Young African women are no longer scared of being themselves unashamedly and living life on their own terms. Rap is a channel of expression for some to speak their truth, self-reflect, and reclaim their identities.
African hip-hop is evolving and despite being dominated by male rappers, there are a number of female rappers holding it down, so I made a list of some African female rappers I think deserve the same level of recognition as their male counterparts.
A queen in her own right. Doubling as a medical doctor and a rapper, Namibian MC Latoya Lucile Mwoombola has earned her spot in the hip-hop scene with her admirable work ethic. Growing up as an academic, she took interest in rapping when her sister started making beats and worked on perfecting her art while trying to secure a degree.
In 2018, she was listed as one of the Top 10 finalists on Mr Eazi’s emPAWA Africa (a program created to fund music videos and provide career guidance for young artists). She has since fine-tuned her art, fusing sweet melodies and different genres with her raps as evident in her most recent album ‘Wish You Were Here’. Her career has experienced a rapid rise in the past 2 years; her amazing collaboration with Boity and Nazizi on Switch it Up (for Coke Studio) is one of the unforgettable moments in her career so far.
Boity- South Africa
Boitumelo Thulo is a successful entrepreneur, actress and rapper who first gained recognition in the entertainment scene as a co-host on The Media Career Guide Show. In 2011, she worked as a presenter for Crib Notes educational show and her career took off fully from there. In 2017, she made her rapping debut on the Migos Culture Tour in SA and released her debut single titled Wuz Dat featuring Nasty C in 2018. Although she wasn’t taken quite seriously by some after her debut single was released, it got the award for Best Collabo in the South-African Hip Hop Awards that year.
Her follow-up single—Bakae, however, was a major hit that marked her spot as a force to be reckoned with in the South African hip-hop scene. Boity has since proven that she is not just an entertainment personality but an entertainer in every sense of the word. She recently released her debut EP 4436, an excellent body of work that tells a story of how she metamorphosed into a woman, drawing inspiration from her childhood. She dedicated the project to the core of her foundation, 4436 being the address of her grandparents’ house where she was born and raised.
Bomb$hell Grenade – Zambia
Bomb$hell Grenade is a rapper , actress and model from Lusaka, Zambia. She developed interest in rap music growing up, as she was around guys who listened to a lot of rap music. She started off at talent shows and parties and made demo tapes with her friends, it’s no surprise that she was quickly recognized in the underground rap scene in Zambia. Her growth as an artiste has been impressive as she mixes English, Nyanja and other languages in her songs, giving them a unique African sound. She recently released a single titled Fukunyuka—a Zam dancehall/Kuwaiti track that talks about putting your money where your mouth is.
Naomi Achu – Cameroon
Naomi aka the Queen of Bamenda is well known for her 2011 hit single Alhadji, and is credited with being one of the forerunners of Cameroonian hip-hop, particularly in diaspora. She moved to the United States in 2004 to pursue a career as a singer and started rapping officially in 2009 when she released her first EP titled No Boundaries showcasing her singing and rapping skills. Her music is inspiring and filled with meaning, and she has continued to enhance her skill set, with her passion and drive that is quite unmatched. She has demonstrated so much growth as an entertainer and keeps her fans wanting more with every new song and every new performance.
Eno Barony- Ghana
Ruth Eno Adjoa Amankwah Nyame Adom, who simply goes by Eno Barony is a 29-year old Ghanaian rapper and songwriter. She came into limelight in 2014 when she released her single ‘Tonga’ to a warm welcome and massive airplay.
Over the years, she has had lots of collaborations with artists like Medikal, Stonebwoy, Ebony Reigns, Shatta Wale, and others. One of her notable collaborations was the hip-hop song titled ‘The Best’ featuring Togolese artiste, Mic Flammez which she used to break her silence after months of mourning her mother who died in 2015. Her ability to entertain is thrilling as her delivery is smooth yet firm and fierce. She has notably played a part in sustaining the involvement of women in the Ghana rap scene. She won the award for Best Female Rap Act in Africa in the just concluded AFRIMMA Awards 2020 and is arguably the best female rapper in Ghana.
