Heidy Brown, Milka La Mas Dura and Tomasa del Real are just a few active urbano artists that should be receiving more media attention. The representation of women in the genre doesn't end with international-reigning darlings are Karol G, Natti Natasha and Becky G — here are a bunch!


J Balvin In Concert - Miami, Florida
Credit: Photo by Johnny Louis/FilmMagic

There are many factors that contribute to the lack of women in the music industry in general, but in urbano — the umbrella over reggaetón, Latin trap, Spanish rap, and Dominican dembow, to name a few subgenres — the rise to the top is hard-fought. In a genre known to portray women as accessories and sex objects and to belittle their talent, raperas not only get fewer media coverage but when they do, the questions are focused on their personal appearances and love life. These are just a few of the many challenges. The system permits only a single reigning female rapper, or the norm of having first ladies in all-male crews, not to mention the lack of women calling shots from the business side of the industry, which stifles representation. Ivy Queen has expressed in the past how easily a woman can be misled into making bad decisions, and Natti Natasha received her fair share of humiliation for her gender.

Good news though: In addition to the three international darlings of the moment, Karol G, Natti Natasha, and Becky G, there are many talented and outspoken women in both American Spanish and Latin-American music — we just have to look for them.

1. Gailen La Moyeta

The 20-year-old is a force to be reckoned with. The up-and-coming rapper from La Romana, Dominican Republic, became a viral sensation after winning Musicologo's “de Naranja” competition — in which contestants free-styled over the beat of the song. She joined Musicologo and Chimbala for the remix. La Moyeta was studying marketing in college before switching over to music and takes pride in writing all her lyrics.

2. Tomasa Del Real

The Chilean native is known as “la reyna del neo-perreo,” an authentic subgenre of reggaetón that grabs ideas on personal style and music from retro internet aesthetics. The designer turned songstress was working as a tattoo artist when she started to play around with music and recorded herself on the Photobooth app on her Macbook. Her unapologetic lyrics stay true to the perreo dance culture, except its a woman expressing her carnal desires.

3. Milka La Mas Dura

Before the 2018 anthem “Te Bote,” Dominican rapper Milka La Mas Dura's “Te Vote” was played on corners and car speakers from the country's capital and her birthplace, Santo Domingo, to NYC's Dominican mecca, Washington Heights. She started rapping at the age of 17, forming part of the rap group J.M.T. and also expresses her desires heard in hits “Dale Ven Ven,” “Te Vote” and “Quiero Un Hijo Contigo,” all produced by Bubloy. The veteran's lyrical ability scored her a spot on 2008's “Capea el Dough” a multi-artist project with the country's top rappers. She is still dropping music.

4. Heidy Brown

Heidy Brown is one of the genre's most empowering participants, making sure to collaborate with other women like Melymel, Milka La Mas Dura and Luchy DR. The latest, “Sola,” is a perfect example of the unity raperas need to have to make sure everyone is winning.

5. Luchy DR

This reggaetonera's smooth vocals have tapped an eclectic range of genres including her native Dominican Republic's original style of merengue. Some of her hits include “No Creo En Ti” and “Sola” (with Heidy Brown, por supuesto).

6. Danay Suárez

Singer-rapper Danay Suárez infuses R&B, jazz, hip-hop and Cuban influences. She broke out in 2007, and gained wide attention in Europe, specifically France. She was raised in the Havana barrios El Cerro and Buena Vista — places with musical and social history. In an interview with Billboard, she said, “My music is not tropical, it's not like reggaetón, because of my cadence, my flow and production.” Her spoken word–like rhyming is infused with old school hip-hop vibes.

7. Renata Flores

In 2015, Peruvian artist Renata Flores stepped into the game at just 14 years old covering songs in Quechua, an ancient Incan language. Though she isn't fluent, she sings the language phonetically because she wants the youth to understand the importance of Quechua. Her song “Tijeras” has a perfect fusion of trap and Quechua. The trilingual embraces all aspects of her parental culture from the music to the clothing. It's also important to note that many marginalized communities in Latin America aren't Spanish-speaking — Renata's music reminds us that there is space to diversify and include.

