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Yes, Hip Hop is a male dominated art, but in every respect the best female rappers in the game have proven their emceeing capabilities to surpass that of the male rappers on countless occasions. Although this may seem debatable, due to the fact that the ratio of male to female rappers has always been in the mens favour, a large number of these female mic controllers have reached astonishing pinnacles that not even the greatest male rap emcees have achieved.
With the idea of sexism dwindling in society, in 2018 there is no question that the throne is up for grabs, for either man or women.
With youtube views for Cardi B’s top track “Bodak Yellow” well over 500,000,000 views, she has found herself a comfortable spot as one of the female Hip Hop artists in 2018. Some other top female rappers of 2018 include: Stefflon Don, Tink, Lady Leshurr, Nikki Minaj, Young M.A, IAMDDB, Dej Loaf, Mahailia, Little Simz and Leikeli47.
When we speak of the best female rappers, we would like our fans to also consider those female emcees that perform on the international scene not only the North American platform. We ask of this, for the same reason that the best female rappers intended to have their voices heard; to look at the art from a view that allows one to appreciate the same idea but from a different yet similar perspective, opening ourselves to the unlimited bounds of innovation that the future world will eventually arrive at.
Below, we will pay homage to the best female rappers of the movement and examine the history of the queens of the hip hop empire that have forever changed the way we look at the art.
Get Lifted and Enjoy!
The Mercedes Ladies live at the T Connection
Many people fail to recognize less popular acts like “The Mercedes Ladies”. Originating in the mid-late 1970’s with their most popular member Sheri Sher, the group consisted of a total of 8 female emcees (Sherri-Sher, RD Smiley, Eve-a-def, DJ LaSpank, Baby D, Zina-Zee, Sweet P and Sty Sty). Largely responsible for laying the foundation for many more of the best female rappers to come in the years after, “The Mercedes Ladies” never attained a record deal, but will always be remembered as pioneers for the female hip hop movement.
A clip from MC Sha-Rocks Film, “Beat Street”.
We cannot discuss the best female rappers without including MC Sha Rock. Beginning her career in 1976 as a break dancer/b-girl in the Bronx, New York, later on Sha-Rock became a member of the hip hop group “The Funky 4+1”. Also known as, “The Mother of the Mic”, Sha Rock was and is still regarded as a highly respected emcee and and played a prominent role in paving the way for female artists. Sha-Rock has received numerous awards and certificates for her achievements in hip hop and her contributions in educating young teens in many important subjects including self awareness. these accomplishments make her a worthy mention when speaking of the best female rappers.
Roxanne Shante - Roxanne's Revenge
Another powerful female force not to be reckoned with is Roxanne Shante. Gaining her fame from one of the earliest diss tracks in hip hop in 1984, called “Roxanne's Revenge” Produced by Marley Marl (A reply to a single put out by UFTO, called “Roxanne Roxanne”, which is a song about the members of the group attempting to at get with a girl named Roxanne), she went on to receive over a hundred responses and that was just the beginning.
Roxanne Shante was in easy competition for the name as the best female rapper as well as a role model for many women across the map, she achieved this through her rugged demeanor and of course her actions. Shante went on to retire from the music scene at 25 to pursue education.
Salt-N-Pepa - live at WoodStock '94
It wasn’t until the mid-late 1980’s when female hip hop artists began catching a buzz on the hip hop scene. In 1985 the trio Salt-N-Pepa was formed in Queens, New York. Salt-N-Pepa, consisting of three members; Salt, Dee Dee and Pepa, is credited as one the the first popular all female hip hop groups to catch the mainstream eye.
In 1985, the group released “Showstopper”, a sampled track from a 1984 film“Revenge of the Nerds”, this song was their one foot in the door.
Known for hits singles like, “Whatta Man”, “Let's Talk About Sex”, “Shoop” and “Push it”, these gals gained popularity through the highly sexual content in their songs. The group went on to receive flak from feminist groups for their explicit sexual content in later tracks. The group continued to put out blatantly erotic tracks and will be always be remembered as some of the best female rappers for not being shy to moan on the mic.
Michie Mee - Jamaican Funk Canadian Style
Noted as Canada’s first female emcee, Michie Mee combines Jamaican Funk and rap together in the late 1980’s. With productions like “Elements of Style”, Michie Mee would go on to become the first Canadian female emcee to get signed with a major American record label.
Incorporating Jamaican dancehall, Funk and rap into one sound, Michie is credited as one of the foremothers of hip hop and many old school hip hop heads would credit her as one of the best female rappers. Michie went on to act and is well known for collaborations with big names like: Maestro, KRS One, Scott La Rock and Thrust.
Mc Lyte Featuring Missy Elliott - Cold Rock A Party
A handful of lady emcees exhibited a hardcore presence on the microphone, equivalent or grander than the top male Hip Hop artists in their era, Among them includes MC Lyte.
