Throughout hip hop history, female rappers have made an immense impact on the genre. From pioneers like Roxanne Shanté and MC Lyte to chart-topping superstars like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, women have proven that they can rhyme just as hard as the guys. This article will highlight 12 of the greatest female MCs of all time.
Here We Go with 12 Best Female Rappers
1. Missy Elliott
No list of great female rappers would be complete without Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott. The Virginia native burst onto the hip hop scene in the mid-’90s with her unique vocal style, futuristic production, and clever wordplay. As a solo artist, Missy scored massive hits like “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” “Hot Boyz,” “Get Ur Freak On,” and “Work It.” She’s also an accomplished songwriter and producer, having crafted tracks for artists like Aaliyah, Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, and more. With six studio albums, four Grammy wins, and over 30 million records sold, Missy’s impact and influence is undeniable.
2. Lauryn Hill
As one-third of the legendary group The Fugees, Lauryn Hill already had incredible rap skills in the 1990s. But it was her 1998 solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill that cemented her place in hip hop history. Blending rap with soul and reggae influences, Miseducation was both a critical and commercial smash, selling over 19 million copies globally. Hill’s thoughtful and perceptive lyrics on songs like “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and “Everything Is Everything” revealed her to be one of the greatest MCs of her generation. Though she has recorded sparingly since her debut album, Lauryn Hill remains an icon and inspiration for female rappers to this day.
3. Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah broke new ground for women in hip hop when she released her debut album All Hail the Queen in 1989. With songs like “Ladies First” (featuring Monie Love) and her smash hit single “U.N.I.T.Y.,” Latifah cemented her status as a pioneering feminist voice in the male-dominated genre. And over her long career, the multitalented Queen has also found huge success as an actor and talk show host, showing her widespread appeal. But it’s her smooth rhyming and incisive social commentary that make Latifah a true rap legend.
4. MC Lyte
MC Lyte deserves credit as one of the first female MCs to gain recognition in the 1980s. Her 1988 debut album Lyte as a Rock was a hit, featuring the classic track “Paper Thin.” Known for her complex rhyme patterns and poignant lyrics, MC Lyte paved the way for future generations of female rappers. She has continued releasing acclaimed albums over the past three decades, and remains one of the most skilled and influential female MCs of all time.
5. Lil’ Kim
The provocative Lil’ Kim burst onto the scene as part of the influential hip hop collective Junior M.A.F.I.A. in the ’90s. But it was her solo debut album Hard Core (1996) that made her a star, thanks to raunchy hits like “Crush on You” and “Not Tonight.” Never afraid to push boundaries with her sexually-charged lyrics and bold persona, Lil’ Kim inspired many female rappers to celebrate their femininity and sexuality. Though her career has slowed in recent years, hits like “Lady Marmalade” and “The Jump Off” ensure she’ll never be forgotten.
In the late ’90s and early 2000s, Eve became one of the most successful female rappers at blending hardcore rhymes with pop crossover success. Hits like “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” (with Gwen Stefani), “Who’s That Girl,” and “Tambourine” established the Philadelphia MC as a household name. Eve could hold her own lyrically with the guys, but also embraced her femininity in her musical style. Her album Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady (1999) went double platinum and cemented her status as a rap superstar.
The groundbreaking duo Salt-N-Pepa were one of the first all-female rap groups to attain massive success. Cheryl “Salt” James and Sandy “Pepa” Denton burst onto the scene with hot singles like “Push It” and “Shake Your Thang” in the late ’80s. Their hits combined infectious old school hip hop flair with clever rhymes and a bold, empowered attitude. Along with DJ Spinderella, Salt-N-Pepa paved the way for female groups like TLC and helped make hip hop more mainstream and accessible.
8. Foxy Brown
Hailing from Brooklyn, Foxy Brown first made waves ghostwriting rhymes for other artists before unleashing her own fiery flow. Her acclaimed album Ill Na Na (1996) featured gritty street anthems like “Get Me Home” that showcased her lightning-fast flow and spitfire delivery. Never afraid of controversy, Foxy engaged in various rap beefs over the years, at one point even taking on Queen Latifah. But her indomitable spirit and raw lyricism have inspired female MCs for decades, cementing her status as an all-time great.
