Welcome to the NEW School: a new Generation of Nigerian Female Emcees

The history of hip hop has often positioned women at a marginalized orientation.  The classic trope of the video vixen is repeatedly displayed in music videos, and lyrics of popular rap songs are constantly degrading and objectifying women.  Despite the hypersexual nature of hip hop, across the continent, women still struggle to take onus of their sexuality and hip hop is not always an open space for discourse of female empowerment. Even female rappers are expected to either fit a hypersexual image or the pure and proper conscious image.  However, this playlist shows that times are changing.

When you think of Women rappers in Nigeria, names like Kemistry, Mo’cheddah, and Sasha P rightfully come to mind.  These artists have established the tone for what woman rappers are capable of and paved the way for the rappers featured in this playlist that refuse to shy away from taboo topics in African hip hop.  But these up and coming Nigerian female emcees are flawlessly and courageously repping for the new school. Phlow, SGaWD, Princess Mami, DETO BLACK and Yazzavelli explore themes of sexuality and female empowerment while also proving that their rap abilities challenge their male counterparts.  All the artists and songs featured show that the future of Nigerian hip hop is female. 

The first song, “Band$” is by the artist Princess Mami who is an Abuja native.  The title of the song perfectly captures its message that discusses the material goods that Mami possesses. Throughout the song, the phrase “I got bands on my wrist” constantly repeats.  Mami’s lyrics also fall in line with the tradition of braggadocio that is present in African hip hop.  She establishes her validity through lyrics by calling other women “copycat hoes” and referring to herself as a “real bad bitch”.  She uses threats of violence towards her opponents saying that her “uzi and I never ever miss”.  These themes subvert the ideas of female subjectivity and show that Mami can rap about similar topics of violence and self confidence like popular male rappers.

The next song “Body Count” by Odunsi The Engine is another up beat party bop.  Although the song is by Odunsi, the display of abilities of female emcee DETO BLACK is the real show stopper.  This song also features a catchy and unforgettable hook but the true meat comes from the second verse rapped by DETO who is from Lagos, Nigeria.  She introduces the verse with the line, “Fuck a body count, I let my body bounce” and continues to explore this sexual theme.  This song empowers women to forget about the idea of a body count that is often used to shame sexually liberated women, and instead do what they want with no apology.  

Coming in third, is the song “Yazza” by Nigerian rapper Yazzavelli.  This song lacks a hook but Yazzavelli keeps it short and sweet by getting straight to the point; she is in power.  Popular ideals of sexual dynamics between men and women often posit the woman as submissive and the male being in a position of power.  However, Yazzavelli uses her lyrics to break this by saying things like “I told that nigga come here imma put it up on you” and “he said I’m not nice bitch tell me something new”.   She proves that she is not scared to be in power and neither should we. 

The next song by Nigerian rapper Phlow is called “Grub Up” and comes from her latest EP Marmalade.  This song truly embraces the traditions of braggadocio.  Phlow says, “They going to know sooner than later, who’s winning, who’s major” expressing that it is her time for the come up.  Although she does not explicitly deal with sex in her lyrics, her clear confidence in her ability is the source of empowerment in this song.  She knows that she is up next for the crown, further proving that women rappers are making their presence known. 

The final song is by the rapper/singer SGaWD.  Other songs of hers like “Feel Right” show off both her rapping and singing ability, but “Are You Dumb” is the perfect piece to rap up this playlist.  Like the other artists featured, SGaWD shows no fear of rapping about sex.  She raps over a trap beat in a sultry tone constantly switching up her flow.  The sexual content preaches female empowerment and sexual liberation while her style and technique shows that she can keep up with the best of them.

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