This article originally appeared on The NATIVE as part of their Best of 2020 The Top 10 Rappers of The Year list.
Amaarae’s bid for Rapper of the Year was placed with highly favourable odds back in May, with her indelible opening verse on the instant classic, “body count”. One of her earlier performances this year, Amaarae has gone on to count several other invaluable feature credits, both as a singer and a rapper. When it comes to the duality of her talents, her recent back to back appearance on Ghanaian rapper Dex Kwasi’s project – or earlier, on Rvdical The Kid’s “NASA” – say it all: Amaarae is a rapper first and a singer second. From hearing “HyPNOTIZE” and “WANT MY HoE BACK” you’ll quickly learn that her rapping goes harder, a claim we can back up by the superior commercial success of the former track.
Spending the year cementing her place as a bonafide rapper cum singer, Amaarae has been doing so whilst also proving she’s unrivalled in both fields. With her high-pitched, soft-toned, (sometimes) sung rapping style, nobody is doing it quite like Amaarae, and her brand of music has been, more delectable than other rap performers attempting to steal our attention. As she introduces “Still Dey Inside” with an acapella fast flow, by the 10-second mark, it’s clear that Amaarae has already washed the other rappers on the track – after the full four minutes, it’s confirmed. Her debut album, ‘The Angel You Don’t Know’ takes this washing industry-wise – continent wise. Popularly touted as one of the best albums to come out of Africa this year, ‘TAYDK’ ticks every box: her lyricism is enviable as always, her flow is unmatched (though Moliy makes an outstanding attempt on “SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY”), her style is versatile, production is flawless and she makes good use of timeless musical samples, which is one of the core attributes of rap music.
As the world increasingly spurns its patriarchal order, in several male-dominated fields we’re seeing the undoing of androcentric customs that afford men more space and encourage women to accommodate men for a chance at success. Of course, music is one of these fields. These days, women making music have just a little more freedom and autonomy over their creations and also their branding. Pandering to male-dictated tropes is growing archaic, and across Africa, the rapper that most exemplifies this progressive advancement in music is Amaarae. Effusing positivity everywhere she appears, in her music, Amaarae preaches – to women, but applicable to all people – the ‘be true to you’ mantra in the most aspirational of ways.
It is often said by hip-hop critics that the best in the game are the ones who spit their truth. Rappers are so often criticised for faking hood status, mimicking the genuine trauma experienced by their icons, in a bid to walk in their footsteps of success. As a millennial African musician who lived in America for a period, Amaarae spitting her truth sounds vastly different to Jay Z's greatest hits, but hers don’t slap any less. Whether it’s fully embracing her toxic traits, knowing when to gesture a T for time out, bragging about her new money, and revealing her multiple sexcapades, Amaarae is not shy to share any part of her life on a song. It’s this authenticity that bolsters her unique flow and pitch, to make her one of the best rappers in Africa. This year, the best.
If those words weren't enough to convince you, spend your next thirty minutes with my top ten Amaarae rapping appearances this year (plus a bonus track from her early days, when I first appreciated her rapping chops).