Happy new year, friends. The sun is shining, 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.
In the meantime, Melii has released a string of impressive and cutting singles that showcase her range. There is “Icey,” which is the staple Melii record. A booming and thrashing affair, Melii sounds like she has it in her to shatter a chandelier and then turn those shards into a designer gown. “Charlie’s Line” shows off her melodic ability and expands her songwriting quiver to include bent love songs, while keeping the production in her creeping and domineering wheelhouse. “Shit Talk” proves Melii to be a woman not to be trifled with, a fearsome rapper’s rapper’s rapper. The single is a blinged-out wagging finger to the face of the rap game.
Her two Spanish singles—“La Envidia Mata” and “Como Si Na”—speak to Melii’s desire to stick to her roots and make music for her people whenever she can. “I feel like it was important because, just in general, I grew up in Harlem so that made it big,” Melii said of bringing Spanish into her music. “It’s important to do both because I know these people and I know what they like, and me myself, I listen to both Spanish trap and English.”
We’re with it.
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.
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I mean, she said it herself: she’s the hardest Doll. No disrespect to the other Dolls doing their thing, but Asian Doll comes barred up and cosigned like few others in her class. With the godfather of trap, Gucci Mane, signing her and releasing her 1017 Eskimo debut So Icy Princess, Asian Doll is not one to overlook.
A Dallas native, Asian Doll brings a dripped-out menace to her music. So Icy Princess thumps and swerves like a hounding adrenaline rush, something to cut your teeth on. There’s a natural snarl and high-geared rancor to Asian Doll’s delivery and writing. We’ve heard the tale of bossed-up women before, but Doll is able to transition that powerful feeling into every punchline, every flow switch, and ultimately every track. There is no moment on So Icy Princess where her confidence feels out of reach. She is the people’s champ, wherein champ stands for someone that will break a neck if they must.
Before So Icy Princess and Gucci Mane, there was also Doll SZN (and Nicki Minaj). The intro to the project, one of seven full-length projects released since 2015, boasts a clip of a Nicki cosign, which is worth its weight in internet gold. It’s fitting that Doll is signed to Gucci, considering their work ethics are both astonishing, to say the least. You should be excited about Asian Doll, because Asian Doll is excited about herself and her future.
“At the end of the day, my goal is to always get better and better,” she told Billboard. "What I want my fans to see is that I’m constantly improving. I’m growing. I’m competing with my latest tapes and it’s really a competition with myself, basically."
Organic and Ivy Sole are synonymous. A Philly-based rapper moving independently and producing music for the love of the art, Ivy, if you’ll excuse the pun, is naturally of-the-soul. The conviction in her delivery and the love she packs into every bar—every type of love, of course—is a hand to hold during these seemingly endless dark times. She is an artist’s artist, telling DJBooth in 2018: “Music has a grounding effect on me. I’m my best version of myself when I’m working on music.” With creation at her center, her 2018 album Overgrown boasted a grounding and meditative quality.
Perhaps most exciting, the raps on Overgrown are not raps at all. Ivy Sole is delivering mantras and hymns abound. Her music is communicative in that way, with Sole’s wisened aura scaling and blooming through each bar. She delivers lessons of self-love and guides us on a journey of discovering and nurturing self-worth with a tone as supportive as it is inquisitive. Ivy Sole is not our personal cheerleader or life coach, she is simply brave enough to make public the battles we all must face to grow as people. Defeat colors Overgrown as much as triumph, and that symbiotic goodness of Ivy Sole’s bare work gives her music timeless potential.
We all fight, fuck, and fester. Ivy Sole demands we deal with and overcome all three avenues to find love on Overgrown, and when we do, the payout is immense.
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.
Obviously talented, Maliibu Miitch opted not to flood the market in 2018, dropping only two tracks (“Bum Bitch,” “Give Her Some Money”). Considering her rising star, an album is likely coming in 2019. I know I’ll be rushing to press play.