Male voices have dominated the hip-hop world for decades, but the landscape is shifting as more talented female rappers rise to prominence. Driven by a unique blend of lyrical prowess, bold personas, and empowering narratives, these women are reshaping the genre, shattering stereotypes, and challenging the status quo.
From pioneers like MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, and Lil’ Kim to current heavyweights like Nicki Minaj, Megan Thee Stallion, and Cardi B, female rappers have continuously showcased their ability to dominate the charts and create influential music. While some have gained recognition through pop-infused tunes, others have made their mark with hard-hitting rhymes and unapologetic authenticity.
This list will celebrate the top 10 best female rappers of all time, highlighting their distinct styles, powerful messages, and their lasting impact on fans and fellow artists alike. Whether they’re breaking records, inspiring generations, or simply pushing the boundaries of the hip-hop genre, these women have become legends in their own right.
Pioneers in Female Rap
MC Lyte and Queen Latifah
MC Lyte emerged in the late ’80s as a groundbreaking female rapper. She was a pioneer not only for women in hip-hop but also for the genre itself. MC Lyte challenged the male-dominated rap industry with her confident, knowledgeable, neutral, and straightforward lyrics.
Queen Latifah, another influential rapper in the late ’80s and early ’90s, helped transform the genre by addressing social issues and women’s empowerment in her lyrics. Her strong, assertive style served as an inspiration for future female rappers.
Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliot, and Foxy Brown
The mid-’90s saw the rise of Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliot, and Foxy Brown, who all contributed significantly to the evolution of female rap. Lil’ Kim pushed the boundaries of sexual expression in her lyrics and fashion, challenging gender norms. Missy Elliot’s innovative music and unique style made her one of the most influential rappers of all time. Foxy Brown brought a gritty, street-smart sensibility to her music, adding to the diverse range of female voices in rap.
Pioneers Impact on the Genre
These pioneers impacted the rap and hip-hop genre in various ways:
- Breaking barriers: They challenged the male-dominated industry, allowing more female rappers to emerge in hip-hop.
- Diverse content: They introduced new subject matter, such as women’s empowerment, social issues, and personal experiences.
- Innovative styles: They experimented with different styles and pushed the boundaries of what was considered acceptable in the genre.
These early female rappers paved the way for the success of women in hip-hop today. Their influence can be traced through the careers of contemporary artists like Cardi B and Nicki Minaj, who continue to break new ground in the genre.
Top 10 Best Female Rappers
1. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill is undoubtedly one of the most influential female rappers in the industry. Her debut solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” showcased her lyricism, soulfulness, and dynamic storytelling abilities. Lauryn effortlessly fuses hip-hop, R&B, and reggae, creating a unique sound that still resonates with fans today.
Eve, another prominent rapper, gained fame in the late ’90s and early 2000s. She worked closely with Dr. Dre and the Ruff Ryders crew, releasing hits like “Who’s That Girl” and “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” alongside Gwen Stefani. Eve’s versatility and powerful delivery solidify her place among the top female rappers.
3. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj, known for her distinctive flow and animated wordplay, has been a dominant force in hip-hop since her debut. She has collaborated with high-profile artists such as Kanye West, Rihanna, and Beyoncé, establishing herself as a leading figure in the industry.
4. Cardi B
Cardi B, another top female rapper, has had a meteoric rise in hip-hop. Her candid lyrics, confidence, and charismatic personality have quickly made her a fan favorite. With hits like “Bodak Yellow” and “I Like It,” Cardi B has left an indelible mark on hip-hop culture.
5. Da Brat
Da Brat, the first female solo rapper to earn a platinum album, is known for her fast-paced flow and bold lyrics. With hits like “Funkdafied” and “Give It 2 You,” she has solidified her status as a rap pioneer.
6. Remy Ma
Remy Ma’s presence in the rap game is equally strong. She has consistently released music since the early 2000s, holding her own in a male-dominated industry. Her powerful delivery and storytelling abilities have earned her numerous accolades.
Trina, dubbed the “Diamond Princess,” burst onto the scene with her debut album “Da Baddest Bitch.” Known for her confident, provocative lyrics, and energetic flow, Trina has been a force in the hip-hop world for two decades.
8. Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion is a relatively new addition to the list of female rap powerhouses. She has quickly gained a massive following, sharing the stage with industry heavyweights and earning several awards. Her anthems like “Savage” and her collaboration with Beyoncé make her an undeniable presence in hip-hop.
9. Missy Elliot
Missy Elliott is an icon in the rap world, known for her innovative visuals and production. She has sold over 30 million records, making her one of the top-selling female rappers ever. Her witty, unique delivery and timeless hits have made her an influential figure in the genre.
