Lyrical ladies: Top 5 female rappers to look out for in 2012

I have always preferred female rappers to male rappers. From the days of Salt & Pepper and Monei Love to Lauryn Hill and Estelle I was hooked on women who could out-rap the best male emcee and talk about issues that mattered to me. Growing up I had a crazy fantasy that I would be a rapper but my talent never came close to my enthusiasm, so I decided to leave it to the professionals.

Over the last five years female rappers have been lacking from the mainstream music industry, and as a fan, it was disappointing. But recently with the emergence of rappers (I have lovingly dubbed femcees) like Nicki Minaj, things are looking up for the talented lyrical ladies.

We may not run the world-yet, but femcees are on the rise and set to fill the gap in the male dominated market. So, I have done an expose on some of the most talented female rappers / MC's to look out for this year.

Shystie

The One Wish emcee is back on the scene. Known for her response to Dizzee Rascals' hit grime track 'I Luv You', the East London rapper is firmly refocused on her musical career after taking time out to star in the much-loved Channel 4 series 'Dubplate Drama'. Now the MOBO award winner is back spitting bars and has released a new mixtape 'You're Welcome'.

Favourite tracks: 'Ima Boss', 'New Style' and 'Woman's World'

Lioness

Rapping since the age of 14, the 22-year-old has now come of age and is ready to top the charts. The rapstress who performed her track 'Girlfriend Perspective' for the BBC Three project 'Jail Tales', last year, is not fazed by the male competition and looks set to break their hold on the charts with her new mixtape 'Roarness'.

Favourite tracks: 'Don't' Tell Me', 'Set The Girls' and 'Good For A Girl'

Amplify Dot

Nothing like the majority of the commercial female rappers on the scene, Amplify Dot is not known for her outrageous outfits but her short back and sides hair style. The tomboy of the rap world she is reminiscent to the likes of Da Bratt or Missy Eliot and can spit a mean bar too!

Favourite tracks: 'Semantics', 'King Kong' and 'Dotty's World'

Mz Bratt

Recently emerging from the underground scene, Mz Bratt is looking to set it all off and grab a piece of the action with her new track 'Tear it All Down'. The 22-year-old has been singed to Atlantic records and is the face of the US fashion label Pastry, owned by Vanessa and Angela Simmons (daughters of Run DMC's Reverend Run).

Favourite tracks: 'I Like You' Speeding By' and 'Selecta'

Lady Leshurr

Hailed as a one of the hottest up-and-coming artists by many of her peers, Lady Leshurr's unique style leads many to draw comparisons to Busta Rhymes and Nicki Minaj. The Birmingham born emcee has recently released a new single with singer Leon McKenzie and MC Harvey from the UK garage collective So Solid Crew and is set to make her dreams come true with her up-coming international tour.

Favourite tracks: 'Look At Me Now', 'Lego' and 'Slow Flow'