The 10 Best Female Rappers In K-Pop
It's not just guys who spit fire
Rappers in K-pop often get a bad rap. From being called “sell outs” to not real rappers, many outsiders may believe that K-pop does not have any good rappers. Obviously, as you can likely guess from the title of this article, this is untrue.
Beyond this, while most girls groups have a rapper, companies often will assign the role to a member whose vocal quality is lesser than the other members. This person may or may not have a talent for rap, or they may simply have a unique voice that works well for speaking or slowed down parts.
Many female rappers in K-pop groups are relegated to rapping in a baby voice or cutesy tones that simply 1). Are not their natural voice 2). Do not really sound like rap 3). Do not honor the true art form. 4). Is somewhat misogynistic considering male rappers (regardless of talent) are almost never reduced to cutesy parts
I cannot really blame the individual rappers for this as it is their companies who assign them these roles without adequately training them in rap. In my opinion, K-pop companies need to teach their rappers about the way to create flows, cadences, various forms of wordplay, and the history behind the formation of and rise in popularity of rap.
When I first became a K-pop fan, I immediately found many talented male rappers I enjoyed: Suga, Jay Park, Epik High, Zico, RM, J-Hope, Changbin, Mark Lee, etc. As I started to get into more girl groups, I realized that I tended to bias rappers. It was not until I found EXID that I truly biased a girl group. You'll likely see why later.
I would like to preface that there are examples of idols who perhaps did not have rapping ability coming in, but have been fairly well taught. In some, you can see their rap improve throughout their career. A few examples of idols like this (in my opinion) include: Lisa (Blackpink), Lucas (NCT), Jackson (GOT7), and J-Hope (BTS).
You can be taught to rap. Though, you typically need a sense of rhythm (most of the people I listed above auditioned as and/or the main dancers in their groups). However, especially when it comes to female idols, companies want to maintain femininity and cute concepts rather than teach true rap techniques.
There is nothing wrong with cute concepts and they can certainly include rap, but groups do not HAVE to have a rapper to be successful (i.e. TXT). So, K-pop companies, teach rap right, or don't have rappers.
With that said, there ARE talented rappers and certain group concepts that make K-pop companies more comfortable *eyeroll emoji* with having female idols truly rap. Beyond that, the industry is beginning to move forward and more and more talented female rappers are becoming successful. The fourth generation of K-pop already has some strong female rappers (that I have not included on this list) such as Giselle (Aespa), Yuna (Itzy), and Dayeon (Kep1er).
Let's take a look at some of the most iconic, recognized, talented, and must listen to female K-pop rappers.
#1: Soyeon (G-Idle)
While this list is not a ranking of who I think is best, or who is my favorite, Soyeon IS my favorite female rapper in K-pop right now. She literally made me change my sexuality (kidding, but also not). Her fastest rap on record is 8.3 syllables per second, which is among the fastest in the industry for a woman.
She also writes much of her own and her group's music, showing that she understands the way rap is written and structured. Her style and voice are so distinct it is impossible not to recognize her. While a fourth generation rapper, she will definitely go down as one of the best in K-pop.
#2: CL (Former 2NE1, Soloist)
CL was one of the first female rappers to truly become popular within K-pop. To many, she's already a legend and due to mistreatment by her former company has not been super active in the last few years. She even performed at the Seoul Olympics without the support of her company and put everything together herself and with her personal team. Thankfully that changed in 2019 when she left her company and has since released an album. Not only is she incredibly talented, but she is one of the hardest working people in the Korean music industry.
#3: LE (EXID)
LE--like many male rappers--started on the underground scene. Originally compared to CL in her early career, she now serves as a mentor to many other young female artists and artists. She famously taught Hyuna to rap and is rumored to have mentored Soyeon as well. LE is also a talented songwriter and has written for other artists as well as herself and her group. LE was one of the first female rappers I stumbled upon in K-pop and she remains one of my favorites.
#4: Jessi (Soloist)
The US-born Jessi is changing up what rap looks like for K-pop. Having never belonged to the group and having faced misogynistic criticisms towards her more risque style and personality (both personally and in her rap), Jessi continues to thrive. Since joining Psy's company, Jessi has absolutely thrived and has put out hit after hit.
