Updated: May 23, 2019
Please, meet your new favorite rappers. Making hella noise in 2019.
rap is in a beautiful place, and as a culture we are finally realizing that women have been ferocious spitters since time was first recorded, if not earlier. To celebrate the new year and give some due shine to artists putting in the work and making impactful music, we’ve put together a list of five must-watch women in 2019. Each of the five women selected has that ephemeral “something” that makes their music exciting, and their glowing potential matches their glowing output.
Your new favorite rapper is on this list, we promise.
You wouldn’t believe it from her music, but Melii is a darling. Getting her musical start singing in old folks homes, the Harlem rapper and singer is as versatile as they come. Vacillating between pure aggression and gentle ballads, and delivering cold bars at blistering speeds in both Spanish and English, it seems there is nothing Melii cannot do. She has achieved music video virality, has landed a Meek Mill cosign and album feature, and is squarely in the hip-hop tastemaker conversation. When Melii gets to dropping her album, all of hip-hop will be paying attention.
Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion’s command over the microphone would make any seasoned rap veteran quake. First breaking with a viral remix of XXXTENTACION’s “Look At Me!,” Megan signed to 300 Entertainment in November 2018 following the release of her EP Tina Snow in August of that year. As 300’s first woman signee, and even before garnering major label looks, the Houston rapper sounds like an absolute force. There is a bulldozing quality to her music, and her melodies are just as present and absolute. Megan raps like she is already a superstar, centering her energy on every track, and pulling us into her explosive orbit. She is never huffy or out of step, instead positioning herself as the height of technical skill and charisma.
Megan is the pinnacle of unfuckwithable hip-hop. Tina Snow is packed with sexually charged and nose-up quotables alike. Each second of Tina Snow plays more ambitious and electric than the last, with Megan’s boisterous persona tempered ever so by occasional Auto-Tune and syrupy melodies that quietly recall her favorite rapper, Pimp C, but do not trap her as a servant to her influences. Conversely, moments where you would assume Megan is poised to take it slow, she plods forward with an admirable and attractive fervor.
All of her moxy and chutzpah, too, is effortless. “I’m not a character, so how I rap is just an everyday thing,” Megan told The FADER. This innate ease to her style, above all else, might be the most exciting things about Megan Thee Stallion. Her power is built-in, and she’s only getting better.
No one sounds like Maliibu Miitch. Literally, no one has the husky and low-riding tone that she brings to wax. Coming from the South Bronx and first bubbling up with her 2013 EP Hood Foreign, Miitch’s voice sounds like a stalled sunrise—blanketing, arresting, and warm. Don’t let the dusk-like quality of her sound fool you, though. Miitch spells serious trouble. She is ferocious and demanding on the mic, with superb breath control and brash lyricism that steals our hearts and energizes us in the same turn.
An artist passionate about her roots, Maliibu Miitch’s music goes beyond simple homage and golden-era impression, infused instead with the trappier flavor of the new New York. With every song, Miitch positions herself as the future of the city.
There is a looming quality to her work; something about Maliibu Miitch just screams doomsday for the fakes and snakes. Yet, she’s not all bite. Miitch’s versatility starts with her name (“Maliibu is the softer, fun, and bubbly side of me, and Miitch is the gritty, South Bronx side of me,” she told Highsnobiety. “Some songs will be pretty and other songs will be hood as hell and ratchet as hell.”) and ends with an impressive quality-over-quantity singles run.
The DMV has a new front runner with Rico Nasty. The New York-bred, Maryland-raised rapper has created a new lane in hip-hop with her sugar trap-based music, or "happy-savage" sound as she called it during her XXL interview for The Break last year. Rico broke onto the rap scene with "iCarly" and "Hey Arnold" in 2016, with the latter later remixed by Lil Yachty; in 2017, the two of them linked again for "Mamacita," a single on The Fate of the Furious album.
When a boss walks into the room, it's felt. When it comes to rapper Kash Doll, there's no other word to describe her. The Detroit native doesn't mince her words and her brash music is starting to make waves beyond the Midwest. The former strip club dancer—who once made over $26,000 in one night—got her first big look when she remixed Tinashe's hit single "2 On." She got the internet's attention when she released the video for "Run Me My Money" and dropped her mixtape, Keisha vs Kash Doll, in 2015. The following year, she opened for Drake for the Detroit stop on his Summer Sixteen tour.
Things started to pick up for Kash Doll from there. She struck gold this past March when she released "For Everybody," a record that finds Kash rapping from both the side chick and the wife's perspectives.
"I really creatively did the entire thought process [behind 'For Everybody'] myself," she tells XXL. "I came up with the hook first and I just did something different. I didn’t even think people were going to like it. So how I made it a phone conversation was because of how I was rapping the first verse. After I did that I thought, I’m going to do both chicks. I’ve been both chicks to be honest, I witnessed both sides. I know women could relate to the things I rap."
"So I put the wife perspective because you have to understand where a wife is coming from. So when I did it, I really like the wife part; I don’t know why. And I always wanted to do a scene from Belly since my name is Keisha. I shot it in my house and I didn’t think it was going to do what it did, though."