Gotta give up to the girls, here's our Top 15 ...
Female rappers have made great strides in proving themselves in Hip Hop Music. They are doing their best to carve out a space for themselves in a male-dominated genre. We’ve seen promising emcee’s over the years but those mentioned here have proven themselves beyond reasonable doubt their ability and skill when it comes to rap music.
Below, you’ll get to know the top 15 best female rappers of all time. They are considered among the genre’s greatest to ever hold the mic and spit fire lyrics.
1. Missy Elliot
In 2002 Missy won her first Grammy award, for her single “Get Ur Freak On” created by Timbaland. She went on to win Grammys for the songs “Scream aka. Itchin’” (2003) and “Work It” (2004), for her album Under Construction (2004) and for the video for “Lose Control” (2006).
Along with her Grammys, Missy has received American Music Awards, multiple BET Awards for best female hip-hop artist and several MTV Video Awards for her iconic music videos. Undoubtedly she’s at the top when it comes to female rappers of all time.
She is also a businesswoman who retains full creative control over her music, videos and productions. Elliot is also a longtime collaborator with her childhood friend from Virginia, the producer Timbaland.
2. Remy Ma
Remy Ma got discovered by Big Pun, and became known for her work as a member of Fat Joe’s group, Terror Squad. In 2006, she released her debut studio album There’s Something About Remy: Based on a True Story, peaking at number 33 on the Billboard 200 chart.
She is one of only five female rappers to ever top the Billboard Hot 100 chart (as a member of Terror Squad on “Lean Back”), and one of only three multiple winners of the BET Award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist, which she won in 2005 and 2017.
Hailing from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Eve won the Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration in 2002, for the song “Let Me Blow Ya Mind“, with American singer Gwen Stefani. Eve was number 48 on VH1’s “50 Greatest Women of the Video Era” list.
4. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill is best known for being a member of Fugees and for her solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. In high school, Hill formed a band with the Fugees and released the albums Blunted on Reality (1994), and the Grammy Award–winning The Score (1996).
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200. It included the singles “Doo Wop (That Thing)” (also a number one), “Ex-Factor” (became her biggest solo hit in UK), and “Everything Is Everything“. At the 41st Grammy Awards, the record earned her five awards, including Album of the Year and Best New Artist.
5. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj started creating a buzz after releasing the mixtapes Playtime Is Over (2007), Sucka Free (2008), and Beam Me Up Scotty (2009). After which she signed to Young Money Entertainment in 2009. No doubt Nicki Minaj is one of the best female rappers of all time.
She released her first studio album, Pink Friday (2010), which peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200 and was ultimately certified triple platinum. Her sophomore album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, was released in 2012 and debuted at number one in several countries. Minaj’s third studio album, The Pinkprint, was released in 2014 while her fourth studio album, Queen, was released in 2018.
Minaj has received six American Music Awards, 11 BET Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, four Billboard Music Awards, a Billboard Women in Music Rising Star Award, and 10 Grammy Award nominations.
Rapsody began her career at North Carolina State University, where she joined hip hop collective H2O and its spinoff group Kooley High, despite not having rapped before. The group would later meet producer 9th Wonder in 2004, and would go on to make her recording debut on 9th Wonder’s sophomore album, The Dream Merchant Vol. 2.
She released her first mixtape Return of the B-Girl on December 7, 2010. Return of the B-Girl marked her first work with legendary hip-hop producer, DJ Premier, and featured guests such as Mac Miller and Big Daddy Kane.
Rapsody released her next mixtape, Thank H.E.R. Now featuring acts such as Marsha Ambrosius, Estelle, Raekwon, Jean Grae, Murs, and Big K.R.I.T.
Rapsody signed to Jay-Z’s record label Roc Nation in July 2016, and her debut for the label, Laila’s Wisdom, was released in September 2017. The album received two Grammy Award nominations for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song.
7. Lil’ Kim
Lil Kim lived much of her teen life on the streets after being expelled from home. She would freestyle rap, heavily influenced by fellow female hip-hop artists like MC Lyte and The Lady of Rage. She’s one of the best female rappers of all time.
In 1994, she was discovered by fellow rapper The Notorious B.I.G., who invited her to join his rap group Junior M.A.F.I.A.; their debut album as a group, Conspiracy, generated two top 20 singles.
Her following albums, The Notorious K.I.M. (2000) and La Bella Mafia (2003), were also certified platinum, making her the only female rapper besides Missy Elliott and Nicki Minaj to have at least three platinum-certified studio albums.
