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Photo by Sabelo Mkhabela.

2018 Was the Year Women Won In (South African) Hip-Hop

Women reached new heights in South African hip-hop last year.

During her set at the annual hip-hop and street culture festival Back To The City in April last year, the rapper Rouge said, "This year is the year of the female." She then proceeded to give one of the best performances of the whole festival. So did Assessa, Yugen Blakrok and Tyrant The Rapper, among the few other women on the line-up.

"I think I hit the nail on the head," says Rouge eight months since Back To The City when asked about the statement she made during her set. "People can fight it all they want. I made top 5 in MTV Base's Top 10 Hottest MC list, and that hasn't been done before. There were three women on that list. That hasn't happened before. Girls hitting the million views mark [on YouTube], us getting these endorsement deals and all. It was a great year for us. But we still have a long way to go."

The rapper Nadia Nakai took the 10th spot on the MTV Base list, her video for "Naaa Mean" passed the million views mark on YouTube and she was on the cover of Hype. Nadia collaborated with urban fashion retail giant Sportscene for her own range, Bragga. Most clothing brands have collaborated with male artists in the past—Loxion Kulca collaborated with Pro in the late 2000s, Nasty C collaborated with Sportscene last year, Head Honcho collaborated with AKA for the Supa Mega merchandise in 2014.

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Driving Forces: Rapsody's Career is Inspired by Women

We went to the MC's studio in North Carolina to see her creative process firsthand and talk about what community means to her.

Sponsored content from Uber

Driving Forces is a video series profiling young creative people who are empowering their communities. We've partnered with Uber to highlight the stories of influential women whose work brings underrepresented voices to the front. Read more about how Uber is supporting women in the workplace here.

For Rapsody, being a gifted lyricist is a great responsibility.

"We live in a time when words aren't as important," she says. This is something the North Carolina rapper is intent on changing. From the start her music has put wordplay front and center, beginning with an interest in poetry which became an interest in song lyrics. As a child, she would take the booklets out of CD cases to read the words inside.

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