The girlies leading the charge of femme rap in the country's creative capital.
Lagos is a city where radical shifts occur, where the most wildly creative manifestations of youth culture have come into full fruition, and where cultural barriers and archaic conventions have, oftentimes, gone to die. It only makes sense, then, that Lagos would be the city that has witnessed a rapid rise in Nigerian women rappers, all of whom are quickly destroying the notion that the rap world is the dominion of solely boys and men.
It is hard to pinpoint exactly where this fresh wave of emcees has come from. Most roads point to rapper DETO BLACK’s unforgettable verse on Odunsi (The Engine)’s “body count” in 2020, a phenomenon that shook the alté scene with its direct, relatable lyricism (“Don't catch feelings/boy, you no say I be savage”) and its bad bitch energy. Regardless of where they sprung from, one thing is abundantly clear: they have arrived, and they’re not leaving anytime soon. While these women rappers may not necessarily occupy the Nigerian mainstream, their impact is still colossal – because they challenge this very mainstream. With styles influenced by everything from y2k to hypebeast, backgrounds in everything from music to photography, and lyrics that speak to everything from heartbreak to explosive sex, these women are shifting conventional notions about just what and who makes Nigerian rap. What’s more, they are doing so entirely on their own terms, revolutionizing not just the landscape of Nigerian rap but also the very fabric of the Nigerian music industry. Here is a non-exhaustive list of just a number of the rap girls currently making the Lagos music scene sing.
This list would be glaringly incomplete without this sharp-witted emcee. Based in Lagos and London, 25-year-old Deto Tejuoso – more popularly known as DETO BLACK – has had a rapid trajectory. Following her introduction as an artist through her “body count” verse, DETO BLACK found herself suddenly catapulted to femme rap fame. Since then, she’s continued to use a firm reclamation of sexuality, commanding lyricism, sexy and aesthetically pleasing visuals, and spacey production to command her audience. In the space of two years, she’s been featured everywhere from Vogue Magazine to a freestyle with the infamous Skepta over Travis Scott’s “Franchise” instrumentals. The rapper recently dropped her debut EP, “Yung Everything”, an eclectic collection of tracks that speak to her range as an artist and her dedication to consistently shaking the room. What’s more, her passions extend past the realm of music: she’s also heavily involved in the worlds of creative direction, fashion, and film. For DETO BLACK, the only direction that her path is going is up.
brazy only stepped onto the scene back in January with her debut single “Siren”, but she’s come with an unrelenting force and has made sure to bring the whole rap game along with her. Born Anjola Odunsi, the rapper’s sound confidently rides the boundary between chill and sexy, with soothing, sugary production that envelops compelling trap beats. Her lyricism, too, makes you unsure as to whether you want to recline at a kickback, don your hottest outfit, or, perhaps, find somebody to make out with. (I mean, just listen to it: “Rich bitch shit but we not fucking to the top/pockets so heavy yeah you know they full of guap/pussy so wet, gotta eat it non-stop/pass me them pills, yeah you know we bout to pop”). As if being talented isn’t enough, she also seems insistently dedicated to championing other women in Lagos rap. Her track “Ari” is a femme rap anthem featuring heavyweights DEELA and T6lu, and she herself features on rapper L0LA’s chill banger “Siren.”Brazy simply does not have a bad tune and is already solidifying her position as a standout in Lagos rap.
ictooicy, real name Ifeanyi Chuku, is a 20-year-old with an astounding work ethic and her heart on her sleeve. To call her just a “rapper” would be a betrayal to the vast worlds that her music contains; she’s even resigned to calling herself “A Poet With A Flow.” Since her first single, “Runnin’ Runnin’” released in 2019, she has proved to be a musician with no regard for the status quo. Her music doesn’t subscribe to the boundaries of genre: her track “Serenity” is an alternative R&B number about love at first sight; “Feel Da Same” is reminiscent of Rico Nasty-brand Sugar Trap and “Cold in December” is a melancholic piano-backed ballad. She comprises a multitude of influences, and doesn’t forgo this part of herself for anyone. Intimacy also features heavily in her art, most notably in songs like “Die For You”, where she proclaims unending love for a nondescript individual. This openness and versatility have earned ictooicy a loyal following, granting her heavy streams on her most recent project “Sorry I Don’t Like Phone Calls.” ictooicy’s current legacy is a testament to the beauty – both artistic and otherwise – that comes from simply being yourself.
