For years, it’s seemed like women in rap were relegated to the outskirts, to the underground, or to the shelves of major label music vaults, with only Nicki Minaj to lead the charge for gender diversity in America’s most popular genre.
However, as Nicki herself will tell you, women never went anywhere in hip-hop, they just needed the world to recognize their presence. The self-declared queen of rap was only too happy to shout out a number of hip-hop’s rising stars during her #NickiDay interview with Zane Lowe, specifically mentioning Maliibu Miitch, Ms. Banks (not to be confused with Azealia), and a pair of similarly-named MCs called Kash Doll and Asian Doll.
Much like the recent influx of “Lil” rappers, hip-hop has experienced something of a boom in female rappers with “Doll” in their names, including two not mentioned by Nicki: Cuban Doll and Dream Doll. With all these Doll rappers running around, how does one keep up — or tell the difference? I took a deep dive into their respective catalogs to help you spot the difference when you inevitably hear their work on the radio or streaming service of your choice. Get familiar soon; all four of these rappers are prepped to blow given the right situation, and with Nicki’s co-sign, we’ll likely be hearing more of them sooner rather than later.
The 20-year-old Asian Doll hails from Dallas, TX, and is probably the most high-profile of the Doll rappers so far, thanks in large part to her appearance on the remix to Bhad Bhabie’s “Hi Bich.” Like many of her cohorts, she’s adopted a colorful, festival-approved aesthetic that usually sees her with crystals affixed to her face and recently favoring a twin buns hairstyle similar to the one adopted by Nicki Minaj on her “Chun-Li” cover.
She has a number of independently-released projects available for stream or download, with the most recent being 2017’s Kill Bill, Vol. 1. She dropped out of high school as her drill-influenced music career began to take off, and she still laces her songs with acidic threats over heavy 808s and vocal processing, giving her voice an almost robotic quality. Her Doll SZN mixtape is due for a May 4 release.
Like Asian Doll, Cuban Doll is 20-years-old and also shares a Dallas origin. However, unlike Asian Doll, Cuban cites Chief Keef as a primary influence and has an affinity for West Coast-inspired flows. The tatted-up Cuban was also one of the first to acknowledge the preponderance of Doll-themed rap names and strives to set herself apart by coining a bewildering, Nicki-esque array of nicknames and aliases, including Cuban Savage and Aaliyah Keef.
While some of her similarly-monikered peers long harbored rap aspirations, Cuban made the switch after garnering viral fame as an Instagram personality, telling Paper magazine: “My pictures would go viral, just having photo shoots and stuff, getting my hair done, just being pretty. And then everybody would want to copy me, get my hairstyle or want to get what I’m wearing.” She’s starting to break out as a rapper after her the reception to her song “Bankrupt” from her Aaliyah Keef mixtape, which is available now. While her flow could use some tightening up, for someone who only started releasing music a year ago, she has already seen an impressive boost in her profile, booking an appearance at Rolling Loud in Miami.
DreamDoll may be the oldest Doll at 26-years-old and the most experienced in the entertainment business — she’s appeared on both Bad Girls Club and Love & Hip-Hop, but she’s actually the newbie when it comes to releasing music — she’s only been rapping professionally since 2017.
It shows somewhat in her flows; while there’s a titanic swagger behind her delivery, her actual rhymes are simplistic and straightforward. Since she doesn’t get too complex, she lands on the beat a little more consistently than her contemporaries but has a long way to go before she really impresses. Her Life In Plastic EP hit iTunes late last year, but since then she appears to have had a minor meltdown on social media, resulting in her deleting all of her Instagram posts. Time will tell if she actually sticks it out in the music business, but with her singles accumulating millions of hits on Youtube, it would be a shame if she were to have quit just as she was gaining momentum.
Of all the Dolls, Kash may be the best bet for a lasting, truly successful rap career. Not only is the Detroit native the best pure rapper of the bunch, she has also appeared alongside fellow hometown favorite Big Sean on his collaborative album with Metro Boomin, Double Or Nothing, and her single “For Everybody” has more Youtube hits than any of the other neophyte rappers who share her lyrical epithet.
She also made headlines last year with her response to fellow dancer-turned-rapper Cardi B receiving a Spirit of Detroit Award, which was echoed by Motor City rap icon Royce Da 5’9. Kash also turned heads during her appearance on BET’s Hip-Hop Awards Cypher and with her recently released mixtape Brat Mail, released on her 26th birthday. With her polished, more intricate flow, the co-sign of hip-hop titan Nicki Minaj, and a multi-year headstart on the competition, Kash Doll just might be the one to watch, but all of the Dolls are currently making waves, and not one should be overlooked.