The 15 Best Female Rappers of All Time
Rap is mainly associated with male-centric attitudes and lyrics. However, this changed with the likes of Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj, and Queen Latifah, who amazed the audience with their amazing flow, outstanding lyrics, and solid ambition to push any boundary set by the male-centric world.
The rap world was mainly dominated by male rappers, and the female MCs were often pushed to the side and ignored. But talent and good music do not depend on age, gender, nationality, or anything. So, eventually, many amazing female rappers came to the scene and shattered the limitations.
The hip-hop and rap world is outstandingly richer and better with women, without any shred of doubt. So, here are 15 of the best female rappers that contributed to this change in the past and rocking the world today.
1. Nicki Minaj
Often cited as “the queen of rap,” one of the most famous names in rap music today is Nicky Minaj. As one of the best-selling music artists with more than 100 million records sold worldwide, Nicki Minaj is one of the most influential rappers of all time. Billboard also put her in the top position in the list of top female rappers of the 2010s list.
The Trinidadian-born rapper is mainly known for her versatile style, sharp and direct lyrics, amazing flow as well as her use of different accents and personas. Her first recognition in the music world was thanks to the three mixtapes released between 2007 and 2009. She became a star with her debut album in 2010, Pink Friday. The album got exceptionally successful, topping the U.S. Billboard 200 chart.
Her songs such as “Anaconda,” “Super Bass,” “Trollz”, “Tusa,” and many more are considered some of the rap classics of the 2010s.
2. Missy Elliott
Another superstar female rapper, Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, is one of the strongest figures in the rap music world. She is one of the best-selling artists as she has sold more than 30 million records in the U.S. and won four Grammy Awards. That is why Missy was referred to as the “Queen Of Rap” in the 90s and early 2000s.
Her hits such as “Get Ur Freak On,” “Sock It 2 Me,” and “Work It” achieved huge success worldwide and gave her a great reputation.
Missy was one of the game-changers in rap history as she removed the limits of how a female rap artist should sound and look with her unique approaches. It did not matter what she was wearing, as she was only concerned with being creative. She was and is well-known for her catchy lyrical content and experimental and abstract concepts in her music videos.
Missy Elliot always put activist content in her lyrics, staying loyal to the real origins of rap and hip-hop. She liked to talk about themes of feminism, gender equality, body positivity, and sex positivity.
3. MC Lyte
As the first female rapper to release an entire rap album as a solo artist, MC Lyte is another one of the female rap pioneers. Her 1988 album “Lyte As A Rock” is a huge milestone in female rap history with hits like “Paper Thin” and “10% Dis“.
Later, she became the first female rapper to receive a gold certification from RIAA with her fourth album, “Ain’t No Other,” which featured great hits like “Ruffneck”. Today MC Lyte is considered one of the greatest pioneers of the female rap scene. She inspired many artists such as Queen Latifah, Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill, and many more.
She often raps about racism, sexism, and the drug culture affecting the African-American community. She helped a lot to shift the rap scene from the party vibe of the 80s to a more socially conscious side. Her rap is best described as “mid-tempo, aggressive yet articulated.”
4. Lauryn Hill
Another female rap legend is Lauryn Hill, even though she only had one proper album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” The album won 5 Grammy Awards and reshaped the hip-hop sound. She is considered the artist who popularized melodic rapping with hints of hip-hop and neo-soul influences.
Although she did not release many solo albums or records, she inspired a whole new generation of artists from a wide range of genres, such as Beyonce, Dua Lipa, Kanye West, Nicki Minaj, Nas, Jay-Z, Missy Elliot, and many more.
She is widely known for her effort to break barriers for female rappers, using the melodic rapping style which reshaped the hip-hop scene. With her unique style and amazing flow in her solo works and former works with the band The Fugees, she is considered one of the greatest hip-hop artists and rappers of all time.
5. Da Brat
The first female rapper to receive platinum certification as a solo artist was Da Brat, with her spitfire rapping technique. Her debut album in 1994, “Funkdafied,” made her the first female rapper to sell over 1 million album copies. Her hits like “Funkdafied” and “Not Tonight” became top ten hits giving her big fame.
Da Brat received two Grammy Award nominations and is considered one of the greatest and most unique female rappers with her style and flow. Although she could not produce any commercially successful album following up her legendary debut album, she had some success with singles such as “I Think They Like Me,” “Loverboy,” and “In Love with Chu.”
6. Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah is referred to as the “rap’s first feminist” with her debut album “All Hail The Queen” and her debut single “Ladies First.” Her strong stand against violence against women and the objectification of Black female sexuality, combined with her outstanding lyrics and flow, gave her many awards, including a Grammy Award and worldwide fame, as well as a passage to Hollywood.
In the 90s, Queen Latifah stepped into the Hollywood world, becoming the first hip-hop artist to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006. She was also nominated for an Academy Award as a supporting actress in 2002.
Her biggest hits were “Ladies First,” “U.N.I.T.Y.”, and “Fly Girl,” while her album “Balck Reign” became the first album from a solo female rapper to receive an RIAA certification. She earned many awards throughout her career and became one of the legendary names in the hip-hop world as a rapper, actress, and singer.
7. Foxy Brown
Fozy Brown is another famous name in the rap world with her big hits like “Get Me Home, “I’ll Be, “Oh Yeah“, “Big Bad Mama,” and “Letter To The Firm.” She became the second female rapper to chart in the Billboard Top 200 after Laureny Hill with her second album “Chyna Doll.” in 1999.
