The New Ladies of Hip-Hop

Thursday, April 01, 2010 - 02:27 PM

Hip-hop gets a bad rap for being male-dominated and misogynist.  But female MCs have been on the cutting edge of hip-hop since the beginning. The 80's saw outspoken artists like MC Lyte, J.J. Fad, Salt-n-Pepa, Queen Latifah; in the 90's we had Missy Elliott, Eve, and Lauryn Hill. If you take a look around this past decade, though, you might wonder, where the ladies at?

Fear not. Last month at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, I saw an amazing range of female hip-hop artists -- from the provocative political rap of Detroit's Invincible, to the soulful tunes of Nigerian artist Nneka, to the booty-shakin' club rap of Chicago's Kid Sister.

If you thought hip-hop was dead, Invincible says look no further than its women.  'The revival of hip-hop is the women in hip-hop movement.  We're here to smack people out of their slumber and wake them up.'

On Studio 360 this week, Invincible, Kid Sister, Maluca and Nneka talk about what inspires their music. Listen to the piece here:

You can catch most of these artists on tour right now.  Here's a sampling of videos of their best tracks.

Nneka is Nigerian but got her record deal while living in Germany for a few years. This is 'Walking' from her debut US album, Concrete Jungle. Like Lauryn Hill, Nneka both sings and raps, and mixes styles from reggae to R&B.

Invincible considers herself an 'artist-activist' and started her own independent label in Detroit called Emergence Media.  She organized the first Women in Hip-Hop showcase at SXSW this year. This is 'Sledgehammer' off her album Shape Shifters.

New York's Maluca has just released her first single, 'El Tigeraso.' The electro-merengue track was produced by Diplo, best known for his work with MIA.

Chicago rapper Kid Sister released her debut album, Ultraviolet, last fall.  Her deliciously fun 'club rap' has already caught the attention of Kanye West, Cee Lo, and Estelle, who all guest on the album. But I think the best tracks don't even need those heavyweights.

Ana Tijoux is Latin America's best known female MC.  She broke through in the 90's with her group called Makiza, and after a short hiatus has launched a solo career.  Her new album 1977 (the year of her birth) is being released here this month.  Tijoux grew up in France because her parents were exiles of the Pinochet regime.  She returned to Chile as a teenager, and that's where she fell in love with hip-hop.

Kings of hip-hop, consider this your 21st century wake-up call. The new queens are here.

- Leital Molad


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Comments [39]


Something I noticed about this post is that a lot of these female rappers have international backgrounds. Invincible, Maluca, Ana Tijoux, Nneka, MIA, and of course Minaj all these women were even born over seas, are from overseas or in Maluca's case have a family very much connected to the old country. I don't know exactly what to make of that.

Oct. 17 2010 03:10 PM

Yo good blog…. if you get a chance, check out the MOLIENDO MIX RADIO SHOW , they play straight LATIN HIP HOP and REAL HIP HOP online radio show every friday
8pm-11pm on and live hosts--dj cabezon on the 1's and 2's-live cameras!

Aug. 03 2010 11:57 PM

MC Lyte is the GOAT of female emcees!
Lot of femcees are getting slept on.

Jun. 23 2010 02:52 PM

what about the BEST of the BEST, Eternia! and Jean Grae, Bahamadia, and Amanda Diva...

May. 05 2010 11:18 PM
Mike Sell

Irv, thanks for asking about MIA!

I mean, really, Kurt! The woman's planetary! And she's taken hip-hop someplace new--and is doing so without losing the essential roots of hip-hop music and the hip-hop ethos.

Apr. 29 2010 06:38 AM
La Verdad

Ana Tijoux is amazing. She was great at SXSW. Check her out

Apr. 08 2010 01:09 AM

Thanks, I really enjoyed this segment and checking out these videos. And glad to get all these other recs from the commenters.

Sound Opinions had an interview/performance from Kid Sister a few months ago:

Apr. 07 2010 12:59 AM

What about May Dae, Miz Korona, and Bahamadia? anyway I got to go to the Women in Hip Hop show. I live right across the place where it was held at.

Apr. 05 2010 03:31 PM

What about Dessa?

Apr. 05 2010 11:22 AM

Sirah is the truth

check her out

Apr. 05 2010 12:34 AM



Apr. 05 2010 12:02 AM

One word: Dessa (Doomtree). OK that's two.

