These women’s bad ass vibes did not take the day off.
While the internet fusses over whether Remy Ma or Nicki Minaj is the queen of rap (as if there can only be one) an unruly squadron of women who rap is about to own South by Southwest. After years in the shadows, this will be the year female emcees shine bright. At least three names on this list are among the buzziest artists of any gender or genre at the fest this year. The undercard is just as fierce. In honor of International Women’s Day, here are ten female rappers you need to know.
Young M.A. How hot is she? The rugged emcee with the deep voice and take-no-prisoners persona hits the street with her new single “Kween” closing in on 2 million YouTube views less than two weeks after it dropped. Her smash single “Ooouuu” has over 188 million. (1:05 a.m. March 15, Monster Outbreak Energy House; 11:15 p.m. March 16, the Gatsby)
Noname. The Chicago rapper who’s graced Chance’s tracks unleashed an understated, R&B/rap flow dripping with barely contained emotion on her debut mixtape, “Telefone,” one of the best hip-hop releases of 2016. (7 p.m. March 14, Maggie Mae’s; midnight March 15, Cheer Up Charlie’s; 10:45 p.m. March 16, Mohawk Outdoor)
Nitty Scott. Randomly wandered in to her set last year and her raw and vulnerable story rhymes ended up being a surprise highlight of the fest. But don’t get it twisted, this Cypher Effect video proves she can also go hard. (March 17, Trinity Hall at Old School)
Sammus. The PhD. scholar/rapper nerdy girls have been waiting for. (11:20 p.m. March 16, Valhalla)
Lyric Michelle. The Houston emcee/poet’s powerful 2016 debut “Miss Direction” is a solid collection, loaded with thoughtful lyricism woven with soulful grooves. She also goes hard against those basic dudes who try to keep her down. She’s “a really good woman, not a bad bitch.” (9:30 p.m. March 16, 512 Rooftop)
Little Simz. A British Grime spitta with a wicked quick fire flow. (midnight March 14, the Main II)
Tkay Maidza. Propelled by a rapid rhythmic flow and knack for catchy hooks that work well over everything from skittering electronic beats to breezy pop and futuristic R&B, the Zimbawe-born, Australia-based artist is making waves around the world. (8:30 p.m. March 16, the Gatsby; 9 p.m. March 17, Banger’s)
Oshun. Named for the Yoruba goddess of love and waters, two NYU students infuse their blend of neo-soul and hip-hop with principles of African spirituality. (Midnight March 17, Russian House)
Qi Dada Ras. “Soul Force,” the life-giving hip-hop posse cut from Third Root, featuring the entire ATX to S.A. hip-hop family gathered at Adrian Quesada’s Level One Sound, was one of the best things that happened in Austin music last year. When I played it for my husband, one of the most discerning hip-hop critics I know, he paused for a moment, then said, “I think Qi took it.” It wasn’t a competition, but he thought she won. Later in the year, I straight up gushed to the other half of Riders Against the Storm, her husband and partner in rhyme Chaka, about how her verse on the Lianne La Havas joint on this mixtape, is one of my favorite things I heard all year. Only after I said it (typed it, actually) did it occur to me that was I was being rude, because, you know, he was on that track too. But he just (digitally) beamed with pride and told me, “I know she’s a better rapper than me. It just makes me better.” There’s something about her that’s magical. Look who our friends from KUTX decided to use as the cover for this video. (7: 20 p.m. March 17, Auditorium Shores)