One look at the first Wireless 2018 announcement and you’ll be left with the bitter taste of patriarchy in your mouth.
Of the 39 acts announced, just 3 women feature across the weekend; Mabel stands alone on the Friday, while Cardi B and Lisa Mercedez represent on the Sunday. This lack of diversity spotlights how women in music are being overlooked and under-appreciated due to the systematic sexism of the music industry, highlighting a much deeper rooted issue than the flippant dismissal that women in R&B and hip-hop just ‘aren’t as successful as men’.
There is a plethora of female artists who are more than deserving of festival slots and the same level of appreciation as their male counterparts. Here is a list of just 10 women amongst many who are making serious waves in hip-hop and R&B
Laced with maturity and empowerment yet still bouncing with care-free attitude, RAYE’s tracks are quickly propelling her towards being an icon for a new generation. Consistently pushing boundaries and refusing to be pigeonholed, RAYE’s roofless potential is trailblazing refreshing new chart music.
Unconforming to genre, Mahalia blends honeyed throwback beats with her enticingly smooth vocals. Her honesty is as intoxicating as her rich soul, and her single ‘Sober’ is delivered with endearing relateability.
Riding sharp and seductive R&B beats, IAMDDB blends trap and jazz with her fierce and drawling vocals. Short for I Am Diana DeBrito, this 22-year-old Mancunian artist is a trailblazer for what she calls “urban jazz’.
In the summer of 2015, Jorja Smith was waking up in the early morning to start her 6am shift at Starbucks. Now, she has ascended to global appreciation, collaborating with Stormzy and featuring on Drake’s More Life collection. Rising from DIY roots and self-releasing her own hits, Jorja Smith is an inspiration for the new wave of artists proving they don’t need industry to release ground-breaking new music.
New Jersey R&B songstress SZA has become an idol for transparency and honesty; her comfortingly confessional tracks stand as a source of empowerment for women riddled with insecurities, made all the more powerful by how SZA released her debut Cntrl in the face of her own self-doubt. Going on to be nominated for 5 Grammys and highly celebrated within the industry, SZA is a woman desperately needed in the music industry, as she breaks stereotypes and embraces insecurities in a way that opens up deep conversations to overcome self-doubt.
The epitome of a storyteller, North London artist Little Simz muses on freedom, individuality and heartbreak with effortless flow. Her verses saunter with impeccable delivery, pouring in more heart and soul than syllables per bar.
Weaving between genre boundaries with her seamless blend of soul and R&B, Ray Blk is another empowering woman making waves through her candid, matter-of-fact lyrics.
NAO’s releases are works of near-perfection, infusing simple beats with indescribable power. Managing her own label, Little Tokyo Recordings, as well as building up serious chart momentum, NAO’s work and hustle is truly inspiring and motivational.
Once clouded by mystery and anonymity, Gabi Wilson aka H.E.R lets her music stand on its own. Her soulful seven track debut EP H.E.R, Vol 1 flows with seductive mystique, enveloping you in captivating minimalism and demanding to be streamed on repeat.
Oozing with technical precision and sonorous breadth, Kelela innovates pop by incorporating a plethora of influences from other genres. At first misleadingly simple, her tracks are in fact unanchored, unapologetic and untamed.
Feature Image: IAMDDB courtesy of Dazed