Brendan Whitt


Blought #13: Nicki-opoly

Finding a generally popular female rap artist is like finding a black republican. It isn’t impossible but it is fairly difficult. When I say generally popular I mean a female emcee who can come off as appealing to a wide range of Hip-Hop fans. When Hip-Hop evolved from mainly just Dj’s to emcees actually spitting bars, women had a say so as well. Emcees like Queen Latifah and MC Lyte were spreading socially conscience rhymes with a feminist view.

When the mid 90’s rolled in artists like Lil Kim, Missy Elliot, Da Brat, Trina, Eve and Foxy Brown all fought for their shine and the title of Queen of Hip-Hop. One by one they each began to fall off into obscurity. Da Brat and Foxy Brown quickly lost all traction and relevancy, Lil Kim and Trina stayed afloat until the mid 2000’s leaving Missy Elliot to claim the crown of Queen of Hip-Hop.

If you’ve read Blought, #9 ‘Damn, Shit Done Changed’, you heard the idea that over time Hip-Hop fans have forgotten or shunned previous generations. This past February Katie Perry performed during the Super Bowl XLIX halftime show. Perry brought out the previous Queen of Hip-Hop Missy Elliot. Teenagers who are too young to remember Elliot and her slew of hits questioned who she was and even suggested Katie Perry would help her blow up… Really?

Unlike the 90’s, today’s female Hip-Hop scene is completely ruled by Nicki Minaj. Although Missy Elliot arguably won her era there was still an even playing field. With Nicki and her peers, it isn’t even close.

Before I get into nicky (8insert sly grin) let’s look at a list of her closest competition; Iggy Azalea, Azealia Banks, No Name Gypsy, Dej Loaf, Tink and Dreezy. So let’s rank each of these beautiful women individually shall we?

Before I get into my rankings allow me to list my criteria:

  • Album sales and mixtape downloads
  • Charts (Hot 100, Billboard 200, and my own “urban music aggregate” which is the average between the US R & B\ Hip-Hop chart and US Rap chart)
  • Twitter followers (Social media is extremely important for an artist’s reach and Twitter is probably the most engageable social network) and,
  • My girlfriend’s opinion (She’s a female listener and gave honest answers)

6. No Name Gypsy:
Personally my favorite emcee on the list. Her social media following is relatively low with only 27k Twitter followers. Her only notable features are with fellow Chicagoan Chance the Rapper. Her mixtapes aren’t on Datpiff which is a negative. If you aren’t an underground fan or like Jazz infused poetry Hip-Hop then you probably won‘t enjoy her music.

5. Dreezy:
 I like her style. Dreezy brings a tough yet feminine touch to Chicago Drill music while showing off lyrical ability.  She only has 44k followers but as a general new comer that’s pretty good. Unfortunately she sounds a bit like Nicki Minaj which is a comparison surely to kill you off in the long run. If she can work on her delivery and switch up her cadence a bit maybe she can avoid those comparisons.

4. Tink: Another Chicago emcee like Dreezy and No Name, she’s a little more versatile. First off she has a co-sign from mega producer Timbaland who also played a huge part in Missy’s career. She has singing ability which is something that has helped Nicki evolve into a Hip-Hop goddess. She has released six mixtapes over the past three years. Two of which are available on Datpiff’s site (Winter’s Diary 2 had 50k downloads while 3 had only 25k downloads). She was even named to the XXL Freshman Class of ‘15. Her lead single Million off of her debut studio album Think Tink charted # 1 on the Billboard under 100 and #41 on the US R&B chart (it wasn’t a rap single but being able to sing helps overall like I said in Nicki’s case). Tink also has 179k Twitter followers.

3. Azealia Banks:
Her debut  EP 1991 was highly praised and peaked at #133 on the Billboard Hot 200 while it’s Urban aggregate was #14. Her next release was a free download titled Fantasea which also garnered high praise. It was available on Datpiff but was taken down. I’m sure it’s downloads were between 50K and 100k.Her Twitter follower count is 562k. Sadly between Fantasea and Broke with Expensive Taste Banks had several foot in mouth incidents including using the gay f-word. She also took too long between releases (28 months)  and in this ADD society that is a huge no-no. (Don’t forget the sentiments from Blought #9).

2. Dej Loaf:
A Detroit native and XXL Class  of’ 15 Freshman, Loaf released four mixtapes over the past three years. Her breakout single Try Me peaked at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100 and ranked #10 for my urban aggregate. Her most recent Mixtape Sell Sole reached 100k downloads on Datpiff. Her EP #AndSeeThatsTheThing failed to chart. Lucky for her she has a the ability to be a good feature artist which is a good way to make a career nowadays with digital sales. Her best feature was on Kid Ink’s Be Real which peaked at #43 on Billboard’s Hot 100 and a #10 urban aggregate. She has less followers than Banks at 288k, but she also toured with Nicki which turned out to be great exposure for her.

1. Iggy Azalea:
Iggy is a clear runaway for the best female emcee behind Nicki Minaj. She’s signed to TI’s Grand Hustle which is the ultimate co-sign. Her debut album The New Classic took a year to sell 500k and has been certified Gold. Her Billboard 200 peak was #3 with an urban aggregate of #1. Iggy's hit Fancy reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart making her only the fourth solo female rapper ever to top the Hot 100. Iggy was also featured on Ariana Grande's single "Problem" which peaked at #2 on the Hot 100 behind Fancy. This makes Iggy the only artist besides The Beatles to hold the #1 and #2 spots simultaneously with their first two Hot 100 hits. Iggy also passed Lil' Kim as the the longest leading Billboard Hot 100 #1 single for a female rapper. Her 2015 tour that was later cancelled due to scheduling and supporting act constraints, had more ticket sales than the Foo Fighters during the same period. Her 5.9 million Twitter followers doesn't hurt her cause.

Here is why Nicki has such a strong hold on the Queen‘s Thrown. First off  she can really rap. She’s sold almost four million albums through four major releases. She can also sing just well enough to make pop hits when needed and she’s attractive Sorry feminists. That is an unfortunate criteria. She’s a woman and sex sales.

Finally she’s her own brand. Nicki has her own Barbie, several endorsements with brands like Mac cosmetics and Pepsi and she has a 3% equity stake in Jay-Z’s acquired Music streaming service Tidal. Not to mention she has been said to be active as an artist since 2004. Most of her competition has been active since 2008 which gives her a four year jump. If any of these other artists want a sniff of her thrown, they have to first follow her lead.