Surely There Are More Females In Hip Hop Than Just Nicki Minaj?

It’s a question we have been wondering lately. When you turn on the TV, scour the internet, and even look for new music to download on iTunes or any music-sharing website or app, it is highly devoid of really great female rappers, rhymers, and hip hop artists.

In fact, when we think about how many female hip hop artists we can name, only one person comes to mind: Nicki Minaj. But surely she is not the only one out there making waves in the genre?

Surely there are more women in hip hop than who we see grinding on Drake and Lil’ Wayne in their music videos right?

We tracked down Aussie hip Hop superstar, and wife of soul singer and rapper Aloe Blacc (you know, the one who sings ‘ I Need A Dollar’), Maya Jupiter who has some solid thoughts on women in the biz.


We first met Maya many years ago in Australia as she was dubbed ‘the Queen of Aussie hip Hop’. She relocated to Los Angeles 5 years ago and has not looked back since, touring the States and the world and expanding her career.

The Turkish Mexican Australian artist got into hip hop at age 14 and was hooked right away. “I loved the ability to express yourself without the constraints of learning and instrument. Rap was like words on paper coming to life.”

Being a multicultural kid in a predominantly white society in Australia growing up, she was inevitably teased for “being different”. But being different became her signature thing and standing up for her unique-ness became her survival mechanism, and tied in with her burgeoning rap career.

As she started writing more and performing around Australia, she quickly became part of the Sydney hip Hop community which in turn became her family. She embraced that rap and hip hop was about sharing your story, and her story was her culture.

Soon after high school and college, the media came knocking on her door as she started getting noticed from her big personality and strong lyrics. She became a well-known radio personality at various stations, hosted music shows on popular cable network Channel [V], and also got involved with a few organizations teaching songwriting to at risk kids and youth.

Maya Jupiter_jumping

Her favorite part was teaching a course called ‘Hip Hop for the ladies’ at Sydney Youth Services which was a first of its kind, an outreach course. Her message to the ladies was not just to become famous or well-known for their music, but to use music as a tool for positive social change.

Now there’s an idea! When you think of female-driven rap or hip hop, you certainly don’t always think positive role models. You think of Lil Kim and her angst-driven lyrics, or Nicki Minaj and her kooky brand of pop/rap and role-playing. So are these women responsible for the downward spiral of female imagery in the genre, or is there more to it thean that?

For Maya, moving to Los Angeles in 2008 meant a realization of her own dreams. “I moved here to make the album of my dreams and was adopted by the local Chicano community and got involved in the underground hip hop scene. DJ Bean introduced me to Quetzal Flores and Martha Gonzalez who produced my album and opened up a new musical world of Son Jarocho.”

Her notion of what it meant to be a female hip hop artist expanded and made her reason for being in the industry all that more important. Carrying on the notion of her Sydney community being her family, Maya’s new “family” became the Chicano hip hop community in Los Angeles who echoed her ideas of music.


One artist in particular she looks to as a role model and icon of the LA-based hip hop scene is Medusa, who is often dubbed the Godmother of West Coast hip hop. It was important for Maya to have figures like Medusa to look up to as it is such a male-driven genre of music that is yet to achieve gender parity in the mainstream. Another huge female icon for Maya is activist/artivist Martha Gonzalez, who is a Chicana artivista, feminist music theorist and academic.

In fact, Maya lists of a whole bunch of hip hop artists during our interview, but sadly we don’t recognize any of the names. They are mostly underground artists, but that’s ok, as not everyone has to have a mainstream career.

“The underground scene is thriving with so many female artists like The (Sis)tem Crew, Anna Tijoux and Jean Grae who are highly regarded and respected, but they don’t necessarily cross over into the mainstream. I just wish the talent and diversity that exists in the underground hip hop scene was also reflected in the mainstream. “ she says enthusiastically.

Perhaps one of the reasons we don’t see a lot of big female names in the mainstream hip hop scene is because they aren’t labeled anymore.

“Genres were an idea created by record labels as marketing tools. Genres are disappearing these days as there is less need for labels in the traditional sense, and less physical record shops. It has become more pop than hip hop.”

Fuse TV recently wrote a list of emerging female rappers in an effort to show fans that there is more to hip hop that Nicki Minaj and her bubble butt. They found artists from countries like South Korea (CL), Australia (Iggy Azalea) and the UK (Shystie).

Maya Jupiter sees the need for more women in hip hop and rap, but strong women who don’t use their bodies just to get ahead. She says music is a form of self-expression, empowerment, a way to break down barriers and a way to work against the stereotype of what it means to be a woman in 2013.

“You don’t have to be overtly sexual to be feminine. Otherwise it just feeds back into the stereotype that our sexuality is the only thing we as women have to offer. “

“I see people like Lady Gaga and Beyonce wearing skimpy outfits on stage and it makes me ask ‘why? They are so talented they don’t need to do that!”

Maya’s message in her music is to share stories and show other women how to be comfortable in their own skin. “There is a need for more spaces where stories can be shared, where we hear a different narrative. These stories need to be shared for the purpose of growth as women and to make society a better place for us to exist in.”

Perhaps if Nicki Minaj, Azalea Banks etc used their platform to encourage women, as opposed to just using music as a way to bash each other and air their dirty laundry, there would be more appreciation and respect for women in hip hop.

In the meantime, Maya and husband Aloe Blacc both have albums coming out this October and will be going on the road. They are also embarking on another exciting project, having a baby girl due in a couple of months who will tour with them!

asha_maya asha_aloe

What are your thoughts on Women in Hip Hop? Do we need to see more diversity and more strong characters? Or do you think Nicki Minaj, Azalea Banks and Kreayshawn are a good representative for women in the biz?


  1. Well, of course! There are many female hep hop artist in he music industry and I love them all! I want to listen to their music forever!

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