Female rappers are creating some of the most exciting movements in hip-hop. The girls are simultaneously eating and serving, healthy helpings of lyricism, swagger, and star-power to an industry that oftentimes gives them crumbs. Female rappers are in full force and disrupting the idea that only one queen can reign supreme, widening the talent pool and creating easy access for fans looking for new artists to support.
Throughout the past few years, women have dominated rap music parties and playlists, signifying long-overdue change in the industry. Artists such as Cardi B continue to break chart records with her colorful visuals and catchy lyrics. Megan Thee Stallion won the 2021 Grammy Award for Best New Artist, where she was nominated alongside Doja Cat and Chika, two other women continuing their ascension in hip-hop.
One thing has been made clear: the growing spotlight and desire to listen to female rappers is not a trend, but a signifier of the future of hip-hop and the music industry at large. Still, with smaller budgets than their male counterparts, gender-based double standards in hip-hop, and the constant battle with misogynoir inside and outside of the music industry, many female rappers slide under the radar and are unintentionally skipped by potential fans who are unaware they exist.
In 2020, OkayPlayer introduced 25 female rappers you should be listening to, a list encouraging readers to bolster streams, purchases, and social media support of underrated women MCs. Those listed have continued to make strides on their individual paths to coveted success. As previously mentioned, Chika was nominated for a Grammy among other prestigious awards. Atlanta rapper Latto — formally Mulatto — put up a career defining 2020 earning her first plaques. While Flo Milli, BIA, KenTheMan, Armani Caesar and others listed have grown their fan bases, sparked viral trends, and earned coveted spots in Rolling Loud Miami’s 2021 return.
For 2021, 30 talented ladies made the cut. The following female rappers use the gift of their pen and the power of their voice to certify themselves as rap stars on all levels. All have their own unique style and represent different regions and are talented women in the hip-hop industry that deserve consideration on your next playlist, party set, or musical deep dive.
Check out our list of 30 female rappers you should listen to in 2021.
DreamDoll has proven herself to be a serious contender in mainstream hip-hop. The 29-year-old has entered a new lane in her career and has not released her foot from the gas. Evolving from her days as a Love & Hip Hop cast member, the Bronx native has the looks of a video vixen and releases provocative music with catchy hooks and one-liners — like “Ah Ah Ah” with Fivio Foreign — that will have listeners running the song back.
Listed on our 21 Breakout Artists to Watch in 2021, BKTHERULA earned a major label deal after the success of her mixtape Love Santana, which was released in 2020. She quickly proved her undeniable talent and ability to create with intention, releasing a second mixtape, Nirvana, months later. Still only a teenager, BKTHERULA has the potential to lead the Gen-Z rap talents to new heights.
Daughter of former industry leader Benzino, Coi Leray is poised to propel her rap career after the success of the 2020 self-determination anthem “No More Parties,” where she sing-raps disdain towards their relationship. The 23-year-old crafts fun, trendy songs and continues to push her creative boundaries with each verse delivered.
Queen Key delivers songs that are equal parts feisty and funny. The Chicago rapper, who centers cunnilingus as power, is a new mother of triplets, but this has not slowed down. She frequently hops on other beats and makes them her own, including creative visuals to accompany the freestyles. While some of her songs are raunchy, unfiltered bops and highlight the rapper’s personality, others are reflective of Queen Key’s life and lessons learned along the way.
One of Quality Control’s newest talents, Lakeyah stands on her own alongside labelmates such as City Girls. In fact, rapping over JT’s “First Day Out” freestyle put the 19-year-old on the label’s radar. She blends Milwaukee’s gritty, street rap, with her own swagger for an assertive sound. Beyond her confident, commanding verses, Lakeyah also presents a vulnerable side through songs about love and life.
Enchanting is newer to the hip-hop world but because of her distinct delivery she is one to watch. The 22-year-old’s raspy voice boasts a 1017 stamp from Gucci Mane himself. Big Chant, as she sometimes refers to herself as, whispers menacingly over trap beats and also sings, channeling her delicate vocals into a soft, melodic sound.
