In the humble origins of rap music, it has predominantly been a male dominated genre.
Women rappers for many decades have always been overlooked and not taken seriously. Many have tried to take on the best male rappers and solidify their own spots in musical history, but for years it seems that they have tried and failed repeatedly. It hasn’t actually been until the last decade or so that female rappers have seemed to overtake their male counterparts and keep dropping #1 rap hits that people are obsessing over.
As Superbalist explains, we can’t be too surprised. Rap music is inherent with being defiant and proving naysayers wrong. And that is exactly what female rappers are doing. In the year 2020, females have become more popular than they ever have before, with the likes of Cardi B, Megan thee Stallion, and so on.
But as the New Yorker reminds us, the current rap female superstars would never have gotten to the stage they are at currently if it wasn’t for the real trailblazers of female rappers who started paving the way back in the 1980s + 1990s.
Female rappers hit an all new high of fame and popularity in 2018 when the Rap Billboard Charts saw females absolutely dominating the space, from the likes of Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, Iggy, and more sitting at the top for consecutive weeks.
Why had these female rappers become so popular all of a sudden? Mercury News reminds us that we live in a digital age. And musical success no longer just happens because of great albums produced. Stardom as a musician must now include having a social media persona where fans are able to connect with both the music and the personality of the musician. All the current female rappers have similar things in common: they have huge Instagram followings, they have sex appeal, they have confident personas and they have mad rapping skills. Combine all of these together and it is pretty much impossible to not fall in love with female rappers nowadays!
To celebrate the rise of female rappers in this day in age, we are going to pay homage to the best female rappers of all time and remember those who have made the platform for current female rappers today possible.
Here are the best female rappers of all-time.
Forever the original queen of rap, Missy Elliott is still cool to this very day. She sold over 30 million albums during her career and is still the most successful female rapper of all time based on her album sales! Just recently it was reported that she was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame for her epic rhyming lyrics. And we can’t forget her beatboxing skills—they are something that many rappers including the likes of JayZ and Pharrell envy! But not only can Missy rap, she can dance too! She was one of the first female rappers to embrace having swag and danced up a storm in all of her music videos.
Salt and Pepa
Many people rate this dynamic duo as having produced one of the best rap songs of all time! Who can forget the iconic Push It jam that changed rap music in the 1980s?! It reached the top 20 of the Billboard charts and even went platinum, which when you consider the times, was a massive achievement in itself! They are two beautiful women who oozed confidence with every lyric they spoke, so it is no wonder that they were so entrancing to listen to and watch. The dynamic duo also worked with a range of successful male rappers who helped elevate them to fame, including Snoop Dogg and DJ Spinderella! Undoubtedly, Salt and Pepa will forever be female rap legends.
This girl has it all—larger than life personality, insane rapping skills, musical mastery, and a gorgeous individual! She has gone multi-platinum and many entertainment moguls have crowned her to be the queen of rap. She originally came from Queens, where the rap culture originated, and started her musical career as a teenager. She originally got her start in an Off-Broadway show, but music was her real passion and by 2007 she was launching consistent top charters! Nicki’s dominance as a female rapper came also from her willingness to collaborate and learn from a range of established rappers, including Kanye West! By the mid 2000s, little kids idolized Nicki, men were proposing to Nicki and women were proud to have an independent and confident woman taking center stage in the rapping world!
One of the original rappers to break down barriers in the music industry, MC Lyte started rapping sick beats in the 1980s. She was also one of the first female rappers to nab a Grammy nomination. While on the tracks she came off as a powerful and outspoken rapper, MC Lyte was much more reserved and soft spoken in real life. It made her all the more intriguing and her multi-faceted personality was extremely entrancing for her fans. Of all the great works she produced, her best was her fifth album called Bad As I Wanna Be, which was unapologetic and set the tone for what future female rappers could sing about.
This female rapper turned Hollywood movie star defied all odds and stereotypes to make it to the big leagues. She sang smooth sounding rhymes and evolved as a leading beatboxer with a larger than life personality. While she was given a bad-girl rapper persona of being violent, she had a soft and sweet side that also came across in real life. Queen Latifah’s success as first a rapper and then a movie star really set the stage for this current generation of female rappers—showing that it is the combination of musical talent and acting abilities that really create an attractive female rapper persona millions will fall in love with.
When you think of Lil Kim, you instantly think of a confident female. She had an insane vocal range that was complemented by her powerful stage presence. But more than that, Lil Kim was trendy, which is what helped launch her to popularity. She refused to conform to the norms of female rappers in the 1990s and insisted on paving her own way for her music career. It is a risk that has paid off and showed future female rappers what it takes to break out in the big leagues.
Thanks to all the female rappers that came before her, Cardi B is currently at the top of the rapping industry, consistently nabbing the top spots on all the music charts. She is provocative, confident, and has a unique personality that people are obsessed with. She has even had songs surpass one BILLION streams on Spotify—that is absolutely groundbreaking for a female rapper. It is important to remember that what really makes her story to fame so special is that like many other rappers, she came from humble beginnings. She grew up in the Bronx and started hustling as a stripper. From there, she transitioned to becoming a rap superstar who produces raunchy music videos and provocative lyrics—both of which continue to help her rise in popularity.
Female rappers are in the limelight right now and surpassing many of the already established male rappers. They continue to show that women are powerful forces to be reckoned with and are catapulting their way to fame.