8. The Lady Of Rage
The Lady Of Rage did several collaborations with Death Row Records artists, including Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg on the seminal albums The Chronic and Doggystyle.
She has been described as “one of the most skillful female MCs” with a “mastery of flow” and “hard-core lyrics”.
In 1994, she released the hit single “Afro Puffs” which reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart. Her debut solo album, Necessary Roughness, was released in June 1997 and peaked at number 7 on the Billboard R&B Album chart and 32 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.
9. Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah signed with Tommy Boy Records in 1989 and released her debut album All Hail the Queen the same year, featuring the hit single “Ladies First“. She released her second album Nature of a Sista (1991) and her third album Black Reign (1993). It featured the single “U.N.I.T.Y.“, which won a Grammy Award and was successful on the Billboard Hot 100.
Salt-N-Pepa are an American hip-hop/rap trio from New York City. It consisted of Cheryl James (“Salt”), Sandra Denton (“Pepa”) and originally Latoya Hanson (also known as Latoya Pamela Greene) who was replaced in 1987 by Deidra Roper (“DJ Spinderella”).
The group formed in 1985 and was one of the first all-female rap groups. The group won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. They are well known for songs such as “Shoop“, “Push It” and “Let’s Talk About Sex”
11. MC Lyte
MC Lyte is considered one of the best female rappers of all time. She became popular in the late 1980s, becoming the first solo female rapper to release a full album with 1988’s critically acclaimed Lyte as a Rock. Having been written over the course of many years, the album was recognized for such hits as “Paper Thin“, its title track, and the battle rap “10% Dis“.
Lyte’s fourth album, 1993’s Ain’t No Other, became her first to reach gold status and was notable for her first top 40 pop hit, “Ruffneck“. “Ruffneck” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Single, making MC Lyte the first female solo rapper ever nominated for a Grammy.
Lyte’s fifth album, Bad As I Wanna B, had hits such as “Keep on, Keepin’ On” and the famous hit song “Cold Rock a Party“, of which also featured then up-and-coming rapper, songwriter and producer Missy Elliott. “Keep on, Keepin’ On” peaked at the top ten and “Cold Rock a Party” peaked at number eleven. It was Lyte’s second gold album.
MC Lyte has been considered one of hip-hop’s pioneer feminists.
Trina became popular in 1998 with her appearance on Trick Daddy’s second studio album www.thug.com on the single “Nann Nigga”.
The Source celebrated Trina’s career for the 2012 Women’s History Month. In 2013 Complex ranked “Pull Over” number 27 in their Top 50 Best Rap Songs by Women. In 2014, Trina was included in Billboard‘s list of the “31 Female Rappers Who Changed Hip-Hop”.
Trina’s fourth studio album, Still da Baddest was released on April 1, 2008. It reached number six on the Billboard 200, number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and number one on the Top Rap Albums chart, becoming her first album to top the charts.
13. Foxy Brown
She left the Def Jam label in 2003, thus canceling the release of her Ill Na Na 2 album. However, she returned to the label in January 2005 after then-Def Jam president and CEO Jay-Z signed her back to begin work on her new album Black Roses. In December 2005, she began suffering from hearing loss, which put her career on hiatus until the next summer, a few months after surgery.
She has been referred to as the “Hip-Hop Princess” by the media. She is also known for her extensive beefs with artists such as Lil Kim, Queen Latifah, Queen Pen, Kurupt, Eve, Ja Rule, Remy Ma, and many others.
14. Da Brat
Da Brat begun her career in 1992, her debut album Funkdafied (1994) sold one million copies and entered the rap albums chart at number 1. This made her the first female solo rap act to receive a platinum certification, and the second overall female rap act (solo or group) after Salt-N-Pepa. Da Brat has received two Grammy Award nominations.
M.I.A rose to prominence in early 2004 for her singles “Sunshowers” and “Galang“, charting in Canada and the UK and reaching number 11 on the Billboard Hot Dance Singles Sales in the US. She has been nominated for an Academy Award, three Grammy Awards and the Mercury Prize.
Her single “Paper Planes” peaked in the Top 20 worldwide and reached number four on the Billboard Hot 100. “Paper Planes” was certified gold in New Zealand and three times platinum in Canada and the US where, as of November 2011, it was ranked the seventh best-selling song by a British artist in the digital era.
Though female rappers continue to exist within the margins we hope that the future will see an increase in the number of female rappers. They make a great contribution towards the genre displaying their different voices, flavors and style.
This will require female rappers to show and prove their development as an artist. This will raise the standards and create opportunities for other aspiring female rappers.