Iamdoechii’s 2020 song “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake” went viral on TikTok this year, but it is more than a catchy trend. Lyrically, and visually, Iamdoechii put forth the ultimate introduction to her creative skill. Her versatile style and ability to switch flows adds depth to the vulnerable, descriptive story-telling on each release. Full of wit and innovation, Iamdoechii is only getting started.
Model, dancer, and digital star Renni Rucci turned her social media fame into a rap career. She began by remixing other songs with her own flare, carving her lane as an artist and continued by releasing original tracks. Renni Rucci’s southern accent adds character to her demanding, self-reliant lyrics.
Erica Banks kicked off the year with a viral hit in “Buss It,” and has not shown signs of slowing down. The 22-year-old rapper aims to prove she is more than an internet sensation and has found her footing channeling her homegrown Texas sound over twerk-friendly beats. Through her self titled mixtape, Erica Banks delivers high-energy rhymes where whether it be personally, sexually, or financially, she puts herself first.
Stunna Girl’s squeaky tone adds a softness to her hardcore, rapid raps. Every Stunna Girl verse is a new declaration of what she will and will not do, and always on her terms. Her assertiveness was shaped by her upbringing in Sacramento. The 22-year-old rapper served three years in a juvenile jail as a teenager and developed her determination and skill. Upon release at 17, Stunna Girl continued to build on the momentum from a viral video in her hometown, uploaded beforehand. Now, she is ready to make her name known on a larger scale.
Nappy Nina is a strong lyricist with a smooth delivery developed from her beginnings as a poet. She channeled her talent for writing and natural-born skill for music into a career as an artist and producer. Her latest release, Double Down, a collaborative project with producer JWords, features her signature sultry flow over expertly crafted beats.
MoMoney takes Detroit style rap and gives it a new spin with comedic one-liners and charisma. With high energy, the rapper, who often features alongside fellow Big Godz World Wide artists, tells stories of a gritty, yet flashy streetlife and boasts on designer threads, icy chains, and a crew as tough as she is. MoMoney recently released the EP Intact.
Kali’s steady-rising rap profile was boosted by the viral song “Do A Bitch.” Still emerging, Kali has earned cosigns from Rico Nasty and Kentheman, also collaborating with both artists. The young rapper has one album under her belt, This Why They Mad Now, where she showcases a confident, high-energy flow throughout.
Chicago-based rap duo Mother Nature brings together the talents of Klevah Knox and T.R.U.T.H. The two women have a sisterhood-like bond which shows as their skills perfectly match on each track. Together, Mother Nature take on the depths of the universe and the complexities of life using wordplay to give listeners their take on the world.
Big Jade is a refreshing voice in the Texas rap scene. Frequently uploading freestyles to the internet, her fast paced rhymes are not short of lyrical quality. Whether she is laying a wig as a hairstylist or laying a verse, Big Jade’s hustle is maintained with talent. Her quick-delivered rhymes detail a world built by her own hard work, and a desire to win and get the respect she deserves.
CeeFineAss combines classic New Orleans Bounce style with modern mainstream hip-hop trends for a unique sound. Her breakout song, “Payback,” released in 2019, preceded her 2020 mixtape Welcome To My City, where she officially introduces the world to New Orleans from her point of view. The project also features two Memphis artists, Moneybagg Yo on an updated version of “Payback” and Pooh Shiesty on “Cocky.”
Frequently surrounded by a gang of ladies in her visuals, it’s ironic that $hyfromdatre’s breakout hit was a 2019 diss-rap targeting her best friend. The North Carolina-bred MC talks tough and has the swagger and demeanor to back it up. She has made it clear, she does not shy away from asserting her dominance against any opp.
Chelly The MC has evolved through her art, delivering passionate raps detailing her personal life experiences while paying homage to her Northeast D.C. roots and upbringing. She has proven to be skilled as a lyricist and brings each verse to life with ferocious energy. Her drops through the years unlock a new level of artistry every release.
LightSkinKeisha makes fun, bossy bitch music true to the modern Atlanta trap sound. Her career has had its fair share of controversy, surrounding the colorist nature of her stage name and her reality television appearances. The “Queen Kong” rapper was able to channel her viral fame into a career and has recently added actress to her resume with her on-screen debut with a one-time cameo on Power Book II: Ghost.
