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Why women in rap have been the real stars of lockdown

The pandemic has created a major shift for the music industry, but one thing that’s seen a positive response has been streaming numbers – not least for women in rap, according to data from global music streaming service Deezer.

02 Oct 2020

Supported by Deezer

UK rap has been a driving force behind the notable shift in the landscape of Black British music in the last couple of years. The spectrum of Black sounds, which have only recently become embraceable to significant media markets and outlets, show in our streaming habits, allowing us to reflect on what we’re listening to. From grime to drill to garage, Black authenticity in music has allowed the revolution of our culture to reign supreme at the top of the charts in the UK – and it’s also starting to get more recognition globally.

Most UK rap playlists at the moment are dominated by the likes of Stormzy, Headie One, Davemen have always been at the forefront of rap and unfortunately will continue to be, thanks to the men in the industry who have supported them through thick and thin. But there’s definitely been a rising number of women rappers in the UK scene in the past few years. And, according to global music streaming service Deezer’s official data figures, there’s been a 16% increase in women users listening to rap – especially rap by women artists.

“There’s been a 16% increase in women users listening to rap – especially rap by women artists”

So why exactly are femme streaming users enjoying women in rap now more than ever before? With women rappers banding together to support each other instead of beefing, there’s arguably a current sense of unity, which encourages their women fanbases and listeners to do the same. Even with the effects of the pandemic temporarily bringing the music industry to a halt, many rappers like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion have continued to lead the revolution with tracks like ‘WAP’. Since March, according to data from Deezer, there has been a 6% spike of women listening to rap music compared to the month prior where the percentage for men grew by 4%. 

When you think about the various music trends that have been utilised during the lockdown, from TikTok’s dance challenges to Instagram becoming a virtual stage for artists to perform, how we now absorb music has arguably broken the relationship barrier between the artist, the music and us as the consumers. Doja Cat, for example, saw a 458% increase in UK streams on Deezer within the last year (September 2019-20), after her hit ‘Say So’ became a viral sensation. With the ability to directly access music at the click of any button, these trends have created an extra dimension that not only reinforces but reinvents the creativity of streaming. 

“Plausibly, our streaming habits, especially amongst women, have increased as some would say we are seeking comfort to guide us through this time”

During this current climate, Black people across the globe are uniting together to fight the unlawful racial injustices against us. Plausibly, our streaming habits, especially amongst women, have increased as some would say we are seeking comfort to guide us through this time. As an avid music listener (who is also a proud and honourable barb), I’ve found myself embracing the women in the UK rap scene more. Whenever I needed a moment to be empowered and embrace who I am, I was streaming the likes of Ivorian Doll, Shaybo and Little Simz, all of whom make rap across a variety of styles. I feel it’s important and a duty of care of mine as a Black woman to help push the streaming numbers of UK women in rap.

Some could also argue that the impacted success of African-American women rappers topping streaming charts has influenced our own homegrown talent to follow suit. As seen via Deezer’s streaming data, east London artist Bree Runway – whose work spans a multitude of genres, including rap – saw the most impactful increase amongst women in UK rap with a 211% rise from September 2019 to September 2020. All in all, this means that amongst UK streamers, the scene has become more accepting, allowing artists like Bree to conquer.

For those of you looking to listen to a playlist that caters to the excellence that the UK scene has to offer right now, Deezer has recruited three of the UK’s most powerful women in rap to deliver three refreshing playlists. Joining the Certified series, Ms Banks, Nadia Rose and Bree Runway have partnered with the streaming service to bring a new level of freshness and give you a glimpse into what they’re currently vibing to.