Apr. 04 2010 10:03 PM

Dessa outta minneapolis is dope too.

Apr. 04 2010 09:47 PM

So did Lady Gaga rip off Maluca's can/rollers in the hair, or what?

Apr. 04 2010 04:56 PM
AR Sabir

Women rappers are going to be around along time because they have something to say.

Apr. 04 2010 12:33 PM

I lurrrrrrrrve Maluca. She is hot shit. That video is rad too. Nice work Diplo. I see much of a pattern here (M.I.A). Wouldn't be surprised if they end up hooking up.

Apr. 04 2010 12:28 PM

Hi Sandra,
If you'd like to pitch an artist for coverage on Studio 360, you can email us at studio360 (at) Just make sure to put the word "PITCH" in the subject line.
Thanks for checking us out!

Apr. 04 2010 10:52 AM
mr chow chow

cool! i love hip hop! these females of hip hop are totally awesome! please visit too! thanks(:

Apr. 04 2010 08:07 AM

Got to agree here, I think Nikki Minaj would be a much better choice.

Apr. 04 2010 07:29 AM

Another thing how would one go about getting an artist on the studio360 show?

Apr. 04 2010 12:02 AM

Nice to see different female MCs up there. There each have their own unique thing. Very good post.

Apr. 03 2010 11:52 PM

check out selma you'll like it

Apr. 03 2010 06:41 PM

Thanks for the music tips. Saw your post before I even got to log in to my own wordpress. Just got "Walking" by Nneka on iTunes. :-)

Apr. 03 2010 04:06 PM

Thats funny that he didn't mention the most successful rappers lil'kim, or foxy brown lol, and Kid sister sux I would go get Nikki Minaj or remy b4 her.

Apr. 03 2010 01:32 PM
Sofia Quintero

Wonderful to see a blog that gives femme cees some shine. Wish PattyDukes had made the list though. She's a dope lyricist who, I understand, performed at SXSW this year, too. Nevertheless, many kudos still to you for the effort. It is much appreciated.

Apr. 03 2010 12:40 PM

Don't forget Gumshoe in LA!!!

Apr. 03 2010 11:46 AM

Invincible is Dope,lyrical, fast flow'n.

Apr. 03 2010 08:48 AM

Thanks for sharing these artists- I hadn't heard of them but love that one is from Chicago (my hometown) and one lived in Ann Arbor (my college town). Great! The Kid Sister video is sick- enjoyed the intro where she pops out of the graf.

Apr. 03 2010 07:03 AM

Much Respect Woman in Hip Hop!

Much Love Invincible!
Saw your show at Little Temple in LA Ana Tijoux. Feeling your flow and style for sure, thank you.
Looking forward to hearing more sounds and recieving more messages the rest of you Ladies.

Apr. 03 2010 02:10 AM

Where's Dominique Young Unique on that list?

Apr. 03 2010 02:05 AM

mil nueve sientes siteinta y sshhhh...great artist great video

Apr. 03 2010 01:48 AM

I like it. .. you dont see enough of this.

Apr. 02 2010 07:37 PM

i love kid sister and maluca im glad you included them in :) i think you should have put La Mala Rodriguez even though shes a spanish hip hop singer shes still amazing... lol

Apr. 02 2010 07:21 PM

sexy chicks :P

Apr. 02 2010 03:15 PM

What about Bahamadia?

Apr. 02 2010 01:23 PM

Yeah! I love it when women hold it down like this. Unlike a lot of rappers the women in rap tend to actually rap, most men in rap just brag.

I also noticed you didn't mention Nicki Minaj. Perfecto! Everytime i see a review on women in Hip Hop culture they always post those whack women rappers they see on MTV all day with the rap braggers. It's nice to see people actually respect real rap music and notice the real women of rap.

1 Love from Providence, RI.

Apr. 02 2010 11:56 AM

she's very good. a protege of M.I.A. i'm facebook friends with her. she's recording now, i think her lp should be a hit. (btw, where's M.I.A. in this report?) ;)

I'll have to check out these other ladies though. thanks!

Apr. 01 2010 03:15 PM

I was eager to check Rye Rye out at SXSW but didn't make it to her show, unfortunately! But I hear she's totally awesome. Kid Sister gave her props.

Apr. 01 2010 03:04 PM

what about rye rye?

Apr. 01 2010 02:51 PM

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