Although popularity for the best female rappers had a late rise to the hip hop scene, in September of 1988, MC Lyte is praised as the first female solo emcee to release a full album, called “Lyte As A Rock”.
This was a groundbreaking step forward, not only for the best female rappers, but females in general.
With MC Lyte opening more doors for all women, a underlying unified vibration had been activated in the hip hop world. With lyrical substance to be admired, MC Lyte was more than just a pretty face.
Not afraid to address serious social issues such as sexism and discriminations (Especially since hip hop played a role in glorifying objectification of women), her approach had paved the way for several of the best female rappers such as: Missy Elliot and Queen Latifah.
MC Lyte is applauded for her hard hitting inspirational productions as well as her straight up love songs, including: “Keep On Keepin On”, “Ruffneck” and “Poor Georgie”. MC Lyte also participated in anti-violence campaigns and HIV benefits, speaking up to encourage and provide guidance for those going through hardships.
Queen Latifah - U.N.I.T.Y.
Amongst the long list of the best female rappers, there are few who have expanded beyond the realm of hip hop music and used their influence to positivley reach out to the world on a larger platform. A select number of emcees have transformed the way that we look at everyday life and impacted the earth on a revolutionary level and without these queens, it is possible many doors would not be open.
Queen Latifah, in every aspect lives up to her royal alias.
A singer, rapper, songwriter, record producer, model, actress, television producer, comedian, talk show host, same sex supporter and most of all a beautiful soul, Queen Latifah is one of the highest respected and popular let alone best female rappers of all time.
Hitting the scene with her single, “Ladies First” in 1989, Latifah made it evident that she is serious and is here to stay. Considered as the “First Lady” of hip hop, Queen Latifa led the new wave of female hip hop feminists and offered women across the world confidence and optimism.
Focusing on issues surrounding urban culture, Latifah raised brows by touching on sensitive subjects through her lyrics and expressed the importance of unification with an intense delivery.
Queen Latifah quickly became a spokesperson for love and continues to lead by example, reaching out and relating to others through her own personal experiences, evolving into what many would consider not only the best female rapper, but the queen of the hip hop empire.
The Lady of Rage
The Lady of Rage - Afro Puffs
Now, if you want to talk about a hardcore lyrical murderer with intelligent wordplay, then the super supreme must get a mention. The Lady of Rage is "Unfuckwitable”, thats right! After proving herself on the album, 1991 L.A. Posse “They all come in colors”, Dr Dre discovered this unsigned hype and later appeared on Dr.Dre’s “The chronic” album.
The Lady of Rage is best known for her single “Afro Puffs” that ranked #5 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart. Although her first solo album “Necessary Roughness” under Death Row Records wasn’t released until 1997, it was an anticipated project that was well worth the wait.
Her short lived mainstream popularity did not play a part in ranking her a legend and she is to this day rated as one of the best female rappers and lyricists by true hip hop heads.
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes
Lisa “Left Eye Lopes” - The Block Party
Crazy, Sexy and Cool, Lisa Left Eye Lopes was a Rapper, Singer, dancer and songwriter. As a multi-talented inspirer to many Lisa was member of the popular 90’s R&B group TLC. Lopes also won 4 Grammy Awards.
Left eye passed away in a car crash in 2002 while in Honduras.
Lisa reached depths in her music few can tap into. Considered a very spiritual, liberated and strong young lady, “Left Eye” had a lovable highness to her voice when in key as well as a very serious tone when she spit bars. For this reason she is considered as a nominee for the best female rapper.
Often referred to as the member of TLC who puts the “Crazy” into CrazySexyCool, Lisa wasn’t shy when it comes to her personal life, if anything she is very upfront with her struggles and honest about her troubling past.
Left Eye was signed with Death Row Records and was to release a solo project called “SuperNova”, but she had passed away before it was finished.
Foxy Brown - I’ll Be Good
The American rapper/model Foxy Brown is nothing short of the real deal, this sensation really did live her lyrics. Numerous assault incidents and altercations put Foxy Brown in and out of the medias eye, but did not stop her from doing her thing.
Her dope delivery and badass personality made you get hype when her verse came on, Foxy is a true bad gal. Often compared to Lil Kim for their similar content, Brown wasn’t shy to get sexual on the mic and her attitude landed her a spot on the Def Jam Records roster and then later went on to sign on with Violator Records.
Ranking as one of the best female rappers of all time, Foxy worked along side top emcees of the era, features included: DMX, Jay-Z, Juvenile, Tha Dogg Pound, Noreaga, Cam’ron, Mobb Deep and many more.
In the past Foxy Brown has found herself in several hip hop beef wars with Lil Kim, Queen Latifa, MC Lyte, Queen Pen, Eve and Remy Ma.
