Women in Hip Hop
This is a continuation of the music page from our print edition — read more about some incredible women in Hip Hop and R&B and listen to samples of their powerful music:
Fatimah Warner, 26, is a poetic genius. Penning the name Noname (formerly Noname Gypsy), she truly is a gypsy: a free spirit who leaves her heart on her sleeve. Her debut mixtape, Telefone, is a must listen. Rolling Stone got it right when they proclaimed “It’s some of the year’s most thought-provoking hip-hop… truth-telling sunshine.” This Chicago native tackles all sorts of introspective topics in her music, from the meaning of death to the richness–or lack thereof–of our relationships in life. And Telefone is just one sample of her talent. She’s also worked with the likes of Chance the Rapper, featuring on both Acid Rap and Coloring Book, as well as with rising artists Xavier Omar and Mick Jenkins, and recently performed on NPR’s tiny desk series. Noname is definitely an MC to watch. Effervescent and refreshing, she brings a beautiful twist on traditional spoken word style rap.
Simbiatu “Simbi” Abisola Abiola Ajikawo, or Lil Simz, 24, is a force to be reckoned with. She first exploded into the music with her 2013 mixtape, Blank Canvas, after its premiere on Jay-Z’s Life + Times blog. Since then, Lil Simz has been moving non stop, releasing two independent albums, toured around the world, performed on NPR’s tiny desk series, and KOLORs concert series. Her recent project, Stillness in Wonderland, is an absolute trip of a concept album with an accompanying four-part comic and short film. Nothing is off-limits for Lil Simz, as she breaks down sexism and racism one song, pays homage to her family and hometown in the next, and inserts a song that painfully draws from toxic relationships in between… she’s as creative with her subject matter and she is with her flow. Patience and wise beyond her years, Lil Simz is rightfully compared with Lauryn Hill. Her bars are powerful and gritty; subject matter raw and authentic. Lil Simz is truly a visionary Alice in the wonderland that is her eclectic experimental rap music. TDE’s Kendrick Lamar says it best: “she may just be the illest doing it right now”. Catch her touring with fellow TDE mate Ab-Soul!
Born Seandrea Sledge, 23, Dreezy always knew she loved the arts. Growing up South Side Chicago, she studied an array of fine arts in school to stay out of trouble. But it wasn’t until 2014, when she remixed Nicki Minaj’s “Chi-Raq” that Dreezy was catapulted to a national stage. She was soon named the “Princess of Chicago Rap” by Noisey that same year: a star was born. Dreezy has since worked with the likes of Gucci Mane, Common, Jeremih and many more to showcase her fiery bars and powerful prowess in the rap game. She’s signed to Interscope Records, has gone platinum for her summer-vibes single “Body”, and was dubbed iHeartRadio’s “2016 Best New R&B Artist.” An utter powerhouse, her recent single, “Spar” (featured 6LACK and Kodak Black) for example, is a powerful display of political lyricsm and arguably one of the finest verses of 2017. And her talent exceeds her produced work. Praised on one of the flyest free stylists, Dreezy is quick on her feet and innovative with her lyrics. So stay tuned! Dreezy is coming in hot and here to stay.
Born Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, 25, Princess Nokia is a revolutionary. She “identifies as a bruja and a tomboy, a classic New York Boricua shorty, a feminist, a queer woman who isn’t burdened, but empowered by her complexity.” The intersection of all these identities, she brings to her music an unparalleled celebration of a variety of cultures. Confident and distinctive, Princess Nokia is the definition of a rags-to-riches story. Running away from an abusive foster home at 16, she had near nothing. And now, she’s breaking down gender barriers, modeling for Calvin Klein, sharing her radical opinions at prestigious universities like Brown and Cambridge, and is touring all over the world. Not afraid to stand off with anyone or anything, in a recent Genius interview, she contradicted claims that she’s narcissistic, explaining that there is nothing wrong with knowing your own self worth. Princess Nokia represents not only new wave feminism, but inspirational understanding of one’s identity. Whether or not you vibe with all her songs on her first studio album, “1992”, you can’t help but appreciate it; it’s absolutely Princess Nokia: creative, passionate, versatile, and unique.
It’s mermaid season! As IAMDDB (“I Am Diana De Brito”), born Diana De Brito often exclaims in her songs. This 21-year-old from Manchester, North England, is bringing a shimmering new wave of neo-soul rap to the UK and beyond. Even though her Portuguese mother and Angolan father are both musicians, IAMDDB is very new to the music scene. She dropped her first single in September 2016; it became her number one priority. Putting all into her work, IAMDDB has since released three projects, Volume 1-3 of her ‘hoodrich vibes’, of which she’s explained, “I literally just say what’s on my mind, I’ve always loved wordplay so that’s why I be saying a whole range of things”. Playing around with synths and “trapsoul” melodies, IAMDDB will be softly singing out her mellow emotions over jazzy rhythms one minute then spitting quick rhymes like gunfire the next. And her hard work has been paying off. She was rightfully dubbed by BBC a rising ‘Sound of 2018’, recently performing with the likes of Bryson Tiller and SZA.
As Lil Yachty has grown in popularity these past few years, so has his Sailing Team crew, inclusive of Kodie Shane, the 19-year-old who is making a storm in the rap scene with her catchy hooks and hyped vibes. Hailing from Atlanta, she originally started making music at 14 where she wrote for Greystone Park, the Atlanta production studio. She’s a laid back artist who promotes fluidity in gender roles and expectations, explaining that her “thing is that [she] want[s] to be able to do what [she] want[s],” whatever that be, and wants her listens to feel the same. With an acclaimed EP and album already under her belt, coupled with cyphers on shows like BET Hip-Hop Awards, features from rappers such as Lil Uzi Vert, and tours with the Jhene Aiko, this young hit is excited to keep showing you all that she’s got!