K-pop rappers often get a bad rap. Many outsiders might believe that K-pop doesn't have good rappers, whether they're called "sell-outs" or aren't real rappers. As you can see from the title of this article, this is obviously not true.
Also, while most girl groups feature a female rapper, companies often assign the role to a member whose vocal quality is lower than other members. This person may or may not have a talent for rapping, or may simply have a unique voice that is good for talking or slower parts.
Many female rappers in K-Pop groups rap in baby voices or sweet tones like just 1). They are not your natural voice 2). Doesn't really sound like rap 3). Do not honor the true art form. 4). It's kind of misogynistic, considering male rappers (regardless of talent) are almost never reduced to corny hunks.
I really can't blame individual rappers for this as it's their companies that give them these roles without properly training them to rap. In my opinion, K-Pop companies should teach their rappers how to create flows, cadences, different forms of puns, and the story behind the creation and popularity of rap.
When I became a K-Pop fan, I immediately found many talented rappers that I liked: Suga, Jay Park, Epik High, Zico, RM, J-Hope, Changbin, Mark Lee, etc. tended to distort rappers. It wasn't until I found EXID that I really started a girl group. You'll probably see why later.
I want to start by saying that there are examples of idols who may not have the ability to rap but have learned it very well. In some, you can see your rap improving over the course of your career. Some examples of such idols (in my opinion) are: Lisa (Blackpink), Lucas (NCT), Jackson (GOT7) and J-Hope (BTS).
You can teach him how to rap. However, you usually need a sense of rhythm (most of the people above auditioned as lead dancers in their groups). But when it comes to female idols in particular, companies want to stick with femininity and cute concepts rather than teaching real rap techniques.
There's nothing wrong with cute concepts and they can involve rapping, but groups DON'T NEED to have a rapper to be successful (ie TXT). So K-pop companies either teach rap or they don't have rappers.
That said, there ARE talented rappers and certain group concepts that make K-pop companies more comfortable with *eye-rolling emoji* when female idols are actually rapping. Also, the industry is starting to move forward and more and more talented female rappers are finding success. Fourth generation K-pop already has some strong female rappers (which I didn't include in this list) like Giselle (Aespa), Yuna (Itzy) and Dayeon (Kep1er).
Let's take a look at some of K-pop's most iconic, well-known, talented, and must-have female 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. It literally made me change my sexuality (just kidding, but not really). Her fastest recorded rap is 8.3 syllables per second, which is among the fastest on the market for a woman.
He also writes many of his own and group songs, which shows that he understands how rap is written and structured. His style and voice are so different that it's impossible not to recognize it. Despite being a fourth-generation rapper, she will definitely go down as one of the best in K-pop.
#2: CL (Ex 2NE1, Solista)
CL was one of the first female rappers to really break through in K-pop. Already a legend to many, she hasn't been particularly active in recent years due to abuse from her former company. She even performed at the Seoul Olympics without her company's support, putting everything together herself and with her personal equipment. Thankfully, that all changed in 2019 when he left his company and has since released an album. Not only is she incredibly talented, but she is also one of the hardest working people in the Korean music industry.
#3: J (EXID)
LE, like many male rappers, started out in the underground scene. Originally compared to CL earlier in her career, she now serves as a mentor to many other young artists. She taught Hyuna how to rap and mentored Soyeon as well. LE is also an accomplished songwriter and has written for other artists as well as herself and her group. LE was one of the first rappers I met in K-Pop and he is still one of my favorites.
#4: Jessi (Solo)
Born in the United States, Jessi is changing the face of rap to K-pop. Never a member of the group, Jessi faces misogynistic criticism for her eccentric style and personality (both personally and in her rap) and continues to thrive. Since joining Psy's company, Jessi has absolutely exploded, releasing hit after hit.
