5 Rising Rappers Who Are Busting Up Hip-Hop's Boys' Club

Patrick Crowley

For the past decade, rap radio has been a boys’ club (barring, of course, Nicki and Iggy) — but thanks to the creativity and swagger of these buzzy MCs, that’s all about to change.

22, from Chicago

Breakthrough: ​An assist from fellow Windy City native Jeremih boosted 2016 single “Body” onto the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 62.
Co-Signs: Most recently, J. Cole: “He told me he liked my album [No Hard Feelings, released in July],” says Dreezy. “Plus, he gave me some good feedback.”
People Don't Know...: “If I tell you, then everybody’s going to know!” says the rapper — though she does offer her biggest influences: Lil Wayne and Kanye West.
What's Next: The Interscope signee is already in the studio with Atlanta producer Southside to work on her upcoming album.

24, from Oakland, Calif.

Breakthrough: Following buzzy debut A Good Night in the Ghetto, Kamaiyah is rising on the Hot 100 as a guest (alongside Drake) on YG’s “Why You Always Hatin’?”
Co-Signs: Besides Drizzy and YG, Bay Area legend E-40 and hitmaker Travis Scott (inset) are both Kamaiyah advocates.
People Don't Know...: “I’m afraid of the dark,” says the MC, despite her mixtape’s nocturnal title and the fact she used to work around the clock as a security guard.
What's Next: While opening for YG this fall, Kamaiyah (who’s on Interscope) also is readying her follow-up mixtape. “I’m still figuring it out,” she says.

Age unknown, from Brooklyn

Breakthrough: The mysterious ski-masked crusader came on the scene in 2014 with seasonal jam “F— the Summer Up,” and has since signed to RCA.
Co-Signs: Jay Z added “Summer” to his first Tidal playlist, while Diplo and Skrillex invited the rapper onstage at Electric Daisy Carnival.
People Don't Know...: “Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of my favorite bands,” she says. Of her age, 47 adds, “It’s only relevant at the bar, and I don’t drink.”
What's Next: “Work is always next,” says Leikeli47, who’s planning her debut full-length for this winter after releasing singles “Money” and “Girl Gang.”

Lady Leshurr
27, from Birmingham, England

Breakthrough: Leshurr’s spitfire “Queen’s Speech Ep. 4” freestyle went viral in 2015, earning 32 million YouTube views and placement in a Samsung spot.
Co-Signs: Everyone from Erykah Badu (“Ill,” she wrote on Facebook) to Timbaland to Akon have declared themselves fans.
People Don't Know...: “I absolutely love salmon — I need people to know,” jokes Leshurr, who’s more likely to rap about fish than f—s. The grime star doesn’t curse.
What's Next: Her debut, Queen of the Scene, is due in early 2017 on RCA, where she signed this spring. “It’s going to show people what I’m about,” says the MC.

Young M.A
24, from Brooklyn

Breakthrough: “Ooouuu,” M.A’s second single with Duck Down Music, is pushing 7 million plays on Spotify and is No. 17 on Billboard’s Rap Airplay chart.
Co-Signs: While Jadakiss and Swizz Beatz have been supportive of M.A’s work, it was 50 Cent who put the MC on his infamous Instagram — twice.
People Don't Know...: “I played on a football team,” says M.A, who grew up in Bed-Stuy (best known for producing The Notorious B.I.G. and Jay Z).
What's Next: While M.A’s debut album, Herstory (to be distributed by Duck Down), is in the works, expect both an EP and her first national tour in the meantime.

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 17 issue of Billboard.