Black Power. Queerness. Femininity. Intersectionality. A new wave of female rappers and hip-hop artists are entering the mainstream, bringing social justice awareness with them. From Janelle Monae’s empowering visual album “Dirty Computer” to Princess Nokia’s tribute to New York and the complexities of the people living there in “1992.” Rap is on an exciting new path.
Here are the Emerald’s top four rising female black rappers in honor of black history month:
Princess Nokia: raising awareness of intersectional queerness
Destiny Nicole Frasqueri, a.k.a. Princess Nokia, is the current champion of intersectional, queer, feminist rap. She identifies as “a bruja (witch) and a tomboy, a classic New York Boricua shorty, a feminist, a queer woman who isn't burdened, but empowered by her complexity.” Abused by her foster mother, Nicole Frasqueri escaped through music and ‘90s culture, as explored through her third mixtape “1992.”
“1992” gave Princess Nokia her loyal fan base and critical buzz. The album veers from discussion of hair in “Mine” to thoughts on diasporic cultures in “Brujas,” and being a queer misfit in “Tomboy.”
Not only has Princess Nokia advanced intersectionality in music, but also expressed herself through the fanzine “Smart Girl Club,” with conversations about “urban feminism, sexuality, relationships, spirituality, music and art.”
Noname: raising awareness of inequality
Fatimah Nyeema Warner, known as Noname, is a slam poet and rapper from Chicago who tackles feminism, black power and inequality in her retro-sounding and Jazz influenced music. With an exceptional first album entitled “Telefone,” Noname is only getting better with her newest success “Room 25.”
With hints of Esperanza Spalding and Chance the Rapper, Noname mixes mellow beats and romance in “Montego Bay,” with more serious discussion on “Blaxploitation” in “Room 25.” With witty lines and fast delivery, Noname delivers political revelations through catchy melodies.
Tierra Whack: revitalizing the rap genre
Tierra Whack’s debut visual album “Whack World” contains 15 songs, all one minute each. And it’s incredible.
Whack establishes herself in short ditties, along with stunningly original concepts in her visual album. Never afraid to take herself too seriously, Whack uses a fake southern accent and wishes that her ex “breaks out in a rash” in “Fuck Off.” She then transitions back to food with “I eat all my vegetables” in “Fruit Salad.”
Whack proves that one can make meaningful songs out of varying topics and that rap doesn’t have to include misogyny.
Junglepussy: raising awareness of sexual empowerment
Junglepussy, otherwise known as the actor Shayna McHayle, rose to acclaim with the catchy, feminist single “Bling Bling.” A take on Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” Junglepussy raps “fuck a wedding ring that ding a ling was just a fling,” telling women everywhere that they don’t need a man to bring them happiness. The New York rapper delivers snarky lines over tight beats with a sexually-empowered, gender equality-focused message, something many mainstream musicians could learn from.
Her newest album, “Jp3,” dives deeper into Junglepussy’s feelings about herself and the world around her. The standout single “Trader Joe,” mixes quirky lines like “I think I like him more than I like Trader Joe's” with thoughtful ruminations on fame and how it has changed her dating life.