Lauryn Hill - Doo-Wop (That thing)
Unarguably, one of the most popular Hip Hop albums of all time was “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill”. A dynamic soul, with resilient vocals, unmatched by any other artists and lyrical abilities that can stop you in your tracks, Lauryn Hill is an entity that stands out of the crowd.
Selling close to 20 million copies of her debut album, breaking records across the board, becoming the first female hip hop performer to be nominated for 10 Grammy Awards, and to win 5.
Classic, classy and despite being miseducated Lauryn Hill is in a class of her own, and this was assured when Obama featured her on his “White House Playlist” with her track, “Nothing Even Matters”.
She is more than just an inspiration the black community, she is a teacher. Hill is regarded highly across the map, recognized as a Songwriter, singer, producer and one of the best female rappers of all time.
On June 26th, 2015 Lauryn Hill was honoured by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) with the ASCAP Golden Note Award.
Da Brat featuring Tyrese - What'chu Like
Da Brat along can take part credit for making the 90s as memorable as it is. Funky melodies, a super cool style and her ability make the fast flow look easy, Da Brat is a sexy-dope original gangsta emcee.
Praised for becoming the first female hip hop artist to have a platinum-selling album "Funkdafied" with her hit single, “Funkdafied”, this was an extraordinary accomplishment considering this was her debut album.
Da Brats hardcore attitude wasn’t an act for the camera and this was demonstrated when she was arrested for allegedly pistol whipping a lady in an Atlanta night club. It is for these qualifications that land Da Brat as one of the best female rappers.
Lil’ Kim Featuring Sisqo - How Many Licks?
Celebrated for her Dirty lyrics and erotic persona, Lil’ Kimberley got a lot of boyfriends in trouble. When she appeared on the television it was almost guaranteed that you won’t blink, because you didn’t want to miss anything. Her sex appeal as well as her raw, nasty and bad-mannered charm is what drew attention towards her and gave her the title as the eras best female rapper.
Growing up on the streets after being kicked out of her house she took up freestyling. this got her recognized by The Notorious B.I.G. whose flow she partially adopted and later went on to date, all while having flings with numerous women. After the death of Biggie Smalls, Kim became frustrated and her solo career came to a brief halt.
Lil’ Kim was well known for the super popular long lived chart topping single, “Lady Marmalade” accompanied by well-known divas of the time, Mya, Pink and Christina Aguilera.
Most recently Lil Kim has feuded with fellow female emcees, Nikki Minaj, Iggy Azalea and Miley Cyrus in 2011, which is interpreted by some as a desperate attempt to return, but others say, its because Nikki, Iggy and Miley are bitting her swag.
Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott
Missy Elliott - Work It
Hit after hit after hit, this was the case when ever Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott picked up the pen and hit the lab. Gaining popularity when it was still cool to wear reflective shiny clothing, Ms “Supa Dupa Fly” was a style guru that wrote her own bars and gave a performance worth commending.
Known for tracks like, “Supa Dupa Fly”, “Get Ur Freak On” and “One Minute Man”, Missy demonstrated her versatility and reached the platinum status, at the same time ghost-writing lyrics for many popular artists. Popular for collaborating with Aaliyah and Timbaland, these three were an unofficial trio that owned the scene on many occasions.
Sexually charged and genuinely dignified as an independent figure, Missy used happy go lucky dances to capture the viewers attention. Often amusing with her funky dance moves and silly music video content, Missy Elliott's glowing smile can light up the stage, separating her from any so called competition.
With the help of prolific producer and friend, Timbaland assisted Missy in reaching heights in her career that most could only imagine. Respected by her fellow emcees for her outside of the box thinking and celebrated as a game changing iconic figure by her devoted fans, Missy dropped simple yet bouncy rhymes that shouted out “be yourself” all while showcasing new flashy outfits in videos as well as on stage.
Eve featuring Gwen Stefani - Let Me Blow Ya Mind
Who’s that girl? Eves that girl, and she proved her self as a worthy microphone controller in her young adulthood as the Ruff Ryders “First Lady”. With DMX behind her, Eve sold over 2 million copies with her debut album, “Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady”, earning her a certified double platinum ranking and a #1 spot on the Billboard R&B album charts.
Eve made her mark in the rap game with lyrics that symbolize empowerment of women and self confidence, this was supported with her unforgettable low cut blonde hairstyle. Sexy and Gangsta was her persona, and it reflected in her imperturbable wordplay and fluent flows. Eve was the next biggest chick on the scene, raising the bar higher and higher for those to follow.
With collaborations ranging from DMX to Gwen Stefani, Kelly Rowland, Ludacris, Sean Paul, Mary J Blige and Faith Evans, Eve quickly grew to be one of the top female rappers of her time.
