“Unpretty Rapstar” Season 2 is up and running, and all the signs say it will be just as action-packed as the first installment. The cast for this season is pretty star-studded, too.
Whereas Season 1 only featured only one idol group rapper, in the form of AOA’s Jimin, the new season has gone a lot heavier on the mainstream stars.
Wonder Girls’ Yubin, Jiyoon of 4Minute, SISTAR’s Hyorin (I thought Bora was supposed to be the rapper in that group?), Gilme (of Clover and solo fame) and Fiestar’s Yezi are household names for most K-pop fans. And Play the Siren’s Kasper has been one to watch since “Dream Drive” last year.
There are also a handful of very interesting under-the-radar rappers on the show, which should make for some great viewing in the weeks ahead.
But all this talk of female hip-hop stars and rap battles has got us thinking — who would you cast if you could assemble a dream line-up for an all-female rap battle show?
Take a look through our list, vote in the poll, and let us know who your favorite female K-pop rappers are in the comments below.
Almost certainly the first name on most peoples’ lists. Since her underground days, LE (aka Elly) has long had a reputation as the most technically able young rapper in Korea.
Along with Basick, she put together a formidable take on Nelly Furtado’s classic “Promiscuous” (Warning: this song features explicit lyrics).
With her combination of youth and almost unparalleled skill on the mic, it was almost inevitable that a talent agency somewhere would try to get her involved in a girl group project.
And in 2012, producer Sinsadong Tiger did just that, drafting her in to EXID.
Don’t let the Health & Safety people catch you doing that, LE!
As part of EXID, she has come into her own, becoming everyone’s favorite featuring artist, appearing on songs with everyone from Gavy NJ to K.Will. Her excellent ALi collaboration from earlier this year is a slow-burning classic.
“Blacklist” — with HyunA — is just too much goodness, though. HyunA and LE is too much fire for one stage/song/planet to contain.
You could break the Internet with this much goodness. You have been warned.
I am probably in a tiny minority of people who think that Sonamoo is one of the best new girl groups around.
But despite a fantastic debut album, an even better sophomore effort (“Round and Round” and “OK” especially), decent dance moves and flashy, expensive-looking stage designs, this group is just not getting much traction.
And that is a real pity. They have some real stand-out members, such as Euijin, who just exudes energy.
However, for most, the true stars are the group’s two rappers: New Sun and D.ana.
The latter in particular has some pretty noteworthy skills.
Her verses on this were pretty outstanding:
And on her own, she is just as fierce.
D.ana pretty much has all the tools it would take to slay on a show like “Unpretty Rapstar.” If she ever got the chance, she could be a real dark horse.
The whole music world is waiting with baited breath for CL’s American debut. We have been waiting for quite some time now, but the fact that it is taking so long makes you hope that when it finally does drop, it will be something very special indeed.
The self-styled “baddest female” in K-pop, CL may not have a background in underground rap, but that does not detract from her explosive emceeing skills.
Faster, slower, mixing it up, it all seems to come so natural for 2NE1’s leader.
The high point for me was this, though. Minzy is also a very solid rapper in her own right, so this song had it all. This world needs more CL/Minzy collaborations.
A sometime member of hip-hop collective Honey Family, if you can remember back that far.
Miryo is another heavyweight talent who would be very hard to beat in a rap battle.
Somewhat overshadowed in Brown Eyed Girls by the presence of Ga In (and, to a lesser extent, Narsha), Miryo performs slightly better as a solo artist. The most recent effort, “Queen,” is possibly her best yet.
However, those who can remember her Honey Family days would argue that a much harder, purer rap sound like this is where her skills really come to the fore:
One of the few artists out there who can genuinely freestyle, she would be a dream contestant on a battle rap show — there are not many idols out there who could hope to outdo her.
Kemy gets onto this list not really on the strength of her material, but due to her raw ability on the mic. Last year was a pretty bad one for A.KOR, with the group (and Kemy in particular) copping a flood of controversy after dropping a Park Bom diss track.
When you are a less-popular Korean girl group like A.Kor, you need to learn to pick your battles, and the diss pretty much came across as poor noise marketing.
This year, the group tried to turn a corner in the form of debuting the A.KOR Black subunit, pretty much a vehicle for Kemy’s rapping ability.
However, although the song featured some decent rapping and a nice retro theme, a pretty mediocre hook really let it down.
