Nicki Minaj’s debut album, released in 2010, was a hip-hop game-changer: Pink Friday had the second-highest first-week sales for a female rapper after 1998’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, spent the most weeks of any album by a woman in rap on the Top 10 of the Billboard charts, and its single, “Super Bass,” sold more than four million digital copies, a first for a woman in hip-hop. If Minaj flew the flag for the commercial and artistic viability of female rappers in such a major way, could this help spawn a new generation of young talents to bust through, too? Four years later, it’s now started to feel like the answer to that question is a resounding yes—a recent heated debate between Iggy Azalea and Azealia Banks can’t overshadow the fact that a diverse array of women in rap have hit hard in 2014, including Minaj again. Just last week, she released her third studio album, The Pinkprint, to earth-shattering success. Here, a primer on some of the women who are having remarkable years in rap.
With her viral sensation of a single “212” in 2011, Banks was one the first women in rap to break through after Minaj’s success. But when controversy and label disputes kept her debut album shelved, it started to feel like she would never make do on the promise of her obvious talents. No longer: After effectively freeing herself from Interscope records in July, Banks finally released Broke With Expensive Taste at the top of November and the album has been a critical and commercial hit, proving she has had what it takes to be a major figure in hip-hop all along.
Tink, Jay Z and Rick Ross, “Moving Bass” (produced by Timbaland)
Tink is a young rapper (nineteen!) from Chicago who started bubbling back in 2013 as a local player in the city’s burgeoning rap scene. But next year, 2015, is the one that looks to be her real moment. She’s working with production legend Timbaland on her debut album, and the few scraps that have emerged, like a track in which she holds her own trading lyrics with Jay Z, have shown that she’s a true star in the making. “You can’t believe somebody at nineteen got it. We don’t see that no more,” says Timbaland. “The last person we saw [like her] was Drake.”
Feuds with other rappers aside, few people have had as good a year in not just rap, but all of pop, as Iggy Azalea. “Fancy” made her the female rapper with the longest-running number one single on the Billboard charts in history and helped her debut album, The New Classic, hit number three on the charts (the highest position for a female rapper since Nicki Minaj’s 2012 album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded). She’s followed that up with a popular duet with Rita Ora on “Black Widow” and a Saturday Night Live performance. Demand has been so high for Azalea this year, in fact, that she reissued that album just seven months after its release as Reclassified on November 24, with five additional bonus tracks.
DJ Khaled feat. Remy Ma, “They Don’t Love You No More”
A year after putting out her debut album, Remy Ma’s career was just starting to take off when a shooting outside of a New York nightclub in 2007 led to an eight-year jail sentence for the rapper, now 34. In the summer of 2014, she was released and wasted no time jumping on a number of tracks, including one from hip-hop heavyweight DJ Khaled. After gaining her freedom, she’s happy to find this year to be a climate where women are flourishing in rap. “I think each one of us has something that sets us apart from each other. I think each person as an individual brings something different to the game,” she says. “It’s a great thing when we’re able to come together and do something as a team, as opposed to at each others’ throat and trying to bring each other down.”
Dej Loaf, “Try Me”
Dej Loaf capped this year’s runaway success of her single “Try Me” (which has racked up some 19 million listens on Soundcloud and made it all the way to number 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts) by signing with Columbia Records and starting work on her debut album. At 23, she’s one of the most promising young rappers, male or female, to ever come from Detroit, and is fighting for the fate of female rap by bolstering her own bona fides. “Female rap isn’t where it should be, because they box it up, label it, call it ‘female rap.’ It’s just music, don’t put female rap in no box,” she says. “We’re all human at the end of the day. I’m just Dej Loaf and the world is going to hear me.”
Last but the opposite of least is Nicki Minaj. It seems impossible that she could top the years she had in 2011, 2012, and 2013, but 2014 has been her best so far. Her “Anaconda” video has racked up more than 300 million plays, she made her theatrical debut alongside Cameron Diaz in The Other Woman, she made a high-profile appearance at the Video Music Awards and hosted the European Music Awards—all that before the release of her latest album, The Pinkprint, which came out last week. Quite simply, she’s become one of the biggest, and hardest working, women in all of entertainment.
The post 2014 Was a Landmark Year for Women in Rap appeared first on Vogue.
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