10. Foxy Brown
Foxy Brown’s audacious lyricism and unparalleled flow elevated women’s visibility in 90s hip-hop. She challenged gender norms with her unabashed femininity and raw style. Hits like “I’ll Be,” “Hot Spot,” and “Oh Yeah” defined her impact, merging assertive narratives with unforgettable beats, cementing her place in hip-hop’s legacy.
Commercial Success and Charts
Influential Albums and EPs
Several female rappers have released highly influential albums and EPs contributing to their commercial success. For example, Nicki Minaj’s debut album Pink Friday (2010) and her follow-up Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012) reached the top of the Billboard 200 chart. Another artist, Cardi B, made waves with her debut studio album Invasion of Privacy (2018), which also hit the top of the Billboard 200 and earned her a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album.
- Missy Elliott has released numerous successful albums, including Supa Dupa Fly (1997) and Under Construction (2002), both of which garnered critical acclaim and commercial success.
- Lil’ Kim made her mark with her debut album Hard Core (1996), which has influenced the sound and style of many female rappers who followed in her footsteps.
- City Girls, a hip hop duo from Miami, gained fame with their mixtapes and EPs that showcased their confident and energetic style.
Female rappers have consistently broken records and made history on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Cardi B became the first female rapper to achieve multiple solo No.1 hits with “Bodak Yellow” and “I Like It.” Additionally, Nicki Minaj holds the record for the most Billboard Hot 100 entries among female rappers, with several of her songs reaching the top 10.
Some more groundbreaking achievements include:
- Missy Elliott has six entries for female rappers’ 25 biggest Hot 100 hits.
- Da Brat was the first female solo rapper to score a platinum album with her 1994 debut, Funkdafied.
Numerous female rappers have topped the charts with their unique styles and powerful performances. Some examples are:
- “Bodak Yellow” by Cardi B
- “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj
- “Work It” by Missy Elliott
- “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX
These chart-topping hits showcase female rappers’ commercial success and widespread appeal, proving that they have successfully carved out their space in the hip-hop industry. Their innovative styles, memorable lyrics, and captivating performances have solidified their rightful places at the top of the charts, earning them both critical acclaim and commercial success.
Crossover Success and Popularity
Acting and Celebrity Collaborations
Many female rappers have successfully crossed over into acting, showcasing their versatile talents. For instance, Queen Latifah has enjoyed an illustrious career as an actress and a pioneering MC, earning critical acclaim and various awards for her performances. Similarly, Lizzo, known for her empowering lyrics and unique musical style, has also ventured into acting with roles in movies and television shows.
Celebrity collaborations have played a significant role in the success and popularity of female rappers. The collaboration between Gangsta Boo and Snoop Dogg on the song “Bitches Ain’t Shit” was a notable example of artists from different eras coming together to create a powerful track. Moreover, rappers like Latto and Future have collaborated on songs, further solidifying their credibility in the industry.
Mainstream Popularity and Recognition
Female rappers have increasingly gained mainstream popularity and recognition from their peers and the music industry. For example, Nicki Minaj, often dubbed as the “Queen of Rap”, has consistently broken various records throughout her career, securing her place as one of the most successful and influential artists in the genre.
Megan Thee Stallion, another prominent name in hip-hop, has enjoyed numerous awards and accolades, including multiple MTV Video Music Awards and Grammy Awards. In addition, her song with Cardi B, “WAP”, became a cultural phenomenon, exemplifying her far-reaching influence.
Brooklyn-based rapper Young M.A garnered widespread attention with her single “Ooouuu,” catapulting her to fame. As female rappers continue gaining traction in the industry, they have garnered recognition from their male counterparts like 2Pac, J. Cole, and Big Daddy Kane, who have acknowledged their lyrical and artistic prowess.
Though they may incorporate different styles and themes, these female rappers have undeniably impacted the music industry and beyond, cementing their place as influential figures in their own right. In doing so, they continue to push boundaries and pave the way for future generations of talented women in hip-hop.
Newcomers and Rising Stars
Coi Leray is a confident and talented young artist making her mark on hip-hop. This NYC native has brought a fresh and unique sound to the genre, quickly gaining traction with her hit singles and memorable performances. With her clear and energetic delivery, Coi Leray has already collaborated with Lil Nas X and continues gaining popularity in the industry.
BIA is another knowledgeable and neutral artist quickly rising to fame in the world of hip-hop. Known for her clever wordplay and distinct voice, BIA has made a lasting impression on fans and fellow artists. She has collaborated with some of the biggest names in music, including Drake, solidifying her place as one of the most promising young artists in the rap scene today.
The JT and Yung Miami duo—collectively known as City Girls—have quickly become a powerful force in the hip-hop community. Hailing from Florida, their clear and catchy rhymes have captivated fans and made them stand out among their contemporaries. Their collaborations with top artists like Cardi B have only helped cement their status as an influential and unstoppable duo in the industry.
