It’s wholly promising to see that in recent years, female vocalists have been giving their male counterparts a run for their money. This year, we’re excited to see female musicians continuing to up-the-ante in such a predominately male-dominated world. So, we’ve devised a list of some of the most exciting acts to keep an eye on. In order to showcase the brightest of talents, we handpicked 10 upcoming artists who each clock in less than 25,000 Facebook likes (the majority average two to seven thousand) and who represent a broad mix (and mash-up) of hip-hop, R&B and electronic music. What further ties these women together is their affinity for honest, infectious music and sonic creations that are garnered from their heart and experiences. All of the artists, listed in alphabetical order, have either dropped their debut within the last year or are set to release them soon.
There might not be a lot of information available about Doja Cat, but every time she posts a new track online the Internet goes a little crazy. What we do know about her is that her real name is Ami Zandile; she’s a mere 18 years old, grew up in Malibu and is now firmly based in LA. Her song “So High,” released a little over a year ago now, sees the mysterious singer-rapper combining vivid vocals, trippy beats and unfiltered bars. As can be heard in her lyrics and seen in her bright, funky videos, she embraces her femininity and sexuality instead of blending into the masculine rap scene.
Put simply, Swedish-Senegalese singer/songwriter Fatima is creating soul music garnished with honest lyrics and infectious beats. She released her first full-length album Yellow Memories a few weeks ago via Eglo Records; and the production duties were taken over by none other than Floating Points, Scoop DeVille, Computer Jay and Flako. According to the aforementioned crew, the album, which includes the Theo Parrish-penned opener, “Do Better,” is a “modern take on classic soul and R&B” and sees Fatima’s gorgeous voice dance over the sweetest of melodies. Written between London and Los Angeles, her debut effort is inspired by memories of her childhood and a life of travel.
Check out her SoundCloud page for more.
Kelela’s debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me, was one of the most acclaimed recordings of last year, with critics, fans, and even Beyoncé singing her praise. To further confirm her presence for 2014, the D.C-born, LA-based singer made it onto the BBC’S Sound of the Year list. She teamed up with dance label Fade To Mind and sibling London imprint Night Slugs to produce the project. And it’s an adventurous and admirable first effort; balancing poise and precision, it is one of the most exciting experiments between electronic and R&B to be realized to date. It’s telling how talented, focused and present the young singer is in a group of predominately male producers, and we’re interested to see what direction her follow-up work will take, and who she’ll choose to work with.
4. Maria Minerva
Estonian bedroom-producer Maria Minerva has been creating emotional, melodic dance music since 2011. Releasing her music via LA-based label Not Not Fun and its sub-label 100% Silk, she’s been praised for her ability to incorporate an impressive mix of electronic styles while maintaining an identity of her own. Her latest album Histrionic, dropped at the end of April, and is the strongest and most confident of her releases. There’s a restless yet hypnotic quality to her sound; on Wolves & Lambs, she quotes Comte de Lautréamont, “I sought for a soul that might resemble mine / And I could not find it,” which perfectly conveys the empowering and self-exposed state she’s found and flourished in.
Visit her website to check out more.
5. Mariam The Believer
Mariam The Believer landed on the scene late last year when she released her electrifying debut Blood Donation on Moshi Moshi Records. Not that she’s a stranger to the industry – she’s one half of Swedish alt-pop duo Wildbirds & Peacedrums – but decided to break away from the setup to challenge her own relationship with music. The singer, real name Mariam Wallentin, has remarked that the record is about “learning how to give without demanding anything in return.” Characterized by tribal rhythms, marching drums, jazz inflections, her solo-project presents a possessed voice and a stark identity that reminds one of Karin Freijer Andersson aka Fever Ray, or Beth Gibbons of Portishead.
Visit her SoundCloud page to hear more.
