2017 was a banner year for female rappers, as Cardi B became the first female rapper to have a solo No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in almost 20 years and Rapsody released an album that would go on to be a best rap album nominee at the Grammys. There was even a high-profile rap beef between Remy Ma and Nicki Minaj that briefly dominated headlines.
Will 2018 be as fortunate for female MCs? Judging by the artists who have appeared so far this year on the Pandora Predictions Chart and Pandora Trendsetters Chart, two charts by data analytics company Next Big Sound that track up-and-coming artists, it’s looking very likely.
The Pandora Predictions Chart uses social growth to forecast the rising artists who are most likely to make their debut on the Billboard 200 albums chart in the next year, while the Trendsetters Chart is the list of the highest performing up-and-coming artists based on their rate of weekly artist station adds on Pandora. Charts are updated every Friday on Next Big Sound and every Tuesday on Billboard.
Over the past couple of months, there has been no shortage of female rappers on the two charts. And considering these charts have previously been home to Dua Lipa, Khalid and more, it’s a good bet that they’re headed for mainstream success.
Below are five female rappers who have appeared on the charts so far this year:
Currently at No. 18 on the Predictions Chart is Dallas-born rapper Cuban Doll, who also goes by Aaliyah Keef, a mash-up of the two musical legends that inspired her December 2017 mixtape of the same name. (“Aaliyah is my cute side and she a legend, and Keef is my favorite rapper,” she told Noisey last year.)
Apparently, the combination is a successful one. In the roughly three months since Aaliyah Keef’s release, Cuban Doll has added more than 270,000 followers on Instagram and seeded over 370,000 spins on Pandora. She’s currently seeing over 1,200 Pandora artist station adds per week, which means it could be just a matter of weeks until she moves over to the Pandora Trendsetters Chart.
Rising Maryland rapper Rico Nasty has gotten the hip-hop world hooked on her unique brand of what she calls sugar trap. The 20-year-old born Maria Kelly made a name for herself in 2017 thanks to the release of two mixtapes — Tales of Tacobella and Sugar Trap 2 — and a handful of high-profile features.
In April, she was featured on Lil Yachty’s Fate of the Furious track “Mamacita,” and a few months later, “Poppin” — which would go on to appear on Sugar Trap 2 — appeared an episode of HBO’s buzzy comedy Insecure.
That buzz hasn’t died down and only got stronger after the release of her single “Smack a Bitch,” which helped Rico debut on the Predictions Chart in January.
Chicago native Cupcakke got the rap world talking in 2015 with raunchy tracks like “Vagina” and “Deepthroat,” but it’s her more introspective latest album, Ephorize, that’s getting her some more serious attention.
Since self-releasing Ephorize on Jan. 5, Cupcakke’s army of fans — who call themselves Slurpers — has grown rapidly, adding over 30,000 followers on Instagram, seeing around 50,000 visitors to her Wikipedia page and seeding over 180,000 spins on Pandora. She’s currently seeing over 1,100 artist station adds per week too.
San Francisco native Sam McDonald entered the hip-hop world battle rapping under the name Oh Blimey but recently changed her name and changed direction to a more radio-friendly sound. Her biggest hit so far in this new phase? “Come Correct,” a collaboration with Seattle MC Gifted Gab. (More on her below).
The power of “Come Correct” has been formidable. Month-over-month, she’s seen a 700 percent increase in Pandora spins and a 4,000 percent boost in artist station adds. On social media, she’s added well over 25,000 fans on Facebook, as well as more than 5,000 followers on Twitter. She made her Predictions debut on the Feb. 9-dated chart.
Not to be confused with Bay Area rapper The Gift of Gab, Gifted Gab is the only female member of Seattle rap collective Moor Gang. She’s been hailed as one of the most promising rappers in the Emerald City for a while, but it’s only recently that she’s gained more mainstream attention, with the release of the aforementioned “Come Correct.”
In the past month, Gab has added over 23,000 fans on Facebook and 6,000 followers on Twitter. She made her debut on the Predictions Chart alongside collaborator Blimes Brixton on Feb. 9.