Lady Sovereign - Love Me or Hate Me
Respected As stand up girl, Lady Sovereign has influenced Grime and Rap by laying down gritty fast flows, drenched with cold skills and on top of that she is really, really from tha endz (the ghetto).
Inspired by Ms. Dynamite and Salt-N-Pepa, Sovereign began rapping at the age of 14. Dropping out of school by 16, Lady Sovereign later gained hype as one of Britain’s select few caucasian lady emcees and made it a goal to become the best female rapper.
With popular singles like, “Tango”, “Ch Ching” and “The Battle” Lady Sovereign landed a devoted fanbase and although she does not pump out tracks on the modern scene as frequently as she had in the past, her witty technique and snappy tones continues to bare significance in the hip hop world.
Lady Leshurr - Queen Speech Ep.4
If one gal is responsible for the new age female UK Grime/Hip hop movement, its got to be Lady Leshurr. From her lively performances, elastic flows to her over the head word play, this England raised microphone phenomenon has been a successful female rapper since her arrival on the music scene.
With an impressive catalogue of projects, instant bangers and crafty flows, this wondrous female MC can ride a 140 Bpm track with complete ease.
Roots connecting to St. Kitts and an upbringing in Kingshurts, England, Lady Leshurr is bestowed with a diverse sound, combining Patois with British slang, creating an original ring that lingers on long after the song is over.
Popular for her “Queen Speeches”, as well as a plentiful list of ear pleasers, Leshurr is on the rise on the global scene, and will stop at nothing to bring fire to the booth.
Nikki Minaj - Anaconda
Who dare call her the new age Lil’ Kim? Her name is Nikki Minaj! Get it right!
Raised in South Jamaica, Queens, New York, Nikki's career blew up with her debut studio album, “Pink Friday”, reaching #1 on the U.S. Billboard charts. Minaj had actually been featured on up to seven songs on the Billboards hot 100 prior to the release of Pink Friday.
Critically acclaimed by many news sources and editorials as the most influential and one of the best female rappers of all time, Nikki was the first female emcee on MTV’s Annual Hottest MC List and has repeatedly shocked popular culture with revealing stage attire, over the top fashion statements and her outlandishly provocative rendition of barbie.
A free spirit that is not afraid to experiment and take design to the next level. Nikki has dropped jaws across the world on numerous occasions with her botox filled butt and her flawless curves, if you haven’t watched the video for "Anaconda" yet, it is a must see!
Who ever thought that one could be discovered on Myspace and become the largest sensation of the millennium? She is an perfect example of anything is possible if you are not scared to do what you feel.
Iggy Azalea - Fancy
The sensational Australian born super-diva “Iggy Azalea”, caught her break when XXL set her face on the cover of the Top Ten Freshmans of 2012 edition, becoming the first women to do so.
As a passionate model, singer and songwriter, Iggy proves that you can be non American caucasian and spit with a southern accent and still come out on top.
Simply expressive, with an attractive sound, her vibrant melodies can make you bop with out even trying to. Influenced by the sounds of 90’s hip hop, including 2Pac, Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes, Azalea has went on to have cosigns from Dr.Dre, Snoop Dogg and T.I. and has worked with a long list of commendable entertainers.
Coming from the petite town of Mullumbimby, New South Wales, at the age of 16, Iggy had big dreams ever since her family went on a road trip to America when she was 11 years old. Fascinated by the genre and driven to be a successful, Iggy has stopped at nothing to become the artist she had dreamt of, and in 2014 became victorious on a global scale with the release of her debut studio album “New Classic”.
Popular tracks from Iggy Azalea include, “Black Widow”, “Fancy” and “Change Your Life”. Iggy has also recorded hit songs with a number of talented individuals such as, Rita Ora, T.I., Brittany Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Tinashe, Steve Aoki and Diplo.
With here quick found success, already millions of fans credit Iggy as one of the best female rappers of the new age hip hop scene.
Dej Loaf - Try Me
They say good things come in small packages! Well… they must have been referring to Dej Loaf. Her play no games attitude and gangsta appeal ranks Loaf as a giant in the game after blowing up, in what seems to have been overnight.
Even with the pressures of fame weighing on her character, Dej lights up the mic equally as fierce as she did before the cameras were on her, and continues to bring the action.
Straight out of Detroit, Michigan, her quick attained success can be owed to her hit single “Try Me”. Not too long after “Try Me” put her on the map, Eminem remixed IBGM’s track “Detroit VS Everybody” which featured Dej Loaf in late 2014. This remix quickly caught a buzz and even more people started asking about this charismatic hard hitter.
Doing her own thing, Loaf has a chilled demeanour that resonates in her music and thanks to her straight to the point expressive lyrics and bad ass steez, this brands Loaf unlike any other emcees and gives her the name as one of the best female rappers of her era.