By Conner Yarbrough
Blog Content Contributor
Part three of a four part series.
For those of you that don’t know, March is Women’s History Month here in the good ol’ U.S.-of-A, and March eigth was International Women’s Day. Each of these events exist to celebrate the contributions of women throughout society in whatever role they fill in their daily lives. And, what better way for a college radio station employee (like myself) to celebrate than by sharing my favorite female-led albums of 2017 and my most anticipated female-led albums of 2018.
This mini-series, Fav Females, will take you through my music library, genre-by-genre, to feature my favorite female artists from this past year and the female artists that I think everyone should be on the lookout for this year. Each week, for the remainder of Women’s History Month, will be dedicated to a different genre of music and will come with a Spotify playlist (curated by me) filled with my favorite songs from the female artists that I write about – and probably a few honorable mentions. This third edition will feature my Fav Females who are taking over the Hip-Hop/Rap game.
CupcakKe, Queen Elizabitch
CupcakKe is arguably the most slept on female rapper in the industry for absolutely no reason. As an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, sexual and mental health, body positivity, as well as female sexual freedom, it is actually shocking to me that someone who has so much to say is not recognized more. Born in Chicago, CupcakKe grew up in a world without privilege, and through the success of her music career, has already taken the time and money to give back to communities and fans in need at the age of 20. Her fourth, independently-released album, Queen Elizabitch, continues to combine her raunchy, sexual nature with conversations on her personal struggles with her family, body image and poverty. The album was set to debut on the Billboard Hot 100, but unfortunately was stripped from iTunes quickly after release because of copyright issues that were beyond her control. However, the album still received critical acclaim and her followup, Ephorize, went on to be named “Best New Music” by Pitchfork and is still one of the highest rated rap albums in years.
Princess Nokia, 1992 Deluxe
Admittedly, I hopped on the Princess Nokia wave with the release of this album (and I couldn’t be more glad that I did). I’m one to support queer art of all forms, and, as a bisexual woman who made her come up in gay New York nightlife, I was excited to throw my support where it was deserved. No stranger to struggle, Princess Nokia uses her music to promote self-love and self-respect as well as strength and perseverance, especially for fellow women of color. 1992 Deluxe is actually an extended version of her 2016 mixtape, 1992, and features sounds that pull inspiration from the current trap-pop trend as well as classic hip-hop.
Megan thee Stallion, Make it Hot
Though this Houston-native hasn’t dropped a full-length album yet, her recent EP Make It Hot, proves that her flow and lyrical storytelling are evidence enough for me to think that it won’t be long before she is sharing the spotlight with the likes of Cardi B. Recently, Megan thee Stallion was featured on Spotify’s Rap Caviar as the first FLOW freestyle of the week to celebrate Women’s History Month – and she was easily the best of any of the other rappers featured for the same reason. Megan’s most recent single, Cocky AF, and new vlog series “HOTTIEWORLD” on YouTube lead me to believe that a larger project is on the horizon. Until then, you can find a majority of Megan thee Stallion’s music on her Soundcloud.
The undisputed, current-reigning “Queen of Rap” is set to release a new album some time this year as a followup to her 2014 award-winning, The Pinkprint. As usual, the Trinidadian-born, New York-raised rapstress has used the past year to build hype around her new project by featuring on a plethora of other artists’ songs – from Bebe Rexha to Gucci Mane to Katy Perry. This time around, Minaj will be facing her biggest challenge to date as she proves why she (and not the other up-and-coming female rappers) is the best of the best. Her last official releases came in the form of the three-track response to Remy Ma’s diss track “Shether” in early 2017, and her next release will likely be a “make or break” sort of situation.
Azealia Banks, Fantasea II + Business and Pleasure
It’s been a tiresome and winding journey for such a young artist, however, with only one album and one mixtape under her belt, Azealia Banks has already proven herself as one of the best when it comes to musical innovation. Not one to be shy of controversy, Azealia has been involved with various scandals and lawsuits over the years but has maintained her determination to continue challenging mainstream hip-hop today. Within the past year she starred in “Love Beats Rhymes,” a film about a rising female rapper living in New York written by Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, launched a skin care line by the name of CheapyXO, and has taken time to apologize and explain the erratic behavior that taints her past in the industry. Azealia has said that she has two projects in the works, one of which Fantasea II: The Second Wave, is a sequel to her groundbreaking debut mixtape, Fantasea, that was released in 2012. The other, Business and Pleasure, is suspected to be an official studio album, though little has been said since her initial announcement on her Instagram story likely because of her focus on Fantasea II. The first few singles from the new mixtape (Chi Chi, Escapades and Movin’ On Up) have all preceded what she claims is one of her best songs yet, Anna Wintour, which is set for an April 6 release.
Yet another artist that I’m surprised has slipped under the radar of the mainstream music world is Junglepussy. The Brooklyn-born rapstress has never missed the mark for me and continues to deliver new flows and sounds that compliment her storytelling. To be a female rapper in an industry (and genre) run by men is hard, but to be an successful, independent female rapper is even harder. Junglepussy shows not only that it can be done, but how is should be done. What makes her stand apart is the authenticity with which she delivers even the raunchiest and goofiest of her lines. It’s been almost three years since her last album, Pregnant With Success, which delivered classic Lil’ Kim/Missy Elliot vibes, and her next has recently been announced along with two new singles State of the Union and Showers.
2017 really was the year of Cardi B and we all have 5x-platinum, Grammy-nominated Bodak Yellow to thank for that. From stripper to Viner to reality TV-star to chart-topping female rapper, Cardi has exemplified what it means to make “money moves” in the music business today. With her two mixtapes and an arsenal of high-selling features, I would be surprised if Cardi B doesn’t deliver with her debut album – which is set for release sometime this April. Many in the game have likened her rise to stardom to that of Nicki Minaj, and like Nicki this album could both make or break her career. To be a successful woman in rap is one of the most competitive and sought after spots in the music industry today, and if Cardi B doesn’t prove why she deserves all of the limelight she has been getting the attention will turn to the next “next big thing.”
Listen below to this week’s Fav Females: Hip-Hop/Rap Spotify playlist to get a sense of how these women are redefining and pushing the boundaries of their genre. Then next week, be on the lookout for the next (and final) edition of the Fav Females mini-series!
Featured image by Conner Yarbrough.