feeling like an outcast, allowing her to resonate with many listeners.
CupcakKe is a female rapper from Chicago whose name juxtaposes the content of her music. She's known for her openly sexual and brazen personality, reflected by the erotic themes in her music. She has also rapped about mental health and social issues with impressive skill in songs like “Pedophile” and “Scraps."
Armani Caesar is an up-and-coming rapper and the first lady at her label, Griselda Records, which is based in Buffalo, New York. She defies all norms typically associated with her label and is carving out her own name.
In her latest, critically-acclaimed album, “THE LIZ,” Caesar raps about her personal journey starting out at Buff City Records in 2015 and learning to steer through the streets and clubs as an ambitious woman. The subjects of her raps often center on fashion indulgences and her hustler mindset, automatically making her a stand-out.
Janelle Monáe is far from being unknown, but her expansive, conceptual catalog and artfully crafted songs could use some more recognition.
I'm personally obsessed with her third studio album, “Dirty Computer,” which is a sci-fi, visualistic take on love and female agency as a woman of color. The album gained considerable critical acclaim and was nominated for "Album of the Year" at the 2018 Grammy Awards.
Her latest release, “Turntables," is a symbolic protest song she wrote for the Amazon original movie, “All In: The Fight For Democracy," which focuses on systemic voter suppression.
Monáe is known for being outspoken about liberation, equal rights and misogyny that persists in rap music and among male rappers. While her music isn’t exclusively rap, as most of her work falls under rhythm and blues and soul, Monáe maintains her prowess as a songwriter and artist in the world of rap.
In the age of digital media and popularity of apps like TikTok, this is an opportune time for more female rappers and hip-hop artists to be discovered. Rap has been dominated by male artists for decades and is often trademarked with the objectification of women. It's now more important than ever to celebrate these rising female rappers, and the many more that are to come, and give them the space to truly be heard.