Often cited as “The Hip-Hop Princess,” Foxy Brown was a member of the hip-hop band The Firm, along with Nas, AZ, and Cormega. Her lyrical content mainly goes around fashion, sex, and gangster topics, while her music and videos have strong, seductive elements with a sleek and attractive soundscape.
Two times Grammy Award nominee Rapsody is known for her amazing lyrical content with great metaphors and wordplays as well as intricate rhyme patterns. With her motto “Culture Over Everything,” Rhapsody tries to contribute to the rap world, trying to touch people and protect female rappers’ rights in the music world.
Rapsody carries the heritage she received from MC Lyte and Miss Lauryn Hill. In an interview, she says that to her, rapping is not about money but culture. She does not support rap songs made solely for consumption and says the commercial side of the genre is not rap or hip-hop. She tries to make songs for the people of the hip-hop culture, not for the masses. This is, she says, how she respects and protects the hip-hop culture.
Her style and philosophy are clearly felt in her second album, “Laila’s Wisdom (2017)”, which received two Grammy Award nominations.
9. Remy Ma
Another highly successful female rapper, Remy Ma, with her two BET Awards for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist awards, was introduced to the rap scene by Big Pun in 2000. Before starting her solo journey in 2006, she made a name for herself as a member of “Terror Squad,” Fat Joe’s hip-hop group. Her debut album “There’s Something About Remy: Based on a True Story,” charted on the Billboard 200.
Her most successful hits are “Ante Up (Remix),” “Lean Back,” “Conceited,” and “All the Way Up.” Remy Ma is not only known for her musical career but her legal issues and controversies against other female rappers such as Foxy Brown and Nicki Minaj. Ma had disagreements and long beefs against both of the artists.
10. Lil’ Kim
One of the first artists to be called “The Queen Of Rap” was Lil Kim in the 90s. As a top-selling hip-hop artist with over 30 million singles sold worldwide, she became a social and fashion icon with her emphasis on sex-positive feminism and the importance of female pleasure.
Some of her most commercially successful hits were “No Time”, “Big Momma Thang,” and “Not Tonight”. Before her solo career, she was a part of the group Junior M.A.F.I.A. She is famous for her amazing freestyle skills, great flow, and lyrical content that goes against men as the dominant priority through explicit lyrics about sex.
To date, Lil’ Kim is one of the most successful and iconic female rappers.
11. Lady of Rage
The Lady Of Rage is mainly known for her great collaborations with famous names in the hip-hop scene, such as Snoop Dogg, Dr.Dre, and The Chronic. She is considered one of the most talented female MCs who combines hard-core lyrical content with her mastery of the art of the flow.
Her first big hit was the “Afro Puffs”, which was released in 1994 and charted in the Billboard Hot Rap Singles list. Her debut album, ”Necessary Roughness”, released in June 1997, was also relatively successful, as it was it found a place in the top 10 of the Billboard R&B Album chart.
Trino got the attention of the rap music world in 1998 with her part in the Trick Daddy single “Nann Nigga”. She has been one of the most consistent rappers of all time thanks to her prolific career and success brought her many awards and nominations, including 10 BET Award nominations.
The most commercially successful Trina album so far was her fourth studio album, “Still da Baddest” released in 2008, which reached number one on the Top Rap Albums charts back then. Billboard considers her one of the women who changed the rap and hip-hop world.
13. Rah Digga
Rah Digga is mainly known as the longtime member and the lone woman of the “Flipmode Squad,” the hip hop group founded and led by Busta Rhymes. She worked with many famous faces even before the group, such as Lauryn Hill in the hit “Cowboys.” She is famous for her unique vocal delivery, sharp sense of humor, and skilled flow.
Her debut was “Dirty Harriet” in 2000, which caught the attention of Rah Digga’s hardcore style. She has two studio albums so far and won a BET Hip-Hop Award in 2006 with the “Touch It” remix in the Best Collabo category.
The only British rapper on the list, M.I.A., rose to prominence with her hit singles “Galang” and “Sunshowers” in the mid-2000s. But, she received global fame with her mega-hit song “Paper Planes,” which appeared in many TV Series and movies. The song became one of the best-selling songs of the era.
M.I.A. is not only a rapper and singer but also a strong activist who uses evocative political and social commentary in her songs and personal life about the topics such as warfare, immigration, identity, and environmentalism. Her style blends many influences from alternative, electronic, hip-hop, world music, and dance music with a mix of instruments and samples.
She has nominations for Grammy and Academy Awards, as well as two ASCAP and two MTV Awards. In 2009, she was selected as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.
15. Young Ma
One of the younger and recently-got-famous rappers on the list is Young Ma, who rocked the hip-hop world with her quadruple-platinum hit single “Ooouuu” in 2016. Charting in the Billboard Hot 100, the single got huge and reached a view count of more than 300 million on YouTube.
Young Ma is well-known for her great freestyle skills, which she showed at the 2016 BET Hip Hop Awards. She mainly raps about the same topics as male rappers, such as violence, sexuality, wealth, and acquisitions.
The rap and hip-hop world is male-dominated, as is apparent and most people in the industry admit. However, many prolific female rap artists stood up and achieved great success. They often did not forget to address this issue and try to protect female rights, and inspire many other women to step into this world.
I hope that the number of female rappers will increase significantly in the future as they contribute greatly to the genre with their unique approaches, styles, flavors, flows, and voices.