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Kenyan female rappers to watch out for in 2023

In 2023, it feels redundant to even say the words “female rapper” to mark women as separate from their male contemporaries. The likes of Stella Mwangi, and Nazizi have been killing it since we can remember, but waves of talented women from Ssaru and Monski have come since, proving time and time again that they can go just as hard, if not harder, than their male counterparts.

Thanks to social media and online streaming partially democratizing the industry, there’s more choice than ever before when it comes to hard-hitting women from international acts like Megan Thee Stallion, Saweetie, City Girls, and Kash Doll to Young M.A, the list of stars on the rise grows seemingly every day. 

The definitions of rap and hip-hop are changing constantly, too, as artistes blend genres from around the world into new, sonically innovative hybrids.

These combined factors make it harder than ever to box artistes in, which is precisely the point genre means less than talent, but there’s still a whole bunch of new or underrated artistes that you really should be adding to your playlists this year. So, under the loose banner of “hip-hop,” we’ve rounded up some for you.

Maandy – Singer, songwriter and performing artiste who is talented and self-driven in this entertainment game. Like any other underground or community artiste, Maandy has seen the rough and tough roads in the journey of music. After high school, she started off as a DJ before her close friend dared her to do a mic test and freestyle some lyrics.

Singer, songwriter and performing artiste. PHOTO | COURTESY

She draws most of her inspiration from the legendary Kenyan rapper late E-Sir. Later on the release of her biggest album ‘Kabaya’, she proclaimed herself as the female E-Sir. But before fully focusing on writing and recording music, her brand had grown a little bit as DJ Maandy. She was in the Disc Jockey business and did stage performance professionally until 2018 when she was finding it hard to balance as a DJ and a performing artiste.

Monski – Her recording career began in 2014 after she recorded and uploaded a set of demos on SoundCloud, receiving positive reviews and requests from a growing fan base to release more, and was soon booking gigs while also getting airplay from Kenyan hip-hop radio shows. In 2017, Pulse Magazine (Standard Media Kenya) listed her as one of the ‘hip-hop freshmen artists to look out for next year.

She was the first Kenyan female rapper to perform at the annual Nyege Nyege Festival in Uganda. Monski describes her music as raw wordplay rap and experimental,[8] mixing oldschool hiphop and new school sounds.

Ssaru – Known for her raunchy lyrics and her mastery of street lingo, Ssaru represents the rap scene with unprecedented force. She’s as real as they come and has been likened to Cardi B due to her realness. She is currently riding high with Kalale where she has collaborated with Willis Raburu, Rekless, Breeder LW and Mejja. Still, in her teens, this singer has already amassed a sizeable and rabid fan base.

Kenyan rapper Ssaru. PHOTO | COURTESY

Fena Gitu – Known for her high massive energy and great live performances, Fena has performed in several top shows and shared the stage with big names in the music industry. Her hard work and discipline in the industry have seen her drop two albums dubbed ‘Fenamenon’ and ‘Unleashed’, which have over 30 songs to her name. She has featured in a number of top musical events that include; Coke Studio Africa Season 2, and several other special music recording sessions in Nairobi.

Kenyan rapper Fena Gitu performs during her reveal party themed Fena Unplugged IV at The Manor Westlands on March 19, 2023. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO

Femi One – She cut her teeth early in the rap game, making major moves in a male-dominated industry. Since she started her musical journey, it has been all about hard work, passion, and perseverance for Femi One. Introduced to music by her elder brother who loved reggae music, Femi One gracefully joined the party and began crafting her skills at an early age.

Kenyan rapper Femi One performs on stage during the launch of BAZE Music on December 15, 2021 at the Carnivore grounds. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU

The Utawezana singer developed as an artiste over time from cyphers on Homeboyz radio to appearances on Buddha Blaze’s British Council’s WaPi (Words & Pictures) initiative. Femi packaged herself as a Tom Boy and rapped in many cyphers before she met King Kaka. He rebranded her into a big hitter in the Kenyan rap scene and now she is dropping chart-topping anthems.

Dyana Cods – The sultry rap sensation may be coy from the spurts of interactions she allows her fans to get off her, but her art speaks volumes of her confidence and security as a rapper. She has proven herself to be a serious contender in mainstream Hip Hop. The rapstress recently dropped an all-drill album featuring high-profile artistes such as Buruklyn Boyz, Wakadinali, and Groovy Jo. The album dubbed Thank Me Later is a 13-track piece of work and her most recent video released is Foreign, featuring Buruklyn Boyz.

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