Fire Starter: Phendi

Essential Info: Female rappers never had it easy, but luckily Baltimore’s Phendi made the right connections, one of whom happens to share her name.

Dirty Money Records executive Fendi has had a hand in the careers of both Lil Kim and Nicki Minaj, so when he took notice of Phendi, he knew exactly what to do with the young spitter.

But Phendi, who will release her new mixtape Label Whore on July 31, didn’t initially plan to become an MC. "I’ve just always been into designer, and before I started doing music, I wanted to be in fashion," she said. "I’m a seamstress, so I would sew clothes and get my friends to wear ’em." It wasn’t until 2009 that she knew she wanted to be a rapper. "My cousins were on a mixtape, I walked in the room and they were rapping so, for some reason I just took the beat home, wrote to it, came back and started rapping ever since," the MC said.

One day, she tweeted out one of her videos to all her followers, and a half an hour later, the savvy industry vet reached out to her. It was Phendi’s rap swag that drew him in instantly.

While some past female MCs have relied on sex to sell, the rising star focuses on hard rhymes and brash flows. "I think it’s a different sound," she said. "Now there’s not too many females out and I think it’s not what you’re hearing out there, so it’s just a different sound."