As a former independent Radio Personality, I’ve learned a few things about the record industry. When artists don’t have clout or coins to fund projects, they may not have the visibility of Young MA or Nicki Minaj, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the talent!
Take a journey with me to diversify your playlist from the mainstream Top 40. We’ve got so many QPOC creatives, the bag is bursting at the seams—It’s time support our own! Make sure your subscription is paid in full on your music streaming platform because you’ll have some additions to make to your playlists! The best part is these artists represent who we are as queer women of color and incorporate that into their artistry. So, get ready for some new flavor in your ear from coast to coast. It’s like the XXL class, except full of beautiful brown and black Queens and Qings.
This loc’d lady has had her lyrics on lock for some time and reached worldwide acclaim as a result. In 2016, Ivy Sole made it onto the revered Spotify Fresh Finds playlist and toured throughout Europe sharing her art. Sole was born and raised in the Queen City of Charlotte, North Carolina and attended college in Philly. You hear all the regional influences come together in the blend of her fresh sound and it adds to the universal way so many different audiences can relate. In September, she dropped her latest album Overgrown, a heavy hitting follow up to her previous project Eden. One of the unique things that attracts me to her music and keeps me coming back is the fluidity found in all of her projects. Listeners recognize the thought she puts into curating projects and the themes are always seamless from the melodies to the lyricism. Her mixtapes East and West illustrate the different parts of the Queen City. Her stories of traversing the space between girlhood and womanhood never disappoint!
Perhaps the youngest on our list, this is 21-year-old independent rapper from Alabama has lyricism that packs a punch and her mentality is that of a veteran. Releasing her damn near daily freestyles to some of the most intricate beats, has gotten her some much-deserved attention. She was recently a guest on Hot 97’s Funk Master Flex show has shown the world what some of us have known for years— she did not come to play and will be shaking up the female rap scene!
She stepped outside the cypher scene in August when she collaborated with Rachel Crow and featured on her album’s track Coulda Told Me.
Word around town is she is working on a debut album. I know fans can’t wait to see what she does with rhymes she takes time to write after seeing how talented she is off the dome! Until then, check out her Instagram or Twitter for her latest freestyles. Prepare for frequent eargasms (and she sings too)!
If you are interested in what 21/21 vision is check out Neptune XXI’s latest project Twenty-One. This queen coming from Baltimore has a Fugees style flow (yes, like all three members in one body). Constantly switching up cadences and tempos whether it’s a fast or slow track, it’s sure to be a tune you can get into. This intellectual hip hop artist weaves in spoken word with endless styles to keep you guessing what’s next. Her lyrics feel more like daily affirmations and guarantee a positive mood. Make sure you stay tuned to the moves of this up and coming empress.
Hailing out of the capital city of New York, the one and only Albany is in the house in the form of these two queens! These ladies are one of the few I can say are about beats in the studio and beets in the fields as they farm and feed us dope music! They are brilliant beauties bringing the -isms of the world to their knees. The femcee duo create an unmatched team and sound. The group is the combined styling of Kat SoPoetic (pictured right) and Amani O. Not only are their flows incredible, but they center around freedom, revolution, resistance and activism.
Feeling spiritually unfulfilled from the music on the radio, the duo birthed their group for more nourishing sounds. Activist and femcee duo, KATANI, has released their latest single and newest addition to your fiercest Misogy-Nah! playlists. Kodak Mellow-nin joins Hats (an unsung Femmes anthem) and No Role Modelz (a line-for-line response to J. Cole’s track of the same name), becoming the pair’s 5th independently released single since their formation a little over one year ago. KATANI recently released the music video for their biting and empowering remake to the Billboard Chart topping Bodak Yellow by Cardi B.
KATANI aims to reach the world with their words and usher in a new era of music, pushing the culture and stretching the genre to create the change they wish to see in the world.
They want to tell the truth about the female story and lift their voices up against oppressive nature of the industry. To replace the materialistic and misogynistic music that makes up most of the mainstream scene. Keep an eye out for their upcoming mixtape dropping soon entitled “Fuck bois and Beats”.
Vibrate higher as you twerk to their music with relatable messages.
