Female Rappers from the Arab World Who Are Changing the Game
By: Dani Meyer/Arab America Contributing Writer
The rap scene in the Arab world has been growing big in recent years, though it is mostly dominated by male rappers. Even in the United States, there are many more prominent male artists within rap and hip-hop than there are female artists. In the Arab world, gender issues are often intertwined with other political, cultural, economic, and religious issues, which sometimes makes it more difficult for female rappers to become popular. However, these incredible female rappers from the Arab world are using their platforms to redefine Arab rap and hip-hop. If you’re into rap music, here are ten female artists you need to add to your playlist.
Shadia Mansour has been dubbed the “First Lady of Arab Hip Hop”. She is a British Palestinian artist who has been performing from an early age. Mansour considers herself to be part of a “musical intifada” and uses her platform to shed light on the Palestinian struggle. The sound of her music is reminiscent of rap from the ‘80s and ‘90s, combined with hard-hitting lyrics used to highlight political injustices.
Soultana is a Moroccan rapper who was one of the region’s first female rappers. She is widely credited with paving a new path for female rappers in the Arab world, especially in North Africa. She became famous as part of a girl group called Tigress Flow before striking out on her own to become a solo female artist. Her rap has incredibly passionate lyrics, and she is a strong feminist and advocate of social change. One of her biggest hits, Sawt Nssa, calls out sexual harassment in Morocco.
Mayam Mahmoud is one of Egypt’s first female rappers. She rose to fame on Arabs Got Talent, and now is an iconic Egyptian artist. She uses her music to further women’s rights in Egypt, and is an internationally-recognized women’s rights activist.
Felukah is an Egyptian artist who was born and raised in Cairo. She moved to New York, and now mixes English and Arabic in her work. She uses her music to confront the contradictions she sees between being Arab and being American. Her lyrics discuss many political issues, such as the Egyptian president and the Arab Spring.
Malikah is the self-proclaimed “Queen of Hip-Hop”. She was born in France to an Algerian mother and a Lebanese father, but was raised in Beirut. Malikah’s music career spans almost 20 years. She performed at Glastonbury and opened for Snoop Dogg in Abu Dhabi in 2011. Malikah is also an outspoken public figure – she has rapped in support of Lebanon’s current uprising, as well as anti-Arab discrimination in the West.
Asayel Slay is a Saudi artist who first gained popularity with her song “Bint Mecca”, in which she celebrated Saudi women. She rapped about the pride she has for the women in her country The song drew a lot of criticism, especially from conservatives, which led to Asayel Slay being put in jail.
Taffy is an up-and-coming Egyptian rapper. She has cited Nicki Minaj as one of her biggest influences. Taffy is on a self-described path to “change the rap game in the Arab world”.
Meryem Saci is an Algerian artist who fled to Montreal during the Civil War. Her music reflects her many diverse influences. She uses African beats with old school hip hop. She also uses French, Arabic, and English in her songs, which makes her music widely understood by a diverse audience. Her music was featured in the Netflix show “Iron Fist”.
You may have seen the viral video of a Saudi woman rapping in her car about a week after the ban on Saudi women driving was lifted. That is Leesa A. She was relatively unknown before this music video, which has catapulted her into rap fame.
Amani Yahya is one of Yemen’s first female rappers. Inspired by Lil Wayne, Yahya uses her platform to spread awareness about women’s issues in Yemen. She also participated in a rap song with Mayam Mahmoud for Oxfam International for International Women’s Day.
In the words of Malikah: “Arabic hip hop isn’t just entertainment, it’s a possibility to speak up. It’s our turn to show what we’ve got!” Have another female rapper you love? Let us know in the comments!
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These incredible female rappers from the Arab world are using their platforms to redefine Arab rap and hip-hop. If you’re into rap music, Arab America contributing writer Dani Meyer gives you ten female artists you need to add to your playlist.