Make way for Filipina Rappers
This International Women’s Month, we’re paying tribute to Filipino femcees.
Much has been said about the hip-hop industry and its treatment of women, but with time comes growth and progress. Recent years have seen several Filipina rappers break the glass ceiling of a male-dominated industry, solidifying their names, crafting a solid fanbase, and producing fire discographies.
And while today’s majority will still reference the Gloc 9s or the Al James of the world, girl power is definitely on the uptick if we’re going by the names on this list. With their continued influence, thinking that the future is female is not unreasonable.
If you’re in the mood to celebrate Women’s Month with us, peep at our picks for the best Filipina rappers right now, along with a custom playlist below.
Our faves: “Baddest MF” “Edi Wag” “Xxxstacy”
Zae Zacarias’ music screams “I’m going for your throat.” “Baddest MF” is #PinoyPride with a female touch, and “Edi Wag” is perfect for anyone who’s tired of their haters. There is no shortage of girl boss energy from Zae, who’s also capable of showing her softer side as proven by “Xxxstacy”.
Our faves: “Pick Up” “Indigo Haze” “Loml”
“It’s the Illest, baby,” says Angelica Layague, aka Illest Morena. Besides that catchy outro, Illest hooks listeners with chill beats and her effortless ability to transition from Tagalog to English while tackling themes of love and relationships. Whether it’s the honeymoon obsession in “Pick Up” or the dreaminess of “Loml”, Illest Morena has a track for every temperament.
Our faves: “Yakap” “Dime Girls” ”mind as a weapon”
We’ve already said tons about the insane talent of our Complex Council member, Thursten Alex Bruce. But it never ceases to amaze us that the 16-year-old Bruce dominated the stage as a 13-year-old rap prodigy.
As she grew up before our eyes, so did her music. “mind as a weapon” was the obligatory “I’ve arrived and I’m a badass” track, while “Dime Girls” and “Yakap” felt closer to her sentiments as a growing teen. Through it all, we stand amazed like it was Day 1.
Our faves: “Sige” “Ulap”
The criticisms against SLIZ’s voice baffle us. Were haters expecting an Al-James baritone from the diminutive 18-year-old? Plus, all artists have their signature flair. Crooning about the whimsical feelings in life suits SLIZ’s unique vocals and her intended audience just fine.
Our faves: “Cebuana Luv” “Real Good”
Sex positivity is one of the things that come to mind with Dhyana Mitta. In a highly conservative country, that’s bound to raise eyebrows, but the Cebuana rapper isn’t one to shy away from pushing against the boundaries set by society. Dhyana is also a big name in the surging Bisdak music industry, which diversifies Filipino hip-hop culture as a whole.
Our faves: “Fuck It (I’m In Love Again)” “YUH” “ELMNT”
SHNTI and her music won’t be out of place in “Chill Beats to Study To” – that’s a compliment; we’re hooked on that thing to this day. Even when she’s talking smack with “ELMNT”, the vibe is immaculate. But try having “Fuck It” or “Best Life” playing on repeat during a 2 AM drive. Make room for us in the back.
Our faves: “Gising na Gising” “Moment to Breathe” “Mariposa”
“Moment to Breathe” is so underrated, it makes our blood boil. That’s ironic since the single is about trying to find serenity in the midst of life’s chaos. Peaceful Gemini’s charm lies in her songs that tackle today’s sensibilities. “Mariposa” is about morena pride, while “Gising na Gising” finds contentment in one’s hustle when unhealthy comparisons are aplenty.
DB Tha Girl
Our faves: “Filakilla” “Mariposa” “Waking Up”
Like her co-artist Peaceful Gemini on “Mariposa,” DB Tha Girl is about touching on Filipina pride and everyday concerns and triumphs. “Waking Up” has a special place in our hearts for its relaxing, island-inspired visual.
Miss A & Fateeha (Morobeats)
Our faves: “Wit Tha Funk” “KAYUMANGGI” “FLY HIGH”
It says a lot about the talent of this sibling duo when they can effortlessly transition between the hard-hitting social commentary of “Islamophobia” and the carefree feelings of “FLY HIGH“. Miss A & Fateeha are opening eyes to the talent beyond the usual Manila-dominated scene, and we’re excited for what’s to come.
Our faves: “Us” “Taking Names”
We can’t end this list without including Ruby Ibarra. The Filipino-American rapper is unafraid to tackle themes of colonial injustice, immigration, and color discrimination, even among fellow Filipinos. Ibarra’s lyrics cut deep, embodying hip-hop’s origins of being an artistic way to speak out on important social issues.