8. Aliany Garcia

Aliany made it big with her hit “Quiero Chapia un Pelotero,” a song that samples Madonna's “Isla Bonita” and touches on two topics of conversations in Dominican barbershops: baseball and chapiadoras (Dominican slang for gold-digger). Her lyrics embrace the chapiadora attitude — she is unafraid to express the thoughts many women have. This theme is also found in the video above “Mi Viejo” a track that samples Sean Paul's 2005 “We Be Burning.”

9. Melymel

Known as the “Dominican trap queen,” Melymel is one of the most influential rappers in terms of American hip-hop lyrical style and flow. Though growing up on an island where genres like bachata, merengue and reggae are popular and in a city, Santo Domingo, that loves salsa, she sought outside influences and connected with the American hip-hop culture, listening to artists like Lauryn Hill and 2pac. This past January, she dropped “Se Te Apago La Luz” with Ivy Queen, and the video has garnered more than 1.9 million views on YouTube.

10. Rebeca Lane

Covering all things feminism, we have Rebeca Lane. Having dealt with discrimination in the music scene she was a part of, the singer's socio-political awareness was passed down from her parents who were activists during Guatemala's civil war. Many went missing or were killed because of their beliefs throughout the decades of violence and protest; her aunt was one of them. The Guatemalan rapper uses hip-hop to discuss the trauma women face and political messages related to income inequality, discrimination and sexual violence — themes you can catch onto in her song/video “Bandera Negra.”

11. La Insuperable

Also known as “La Mami Del Swagger,” La Insuperable uses platforms like Instagram and YouTube to her advantage, actively pushing and promoting her music. Born Indhira Ircania Luna in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, she created her YouTube channel in 2008 and racked up over 5 million views in 2012 on the video to her first hit “Dime Linda Te Llenaste De Odio.”

12. Seidy La Niña

Cuban-born and raised in Miami, Seidy La Niña's appreciation for music came very young from performing in musicals and dancing. Laying the foundation for the musical career that would follow, she incorporates a variety of dance styles in her videos — even though she was once told she would never be able to dance after experiencing a near-death car crash (she was in a coma for more than a month).

13. La Materialista

Born Yameiry Infante Honoret, the 34-year-old La Materialista is one of the leading female artists in the Dominican urban scene. Her 2013 twerk-hit “Chapas Que Vibran” put her on the map, giving her the opportunity to be the first Dominican female artist to perform at the Miss Venezuela competition.

Honorary mentions of Latinas repping Spanglish and Spanish lyrics:

14. BIA

The Boston native of Puerto Rican and Italian descent hit international airwaves on a feature in J Balvin's “Safari,” featuring Pharell — whose label, i Am Other, she is currently under. The lyricist's personal musical style integrates Latin-rooted music and hip-hop. The 27-year-old's biggest inspirations are rapper Jay Z, Selena Gomez and Ivy Queen.

15. Melii

Our CHICA star from Harlem dropped her debut album phAses this past March. Rising from the home of rap groups like A$AP Mobb and The Diplomats, Melii embraces her bicultural Dominican-American identity with her Spanglish lyrics, Dominican lingo and uptown swag. In an exclusive video interview with CHICA, Melii opened up about her mental journey in the creation process of the album, saying: “I feel like a project was always in the works for me, but I wanted something that was going to represent me the right way. PhAses was [the] perfect balance…” she said.

16. Snow Tha Product

Mexican-American rapper Snow Tha Product is not afraid to highlight the benefits of bilingual duplexity and get a little political in her lyrics. Born in San Jose, California, she originally adopted the name of Snow White, after the Disney character, later adding her own satirical spin to it.