There’s no question that rap has been a male-dominated industry for a long time, but that’s begun to change in recent years. Several female rappers have changed not only hip-hop, but they’ve had a major impact on the music industry itself. Here’s a look at the top female rappers, and how they’ve changed the face of hip-hop.
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1. MC Lyte
MC Lyte released Lyte as a Rock in 1988, and it was the first studio album ever to be released by a female rapper. Released by Atlantic Records, the album reached the Billboard’s Top 50 of R&B and Hip-Hop Albums. And, she didn’t stop there! MC Lyte went on to become the first solo female rapper to be nominated for a Grammy award in 1994.
2. Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott brought an entirely new sound and look to the rap scene in 1997 with her debut album, Supa Dupa Fly. She’s left a tremendous mark on the hip-hop industry with iconic hits and cutting-edge music videos, including “Gossip Folks,” “Get Ur Freak On,” and “The Rain.”
3. Nicki Minaj
In 2018, Nicki Minaj earned the honour of being the first female rapper to have 100 entries on the Billboard’s Top 100 chart. The cast of “Glee,” Drake, and Elvis are the only artists ever to have earned more than a hundred. Not too shabby for an artist who got her big break via Pink Friday in 2010.
4. Lil’ Kim
Lil’ Kim claimed her place at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2001 for “Lady Marmalade,” alongside Pink, Mya, and Christina Aguilera. Since then, she’s inspired many with legendary albums like Notorious K.I.M. and Hard Core. In a league all her own, Lil’ Kim is also known as “Queen Bee.”
5. Cardi B
Cardi B (born Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar) took home the first-ever Grammy for the Best Rap Album ever awarded to a female artist. She earned the award in 2018 for her studio debut titled Invasion of Privacy. In 2016, she also had #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for her single “Bodak Yellow,” which hadn’t been done since by any other female rapper since 1998.
With unforgettable hits like “Shoop,” “Whatta Man,” and “Push It,” Cheryl “Salt” James and Sandra “Pepa” Denton have staked their claim at the top of the hip-hop industry. Salt-N-Pepa took home a Grammy in 1995 for the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. And, their 1993 album, Very Necessary, was such a massive hit that they became the first female rap group ever to have a platinum album.
7. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
Lisa was part of the top-selling group known as TLC and you can hear her voice in smash hits like “Creep,” “No Scrubs,” and “Waterfalls.” She won several Grammys before her life was tragically lost in a 2002 car accident.
8. Foxy Brown
Foxy Brown has a totally unique delivery and there’s no doubt rap fans love it, given the success of albums like Chyna Doll, Ill Na Na, and the Grammy award-nominated Broken Silence. Most rapper managers will note that she’s also notorious for having many feuds over the years with artists like Eve, Queen Latifah, Lil’ Kim, and several others.
9. Monie Love
Monie Love is from the United Kingdom. She’s been nominated for two Grammys and also collaborated with Queen Latifah. An icon in her own right, she made waves with her hit track “It’s a Shame” back in the 90s and is a hip-hop radio host to this day.
10. Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah is now a successful spokesperson and actor, but before that, she was a Grammy award-winning rap artist with a socially-conscious message. “Ladies First” and “U.N.I.T.Y.” are just two of her seven hit studio albums.
11. Roxanne Shanté
Roxanne was already one of the biggest names in rap when she was only 14. She released her first hit, “Roxanne, Roxanne,” before she was even out of junior high. A film titled Roxanne, Roxanne was released in 2017 to tell her story.
12. Lady B
Lady B has been influencing the hip-hop industry her entire life, not just as a rapper, but also as an MC and a radio host. Her first album “To The Beat Y’all” was released by Sugar Hill Records back in 1979.
13. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill has won eight Grammys during her career that began as a member of the Fugees. Her album, The Misconduct of Lauryn Hill, won the Best Album award at the Grammys in 1999.
M.I.A became a household name in 2008 and has now performed on some of the biggest stages around the globe, including the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show. She’s almost as famous for causing controversy as she is for her music, such as flipping the bird on live TV and speaking out about genocide.
Eve may be best known for her rap song “Let Me Blow Ya Mind,” but she’s done so much more. She collaborated with Gwen Stafani and won the 2002 Grammy award for the Best Rap collab. She’s also had seven songs that climbed all the way to Billboard’s top 10.
These ladies have certainly made waves in the hip-hop industry. They’re will inspire fans and future hip-hop artists for generations to come.