Grime has pushed its way back into public contention in a big way in recent years. After having prominence in the early 2000s with the likes of Kano, Dizzee Rascal and Wiley, grime is more popular than ever. With the genre being supported by heavyweights such as Drake, it has never had so much presence as it does now.
Whilst male grime artists have found their place in the music market, female MCs have previously been a bit of an anomaly. This is now changing for the better. The early noughties brought us Ms Dynamite and Shystie who have no doubt paved the way for some of the incredible ladies that are shaking up UK bass culture today.
Female grime artists have shown their tenacity, proving that they are just as good as, if not better than their male counterparts.
Here are the some of the most talented female MCs who you need to know about.
- - -
If there is one woman who is dominating grime right now, you probably already know her name. Lady Leshurr is most well known for her track, ‘Queen’s Speech 4’ when she gave us some wise advice with the hook, “Brush your teeth.”
Leshurr is arguably holding the crown when it comes to female MCs in the UK at the moment. However, Melesha O’Garro has shown she’s certainly seen herself as one of the pioneers for women in grime. In 2013, she reportedly turned down a deal with Atlantic Records in the US, dissatisfied with their pitch. She told The Guardian, "They said, 'Nicki Minaj is your competition and we will blow her out of the water’…It pushes the gaps between us – girl rappers are afraid to work together because we get fixed in these imaginary competitions.”
The Birmingham born rapper has done well to infiltrate herself everywhere. She’s jumped on tracks with D’banj and Labrinth. Lady Leshurr also recently posted pictures of herself with Rihanna cohort Deputy, who is working on Leshurr's upcoming album, ‘Queen Of The Scene.’
- - -
While not a grime artist per se, Little Simz is an MC who definitely brings a lot of dimension to her music. She’s one of those artists that you know is destined to be big.
At just 22, she has a promising future ahead of her having done some acting as well as singing. Being multi-talented means she brings a new level of creativity to her music. Simz, also known as Simbi Ajikawo, is said to not be in favour of being called an MC, but prefers to be called an artist. Talking to The Guardian last year she said, “I’m an artist. I’m a musician. I’m not someone you can put in a box.” Little Simz is all about art and we can very much expect her to test the boundaries of rap.
Her music is arcane and has layers of metaphor - don't go expecting the customary braggadocio. Her tracks, ‘Dead Bodies’ which she is most popular for, and ‘Gratitude,’ prove this.
- - -
NoLay has been around in the grime game for some time. She broke onto the scene in 2005 with, ‘Unorthodox Daughter,’ and has consistently continued to release music year after year.
From the streets of South London, NoLay, also known as Isabella Gotti, is as raw as it gets. Gotti isn’t afraid to make people feel uncomfortable and speak the truth through her music. Last year the MC released, ‘Netflix and Pills’ where she unapologetically spoke about being raped at the age of 14, “I lost my virginity at 14 against my consent this n***a raped me, he was 20/It wasn't gently, but life is a b***h, it's been for centuries.” In an interview, with SBTV, she revealed her own family wasn’t even aware of the incident.
Just a few weeks ago, NoLay was in a car accident and was left in a critical state. Having now awoken and proving her determination, the MC tweeted, “I would just like to let my supporters know that I have 2 full projects finished. Don't worry about that. The shelling is still upon em."
- - -
Paigey Cakey or Paige Meade has spent the last few years churning out releases. Also an actor, you may have seen Cakey on Waterloo Road, where she also used her MCing skills in her role.
For the short time that the artist has been active, she’s rapidly made a name for herself. Paigey Cakey made her first release with mixtape, ‘The First Paige’ back in 2012. Since then the EPs, albums, mixtapes have just kept on coming.
Paigey Cakey laces her tracks with catchy hooks with her smart bars. Her music has attracted a lot of radio play. Speaking to SBTV in 2014, her track ‘Same Way’ had already been played on Radio 1, and Capital Xtra.
Cakey’s success is only speeding up. Currently she is supporting Migos whilst they tour the UK.
- - -
Nadia Rose appears to quite new in grime but she sure has made an impact. Rose embodies what is so attractive about the genre. From Croydon, the MC’s track, ‘Station’ is smart, raw and witty. On top of this, Rose has a likeability factor due to her unapologetically simple look. Nadia Rose is gaining popularity through her authenticity.
Rose has been working hard in the last few years. She gained the attention of BBC 1Xtra’s DJ Semtex earlier on, who is a big fan of hers. Her freestyle ability is pretty flawless. But the most exciting thing about Rose is her originality. Whilst being sharp with her lines her bars are also hilarious.
- - -
A North London MC, C Cane has a talent that is pretty scary. Her bars are aggressive and her freestyle ability is difficult to knock. She’s appeared on BBC 1 Xtra, as well as Rinse FM. Wherever she has been invited she’s given us nothing but impeccable rap skills.
C Cane describes herself as a ‘perfectionist’ when it comes to recording her music (Because Of Music). With what we hear from her, it’s easy to see this. It’s clear that C Cane is not your average MC. She’s able to play numerous instruments including the drums and the flute. Cane impressively is also able to spit bars in Lingala.
- - -
Ms Banks has been blowing up in grime. Within about two or so years of rapping, she’s already been on Tim Westwood’s Westwood Crib Session which has housed so many high profiles MCs in grime and hip-hop. Ms Banks classes herself as a rapper and a singer – however, it’s her MC skills that are most impressive.
In an interview with Straight No Chaser, Ms Banks confessed to being ‘girly’ which is clear from her female anthem, ‘Fleek’ where she drops numerous references to her favorite make up and beauty products. The Camberwell artist has definitely proven however that she has a menu of what she can offer in her lyrical tank. She can go from being smart-witted in tracks such as ‘Hallelujah’ to story telling with a freestyle.
- - -
Words: Nikita Rathod