By Nick Sligh
Hip-hop, as with everything, has benefited significantly from meaningful contributions by women. Unfortunately, as with so many important contributions by women across society, they are often overlooked. Since shortly after the inception of rap music, women have been making an impact throughout the genre and have always been important forces in growing the genre into one of the most popular in the world.
Despite the commercial acclaim and attention that the most popular women artists are beginning to receive, there are still so many women making incredible contributions to hip-hop that are not receiving the recognition that they deserve.
The purpose of this series is to highlight and celebrate some of the most quality contributions to hip-hop/rap in the past decade, especially those that do not get the mainstream recognition and attention that they deserve. My collection of favorite albums is far from exhaustive, and I really encourage fans to explore the discographies of all of these artists (and the many more great women artists outside of this list). The albums are listed in chronological order below.
Check out this Spotify playlist to see some of my favorite songs from these albums.
Little Simz: “Grey Area” (2019)
If I had to pick the best album from women in rap in the 2010s, Little Simz’s “Grey Area” would have to be my choice. London’s Little Simz has helped to lead the waves of growth of rap in the UK, providing some of the greatest non-US contributions to the genre as a whole. “Grey Area” is a diverse display of styles and sounds with one of the best rappers in the world smoothly blending elements of trap, jazz, soul and R&B. From the menacing “Venom” to the moving “Flowers” and the innovative and refreshing “101 FM,” every song is meaningful and serves a purpose. A consistent focus and vision and a refinement in quality leads to the most complete and elaborate project for Little Simz, which is also one of the best overall releases in contemporary rap music. “Grey Area” is simply amazing, and this project established Little Simz as one of the most promising young artists in all of music.
Favorite Songs: “101 FM,” “Venom,” “Flowers,” “Pressure,” “Selfish” and “Sherbet Sunset”
Che Noir: “The Thrill Of The Hunt” (2019)
Buffalo’s own Che Noir continued to represent one of the capitals of the modern underground hip-hop scene with her debut full-length release. On “The Thrill Of The Hunt,” Che built off of the grimy, East Coast rap sound that modern Buffalo has become synonymous with while adding her own unique confidence and style. Her production selection was consistently fitting across the project, and there is an undeniable quality of conviction that radiates throughout every track. With songs like “Tyson,” Che showcases a relentless delivery and an undeniable presence on the mic that make her music special. Despite having a style that will most likely remain in the underground, Che Noir has been proving since her debut that she has the talent worthy of acclaim and recognition with some of the best in rap.
Favorite Songs: “Tyson,” “Buffalo State of Mind,” “Can’t You See”
Rico Nasty: “Anger Management” (2019)
Rico Nasty, one of hip-hop’s most electric personalities, delivered the best project out of her already solid discography with 2019’s “Anger Management.” The collaboration with Kenny Beats, one of the top current producers in rap, contains some of Rico’s best work and a quality collection of enjoyable music throughout. The impassioned and hard hitting deliveries are continuously refreshing, unique and rare to find in rap. Rico is really one of a kind, and I think it’s impossible to walk away from listening to “Anger Management” without agreeing with that.
Favorite Songs: “Big Titties,” “Cold,” “Relative”
Rapsody: “EVE” (2019)
Looking at the tracklist of “EVE” gives the listener a good idea of what the album is about. Every track is named for a Black female icon, with tracks including “Serena” (Serena Williams), “Maya” (Maya Angelou) and “Sojourner” (Sojourner Truth) among many others. In her third studio album, Rapsody continues her messages of Black empowerment with a new twist and an innovative approach. The sounds presented are diverse, with Rapsody utilizing a variety of flows, deliveries and production choices, all done very well. Rapsody used her ever strong lyricism and artistry to explore a long line of important Black women in an album of triumph and empowerment, and created one of the best albums of the past decade and another strong addition to her incredible discography.
Favorite Songs: “Sojourner,” “Ibtihaj,” “Iman,” “Whoopi”
Contact Nick Sligh at nsligh ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.