Now let’s head further downstate to the city where we can find emcee Knoxxy making waves on several platforms. She is single-handedly changing the game’s definition of what it means to be a triple threat! She sings, raps and sews her own clothes! You may have seen her popular clothing brand Dvmnpigeon based jointly in New York and Los Angeles.
“The DVMN brand grew and has been worn by the likes of Chris Brown, J. Cole, Zendaya, and host of others; so did Knoxxy’s desire to take her music more seriously after dabbling in the studio with her best friend and fellow rapper Siya. Years since, Knoxxy has developed her style into a full-fledged artist ready to take on the industry heavyweights with her undeniable flow, slick bars, catchy hooks, and melodic tone. “ —PRESS KIT
If you like her style of dress, you’ll love the style in which she throws down her voice over a track! Her craft centers around authentically sharing her raw life experiences and shenanigans many of us finding ourselves in. Tracks like Maria and Love Nobody chronicle love, lust, emotions, and adds a bit of Spanish to her rhymes while keeping our heads nodding.
The visuals from projects like Mad and Pablo are eye candy and you can always spot some of her signature style pieces making an appearance in the music videos. Her tracks constantly push me through my final sets in the gym and the beats bang beautifully through my speakers on nights I’m headed out with my girlfriends. Check out her latest project and listen to and listen to this beauty spit fire!
Our next stop is in Connecticut, to call upon the sultry stylings of Tekowa Lakica. Her EP’s Alchemy, Eon Soul, and Up for Air blur the lines between singing, poetry and Hip Hop creating a one of a kind sound. Using her jazzy voice as the vehicle, she soothes listeners souls and layers tracks unique ways with intricate instrumentation.
Her lyrics highlight dirty chucks, blue jeans and balancing chakras and the dating scene. Get ready for a long drive or yoga vibe and press play to see for yourself. If Ari Lennox, India Arie and Corrine Bailey Rae had a baby and you will find Tekowa Lakica at the intersection.
Let’s make a stop in Georgia to talk about a young spitta by the name of Yani Mo. Repping Lithonia, which you can hear influences of throughout her albums like 9 Lives and The Moment. This vibrant artist has reinvented raps style so much, she coined the term for her own genre “Country Queer Soul”. “CQS is southern, it's soulful, and it doesn't fit into any binary. I say Queer not in terms of sexuality but fluidity in genre.”
This innovative independent artist is always creating and is currently working on new singles, so stay ready to bump her latest explosive beats!
Yani a self-proclaimed black queer femme artist from the south expressed everything in her music embodies that.
Mo refers to the likes of Toni Morrison, TLC, Brandy, Outkast, Afrofuturism and spoken word and her inspirations.
“Whether dreaming of home, speaking on love, or making a statement about not caring how people police my body. My identity and my art are intertwined heavily. “
Our final stop is to the west coast with iRAWniQ who is giving the phrase “super mom” a new meaning! iRAWniQ (pronounced “ironic”) is coming to us straight out of Los Angeles, California. This mom, graduate student, lover, entrepreneur, artist and philanthropist stands out on our list.
They volunteer and teach foster care classes for potential caregivers to become licensed foster care parents. iRAWniQ‘s active GoFundMe campaign supports folks in Flint, Michigan in their efforts to secure sustainable water.
At the root of all iRAWniQ is helping people including the creation of incredible music.
This creative attribute, their colorful upbringing and intersecting passions to the one of a kind way their music resonates. The compelling story telling and wordplay in iRAWniQ‘s music epitomizes a mixture of the old and new LA Hip Hop scene.
Check out their two EP’s Black Girls On Skateboards and latest release In The Mean Time.
“I love creating, curating, being the change I want to see in the world and making people drop their jaws while doing it!”
One thing is for sure, they are making an impact on several fronts!
Check out the video below for clips of music and their thoughts on the importance of being a self-proclaimed gender fluid rap genius. In iRAWniQ’s case this means flaunting androgyny with pride.
I stand for it and continue to support in all ways I can, catch a few tracks and you will too!
Now that you’ve been put on to these artists who create magic reflecting our culture, turn them on the next time you grow tired of the mainstream. The best part, it’s for us and by us!
Show our artists love & turn the beat up!
Any artists we should give an honorable mention? Shout them out in the comments below!