We all love hip hop.

Well, I do. But I also try to strike a balance between listening to man rappers and lady rappers - because sometimes I feel a bit weird doing housework to guilty-pleasure-songs with lyrics like this.

(Plus, female hip hop artists receive significantly less attention and exposure than their male counterparts - despite their immense contributions to the genre - which is another reason I like to seek them out.)

It's a bit of a conundrum for me, though. Often, the rappers producing the highest quality rap music also have distorted ideas about women, which is a HUGE shame. (Here's an interesting essay on that topic from The Journal of Black Studies.) Misogyny in music isn't solely relegated to rap, of course - rock music has been criticised for exactly the same thing - but there's an undeniably overt trend in urban music to reduce women to the sum of their sexual parts. Not to mention the common themes of violence and distrust.


Anyway, good news: 2012 is being heralded as the year of the female rapper, thanks to a raft of distinctive new artists gaining global traction at lightening speed. For your interest I've listed six of them of below, but please note: talent is really why you should listen - not (just) gender parity.

Nicki Minaj:
Cartoonishly sexy and astoundingly diverse, Nicki Minaj is arguably the lady leading the charge. This award-winning, Trinidadian-born 29-year-old was the first female MC to ever be included on MTV's Annual Hottest MC list, and pushes pop music and profits to new levels. The New York Times declared her "the most influential female rapper of all time."
Rye Rye:
Rye Rye (real name Ryeisha Berrain) was discovered by one of my favourite artists on the planet - indie-dance/pop provocateur M.I.A. Like her patron, the witty performer is a bit industrial, a bit chanty, and a lot down-to-earth.

Dominique Young Unique:
The Guardian says Dominique Young "sounds like an arcade game imploding" - which I think is a pretty fair comparison. Rapping since she was just 12, Young's penchant for electro-club beats and playfulness have seen her signed to Sony and accrue fans as fancy as Kanye West.

I really like Kreayshawn. A lot of people find her music annoying, but there's something about the Bay Area rapper and video director - real name Natassia Gail Zolot - that's a bit addictive and totally compelling.

Iggy Azalea:
"Exceptionally MTV unfriendly" Amethyst Amelia Kelly (her real name) is an Australian-born, LA-based rapper whose song Pu$$y went viral in 2011 and transformed her popularity into a career.

Azelia Banks:
Everyone sat up and took notice of this Harlem-born 20-year-old when when she topped NME magazine's "Cool List" for the year. Now everyone loves her - including Karl Lagerfeld, who hired her for a party at his home.

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What do you think about lady rappers? Share your favourite females with us.