A.KOR has never really released a track that has made me personally sit up and take note, but when Kemy’s rap verses come on, you can sense a real talent at work.
I actually think she would be better off on her own, with harder rap backing tracks. This was pretty enjoyable:
And the rap section on this surprising Cameo cover is a lot of fun.
If you are a Blackjack, you are going to hate the idea of an A.KOR member on a rap reality show, but rap needs a few big bad wolf types — maybe Kemy can pull that off.
It would be great if a rap battle show were to unearth some more experienced but currently inactive girl group rappers school types, such as Jewelry’s Baby J (aka Jooyeon) or Bekah, formerly of After School (“Bad Guy” anyone?).
And one more name in this category would have to be EvoL’s Jucy, aka Juni.J.
EvoL officially announced its dissolution in August this year, but for most people the news was met with nothing but a shrug of the shoulders. Much like A.KOR, EvoL had plenty of talent, but suffered when it came to material. Too much of it was just generic.
This cod-Ibiza house track from 2012 was underwhelming, yet was arguably the group’s biggest hit.
At the 2:48 mark, though (if you make it that far in), there is a tasty wee rap section that demonstrates what Jucy is capable of. She also made a few “Show Me the Money” appearances during Seasons 2 and 4, but exhibited just a few flashes of talent on both occasions.
Her mixtape, “Universe,” however, provides further evidence of her enormous ability.
araabMUZIK + EvoL’s Jucy = music nerdgasm.
And if you thought that was fun, here’s a whole compilation of stuff you will love (especially “Open Mic” at 1:07 ). It’ll make you want to send out a search party for this girl.
Secret’s rap verses are usually pretty short, with the exception of this lone solo track from way back in 2011 when Hana was still going by the name Zinger.
In many ways, Hana is in the same kind of quandary as Rainbow’s Woori, who also shows signs of being a powerful emcee, yet only ever gets a few scant seconds worth of rapping time on her group’s tracks.
It is pretty hard to judge just how talented either might be on the mic if they were only allowed to let rip every now and then. Just take a listen to Hana doing this.
What Hana clearly has is a very nice, powerful tone and an ability to stay on beat. While a lot of the other rappers on this list have higher-pitched, slightly shrill tones, Hana brings a little more bass to proceedings.
One thing is for sure, there have been glimpses here and there of real rapping potential.
The (albeit very short) rap breakdown in “Poison” is Exhibit A in the case for Hana.
This one just goes without saying really. The elder stateswoman of Korean rap, Yoon Mi Rae pretty much wrote the book on female K-pop rap.
Here she is showing the younger generation how it’s done:
Active in K-pop since the turn of the century, if she were to appear on a talent show with younger stars, ideally it would be in the role of judge or mentor — most could not (or dare not) go toe-to-toe with someone as accomplished as this.
A member of arguably the most talented of the “newer” girl groups out there, Moonbyul may still be a little lacking in confidence and stage presence, but she more than makes up for that with her rapping skills.
A very pleasant, deeper tone, a steady flow and real rapping consistency at a range of different speeds, Moonbyul would certainly be no pushover in a rap battle contest.
MAMAMOO has only been active for a relatively short period of time, but Moonbyul has already displayed her not inconsiderable skills on the mic:
Another dark horse, Lime really does not get much of chance to shine as a rapper as part of Hello Venus.
The group is (nowadays) more about a dance sound and a sexy concept, and longer rap sections just do not fit into that. Before that, a very cutesy concept seemed to restrict her rapping even more.
But give her the chance and she can really tear it up on the mic. Check this out from a while back:
How good would a Lime-Alice Hello Venus subunit be, by the way?
The “Wiggle Wiggle” rap breakdown might have been short, but if was certainly very sweet and left K-pop fans thirsting for more.
Lime also has some impressive speed-rap talents. Thing like this make fans everywhere want to hear a little more of what she has to offer.
Now you’ve read our list, it’s time to let us know what you think, Soompiers! Who is your favorite female rapper? Who do you think would perform the best on a rap battle show? Speak up in the comments below.
timmydee is a music geek with a penchant for pop, an enthusiasm for electronica and a hankering for hip-hop. When he isn’t writing for Soompi, he is remixing your favorite K-Pop tracks — with sometimes astounding (but often catastrophic) results.
*The views expressed in this article solely reflect those of the author and do not represent Soompi as a whole.