Hip-Hop and R&B have always been a male-dominated industry that notoriously has not made space for women of color and their narratives. Well now, in the era of 2019 social consciousness, it doesn’t have a choice anymore.
Both are genres run rampant with both underlying and overt misogyny, homophobic and sexist rhetoric, and bigoted ideology that hides behind the guise of “traditionalism” and “culture.” One could argue that if the existence of black people is inherently political, so are the cultural contributions we make with our creativity and music. The intolerant ideas interlaced into a genre representative of our culture is a reflection of the issues that exist within the community itself and is a testament to how much work we need to do within the community.
But it’s 2019, and it seems change is knocking on the door, and it won’t take no for an answer. Women within hip-hop and R&B are making strides to elevate both their music and each other. These artists work outside of the bounds of convention, don’t bind themselves to the implications and expectations of any genre, and spit in the face of being pigeonholed or categorized.
So without further adieu, we take a look at the top five female Hip-Hop and R&B artists changing the rhetoric and shaking sh*t up in 2019.
Leikeli47 is making music for the future. Fierce, clever and playfully witty, the currently touring artist dons her signature mask that functions inversely to uplift the nuances of her music and identity. This only highlights the underlying introspective and thoughtful nature within her musical prowess and vibrant style. Leikeli47’s most recent project, Acrylic, is a dazzling and energetic celebration of black culture that is inclusive of the queer community that exists within, and all the beauty it brings to our culture on a whole. Her music is interwoven with unwavering messages self-love and empowerment served with bad b*tch energy to the max. Undaunted by the male-dominated industry, Leikeli47 effectively works to fight anti-black patriarchy and make sick beats in one fell swoop. Catch her upcoming shows in Atlanta (April 4 at Vinyl), Pittsburgh, Palm Springs and more.
Must Listen: “Girl Blunt” and “Reload”
In 2019, Landry is making music interwoven with a modern feminist and pro-black rhetoric that challenges both the white patriarchy and black community to do better. Her social consciousness and messages of empowerment are approached unflinchingly through her smooth flows and low, throbbing beats. Landry’s most recent project, “Synergy,” is the result of the cumulative effort of a myriad of female creators, from graphic designers to producers to audio engineers. A love letter to female creatives and acknowledging of the unique obstacles women in hip-hop face, the project is a moving testament to female solidarity, and ultimately shows the industry how it’s done.
Must Listen: “Changes”
With social justice oriented in matters within and outside her musical creation, Tasha’s experience as a queer black woman inspires the healing messaging of her music. Tasha approaches her music as a sort of therapy to social injustices, and a source of power for the disenfranchised. Her debut album, “Alone at Last,” explores the presentation of the black existence in radical softness, arguing the act of just existing as one’s own unapologetic black self is revolutionary, and that the act of dreaming is inherently subversive. Tasha’s sweet, hypnotic sounds and poetic lyricism serve as both a talisman of hope and an act of rebellion.
Must listen: “Changes”
With an alluring sound influenced by her multicultural background and multigenre exploration, Joy Crookes’s music is both pro-black and geared towards the empowerment of women of color. Crookes’s music is a radical mixture of regality and fragility which contributes to the power in the social commentary she weaves into her lyrical storytelling. Crookes’s smooth and smoky voice coils around you, as the hazy ambiance of her sound and soft, muffled beats sing and sigh you into a state of hypnotic captivation.
Must Listen: “Sinatra”
An artist fueled by her desire to deconstruct systems of oppression and dynamics of power, Ray Blk art functions akin to a megaphone amplifying the narratives of the marginalized. Two years ago, Blk was bestowed with the BBC’s “Sound of 2017” award, being the first that had ever reached such notoriety as an unsigned artist. Blk’s recent project “Run Run” explores her view of police brutality inspired by the experiences she had had as a young black person in South London, and what others like her had to experience. A sound powered by neo-soul influences and retro slow-jam energy, Blk stuns with the cool waves of her sweet tones and lyrical rap.
Must Listen: “Run Run”