Did it really take the animated, barbie doll, pin-up persona of Nicki Minaj for female hip hop artists to finally start crawling out of the woodwork?
It sure seems like it did because all of a sudden, YouTube videos and random freestyles are popping up all over the internet from female MCs who are looking to knock Minaj off the solo hip hop pedestal she is currently on.
Or at the very least, these female hip hop artists are ready to add their name to the mainstream media display that is hip hop culture.
Let’s meet a few who are currently on my radar.
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea just recently got signed to T.I.’s Grand Hustle Records label and is currently working on her debut album The New Classic, to be released this June.
Iggy may have caught some off guard because she is not your typical hip hop artist. Her appearance more so channels a younger version of Gwen Stefani rather than MC Lyte, but when you hear her rhyme, you’ll quickly get over the Caucasian b-girl facade.
Her mixtape Ignorant Art, which was released in October 2011 is full of raunchy lyricism, and takes female sexual bravado to the max. I can’t even name some of her songs without having to add a dozen asterisks. Just saying.
She made a few counterparts and die hard hip hop fans angry when she became the first female MC to make XXL’s Freshman Class List. The annual top ten list is composed of the most talked about, and highly praised rappers who are destined to take the genre to the next level. (Just an FYI, Detroit rapper Danny Brown was chosen for the XXL 2012 Freshman Class as well)
Making the XXL Freshman Class is like being named Rookie of the Year in hip hop; there are plenty of contenders, but only a select few are chosen as future leaders of the game.
And the legendary rap magazine thought Iggy was one of the best.
Of course the main controversial issue at hand was not that Iggy was the first female MC to take the spot, but that she is a white, female MC. The stereotypical belief that white females are the epitome of perfection comes into play in this situation.
But, I seriously doubt if race was the main determining factor as to why she has been catching so much slack. Take a look at the current issue of XXL and you will see that Machine Gun Kelly and Macklemore, who are both white rappers, appear on the cover. And not to mention white MC Ashton Roth, who made the XXL List in 2011. Talented white rappers are no longer an anomaly, we can thank Eminem and the Beastie Boys for that. Yet, it seems that when you attach females to that category, it becomes a problem.
I could care less what color she is as long as she doesn’t push her street cred too far to the point where it feels like she is strictly imitating African American cultural style rather than embracing its uniqueness. The last thing we need is another Vanilla Ice.
Azealia Banks is another young MC trying to make it to the top of the game, not with her curves or pretty face, but with her unapologetic attitude and creative street rhymes. She’s only 20, but has been grinding hard to get her music out for a while. She just recently got signed to Universal Music and people are already anticipating the release of her debut album Broke with Expensive Tastes. Her single “212,” released as a free download in September 2011, has been the hottest thing on Youtube, garnering over one million hits. The song is peppered with x-rated rhyme schemes, electro-pop madness, and gangsterish chic. The whole “I’m from Harlem” mentality gets the best of Azealia, especially in her New York bred video for “212.”
Azealia’s playful, rapid rhymes and Rapunzel get up may be part of her style, but she is no walk in the park. She made no apologies when she went in on Iggy via twitter, claiming that she was not pleased that the white MC was chosen for the XXL spot. Azealia has also been going hard on Nicki Minaj, for obvious reasons, and has even gone as far as calling Minaj out on her single “Liquorice.”
It’s funny how beefs are already starting to form between new female artists. But, I digress.
Lola Monroe, an actress/model/rapper, has been out for a while, dropping a number of mixtapes since 2009. She is currently a member of Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang Records, and can definitely hold her own on the mic. Her fierce freestyles on “Stay Schemin” and Drake’s “Underground Kings” are note worthy and her deep vocals are reminiscent of a young Foxy Brown. So far, her past as a video-vixen has not caused any drama, only major comparisons to Nicki Minaj, who Monroe was quick to dismiss as a “Basic” rapper. During an interview, Lola made it clear that Nicki Minaj is the last person whose style she is trying to imitate.
“I don’t do the Barbie thing… that’s her thing. I really don’t agree with it, that’s basic. It doesn’t make sense to me because first off, you’re basically saying I’m jacking somebody who has never been known to have their style all throughout their career. She’s never been set to have her own style. It’s always been set to say she’s jacking Lil’ Kim to Foxy [Brown] and now Lil’ Wayne…. Another thing, it kind of comes from Wayne is in the foundation of my music and what I’ve listened to him for years and years. So you can hear his styles in my music.”
We can only hope that more of Wayne, Trina, Lauryn Hill, and Tupac, rappers who she says have inspired her style are reflected in her music. As if this hasn’t been said enough, I don’t think the world can handle another Nicki Minaj.
So far, I am not totally convinced of the lyrical brilliance of these young, female hip hop artists. When you have artists such as Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill and even Lil Kim who completely redefined the genre, there is a lot more pressure for these up and coming female MCs to come harder.
It’s going to take a lot more than sexual man bashing rapped up in girly mystique to completely get my attention.