It’s an exciting time for the female rap world. 2019 saw a true and authentic resurgence of the female MC and Cardi B lead the way after breaking the charts with her first studio album Invasion of Privacy. Nicki Minaj is dropping hot fire on reggaeton tracks, and Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” is the soundtrack to the pandemic. Our ears and playlists are ready for all of this new material but we also can’t forget to pay homage to some of the incredible female MCs that paved the way for these women to conquer the male-dominated hip-hop world.
So without further ado, here are ten of the best female MCs of all time that created a platform for this generation’s faves:
Lauryn Hill held her own as the one female voice of The Fugees. She changed the game forever with her debut solo album The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill in 1998, which became an instant classic with hits like “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and “Ex-Factor,” the latter which was recently sampled by Cardi B for her song “Be Careful” and Drake for his track “Nice For What.” Her music has clearly stood the test of time.
Lil’ Kim was the queen of raunchy, unapologetic lyrics and rose to greatness as part of the Notorious B.I.G.’s Junior Mafia crew in the 90s. Her albums “Hard Core,” “The Notorious K.I.M,” and “La Bella Mafia” went platinum, making her part of an elite club of female rappers to have reached that status. Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliott are the only other artists to have achieved that record so far. Her sexy and flamboyant style — the looks in her “Crush on You” music video are a prime example — is still being emulated to this day.
Missy Elliott shook up the game with her innovative sound and visuals from the moment she stepped onto the scene with her debut album Supa Dupa Fly in 1997. She is a sick producer and songwriter who has penned countless hits for herself and the likes of Aaliyah and Whitney Houston. Her work with childhood friend and music producer Timbaland was magical. Who hasn’t danced their butt off to “Work It?”
Foxy Brown is the definition of not holding back on a track with lyrics that aren’t for the faint of heart. She was discovered in a talent show in Brooklyn when she was 15 years old, which led to opportunities to feature on an LL Cool J track and work with Toni Braxton. By the time her platinum-selling debut album “Ill Nana” was released in 1996 came out, which included the hit “I’ll Be” featuring Jay-Z, she had already worked with a long list of hip-hop’s finest.
Queen Latifah’s name says it all. She came onto the scene like royalty with lyrics that uplift Black women. She released her debut album “All Hail to the Queen” in 1989, and won her first Grammy for the single “U.N.I.T.Y.” which includes the line “you’re not a bitch or a hoe you gotta let ‘em know” in 1995.
MC Lyte was the first female rapper to release a solo album with “Lyte as Rock” in 1988. That is enough for us to rest our case, but we’ll go on. The feminist with fire bars was also the first female solo rapper with a gold single and to be nominated for a Grammy thanks to her song “Ruffneck.” These accolades make her widely regarded as a hip-hop pioneer and legend.
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was the powerful rapping force in TLC ,which sold millions of albums in the 90s, making it one of the most successful girl groups of all time. Her empowering lyrics left a mark on fans around the world.
Da Brat did not come to play in the rap game. She worked with Jermaine Dupri and became the first female rapper with a platinum album thanks to the success of “Funkdafied,” which was released in 1994, and solidified her spot in hip-hop history.
Eve came straight out of the gate with an album that debuted at the top of the Billboard charts in 1999 with “Let There Be Eve… Ruff Ryders’ First Lady.” She was part of a crew that included DMX and Jadakiss, where she was trained to hold her own. It ended up going double platinum. Her sophomore album was also a success “Scorpion” by reaching platinum status with bangers like “Who’s That Girl” and “Let Me Blow Ya Mind.”
Salt-N-Pepa is technically a rap group — comprised of Cheryl “Salt” James, Sandra “Pepa” Denton, and Latoya Hanson who ended up being replaced by Deidra Roper a.k.a. DJ Spinderella early on — but the women definitely took the genre by storm in the late 80s and 90s. The success of their 1986 album “Hot, Cool & Vicious,” which included the hit “Push It,” made them the first female rap group to go platinum. The hits just kept on coming in the years that followed with classics like “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Whatta Man.”