6. Noname Gypsy
Noname Gypsy first made an impression on us with her captivating verse on Chance The Rapper’s melodic love song “Lost”. Born and raised in Chicago, the 22-year-old MC has been praised for her sharp lyrics, blunt delivery and emotive vocals. The track “Paradise” is the perfect introduction to her refreshing sound; it touches on her childhood and signals her ambition. In her own words, she’s stated that her goal is “to heal and inspire” and that she wants to be “a rapper who writes something that changes somebody.” Change indeed; the Chi-town poet is out to be an important voice for young women in hip hop and is certainly one to be taken seriously – by both fellow female rappers and her male counterparts. Her debut EP Telefone drops in the next months. Until then, her brand new offering “Take You Back” can be heard here.
7. Rainy Milo
Southeast Londoner Rainy Milo is creating music for and of the kids today. She’s been writing music, primarily on the bus and in her diary, about teenage London life since the age of 14. There’s a distinct English feel to her songs, which ooze confidence, attitude and unflinching honesty. Her debut album This Thing Of Ours was released at the start of the year and features the standout track “Rats“, which is about grimy London nightlife and relationships. Influenced by Pharrell and N.E.R.D, the 18-year-old singer-songwriter describes her music “as new-age R&B with jazzy vibes.”
Check out her SoundCloud page for more.
8. Throwing Shade
As a DJ, producer, and NTS Radio show host, London-based Throwing Shade’s no stranger to the industry – yet this year holds something quite new for her. Just a few weeks ago she released her EP 19 Jewels via No Pain In Pop. In a recent Dummy Mag interview she stated that this is the first time she’s employed “proper vocals” as it “helps to give my music more of a ‘pop’ feel.” As a graduate of ethnomusicology, a wide range of influences from all around the world has found its way into her music and her DJing, both live and on the radio. Acting as a happy medium between these two outlets, the EP contains a kaleidoscope of synths, percussions and wispy vocal hooks and has a distinctly London sound to it, with Nabihah Iqbal pushing her accent to ensure authenticity. Track “Sweet Tooth” is accompanied by a delicious video in which a handful of boys are covered in various sweets. Iqbal explains her decision: “You always see music videos full of hot girls, but it’s never the other way around… and if it is, it’s usually from a homoerotic point of view. I wanted to present boys in a sexual - albeit tongue-in-cheek - way, from a straight girl’s perspective.”
Visit her SoundCloud page to listen.
Another young female artist that’s making a name for herself in Chicago’s ever-growing hip-hop scene is Trinity Home, aka Tink. At 18, she’s already released four mixtapes and has come into contact with Future Brown and How To Dress Well, with HTDW commending her efforts on Twitter and stating he “had to jump on my favorite r&b song in a while.” There’s a stark duality to music with her ability to deliver particularly blunt raps as well as smooth R&B vocals. The classically-trained singer is inspired by ’90s R&B, hip hop, and her parents: her mother’s a gospel singer and her father’s a music producer who’s worked on the majority of her releases. Boss Up is a refreshing change of pace and showcases her precocious songwriting skills; her songs deal with love, faithfulness and heartbreak.
Download her mixtape Boss Up for free, here.
London-based singer Tirzah caught our attention during Micachu’s Boiler Room appearance in London last year. Dancing casually to her friend’s set, she grabbed a mic and performed her own track, (produced by Micachu), “I’m Not Dancing,” leaving everyone a little bewildered as to where this raw, ragged sound had come from. Bearing an appealing, unpolished style, the magic in Tirzah’s music lies in her ability to balance both grit and gleam. “I’m Not Dancing” may only be two minutes long but it exudes confidence that’s taking women in music to a whole new place altogether. In keeping with her more-is-less approach, she recently released her second EP No Romance via Greco-Roman; a 15-minute journey that’s equal parts alluring and idiosyncratic. With Micachu taking to production again, the EP has been described by the duo as their “emo” record, and its title track of the same name sees the London lady presenting her sharp understanding of texture and tone. Tirzah’s matter-of-fact attitude shines through unpredictable rhythms and edgy vocals and present her as a force to be reckoned with.
Visit her Facebook page for more.