Asian Female Rappers to Watch

Apr 21, 2019 | Asia, Pop

Style & Culture

by Conie T

Hansun Lee

Meet the Top female Asian artists who broke into the Global Rap Game

Hip-Hop and rap music has been dominated by male artists over the years. But unlike before, female rappers are rapidly gaining global recognition.

It is a different story for female Asian rappers. It is challenging to be recognized outside of their country in the rap genre. However, their gradual rise to stardom can be accredited to the ongoing “Asian invasion” happening in many parts of the world (whether in the world of theater, arts, and music).

That said, there are many Asian artists truly deserve a big break on the international scene. Some already did and are currently making waves in the music world, which is good news especially among proud Asian fans. Here are some of the best Asian female rappers and hip-hop artists you should check out:

1. Awkwafina

Nora Lum, also known by her stage name Awkwafina, is a 29-year old rapper and comedienne of Chinese and Korean descent. She was born and raised in New York to a Chinese father and a South Korean mother. Her paternal grandfather owns the Lum’s restaurant in Queens, New York.

She was heavily influenced by classical and jazz music back in high school. She took the stage name “Awkwafina” when she was 16 to represent her quiet and passive side when she was still a student.

Lum began her musical career at 13. Years after, she released a song called “My Vag”, which garnered more than four million views on YouTube. Sources say it was because of this track that she got fired from her job.  Her other released tracks include “Yellow Ranger” and “NYC Bitche$”.  Aside from her musical career, she starred in several Hollywood films including “Ocean’s Trilogy: Ocean’s 8” and “Crazy Rich Asians”. With all of her successes under her belt, Awkwafina sure has a bright future ahead in the entertainment circuit.

2. HeeSun Lee

Hee-Sun Lee, stylized as “HeeSun Lee”, is a Christian hip-hop artist of Korean and American descent. She was born in South Korea but was adopted by Chinese-American immigrants.  She began her musical career with her debut album “Re: Defined.” In 2014, she released “Stereotypes” and hit the number 25 spot on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums. Lee’s energy is focused on misogyny and female empowerment. She is set to conquer the international stage, see her latest drop, the Flying Cars.

3. HanHan

Haniely Pableo, known by her stage name HanHan, is a Filipina immigrant who is a nurse by day and a rapper by night. She realized her musical side when she attended a poetry workshop. Inspired by her poems, she began her rapping career in 2009.

Her literary pieces are converted into her hit rap songs such as “Take A Muna”, which mostly tackled her daily struggles as an Asian working and living in America. She performs using her native tongues, Tagalog and Cebuano. She expressed that her goal is to provide young Filipino immigrants something they can relate to.

4. CL

Lee Chae-rin, known by her stage name CL, is a South Korean singer, songwriter, and rapper. She is also a former member of popular Korean group 2NE1.  When 2NE1 disbanded in 2016, CL pursued her dream of making a name in the International music industry by signing a record deal with Scooter Braun. Since then, she has collaborated with Diplo and her fellow Korean artist, G-Dragon.

She worked with a renowned choreographer, Parris Goebel, for her “Hello Bitches” music video. Aside from CL, Goebel worked with other artists including Ciara, Rihanna, Little Mix, and Nicki Minaj, to name a few. In 2018, she debuted in the big screen in the movie “Mile 22” alongside Hollywood actor Mark Wahlberg.  CL has been quiet in recent years, but we are sure she is cooking up something amazing!

5. VaVa

Mao Yan-Qi, or VaVa, is the Rap Queen of China. She is one of the popular female rappers in her home country. Since she joined the Chinese reality show “The Rap of China”, her career had blasted off. She adopted her stage name VaVa as a homage to her childhood.  Her tracks mostly tackle her cultural heritage, and promotes rap as a way to “express our innermost emotions and thoughts about how we understand the world we live in.” While the Chinese government may not be open yet about the thriving hip-hop industry, VaVa and her colleagues continue to break barriers and are gained massive fans outside China.  Check her out the on top Hip-hop artists in China.