South Africa has produced many world-class femcees since hip hop arrived in South Africa in the late ‘80s. Groups like Godessa paved the way for the current generation of rappers, who continue to redefine women’s positions in the world of hip hop.
This Women's Month has been a vital period for women artists in South Africa as the narrative around gender equality has begun to broaden the perspectives of everyone in the music industry. There is a tough road ahead, but here are a few of the women who are fighting the assumptions of society and making waves in the hip hop scene.
Congolese/South African rapper Rouge has garnered an immense amount of attention in the last two years. After featuring on AKA's 2015 track The Baddest, the right elements have come together to place her on the upper echelon of the hip-hop industry in South Africa. After the success of her song “Mbongo Zaka” last year, she is releasing her album The New Era Sessions in September.
Undeniably one of the most unique femcees in South Africa at the moment, Push Push brings a raw, unadulterated essence to electro/bass tunes. There's a definite glitch-hop influence in her music, reminiscent of PH Fat and Sedge Warbler—but with her own "brat rapping in a PE accent" style. The latest video for "Blood In" is a prime example of her "no-fucks-given" attitude.
Miss Patty Monroe has been making some major moves in the last two years, constantly growing and learning every step of the way. Last year saw her take her energetic, rapid-fire lyrics further up into Africa to Kenya and Uganda. And in 2017, she released her debut album “Malatjie”, which included her hit-single “Reminiscing” and has become a milestone in her career. She also released her Malatjie clothing brand this year, a big step for the young entrepreneur.
Durban based Clara-T brings straight underground hip-hop flavour to the forefront. As one of the most lyrically gifted femcees in SA, and also one of the youngest, Clara-T is just getting started with her takeover of the industry. Her track City is a perfect example of the kind of vocabulary she holds within her arsenal and with her eyes on the prize, this young femcee is looking to claim her throne.
Chazz Le Hippie
As the host of Back To The City 2016 and 2017, it's clear that Chazz has become a revered figure in the South African hip-hop industry. In 2014, she claimed the spot as Slaghuis Queen of Street Rap and also landed herself a South African Hip Hop Awards nomination. Chazz epitomises the term "dynamite comes in small packages" and has the ability to elevate her verses to a fever pitch; which is evident in the last verse of her track “Fast Traap”.
Dope Saint Jude
The playful yet hard-hitting lyrics of Dope Saint Jude have been heard across the world this year, and after a fruitful year last year, the Cape Town rapper is going above and beyond everyone’s expectations. Having toured the USA and Europe already, 2017 saw Dope Saint Jude perform at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Stanford University and Basha Uhuru Festival, with a feature in the "A to Z of Amazing South African Women"—a book by Ambre Nicolson and Jaxon Hsu.
One of the better-known femcees in South Africa, Nadia Nakai has become an icon in the South African hip-hop industry. She has come a long way from her 2013 single “Like Me”, which showcased her lyrical skills brilliantly and is now catering to her massive fan base base bringing radio-ready hip-hop to the forefront. She will be performing in London and Leicester in October this year, off the back of her Bragga EP tour.
Gigi Lamayne is probably one of the hardest working emcees in the studio, frequently releasing music and featuring on countless tracks this year. She won the best female at the SA Hip Hop Awards in 2013 and 2014 and has continued making her mark in the industry ever since. Her album Genesis included the hit-singles “My Ugly Boy” and “Lobola”, placing Gigi in the upper echelon of SA’s hip hop industry once again.
The first lady of Motswako, Fifi Cooper had one of the biggest tracks of this year so far, Kuse Kuze, with fellow Ambitious Entertainment artist Emtee. Being in the same stable as HHP, Cassper Nyovest and Khuli Chana, Fifi has become one of South Africa's favourite femcees and has racked up 3 SAMAs in the last three years.
You can’t mention South African hip-hop without including Kanyi. She has been on the frontline of the hip-hop movement for many years and is still one of the most talented lyricists in the country. With an impeccable flow that puts your head in a whirl, her execution is untouchable. Her track “Ingoma” literally sounds like a voodoo spell, putting you in a trance.
Yugen Blakrok has had a very busy year so far, taking her flows and introspective lyrics to Germany, Czech Republic and France. Yugen stays true to underground hip-hop, from her beat selection to her demeanour and even her kung fu references bleeds "real" hip-hop. In a world of quick fixes and manufactured artists, Yugen keeps the tattered flag flying, to remind all those who have forgotten the roots of hip-hop.