Hailing from East Cleveland, Ty Bri enlarged her fanbase not only with catchy songs such as “Candy Lady” but frequent freestyles uploaded to social media. Her high-pitched, sing-song tone does not make her lyrics any less effective. Ty Bri uses her cadence to make punchlines stick.
A DaBaby cosign and record deal propelled KayyKilo into new career heights. Her braggadocio and confident attitude are matched with vibrant lyrics expressing her lavish persona. Kayykilo makes fun, catchy tunes and, as the first and only woman signed with Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment, the Louisiana rapper gives the label a necessary boost.
From beauty to hip-hop to fashion, Dess Dior has a variety of talents that push her creatively. The 22-year-old uses her rhymes as a shield protecting her aura from messy women and broke boys. Her brand exists as the ultimate Gen-Z it girl, growing her audience as not only a rapper but a YouTube personality and social media influencer. Tap into her 2020 EP Definition of Dess.
Building her fanbase with freestyles from her car, Tokyo Jetz has steadily recorded and has released music since 2016. Her viral raps earned the Florida rapper a deal with Grand Hustle. She uses her southern drawl to add personality to her quick-fire rhymes. Her music details her life including motherhood and pregnancy and mental health. Her latest album is Cancel Culture, a project where she responds to backlash she got because of a crass joke about George Floyd.
Connie Diiamond has been rapping since the age of 14 and her skills have been applauded by the likes of Azealia Banks. She has an aggressive tone that helps her case in proving she is one of the best. Whether it comes to rapping or style, Connie Diiamond prides herself on individuality and the ability to think outside of the box, staying true to herself and operating on her own terms.
Getting her start in the girl group The Sorority, Haviah Mighty branched out and initiated a solo career and has earned accolades as a Canadian hip-hop artist. She is a skilled rapper, vocalist and writer who does not shy away from tackling societal issues through songs; and she does so with poignant, defiant lyrics and sharp delivery.
In her childhood, Young Devyn was a soca star, selling out shows and performing with the likes of Machel Montano. Now as a young adult, she has developed her musical skills into a hip-hop career combining her Trinidadian bred tenacity with Brooklyn based style. In 2019, she became the youngest participant in the BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher at the age of 17.
Rocky Badd is not one to play with. The Detroit-bred artist does not shy away from confrontation. Some of her more popular uploads are diss tracks against peers like Molly Brazy and Cuban Doll. Direct in message, Rocky Badd does not rely on subliminal shade. She calls out all of her targets by names and stands fearless on her own two feet.
Despite memorable music video appearances in hit records such as Migos’s “Bad and Boujee” and Cardi B’s “WAP” and a lucrative OnlyFans business, Rubi Rose continues to prove she is more than a pretty face. Her deep-pitched voice makes her shit-talking raps — usually aimed at men who are tasked with paying up, playing their role, or leaving her alone — believable. She released her first mixtape, For the Streets, last year and has room to develop and grow her artistry as she prepares a debut LP.
Vickeelo is a hip-hop and New Orleans Bounce artist who is recognized for her classic NOLA sound. After rising in the ranks with 2017’s “Sit On Dat,” her breakout came in 2019 with the song “Break Up to Make Up. She later joined Megan Thee Stallion on “Ride Or Die” for the Queen & Slim soundtrack the same year. Her raunchy lyrics and distinct voice make every Vickeelo song one to run back.
Charm La’Donna may be a new artist, but she is no stranger to excelling in the music industry. The award-winning choreographer and creative director has worked with Dua Lipa, Kendrick Lamar, Selena Gomez, and even The Weeknd for his 2021 Super Bowl performance. Now, Charm La’Donna is ready to put her voice into the mainstream, with songs that are forward thinking and representative of her culture and identity.
Banner Photo Credit: Prince Williams/Wireimage; Harmony Gerber/Getty Images; Zachary Mazur/FilmMagic; Johnny Louis/Getty Images
DeMicia Inman has written for PAPER, MTV News, Hello Giggles, and more. You can follow her work at MiciaGirl.com.
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