Reverb Music was born out of a desire to elevate artists operating outside of the norms, but our own unconscious biases have led to a failure in proper representation. We apologise and will strive to shine a light on a broader spectrum of artists. This piece is a small step in the direction of diversity.
From grime goddesses to soul sisters, we list eight leading ladies doing bits in the so-called underground. Also, although we make the distinction, they are not ‘female artists’. First and foremost, they are artists. Let us know who you are listening to and who deserves a spot next!
Lex Amor is a North London lyricist with a signature poetic style that demands close listening. Mellow and laidback, her lo-fi-inspired sound draws attention to issues surrounding anxiety, love and working class life. You can catch Lex hosting her Mellowdic radio show on Reprezent where music discovery is the bottom line. During lockdown she’s contributed to the first tape from The Loosies Project, an eclectic collective of underground artists including Caleb Femi, Lo-Wu and Ella Frank. Look out for more music from Lex Amor herself, as her descriptive narratives weave their way out of the bedroom and onto the streets.
After years on the spoken word circuit and having supported multiple legendary rappers around the world, TrueMendous became the first female MC to join UK hip hop behemoth High Focus. The Brummy dropped her debut EP HUH? on the label earlier this year. The project proves her place on the roster, with her skittish cadence hitting unique pockets with pace, humour and hard-hitting punchlines. Full of energy, TrueMendous can duppy any instrumental with her complex rhyme schemes. While you wait for a full album to arrive, look back through her stacks of mixtapes and EPs released independently. There’s a lot of talent under that bucket hat.
If you don’t know Greentea Peng then where have you been? One of the waviest singer-songwriters in the game, her psychedelic sound incorporates elements of neo-soul, hip hop and dub. The soulstress has featured on projects by iconic UK artists such as The Streets and Foreign Beggars, and burst into popular spheres after her ‘Downers‘ performance on COLORS. Peng’s EPs Sensi and RISING both display her distinct flavour of woozy R&B, with recent single ‘Ghost Town‘ capturing her frustrations related to London’s gentrification. Frequenty backed by production from Earbuds, she’s rapidly becoming a household name. Pour yourself a cup of something special and get to know Greentea Peng.
Pushing the boundaries of rap in the UK, Nah Eeto is known for chaotic tunes combining English and Swahili. She hails from Kenya (by way of Tanzania and Thailand) and is Blah Records‘ first female signing. Her Sumgii-produced stomper ‘Wanawake‘ was recently released through Loefah‘s imprint Swamp 81 and is a perfect example of her genre-bending style. Nah Eeto directed and edited the music video herself, further demonstrating her multifaceted skillset. Although we’re yet to see a full project from the rapper, her consistent stream of singles provides plenty of material for getting familiar with her name. Nah Eeto is undoubtably one to watch.
Norwich native Maya Law is a rising soul singer who hit BBC Introducing‘s radar when she was still a teen. Having supported the likes of Connie Constance and Loyle Carner, there’s no denying her talent. Perhaps her most popular project Her or Him sees Maya link up with producer Allergy Kid for smooth and sincere songs leaden with her unmistakable voice. Maya’s singing often comes with the swagger of a rapper, where her lyrics explore sexuality, relationships and emotional growth. Harvs Le Toad reworked Maya Law’s tune ‘Safe & Sound‘ for his Yogocop Records album Chicks & Tikka Naans, but her recent collaboration with fellow singer Freya Roy truly shows her golden groove. Maya hopes to release her forthcoming EP Hitchhiking later this year.
A Glasgow girl with nonchalant flows, CHLOBOCOP has attracted some serious industry attention in the short time she’s been rapping. Her trap-infused tunes can be heard across two EPs Lil’ Red Ridin’ From The Hood and Pay As You Go, instantly recognisable by their unwavering red aesthetic. Recent track ‘Bell Me Back‘ is a cocky duet with UK hip hop heavyweight Lee Scott, which premiered on Zane Lowe‘s Beats 1 show. The pair released a second phone-themed tune ‘2 Phones‘ alongside fellow Cult Of The Damned member Stinkin Slumrok. Big things are coming from CHLOBOCOP as she gains even more credit outside of the Scottish underground.
Lava La Rue
Founding member of London’s NiNE8 collective, Lava La Rue has a hushed half-sung style that drifts seamlessly between melodies and bars. Her R&B influence in clear, riding Mac Wetha‘s production with finesse and conviction. Her writing is rich with messages of self-love and intersectionality, oozing confidence and charisma. Last year’s collaborations with p-rallel and Finn Foxell helped to cement her status, but for someone who’s been cosigned by 070 Shake, there’s little she can’t do alone. That being said, sister-in-arms Biig Piig can’t go unmentioned, as the pair have both powered NiNE8 to the top. For uplifting jams about unity and progression, be sure to check out Lava La Rue.
FFSYTHO?! (For Fuck Sake Why Though?!) is taking the grime scene by storm with her razor-sharp tongue. When she isn’t swinging her nunchucks or shelling down homophobia, FFSYTHO?! is making use of the unlimited studio time she won in Pirate Studio‘s 6,000-entrant competition. As a testament to her success, she’s been honoured with a graffiti mural in her hometown of Northampton. Plus, Sir Spyro just span her new tune ‘Target N Aim‘ on BBC 1Xtra, being the MC’s fourth release to go straight to mainstream radio. The future looks bright for FFSYTHO?! as she continues to tear through 140 BPM bangers. Lock in.
That’s eight leading ladies we’re bumping at the minute, but who would you pick? Let us know who should be included in the next edition and fill us in on any talented artists we may have missed. We’ve also built a playlist with a huge range of faves – peace!
Written by: James Wijesinghe