#5: Dami (Dreamcatcher)
I was not super familiar with Dreamcatcher until recently. As I was watching the Boca music video, Dami's part in the first minute absolutely captured my attention. Her rap is fantastic and has a unique feel to it. As I researched more into it, Dami is one of the top up and coming female rappers in K-pop and is beginning to gain a lot of attention for her natural skill and charisma.
#6: Hyuna (Former Wonder Girls, Former 4Minute, Soloist)
I mentioned Hyuna earlier because LE helped her solidfy her rap skills. However, Hyuna deserves a place on this list because she is naturally talented and picked it up well. Now, she is able to incorporate it however she likes and is a legend in the K-pop industry for a reason. While she may not be a rapper in the traditional sense, she's versatile and can use rap in an artistic and creative way.
#7: Youngji (Soloist)
I was first introduced to Youngji when she featured on Soyeon's solo album. She is young and got her start on the third season of a show called High School Rapper. She ended up winning and has worked with many artists since as well as put out her own music. Youngji shows a lot of promise and as the youngest on this list is already making herself a force in the industry. She obviously understands rap and is unafraid to make herself unappealing to a mainstream audience to be successful. With that said, it looks like she certainly will not need to worry about that as she is already beginning to play international shows.
#8: Yezi (Former Fiestar, Soloist)
Yezi is fairly new to me. The former Fiestar member and semi-finalist on Unpretty Rapstar has worked with many big names in the industry. Listening to her songs makes it evident that she is uber talented and deserves a place on this list. She released her second solo album last year and I hope will get the opportunity to earn more of a global following.
#9: Jennie (Blackpink)
A member of the absolute megolith girl group, Blackpink, Jennie is a true all rounder when it comes to talent. Not only can she sing and dance, her rap is of a high level as well. While she isn't the main rapper of her group, she has shown off her skills in her solo work. Many may question why I included Jennie and not Lisa, in my opinion, the only reason Jennie doesn't rap more is simply because she has such a good singing voice. Jennie does get to rap in many Blackpink songs and shows that femininity and rap do not have to be seperate concepts.
#10: Yoon Mi-rae (Former Uptown, MFBTY, Soloist)
Yoon Mi-rae is the only first generation rapper on this list, but she is also credited with opening up rap to women in K-pop. She helped popularize rap within the genre. Not only that, but she is half African American, making rap a major part of her culture. Mi-rae truly helped change K-pop for the better and made it She and her husband (also a well known and successful rapper) now are also mentoring Bibi and other artists.
11: Moonbyul (Mamamoo)
Moonbyul is unique because she never intended to be a rapper. She originally auditioned as a vocalist, but since she was placed in a group with four other extremely strong vocalists, her company gauged her interest in rap. Not only did Moonbyul essentially teach herself how to write and perform raps, she was extremely good at it.
Lisa is another female artist that successfully learned to rap. Originally focused on dancing, Lisa had to truly practice and learn her rapping. However, due to her good sense of rhythm, hard working nature, and talent, she is now one of the most successful rappers in K-pop. This is only further proven by her successfuly solo debut last year.
Sunmi (Former Wonder Girls, Soloist)
Sunmi is primarily a vocalist. However, she can rap and does occasionally. With that said, her raps are more rhythmic and focus much more on word play than rhythm. However, she writes them herself and while she may not be as fast as some of the counterparts on this list, she does obviously understand the cadence and artistry behind it.
Bibi--as mentioned earlier--is a mentee of Yoon Mi-rae. While not primarily a rapper, her hip hop music does occasionally involve rap. She has a darker sound and concept and it is something that K-pop has not really seen before. While still towards the beginning of her career, Bibi is almost certain to be successful and already has a pretty large and dedicated fanbase.
Hyoyeon (Former Girl's Generation, GOT, Soloist)
In my opinion, Hyoyeon gets overlooked a lot. She is a talented rapper and vocalist and gets to show off her rap skills in the new multi-generational group, GOT. She is quite fast and has the charisma to go behind her energetic rapping style. While rap isn't all she does, she is good at it and does not get enough credit for it.