We would be remiss to forget our favorite Gemini. More than being a fashion icon or an esteemed graduate in Politics, History, & International Relations from Loughborough University, 22-year-old T6lu is also an explosive energy in this burgeoning femme rap scene. She has three official song appearances under her belt, all of which are unforgettable. Her verse on brazy’s “Ari” is seductive, cheeky and unfiltered, the final element of the iconic trifecta that made “Ari” the esteemed bop that it is. She and DEELA have also individually teamed up on DEELA’s recent track “Fit” with sharp, bold lyrics you’re bound to feel in your soul: “Pretty brownskin girl, you know these hoes is mad / best pussy out here, you better ask your dad.” Her debut single “Last Day Out” (which also features DEELA), is just as sexually commanding as her previous works, albeit with a beat that is more reminiscent of conventional trap bangers. While T6lu’s career has only just begun, there’s no doubt that she will make indelible waves in the Nigerian music industry in the months and years to come.
22-year-old Adetutu Aderogba, like her rap name promises, is all about that action. Her debut came this year in the form of an EP titled Sage Mode, where she adopts a sound best described as futuristic trap. ytaboutthataction’s beats are often interesting choices showcasing her impressive ear for production. Her songs are laced with lyricism that is both chill and assertive: “Don’t play me like I’m average / no fancy, I’m a savage.” Her debut single “Pill Head” and her second EP it’s not me, it’s you – both also released this year – continue in the same vein. On tracks from the EP like “goofy”, she calmly states over a chill trap beat: “Wish me bad, I wish you a heart attack / young nigga want smoke then I’m gonna get my strap.” (All the indulgent toxicity we would expect from a Scorpio!). As an artist, her energy and aesthetic are powerful and precise, packed with a strong combination of sweetness and unshakable assertiveness that create the yt that we know and love. This same combination has made her indispensable in the rising femme rap scene, and she is only progressing further.
Adeola Oni, aka DEELA, released her first official single back in 2020. While many of her contemporaries generally make rap in alternative, laid-back contexts, the British-Nigerian rapper slightly deviates. Instead, she opts for a consistently hard-hitting sound with a rapid-fire flow and tongue-twisting lyrics that hardly give listeners time to come up for air. Her music literally begs the question: Who dey breet? From her debut single “FINITO”, DEELA has shown her hand as a master emcee who is not to be doubted, promising, “Try me; you might get six feet beneath.” Her other work follows in the same vein, with tracks like “I GOT” from her debut EP DEELA, and her 2020 single “Bitch Boi” with its unique beat and clever bars like “These niggas are kids / I pay for their sitters / I swipe to the left / Reject them on Tinder.” This year, DEELA has upped the ante, releasing her first-ever full-length project DONE DEEL, and the mixtape reveals just how much her sound has evolved within a year. Songs like “Rolling Stones” and “Get a Grip” (her most famous tune), show her ability to ride a slower, chiller beat with exceptional skill. Tracks like “heart (interlude)” on the other hand, with its chill West Coast production and lyrics about heartbreak, display her artistic and emotional range. Undeniably, DEELA is a force in her field, and it is clear that she’s only just getting started.
Originally from Akwa Ibom state, SGaWD – also known as Seddy – is a woman of many influences. At 22, she’s lived everywhere from Lagos to Abuja to England to Miami, and her music is reflective of the varying nature of her homes. Her debut single, “Like Me”, is a smooth, classic R&B track about love, featuring Nigerian producer and artist Jess ETA. We don’t hear her rap until her second single, “Feel Right”, a neo-soul tune with calming vocals and a slow rap verse about love. “Whorephobia”, however, is a brash drill freestyle with all the huskiness and assertion expected from a Pop Smoke tune. With lyrics like “Niggas ain’t playin' no more / We’ll take anything just to shut down your door,” SGaWD wonderfully surprised listeners who were accustomed to bars like “Who’s gonna love you like me? Who’s gonna touch you like me?” Along with her performance on Siren Sessions, where she raps steadily over the instrumentals to Lil Kim’s “Lighters Up”, SGaWD has proven that she is an artist who the constraints of genre cannot contain. Her most recent single, “POPSHIT”, a buoyant track made alongside 21-year-old Nigerian artist SomaDina, takes us to the world of yet another genre and shows us that there really isn’t a thing that SGaWD can’t do.
Though incredibly fresh in the scene, L0la is not to be underestimated. Aside from being a trailblazer in Lagos fashion, L0la has also proven to be an undeniable force in contemporary Lagos rap. Her verse on her track “Siren” is sexy, smooth, and commanding, with bars like “Just cuz we’re friendly don’t mean you can be my next of kin.” On “pr<3tty&fun”, her first single, she revels in her affinity for cloud rap over a beat that’s equal parts moody and melodic and is filled with iconic lines such as, “Ion fuck with bitches and no scumbags / I keep my glizzy in my tote bag.” Along with her feature on Babyrix Burger’s “JPG” (which also features brazy), her current official discography is essentially pristine. Even her Soundcloud uploads, an electronic song called “Toothy” and a haunting acapella track titled “with u (2019)”, are essentials that convey the extent of her musical range. And with her newly-released “Drunk” with ytboutthataction – a song bound to catapult her already bustling career to a new level – the only way for this doll is up.
Words by Blossom Maduafokwa