Collaborations and Features with Top Artists
Both newcomers and rising stars in the world of female rappers have made significant strides by collaborating with top artists in the industry. These partnerships have played a crucial role in showcasing the versatility and unique talent that each rapper brings to the table:
- Coi Leray: Lil Nas X
- BIA: Drake
- City Girls: Cardi B
These collaborations and features have helped catapult these artists into the limelight, further expanding their reach and solidifying their place among the best female rappers in hip-hop today.
Influential Songs and Lyrics
When discussing the top 10 best female rappers, it’s essential to highlight the influential songs and lyrics that have left a lasting impact on the rap music scene. Missy Elliott’s “Work It” is an unforgettable track that showcases her distinctive style and lyrical prowess. The song was a commercial success and has become a staple anthem in the hip-hop world.
Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” is another memorable song that furthered the visibility of female rappers. Its catchy beat and bold lyrics helped bring female-driven rap music to the forefront, demonstrating Nicki’s mastery of singing and rapping. “Super Bass” became a defining moment in her career, setting her apart from other rappers in the industry.
Other influential female rappers, such as Public Enemy, have made their mark on the genre with their politically charged rap music. This approach showcases their creativity and ability to address social issues through their words and beats.
Emerging artists like Rico Nasty, Diamond, Monie Love, Flo Milli, and Cardi B all contribute to the vibrant landscape of female rappers. Each of these artists brings a unique sound and perspective to the table. For example, Rico Nasty’s aggressive style and distinct delivery capture her audience’s attention, while Flo Milli’s clever wordplay and confident attitude contribute to her fast rise within the rap scene.
Cardi B’s debut album, “Invasion of Privacy”, quickly gained attention and praise for its candid portrayal of life as a woman in the rap industry. This album featured hits like “Bodak Yellow,” which became an empowering anthem for many women, showcasing Cardi’s strength and determination to succeed.
Here are some notable songs from these female rappers:
- Missy Elliott: “Work It”
- Nicki Minaj: “Super Bass”
- Public Enemy: “Fight The Power”
- Rico Nasty: “Smack A B*tch”
- Diamond: “Bankrupt”
- Monie Love: “It’s a Shame (My Sister)”
- Flo Milli: “In The Party”
- Cardi B: “Bodak Yellow”
In conclusion, the top female rappers have produced many influential songs and lyrics over the years, significantly impacting rap music and empowering a new generation of women. Their unique styles, lyrical prowess, and memorable songs continue to pave the way for future artists.
The hip-hop world has long been male-dominated, but the rise of talented female rappers has reshaped the industry. These women have graced music videos with their unique styles and have paved their way up the ranks to make their presence felt. While it may be challenging to compete in such a tough environment, one thing is certain: female rappers are here to stay and make an incredible impact.
Many top female rappers have consistently charted on the Billboard Hot 100, proving their commercial appeal and ability to connect with fans. From seasoned veterans like Missy Elliott and Nicki Minaj to the newer generation, including Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B, these women have shown they can hold their own in a fiercely competitive genre.
The contributions of these rappers have also been noticed outside of the music sphere. Whether it’s in fashion or activism, these artists have used their platforms to promote change and empower others. They continue to challenge stereotypes and break down barriers, proving that hip hop is a space in which everyone can thrive.
In conclusion, the influence of female rappers in the hip-hop industry is undeniable. They have captivated fans with their powerful lyrics and unique styles and inspired a generation of upcoming artists. As the landscape continues to evolve, it’s clear that female rappers will continue to make waves, pushing the boundaries of being a trailblazer in this dynamic genre.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the top female rappers of all time?
The top female rappers of all time have made significant contributions to the hip-hop genre, including iconic artists such as Lauryn Hill, Lil’ Kim, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, and Foxy Brown. These artists have paved the way for a new generation of female rappers and have left a lasting impact on the music industry.
Which young female rappers are making waves?
Some young female rappers making waves in the industry include Flo Milli, Baby Tate, Doechii, Enny, Chika, and Ice Spice. These artists are bringing fresh styles and perspectives to hip-hop while rapidly growing their fan bases and achieving success in the charts.
Who was the highest-selling female rapper of all time?
Nicki Minaj holds the title of the highest-selling female rapper of all time. She has sold millions of albums worldwide and has broken multiple records, including the most Billboard Hot 100 entries by a female solo artist.
Who are the best female rappers right now?
Some of the prominent female rappers in the current music scene include Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, and City Girls. They have gained massive popularity with chart-topping hits and continue influencing the hip-hop genre.
Which female rappers dominated the 90s?
The 90s saw the rise of several influential female rappers, such as Lauryn Hill, Lil’ Kim, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, and Foxy Brown. These artists pushed boundaries with their strong lyrical content and unique styles, impacting the hip-hop genre.
Who is the female rapper with the most top 10 hits?
Cardi B holds the record for the most top 10 hits by a female rapper on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Throughout her career, she has achieved numerous chart-topping singles, solidifying her position as a dominant force in the music industry.