9. Remy Ma
Currently reigning as one of hip hop’s most skilled female MCs, Remy Ma represents the modern evolution of female rappers. The Bronx native originally hit the scene with bangers like “Conceited” and “Whuteva” in the early 2000s. But it was her vicious feud with Nicki Minaj and triumphant comeback album Rose Gold (2017) that catapulted her back to stardom. Remy’s lethal wordplay and verbal agility have inspired comparisons to legendary rappers like Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown. With vivid storytelling and uncompromising lyricism, Remy Ma remains at the cutting edge of female rap excellence.
North Carolina rapper Rapsody brings a refined lyrical style and socio-political consciousness to the game that recalls greats like Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah. Since her mixtape beginnings in the late 2000s, she has steadily risen with intricate rhymes, conceptual depth, and knockout guest spots. Standout albums like 2017’s Laila’s Wisdom earned her two Grammy nominations and critical acclaim. Known for her wordplay, wisdom, and love of hip hop culture, Rapsody excels at insightful, uplifting messages in her music. She represents the cerebral, introspective side of female MCs.
11. Cardi B
No female rapper has impacted the hip hop game more in recent years than Cardi B. The former reality star’s meteoric rise began with her unapologetic, sexually liberated megahit “Bodak Yellow” in 2017. That smash single topped the Billboard 100 chart, making Cardi the first female rapper ever to achieve that feat with a solo song. Her debut album Invasion of Privacy (2018) debuted at number one as well, fueled by bangers like “I Like It” and “Money.” Known for her bold, brash persona and New York flavor, Cardi B has become one of rap’s most bankable superstars. Her triumph is a win for female MCs everywhere.
12. Nicki Minaj
Over the past decade, Trinidadian-American rapper Nicki Minaj has dominated the hip hop landscape. After making waves with featured appearances in the late 2000s, she took over the rap game with her smash debut album Pink Friday (2010). Hits like “Super Bass,” “Starships,” and “Anaconda” established her as a pop culture icon with a colorful alter ego. Minaj also demonstrated ferocious lyricism and versatility on tracks like “Monster” and “Bang Bang.” With her chameleon-like flow, charismatic persona, and elite rapping ability, Nicki Minaj raised the bar for aspiring female MCs everywhere. She remains one of the most influential rappers of her generation. Check out more interesting topics at our Blog.
From old school trailblazers to new school firebrands, women have long shaped hip hop history and culture. The 12 female rappers highlighted here represent the best of the best when it comes to lyrical skill, originality, impact, and record sales. While there are dozens of other talented female MCs worth noting, these 12 stand at the pinnacle of the genre. A part from Female you might be intereste to kno more about mexican rappers and atlanta rappers. They have not only inspired female empowerment within hip hop, but also proven that women can rhyme, rock mics, and sell millions of records alongside their male peers. The future is bright for the next generation of women rising up in the rap game.
FAQs about Female Rappers
Who is considered the Queen of Rap?
Though fans debate who deserves the title, many consider Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj to be two of the greatest queens of rap. Both MCs have massively impacted hip hop with their provocative styles and elite mic skills. Other contenders for the queen title include hip hop icons like Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill and Cardi B.
Who was the first big female rap star?
Most credit Roxanne Shanté as the first breakthrough female rap star. Her 1984 answer record “Roxanne’s Revenge” (in response to UTFO’s “Roxanne, Roxanne”) became a smash hit on the rap charts. Others cite artists like MC Lyte, Queen Latifah and Salt-N-Pepa as pioneers who paved the way for female rappers in the late ’80s.
Who is the best female rapper right now?
Currently, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj rule the rap game in terms of chart success. Other standout MCs like Megan Thee Stallion, Rapsody, Saweetie and Doja Cat have also recently made major impacts. Up-and-coming rappers like Flo Milli, Tierra Whack, Dreezy and Mulatto show a bright future for women in hip hop.
What female rapper has the most Grammys?
Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott are currently tied for the most Grammy wins by a female rapper at 4 apiece. Hill’s awards all came in 1999 for her album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, while Missy won Best Rap Solo Performance in 2002, 2005, and 2020.
Who was the first female rapper to win a Grammy?
That distinction belongs to MC Lyte, who won the first-ever Best Rap Performance Grammy award in 1989 for her hit song “Ruffneck.” The category was brand new that year. Since then, various female rappers from Queen Latifah to Cardi B have taken home rap Grammys.