For the last few years, there’s been a huge spotlight placed on the region’s emerging hip-hop scene. But one thing has been overlooked: its distinct lack of female rappers.
Just this year alone, we’ve seen the rise of Palestine’s Shabjdeed, Egypt’s Abyusif and Marwan Pablo, and not to mention Moroccan rapper Issam signing a major deal with Sony. And although their achievements are without a doubt significant, little space has been made for the women on the scene.
So we decided to scour the deepest corners of the internet and highlight the Arab female rappers you need to listen to.
Dubai-based rapper N1yah (pronounced Nee-ya) recently joined the ranks of the region’s rising stars. She’s been in the game for the last six years, but it’s her new release that has set her apart, in particular her revamped and ultra-fast flow.
You might recognize the young Saudi rapper from her instantly-viral video entitled ‘Te7sebni Amza7’, that dropped following the Kingdom’s decision to lift women’s driving ban. The video, which has now racked up over 7 million views, is just one of Leesa’s songs. She dropped her first song in 2017. With lyrics that focus on daily life as a Saudi woman, she quickly garnered a following across the Gulf and is now growing her fanbase outside of regional borders.
Having been a rapper for over a decade, Malikah has already been dubbed the ‘queen of Arab rap’, but her releases have always been sparse. Last year, the Lebanese artist stepped back into the game with full-force with her new song entitled Sma3. And just last month, she dropped her latest track, ‘3am 7arib’ (‘I am Fighting’, in English) to commemorate the on-going Lebanese revolution.
Montreal-based singer and rapper Meryem Saci paved a lane of her own as the first Algerian female rapper. Since then, she has developed her sound further, with more distinct influences that mix together both Jazz and Reggae.
Mona Haydar might be best-known as an influencer, but 2017 saw her venture off into the music industry. She dropped her first song, ‘Hijabi’ which now counts over 6 million views on YouTube. Whilst many thought she would be a one-hit-wonder, she quickly fired back with another song, ‘Dog’ with Jackie Cruz, which has garnered almost 3 million views.