Rosa Ree – Tanzania
24-year old self-proclaimed Rap Goddess, Rosary Robert has worked hard to prove that she can do as well as her male counterparts in the Tanzanian hip-hop scene. Despite facing the challenge of gender discrimination and lots of criticism at the beginning of her career, she has remained consistent, building a solid fan-base for herself while creating good music. On some of her songs like One Time and Champion, she addresses these issues of discrimination and doubts from some of her peers in the industry. She has been with three different labels since the start of her career but her need to have full decisive control, has her going back to being an independent artist. She has worked with Emtee, G Nako, Roberto, and Navy Kenzo amongst others, skillfully opening up her fan-base.
Little Simz- Nigeria
Simbiatu Abisola Abiola Ajikawo is a British rapper, singer and actress. Simz makes narrative hip-hop with imaginative concepts like releasing music with a graphic novel to follow-up, exhibitions and even a festival, like she did with Stillness in Wonderland.
Simz is on a whole different level of versatility with an approach of melding different sounds like dubstep, jazz, and down-tempo hip-hop to make mostly self-conscious songs, her sound reflects humor, seriousness, and feelgood vibes. So far, she has released all her music as an independent artist under her Age 101 imprint. Despite having steady growth and making innovative moves that surpass most of her peers in the industry, she hasn’t gotten quite the amount of recognition that she deserves or “gone mainstream”, so to speak.
Ami Yerewolo- Mali
Although the hip-hop scene in Mali is not quite populated, Ami Yerewolo is the biggest female rapper to come out of the country. She raps with confidence against sexism, disloyalty, and injustice with witty and smart lyrics that are a mix of French and Bambara language. Although it is difficult to track her stats as only 12% of Mali’s population have access to the internet, her concerts and live shows are always packed to the brim with people who come to watch her high energy performances.
In 2014, she released her first album titled Naissance (meaning birth), a blend of hip-hop, vocals, slam and traditional Mandingo music in such a way that it seemed like her own unique genre. In 2017, she was named in the Top 10 Finalists for the Radio French International Discovery Prize held in Senegal. She is the only Malian to have produced her own albums and solo tours.
Rouge- South Africa
Deko Barbara-Jessica Wedi is an award-winning female South African rapper, author, and professional TV presenter known as Rouge. Born in Pretoria, South Africa to Congolese parents, Rouge has garnered numerous awards, recognition and respect in the industry, with credits to her vocals, hardcore flow and her creativity in addressing certain Mzansi trends. She has remained consistent in serving her fans with classic and timeless music. She made a name for herself when she released Mi Corazon featuring BigStar Johnson, her big break however came when she was featured on the remix to AKA’s hit single Baddest in 2015 on which she was the only upcoming artiste featured on the song among other established female artists. Ever since, she has continued to release hit songs like Mbongo Zaka and has declared herself the best female currently doing it. In March 2019, Rouge got signed to the international music label Sony Music.
Muthoni Drummer Queen- Kenya
The Nairobi-based rapper is an all-around entertainer—a rapper, singer, drummer, percussionist—and music entrepreneur known for her alternative electro-hip-hop music which has an energetic sound. She fuses African drums, hip-hop, reggae, and neo-soul music to create her powerful contemporary music. She founded the festivals African Nouveau and Blankets & Wine to help give alternative music more visibility in East Africa. She is a huge force to reckon with in the East African music industry, rejecting the sexualization and presentation of female performers for the male gaze, and changing the narrative that women in the industry are denied certain support if they don’t portray a hyper-sexualized look. In her SHE, she tells the stories of 11 different women going through different moments of their lives and making the decision to choose themselves, love themselves, and be their own heroes.