| February 1st 2013
With a new breed of female emcees threatening the status quo, KEVIN OGUOKO analyses the local rap world that is predominantly male as he unveils the new hotties on the block
With hip-hop making its way to being one of the most popular genres from the late 80s and early 90s, female rappers were comparatively less prominent than their male counterparts.
One of the reasons for this was the female misogyny that existed in the genre. Aspects of the rapidly growing hip-hop culture such as the lewd lyrics and videos that tended to glorify and justify the ‘objectifying’ of women, created a barrier to the ladies in the industry.
Nevertheless, household names such Da Brat, Lil Kim and the Lady of Rage made it, fusing hip-hop elements with fresh styles and proving that they can rhyme just as fast and calculated — and pack enough punch, too.
As the years progressed and new faces graced XXL magazines, so did aspects of hip-hop music change. You don’t have to rhyme as fast as Chiwawa and be lyrically conscious like Ukoo Flani to be considered a rapper. In some quarters, they might even say all you need is a great beat and you are a rapper.
In Kenya’s case, Nazizi stands out as a trailblazing hip-hop figure — the quintessential pioneer — that went where few had, and left much to be admired. We call her the First Lady of hip-hop.
As STL continues to do big business in the European continent with her prowess, so have some few skilled rapper ladies cropped up in Kenya’s music industry.
Though a slow process, the emergence of young female rappers is gaining roots in the country. In the last eight or so months, young female stars have emerged, challenging the status quo with hard hitting lyrics. Some of the new girls are even finding a place for themselves in the international charts.
As much as we have more male rappers, the new crop of female hip-hop artistes seems to be receiving wide acceptance in the industry. The fresh wind is not only sweeping through Kenya, but also across the region with the likes of Uganda’s Keko, now receiving continental ratings as one of the best stars to watch this year.
As artistes diversify their acts in a fast growing entertainment industry, could the female rapper be finally getting her rightful place in the game or is this just but passing wind? Just who are these new girls getting tongues wagging?
Kenyan hip-hop history will not be complete without the name Xtatic penned in it. The beauty, with skill and flow to match, secured a major recording deal with an unfinished two minutes 12 second music video thanks to her The Prep Track.
Her signing with giant music label Sony Music, based in South Africa has seen her make major moves. She is now working with some of the best musicians in Africa and across the world. With major magazines following up on her progress, it’s safe to say that Xtatic’s star can only shine brighter.
“I have a lot of respect for female rappers in Kenya. However, most of them stop putting any more effort as soon as they get to some level. You should want more for yourself. Not just for the money, but for the passion,” Xtatic says.
“It is a lot harder for females to make it in this industry compared to the guys. The secret to making it is to be passionate about your craft. I urge them to study rap music and give the industry something different,” she adds.
Everything about her is sweet; from voice, soft look, to her sexy eyes. She is not your average hard-core rapper. That’s until she picks up the mic.
The 22-year-old Communication student from University of Nairobi has a tight flow characterised by a blend of English with Kiswahili rhymes. Her rap has that hardcore feel with an attitude in her voice. She slows down the tempo with a smooth RnB verses.
“My lyrics are both inspirational and educative. I am a born-again Christian but I admit I have had my fair share of backslides in the past, so I can rap my story,” Dee notes.
As her new hit single I’m a Star continues to hit the airwaves, it will be curious to see how this new star takes her art to the next level.
EASTLANDOS — SAMANTHA AND SHIKO
Anybody who knows Kenya’s hip-hop knows that Ukoo Flani ultimately put Kenya on the world map.
In their project to nurture young talents, two young girls came up to form the group Eastlando. Samantha and Shiroh, as they are individually called have shown talents with rhymes for years now.
They both exude intelligence in their tracks. The two baby-faced ladies have everyone’s attention whenever they perform. True performers, the Eastlandos are known to cut short their performances and do a little freestyle or cypher much to the amazement of their audiences. They come across as tomboys with that Eastlands ghetto accent, and always spotting the typical hip-hop sportswear image.
“I’m a tomboy and I can’t lie. I can’t do without my sneakers. They are sexy in my opinion,” Shiko remarks.
“For now, we are working separately. Samantha is concentrating on her studies, and I am working on music. We will, however, hook up in future when we settle down,” she quips.
PIZO — GRANDPA RECORDS
Pizo is the hardcore rapper from Kibera. While she may not sing about swag anytime soon, she commands respect just as the other new female rappers.
She describes her style as a mixture of kapuka and hip-hop — an easily likeable flow that not too many people have, or can match, according to her.
And just as her icon the late Lady S did, she definitely whips haters off with Kiswahili lines that she is not going to let go off anytime soon.
“Why should I force myself to rap in English? I’m not Camp Mulla,” she remarks.“My target is captivating the whole continent all with my flow,” she adds.
As this petit star made her way to battle out her opponent during the Nokia Don’t Break the Beat, few were upbeat.
A gleam of hope flashed through Nazizi’s face — acting as one of the judges — when she Dom started rhyming. Dom, whose name is but initials for Definition of Music, is a budding young artiste, charming people with her rhymes whenever rhymes comes out of her petit frame.
While her fans describe her sound as similar to that of Nicki Minaj, the 19-year-old student has distanced herself from that assertion.
“I was doing the battles to build myself and get my name out there as a respected rhymer battling with the guys. I have never battled with a chick ever before.
“I don’t want to be one of those personalities who get into the limelight for 15 minutes and the next they gone. That’s the reason why I decided to go the long way,” she notes.
Sugar is the upcoming young talent off Phoenix Records. She brings sexy back to hip-hop rhyming with captivating hooks on head-bumping hip-hop club beats.
“I can’t be gangsta like the dudes. I have to bring in the female element,” Sugar asserts.
To top it off, Sugar has the looks to match with bootylicious body that would leave many glued to the screen.
Her new video with Bamboo — 254-flow — is fresh on the scene and her debut video Work Hard set to hit the airwaves soon.
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