Last year on International Women’s Day we took a moment to honor some of the phenomenal female musicians in our lives, women who inspire and astound us with their art. This year we’re at it again. But this time we’re digging a little deeper with our selections in the hopes of providing you with a few new favorite artists. We focused on the music that bumped in 2017, but in 2018 we’re more focused on the ways music can elicit power and the artists who embody it in challenging or unconventional ways. These fifteen female artists make us truly excited for the future.
This Stones Throw act on-the-rise hails from L.A., but traces her Afro-indigenous roots through her style and use of West African drum rhythms and Sudanese fiddlers. While Sudan Archives‘ voice looms authoritatively above this left-leaning beat music, feeling regal and somehow royal, her true weapon is the violin.
Montreal electronic producer Ouri makes adaptive, artful, non-restrictive dance music that’s robust with ideas, hardly ever settling on just one. Her solo material is evoative and absolutely fierce, but as a collaborator for other producers and vocalists (like CRi, Mind Bath and Forever) she’s established herself as a real force to be reckoned with.
Experimental sound architect Klein produces eerie, surreal tunes that deconstruct her identity as a British-Nigerian woman who grew up in very gospel, conservative household. Marked by samples, loops, noise, distortion and brief moments of melodic resolution, Klein’s music is the sound of her fighting back against the world around her.
Brooklyn musician Taja Cheek performs solo material as L’Rain, a four-piece band evolved from the debut record she recorded during a time of considerable grief and loss. L’Rain might be described as cerebral ambiance and supernatural post-punk that’s had a meteoric collision with free jazz. But it’s also useful to disregard genres or labels when listening to this music–gives it more room to breath and transfigure.
This 22-year-old Houston MC successfully balances her bourgeoning rap career with a full-time undergraduate education. Goals. We love everything about this hot new hip-hop diva.
Last year we danced our hearts out to Norwegian duo Smerz at Brooklyn’s Sunnyvale and realized the future of dance music (hint: it is very female). Each new effort they drop further complicates our idea of who they are and what they do as a band. It’s exciting as hell, and we are here for it.
London’s S4U are the most exciting R&B band we know. Frontwoman Rosita Bonita’s irresistible pop hooks adorn apocalyptic hip-hop beats, sampling the past to create an alien vision of the present. Each new tune released shares a whole distinct world of possibilities for this band. We are obsessed.
Formerly based out of NYC, Beijing-native artist Fishdoll fuses progressive beats and a defiant sense of experimentalism with serene R&B-pop vocals to balance out the sonic delirium. It’s a dynamic new sound, something vibrant, intoxicating, and truly out of this world.
Last year transgender rapper Quay Dash made the move from her native NYC overseas to London for the second stage of her growing rap career. Her essential 2017 Transphobic EP features beats from Sophie, Orlando, Celestial Trax and Clutch.
Opal Hoyt’s R&B guitar band Zenizen got its start in Australia, where she recorded her first three songs and debut EP. Zenizen were one of 2017’s hardest working bands, performing dozens of shows with a rotating lineup of musicians and Opal at its core. The unreleased songs she incorporates in her sets get us unbelievably hype for new recorded material.
We don’t have enough positive words for Diani Eshe. The teenaged rapper accomplishes a lot with very little on her debut EP, Troppus. It’s the rare kind of lo-fi rap tape that bears the true talent and limitless potential of its creator.
Maya Laner’s Brooklyn guitar project True Blue is entertaining af–wild, kooky and damn near unpredictable. She’s like the cool kid in high school who convinced you to join the drama club. Her zany bedroom pop isn’t wholly unique but it feels new and surprisingly funky, and we love her for it.
British jazz songwriter and tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia is one of the few female musicians leading a young new wave of jazz in South London. It’s clear that Nubya’s learned from the greats, but with her exceptional sax playing she brings something remarkable and fresh to the table.
Asmara has always been killing it, first as the female half of NGUZUNGUZU and now as a solo DJ/producer act. Her solo efforts so far have been lit, but we’re almost more excited by her mixes. Check out a smooth jazz cover of Rihanna‘s “Sex With Me,” at 14:50 on Asmara’s mix below.
You right, maybe we should cool it with Bbymutha… PSSHHH, PSYCH Y’ALL! Bbymutha is exploding right now, but we won’t stop plugging this bitch until she gets some Cardi B-level notoriety. Ya heard? Bump some of our favorite selections from this Tennessee rapper who also slays as a mother of four with two sets of twins.