#5: Dami (dreamcatcher)
I wasn't very familiar with Dreamcatcher until recently. While watching Boca's music video, Dami's role caught my attention within the first minute. Her rap is fantastic and has a unique feel. As I researched further, Dami is one of the best female rappers in K-Pop and is starting to get a lot of attention for her natural ability and charisma.
#6: Hyuna (Ex Wonder Girls, Ex 4Minute, Solista)
I mentioned Hyuna before because LE helped her solidify her rapping skills. However, Hyuna deserves a spot on this list because she is naturally talented and has learned well. Now you're free to incorporate it however you want, and he's a legend in the K-pop industry for a reason. Although she is not a rapper in the traditional sense, she is versatile and can use rap in artistic and creative ways.
#7: Youngji (Solo)
I met Youngji when he appeared on Soyeon's solo album. He is young and started in the third season of a show calledHighschool-Rapper. In the end, he won and has since collaborated with many artists and released his own music. Youngji promises a lot, and as the youngest on the roster, she's already becoming a force in the industry. She obviously understands rap and isn't afraid to make herself unattractive to mainstream audiences in order to succeed. Other than that, it looks like he doesn't have to worry about that as she's already starting to do international shows.
#8: Yezi (Ex-Fiestar, Solo)
Yezi is very new to me. The former Fiestar member and Unpretty Rapstar semifinalist has worked with many big names in the industry. Listening to his songs it's clear that he has great talent and deserves a spot on this list. She released her second solo album last year and I hope she gets the chance to gain more fans around the world.
#9: Jennie (Hence Rosa)
As a member of the absolutely megalithic girl group Blackpink, Jennie is a true all-rounder when it comes to talent. Not only does he sing and dance, but he also raps at a high level. Although she is not the main rapper of her group, she has shown her ability in her solo work. Many may be wondering why I included Jennie and not Lisa. I think the only reason Jennie stopped rapping is because she has such a great singing voice. Jennie raps on many of Blackpink's songs, showing that femininity and rap don't have to be separate concepts.
#10: Yoon Mi-rae (Formerly Uptown, MFBTY, Soloist)
Yoon Mi-rae is the only first-generation female rapper on this list, but she is also credited with opening up rap for women in K-pop. He helped to popularize rap within the genre. Plus, she's also half African-American, which makes rapping an important part of her culture. Mi-rae really helped change K-pop for the better, and she did. Ella and her husband (also a very well known and successful rapper) are now also mentors to Bibi and other artists.
11: Mondbyul (Mamamoo)
Moonbyul is unique because she never intended to be a rapper. She originally auditioned as a singer, but as she was placed in a group with four other extremely strong singers, her company assessed her interest in rap. Not only did Moonbyul essentially learn to write and perform raps, but she was extremely good at it.
Lisa (Black Pink)
Lisa is another artist who has successfully learned to rap. Originally focused on dancing, Lisa really needed to practice and learn to rap. However, due to her good sense of rhythm, hard-working nature and talent, she is one of the most successful female rappers in K-pop today. This is only proven by his successful solo debut last year.
Sunmi (formerly Wonder Girls, solo)
Sunmi is primarily a singer. However, he can and does rap from time to time. That said, his raps are more rhythmic and focus much more on puns than beats. However, she writes them herself, and while she might not be as fast as some of the peers on this list, she obviously understands the cadence and artistry behind them.
As mentioned above, Bibi is a trainee under Yoon Mi-rae. Although she is not primarily a rapper, her hip hop music occasionally includes rap. It has a darker sound and concept, and it's something K-pop has never seen before. Although still at the beginning of her career, Bibi is sure of success and already has a large and dedicated fan base.
Hyoyeon (Ex-Girl Generation, GOT, Solista)
Hyoyeon is often overlooked in my opinion. She is a talented rapper and singer and showcases her rapping skills in the new multi-generational group GOT. She is quite fast and has the charisma to keep her rap style energetic. While rapping isn't all she does, she's good at it and doesn't get enough credit for it.