Putting together a list of Asian rappers in the early 2000s would’ve been a huge challenge, let alone one of Asian female rappers. Thankfully, throughout this past decade, things drastically changed for the better, and we’ve witnessed the rise of some iconic, incredibly talented and empowering female Asian MCs who are here to break stereotypes and change the game forever. Here’s just five awesome ladies you should be listening to:
Awkwafina is a 29 year-old Chinese-Korean rapper from Queens, New York, who has changed every industry she’s stepped foot in, from music to TV and comedy. She’s unapologetically herself and has fun with every catchy song and lyric she produces, which is why we can have her to thank for songs like “My Vag” and lyrics like “My vag a Beyonce weave” and “My vag — Harvard Law School.” If that hasn’t made you love her already, you should know Awkwafina is also set to star in the new Ocean’s 11 movie. Yes, she’s that cool.
2. HeeSun Lee
Here’s a Korean-American Christan hip-hop singer who is not here to mess around. HeeSun Lee is not here to sugarcoat anything, and she’s most certainly not afraid to call out the stereotypes and misogyny women still face in today’s society. She’s inspiring an important conversation with lyrics like “Stereotypes rather have me just doing dishes / But the flow and the skills just prove different” and “I’m here to change it up a bit, I’m hoping I can strengthen them (female rappers) / Hoping to put length in them so more ladies will step on in / And make a difference once ‘n’ for all, tired of us blending in.”
Haniely Pableo’s life changes when she attended a poetry workshop in Canada. She was a Filipino immigrant working as a nurse there when she discovered her passion for writing poems, which she’d later translate into the rap songs we know her for today. Addressing topics such as immigration and her struggles as a Filipino in Canada, Tagalog, and Cebuano, HanHan creates music that other young Filipino immigrants can relate to.
Perhaps one of the biggest female Korean rappers, CL, a 27 year old Seul-born artist, made a name for herself when she split from K-pop group 2ne1, which she was the leader of. She signed a label deal with Scooter Braun, and has since collaborated with Diplo and G-Dragon, producing catchy, feel-good music about female empowerment.
Hailing from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Suboi has been dubbed “Queen of Hip Hop” in Vietnam after gaining fame at 15 when she posted a cover of a Linkin Park song. Despite the censorship laws in Vietnam and artists’ fear of upsetting the government with their lyrics, she’s managed to gain a lot of fans and rise to the top of the country’s music industry. When Obama visited Vietnam in 2016, during his presidency, Suboi rapped at one of his town hall style meetings with young Vietnamese people. The rap was about stereotypes of rapping not being for women. Needless to say, she’s changing that mentality.
Featured photo credits: intothegloss.com/2017/04/awkwafina-beauty/