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by Mosi Reeves

May 3, 2012

The New Breed of Femcees

by Mosi Reeves  |  May 3, 2012

Before we start, here's a brief warning: Nicki Minaj's groundbreaking career has wrought a musical revolution that has only just begun. But it's very real. The new wave of female emcees has been building for a minute, and there are a few vets -- particularly electro-pop rappers like Uffie, Kid Sister and Amanda Blank -- who deserve mention here. But this playlist is dedicated to the next generation, from pop girls like Willow and OMG Girlz to club chicks like Dev and Rye Rye to hard-edged "swag" enthusiasts like Azealia Banks, Kreayshawn and Brianna Perry.

The new breed of femcees dip into fashion, freak different voices and rhyme in a linguistic whirlwind, all with little care for how rap girls are supposed to act. Minaj's growing catalog of hits -- from mixtape classic "I Get Crazy" to the recent "Beez in the Trap" -- not only helped lay the groundwork, it created the conditions for a generation of women to claim respect as rap artists for the first time since the late '90s. Back then, Lil Kim and Foxy Brown set standards of beauty and sexuality so exacting that few could achieve them. But with Nicki and, to a lesser extent, Dev's success, it seems like the music industry has become interested in women as rap artists again, allowing them to explore their creative identities, at least for the moment. Certainly, the "bisexual" freak chick of Azealia Banks' "212" and Dev's "I'll Take Her From You" is turning into a trope as common as the "baddest b*tch" stereotype that Trina once flaunted.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. This playlist identifies a movement that will hopefully grow beyond our expectations. It's so new that two buzzed-about artists, Iggy Azalea and Honey Cocaine, don't even have retail tracks out yet; meanwhile, little-known rookies like Snow Tha Product have already signed major-label deals. Stay tuned.

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