Its International Women’s Day. A day that comes with conflicting feelings, because this article may look like it has been written purely to celebrate these individuals because of their sex. This isn’t necessarily true. Each and every woman mentioned on this list is incredible irrespective of individual aspects of their identity. Yet, International Women’s Day gives me the opportunity to properly, and exclusively celebrate them. Below, in no particular order, you can find the women I love in Hip Hop & Grime right now in 2017.
The undisputed Queen of the North. Leddie is an incredible MC who can go bar-for-bar with the best of them. Her recently release debut solo album ‘A Piece of Cake’ is a cracker, packed with the most sublime samples and “I’ll Be Good” will hold a special place in my heart forever. She’s opened a lot of doors for the entire North East Hip Hop scene that she may never get the credit she deserves for, and has undoubtedly paved the way for any female MCs that are on the come-up right now.
She’s not exactly reliable for sending clean edits. I’ve quit my radio show before she managed to get me clean edits for the ‘Morning After Music’ tape she dropped in the summer of 2016. Kay Greyson is however a reliable provider of an immersive live experience and her music. If you look beyond the politics around her accent, as she implored in the sharpshooting ‘Cold Tea’ freestyle, Kay is curating art that is beyond her years.
Alyssa Marie was one of the first MCs I discovered spending my teenage days scouring YouTube for the hottest in Hip Hop. Ever since I heard her, I have been hooked. I’ve written potentially thousands of words on her by now, but I’ll never tire of exclaiming my love for somebody so talented. A simply sublime spitter, with often innovative concepts for her music, Alyssa continues to curate some of my favourite records – most recently on the ‘Louder Than Words’ album. ‘Think About That’ is one of most cherished songs of recent memory.
I’ve written about Sian Anderson recently as part of a tribute to those who influenced my radio work on TheRootMusic Rap Show, but Sian is more than a DJ. The term influencer is definitely thrown about way too often, but its a word which epitomises Sian. Not just in the records she plays, but the MCs she invites to shell down cyphers and what she writes about for the likes of The Fader. Her work to encourage and develop young people through her various side-ventures is inspiring too. Legend.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it until the people at the back hear me loud enough. Without Julie Adenuga, I’m not sure that Grime would have had its so called renaissance. Her work throughout the years has been incredible, but as she joined Beats1 the whole dynamic shifted. Whilst there are many cogs moving to make Grime what it is, Julie using her platform on Beats1 to push the homegrown talents within the UK is unprecedented and undeniably a catalyst in Grime becoming the global phenomenon it has become today.
We’ve had our fights, but without Steph Chungu I’m not sure how my experience volunteering for Spark would have went, but it definitely wouldn’t have been the same. We first met whilst I was blogging for a fairly well known blogsite, and bonded over what we thought was a similar music taste. Following joining Spark we’ve had many debates whether its disagreements over what is a good release, or if its arguing who is going to play which tracks. I look forward to listening to the Urban Show on Mondays 7-9pm on Spark, just to see how much of it is made up of songs I’ve been playing recently. I’ll never forget the time she broke up with Frank Ocean live on-air.
Not enough people respect the hustle of Lady Leshurr. Whilst her ‘Queens Speech’ series isn’t necessarily to my preferred taste, what is has done to break boundaries for the UK scene on international waters is almost incomprehensible. Not allowing that to define her though, she’s proved time and time again that the bars are still there should anyone try to doubt her. From the reload-heavy Fire In The Booth cypher showing to her emotionally resonant ‘Real Friends’ remix, there’s levels to this rap game. Lady Leshurr is the final boss.
Potentially one of the most underrated and under-credited artists in the world. Little Simz has shared stages with Nas and Lauryn Hill on her own journey to join them as legends. Her sophomore album explored new soundscapes, showing off her versatility after an divine debut album that is amongst my favourite LPs of all time. Having seen her support Kano late last year, I asked her after the show to come back to Newcastle for her own headline slot. Whilst I know touring the states might be a more lucrative prospect, I do hope to see her in the North East sometime soon.
She’s underfire right now, and rightly so. We need a Nicki Minaj response to Remy Ma’s ‘Shether.’ Many are doubting Nicki’s ability to rep, nevermind rap and I am not here for it. Although I’ll admit it looks increasingly likely Safaree really did ghostwrite for her, I’m not willing to believe that rumour just yet. The Nicki that Renegaded Hov and Ye on ‘Monster’ is still in there somewhere, and once she gets back on her ‘Pink Friday’ wave, we’ll regret ever questioning the queen of rap.
I’ve had the pleasure to meet Cammy once before in her hometown of Manchester. At the time she wasn’t writing much, and had asked me for advice. Given where she’s managed to get herself in a relatively short space of time, I might need her to return the favour. Her work rate is unquestionable, and the depth she delves into in her writing is comparable perhaps only to my early articles when I had the time and energy to do so. I hope Cammy never lets that side of her writing go because right now, its what most separates her from a whole world of bloggers. If you take anything away from this list, I hope its to check out her writing.