The past two years have seen the prolific rise of new female rap stars. From GloRilla’s “F.N.F.” to Ice Spice’s “Munch (Feelin’ You),” rising female rap stars have been at the forefront of pop culture. Indeed, these young stars’ rises have been marked by high–profile collabs like Ice Spice's verse on "Karma" by Taylor Swift, and cosigns by established veterans like Cardi B and Nicki Minaj. But St. Louis’ own Sexyy Red seems to be running ahead of her peers in terms of grassroots support. Her raw authenticity and infectious nature set her apart—and in comparison, the pull of her originality makes her contemporaries feel manufactured. Sexyy Red, currently best known for her “Pound Town 2” remix with Nicki Minaj and her solo single “SkeeYee” off of the album Hood Hottest Princess produced by Tay Keith, brings a genuine charm to a polished and even plasticky music industry.
Rap has always been a relatively authentic genre, with Jenny–from–the–block–style come–ups and attention placed on unfiltered lyrics, bolstered by community support rather than widespread marketability. But Sexyy Red seems to bring the personability and relatability often found in young rap stars to new heights. Though her rap career technically began in 2018, when she created a diss track about her cheating boyfriend, she was first put on the map for many fans when she appeared in Summer Walker’s “Sense dat God gave you.” Red was rapping in a neon pink zebra–print bodysuit, son on hip, to the song’s beat and chanting, “If you have the sense that God gave you, don’t leave me ‘round your man,” alongside pregnant Summer Walker.
Her other songs maintain this unfiltered energy, a reflection of her “bad,” “ratchet,” and explicit artistic vision. Off her second album Hood Hottest Princess, released this summer, her songs “Hellcats SRTs” and “I’m The Shit” are rife with expletives, sexually–charged lyrics, and braggadocious swagger—perfect for fans to shout out the car window with friends. And her recent features offer the same rich character. In the track “Hood Rats,” Sexyy Red and rapper Sukihana take on an upper–crust golf course and country club, rapping about “riding dick” and “throw[ing] it back." Red declares that her man “ate [her] ass in [her] Trackhawk” with Sukihana rapping about “tell[ing] Joe Biden” that she wants to “suck on a president.” The video looks to contrast the misery of wealthy, often white, establishments to the upbeat fun and freedom of rap and pop culture.
One of Sexyy Red’s best recent features is also a release with BlakeIANA on the “BING BONG (Remix),” where she raps about ditching her man because “that dick was straight trash.” There is a hilarity in the simplicity and confidence, the matter–of–factness that feels ridiculous on the first lesson but will surely have you fully convinced after a few listens. Many fans were similarly stunned by a standout lyric from her single “Pound Town” where she confidently declares that “her coochie pink” and “her booty hole brown.” In a later conversation with Nicki Minaj on Instagram Live, Red admitted she never expected the line to get attention, as she was merely stating an anatomical fact.
Sexyy Red has been out and about, performing at high schools, showing up at NFL games, and meeting up with fellow rappers from Lil Durk to Drake. Indeed, her peers have spoken positively of her confidence and charisma. Her approachability and commitment is striking a chord with numerous fans across America, with X (formerly Twitter) ablaze with fans sharing their love for the artist and her hilarity.
A striking difference between Sexyy Red and other female rappers seems to be the way male fans have come out of the woodwork in support of her, not just commenting on her sex appeal, but singing along to her lyrics and admitting her charm. The questions are numerous—do male fans like Red’s artistic content in an ironic way, like once professed with Ice Spice (see: “I’m a munch” trend)? Does her tendency to hop on hard–hitting Tay Keith beats make her discography feel less feminine, thus making it passable for men to sing along? Or is she really disarming and musically persuasive in a way that allows her art to break down the long upheld gender barriers of rap music fandom? All can be true. But Sexyy Red’s only motivation seems to be being herself, not chasing the affection of others.
Sexyy Red knows the strength of personality. She elaborates that “there’s not nobody like yourself, [s]o if you be yourself, you’re going to stand out.” Perhaps that's why, though oftentimes rapping about similar topics as her, her contemporaries haven’t made the same splashes as Sexyy Red—boasting three iconic TikTok trends and being invited on tracks by nearly as many artists, big and small. Though rap is a deeply lyrical and poetic genre, in Sexyy Red’s world, the game is all personality. Her skill is in how it bleeds into lyrics to make them fresh, innovative, and unabashedly fun—the affection has followed.