Immerse yourself in the dynamic realm of African female rappers skillfully weaving their cultural essence into the global tapestry of hip-hop.
As we celebrate 50 years of hip-hop, let’s take a moment to shine the spotlight on the incredible women who have not just sustained its relevance but have also ingeniously reshaped the genre across continents. From iconic figures like Lil Kim, Trina, Missy Elliott, and Lauren Hill to contemporary sensations such as Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, Meghan Thee Stallion, and Lil Simz, hip-hop’s journey has been a dynamic tapestry of diverse forms, standing steadfast against the trials of time.
Hip-hop’s pulse has extended far beyond the United States, its birthplace and deep into the crevices of the rest of the world. Hip-hop has embraced various languages across continents and has been fused with multiple music genres, including Amapiano, Afrobeat, Kpop, EDM and many more. By taking on and adjusting to various cultures in the world, hip-hop became a universal language for everyone willing to learn.
Spotlight on African female rappers in hip-hop
As hip-hop assimilated cultures worldwide, Africa was not left out of this equation. In the heart of Africa, hip-hop seamlessly melded with local genres, giving rise to captivating blends that we now recognise as Afro-pop and, in certain instances, the enchanting Afro-fusion. Because of its fluidity and recognition songs, local and international fans of hip hop, these genres have become a regular request at DJ’s desks. Hip-hop has encumbered every single obstacle that African music has collided with in the past. Following the trend of various industries, women confidently claim their space and allow more women to rise to the task. This article highlights the powerhouse female rappers igniting the African hip-hop scene.
The Mavin activation video featuring Lifesize Teddy unveiled a new storm in the Nigerian hip-hop scene, and Lifesize is unapologetically dominating the scene. Adapting to the Afrobeat/hip-hop wave as the latest rapper and songwriter to the Nigerian music industry, Lifesize is gifted with exquisite penmanship that cannot be contested.
Lifesize Teddy’s debut EP comprises five tracks introducing us to the artist while proving the artist’s claim to a prophecy. Blending contemporary hip-hop and afrobeat with a salty sprinkle of dancehall, Lifesize Teddy approaches the industry, clamouring for her seat at the table as it is deserved. Her smash hits, “John Wick” and “Hypnotic,” are generating a palpable buzz, hinting at the artist’s enduring presence in the industry.
A comprehensive list of African female rappers would be remiss without including the captivating and eccentric Eva Alordiah. Holding her ground in the Nigerian rap scene since 2011, Eva’s enduring presence is commendable.
Her inaugural EP “GIGO” (Garbage In Garbage Out) boasted chart-toppers such as “I Don Did It,” “High,” and “Down Low.” Eva’s reign in the hip-hop domain was unparalleled, as she led the charge among female rappers throughout the 2010s. Her significant contributions extended to the seamless fusion of dancehall and hip-hop within the Nigerian music landscape.
Renowned for addressing industry disparities, Eva’s track record of accepting and supporting other female artists is admirable. Her rap career in itself is self-evident of Eva Alordiah’s phoenix-like pertinacity. Eva’s use of patois in her dancehall-infused lyrics creates a foreign yet familiar sound often associated with the artist. Eva’s legacy is noteworthy in Africa’s history of female rappers.
Yugen’s unconventional artistry has grasped the attention of international and local acts alike. Top-notch lyricism intertwined with a cataclysmic flow is one way to describe the enigma of Yugen Blakrok’s sound. Embodying the unfiltered futuristic elements of rap as it is, Yugen is one of Africa’s most talented rappers.
Her 2019 feature on the acclaimed Black Panther film soundtrack shed light on the artist’s versatility. Alongside Vince Staples and award-winning Kendrick Lamar, the song “Opps” was used in the movie’s infamous Busan car chase scene.
The South African rapper deliberately crafts universal sounds, transcending gender biases. Adopting this neutrality based on skill and the need to prove worthiness in an American-dominated genre is what the artist attributes to her motive for success.
Following her debut in 2013, Nadia’s signing to Def Jam Africa and Family Tree Entertainment is a testament to the rapper’s talent. With her inspirational and head-bobbing harmonies, Nadia has some of the most well-received projects across South Africa and Zimbabwe. These projects include “Naa Mean” featuring Casper Nyovest, “Money Calling” featuring Frank Casino and “Kreatures” featuring Kwesta and Sio.
Nadia Nakai draws her inspiration to pursue rap from Kenyan artist Nazizi, whom she met in Kenya. As a recipient and nominee of multiple awards like the South African Music Awards and the Metro FM Music Awards, Nadia shows no sign of stopping. The artist doubles as a TV personality on occasion. With a consistent display of versatility and a tenacious grip on her position in the industry, Nadia is indubitably worthy of being one of South Africa’s most prominent rappers.
Adopting her native dialect in her enthralling storytelling tunes, Eno’s Ghanaian heritage is ubiquitous in her artistry. “Tonga” remix brought her into the limelight and welcomed Eno Barony into the hip-hop scene. Eno Barony remains the star of the show as the first Ghanaian female rapper to have over a million views on YouTube.
Holding up the entire Ghanaian rap industry as one of three mainstream female rappers in the country, Eno’s dominance in the Ghanaian rap industry is notable. Her debut in 2018 earned her a nomination in the Vodafone Ghana Music Awards, which consequently made her the first woman to be nominated for the category in the history of Ghana. On par with her male counterparts and not afraid to call out disparity on sight, Eno Barony’s exceptionality is beyond a shadow of a doubt.
African women: Shaping hip-hop’s evolution
African women have contributed significantly to the progression and sustenance of hip-hop across the continent. While the trajectory of hip-hop is shifting to blend with various other genres of music, hip-hop is still very much alive. While it may not adopt the two-step type beat expectation that hip-hop oldheads have, it is still rhythm and poetry incorporated. These women are pioneers and legacy holders of hip-hop in the continent.
Through their journey to conquer the music industry, they’ve illuminated a path for new women who want to become rappers to follow in their footsteps and even create their own paths. Absent these pioneering women who dared to embark on rap careers, the aspiration of becoming a rapper would have been much more challenging. These women are more than just trailblazers and placeholders; they are also role models that many women in the years to come would tailor their careers after. If you have the privilege of crossing paths with these remarkable women, make sure to acknowledge their extraordinary contributions.