Rico Nasty, Kash Doll and more are keeping the genre in rude health
The rude gal rapper is crass, hella confrontational, and fiercely liberated. She’s the antithesis to the sort of artist who moulds their lyrics on classic albums like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or Bahamadia’s Kollage. The two may be cut from the same cloth – same block, same apartment complex, same social circles – but they own their empowerment in more brazen ways. It’s an idea that Queen Latifah touched on in Joan Morgan’s book When Chickenheads Come Home To Roost: “Who am I to tell (Lil’) Kim to put some clothes on; or to say that she needs to stop talking about money and jewels? I understand that she wants that. I want those things, too. We just go about getting it in different ways… I’ve come to recognise that some women can use (pussy) to gain things for themselves because they see it as their greatest strength.”
The 80s belonged to the virtuous crew: Salt N’ Pepa cautioned inquiring minds against “Tramps”, Neneh Cherry addressed “Phoney Ladies”, and Queen Latifah commanded “Ladies First”. In the 90s, cash, cars, and designer clothes became a focal point in rap, and almost every girl wanted to be a vixen like Lil’ Kim or Foxy Brown, and get a taste of that lifestyle. Missy Elliott – a more subdued version of her peers – laced her lyrics with sexual innuendos, telling a booty call to “Sock It to Me”. In the 00s, Nicki Minaj was the champ to catapult hip hop into a whole new stratosphere; now, Cardi B is not just a Cinderella story, but the new poster child for women in rap. Ultimately, it was all these voices – righteous or otherwise – that paved the way for her and other rappers to come through.
These up-and-coming spitters all embody the rude gal spirit. And far from getting hate for it, they’re internet don dadas with online audiences spanning well into the millions. In 2018, if you’re not offered a seat at the big table, then you can cook up your recipe for success and serve it on a plate – and based on the trajectory of these artists, dinner’s about to be served.
Rico Nasty, 20, is riding the rap wave. The DMV rapper’s punk rock aesthetic defies the ‘ultra-feminine’ mould, but she can bust out the glamour when she wants to: “First time a hit a mil, I went and got some Gucci,” she raps on “Poppin”. The track was born from a Twitter feud, and set the stage for her second mixtape, Tales of Tacobella, which dropped in 2017. She’s new, but considering how quickly the rap pendulum swings, she’s practically a seasoned veteran: her debut mixtape, Sugar Trap, came out in 2016, and she landed a feature alongside Lil Yachty on The Fate of the Furious official soundtrack.
Atlanta rapper Bali Baby gained popularity from the single “Iggady (Remix)” featuring Rico Nasty and Mallory Merk. She’s one of the more polarising figures here – she got into a brawl with fellow rapper Asian Doll at SXSW 2017, but that hasn’t stopped her from performing in Tokyo and working with the street backpack and accessories line Sprayground. “Pretty”, from her mini-album Bali’s Play 2, offers her audience a tamer view of her reckless lifestyle. In the video, she chucks up gang signs and drops clear hints that she’s one of the guys (“Don’t fall in love ‘cos you know that I’m pimpin”). The young performer shouts out fellow southern rappers Future and Young NBA as some of her faves, and she’s collaborated with Trippie Redd.
Killumantii, 18, is an Atlanta rapper who’s managed to keep a low profile despite dropping fantastic bars. Her track “Single” challenges the dynamics of her relationship with her soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend, and when confronted by other women, she lets it be known that “I don’t buy a n***a shit, I don’t give out donations / His body count’s higher than my expectations.” She may be young, but she’s not one to fall for perceived inequalities between men and women. She recently teased her 1.2 million Instagram followers with lyrics about having to decide between four record deals; she’s also posted short clips of her in the studio with producer extraordinaire, Jazze Pha.
MEGAN THEE STALLION
Straight out of Houston, Megan Thee Stallion, 22, has been getting noticed with her one-minute and 56-second-long “Stalli Freestyle”. She’s also a student at Texas Southern University, and if you mess with this rapper, she’ll bring out that Houston attitude. Spitting bars is in her genes – her mother was a rapper, which only adds fuel to the fire for this freestyle.
Baltimore native Deetranada may only be 16, but she’s diving headfirst into the rap game. She was a contestant on the third season of Jermaine Dupri’s reality TV series The Rap Game, and has gone on to release her 10-track album Adolescence Swim. She raps slow on “Want”, slurring her lyrics, but behind the façade is a budding lyricist who will spit fire (and venom) when pushed.
Detroit rapper Molly Brazy, 18, dropped her mixtape, Molly World, early last year. “Trust None”, the killer single from her most recent LP, Big Brazy, is a simple ode to staying focused on what you need to do and having your own back when getting what you want. Controversy has surrounded Brazy in the past, most notably an infamous viral video of her pointing a gun at a toddler (she responded saying that it was a toy gun and that she was playing with the child), but since trading her wild ways for stardom, she’s landed multiple partnership deals and is set to appear alongside rap stalwart Trina on the “Nann” remix.
Kash Doll, 25, believes you’ve got to make the demands to get what you want. Your hustle could help you obtain a degree and multiple businesses, just like this Detroit native has. The rapper once bagged $26k in one night as an exotic dancer, but let that go once she started booking gigs. Unlike her peers, she’s not new to the scene: she’s been around since 2014, released her mixtape, Trapped in the Dollhouse, put out a slew of singles, and she rubs shoulders with hip hop's heavyweights including Timbaland and Migos. Over two million Instagram fans follower her progression to the limelight.
As we found out when we interviewed her last year, BbyMutha, 28, is an insightful woman, who lays down the stipulations for how a woman should handle her precious jewels on “Rules”. The rapper should know: she’s an old soul from the deep south, has four children, and calls herself a rap life coach. The compelling track will make you think twice before giving up the goods to someone who’s undeserving. Her debut, Weave, officially dropped in 2017, and gained traction with tracks “Indian Hair” and “I’m Da Shit”. Her recent EP, Muthaz Day 2, a witty compilation of sassy word play over bouncy synth riddims, makes it clear – in layman terms – that she has no time for bullshit.
South Bronx native Maliibu Miitch, 26, may have a cadence reminiscent of New York excellence – both Kim and Foxy – but she’s her own woman, and is about to switch things up. While rappers ride the trap/cloud rap wave, Miitch is on a boom bap tip. “The Count” is inspired by Biggie’s classic “10 Crack Commandments”, sharing an intricate plot on how to lure him (or her) into your web. She’s just getting started; her EP and mixtape are both due out this year.
Cupcakke, 20, counts Brooke Candy, Mykki Blanco, and Charli XCX as fans, and it makes sense – she’s XXX-rated and she’s breaking glass ceilings. Two mixtapes and three studio albums in (her latest album, Ephorize dropped earlier this month) mean she’s one of the hardest working rappers out. What weaves each record together is, of course, sex: lots of it, in its most crude, primal form. On “Cartoon”, Cupcakke unleashes bars you just can’t shake off, offering fans an exciting alternative to the insatiable vamp we've come to know. “I do look for n***as so fuck Waldo / Bitch I’m cocky Johnny Bravo.”