The rap industry has always been dominated by male rappers from the legends like Jay Z, Dr. Dre, and Eminem to the new and upcoming prodigies like Lil Nas X, Jack Harlow, and Post Malone. But let’s not forget about the best female rappers in the game still baking some of the most inventive and fluid flows in rap today.
In a genre where the main topic of conversation for most male rap artists is to talk about power and wealth, it is very popular to feature women and feature lyrics about women in an objectified position and wanting to cling on to the rapper in question.
Women in rap music have laid the foundation of what rap and hip hop could be about instead of boasting about the power and wealth that comes from fame. The themes of rap music can be about empowering people around you, breaking the stigmas of the world, finding yourself, and talking about the current political climate, among many more.
While these past few years many female rappers have joined the battalion of quality music from the female side of rap and hip hop, let’s not forget the women who have cemented their history as being influential, extraordinary, and way ahead of their time and shaping rap music as it is today.
12 Best Female Rappers
It isn’t like women aren’t appreciated in this art form, it’s much more about recognition, a female rap artist isn’t the first thing that comes into mind when we think about rap, and that’s where the issue is and that’s what these 12 amazingly talented women prove wrong.
12. Rico Nasty
The only rapper on this list to have dabbled in the newest genre of the music industry, hyper pop, Rico Nasty has made her mark as one of the modern rap visionaries. She started by releasing her own songs through the site SoundCloud gaining substantial momentum with her singles ‘iCarly’ and ‘Hey Arnold’.
She was signed to Atlantic Records after gaining wider recognition from her previous work, at this point she had already released 4 mixtapes and her fifth one ‘Nasty’ was the first project under the Atlantic Records label.
In 2020, she released her highly anticipated debut album, ‘Nightmare Vision’ which received massive acclaim for being out there and mixing hip hop with hyper pop, the newest thing on the block. Only time will tell how this turns out but one thing is for sure Rico isn’t going to be like any other rapper.
Known for her explicit lyrics and evocative vocal delivery, Cupcakke has cemented herself as an outspoken artist about sexuality and women’s bodies. Her songs also include themes such as gay rights, women empowerment as well as autism awareness which reflect her forwardness with themes and motifs with her music.
She started her career by releasing music on platforms such as YouTube, SoundCloud, and Bandcamp, and in 2015, her songs came, ever since then she has released a multitude of mixtapes that have garnered high praise. One of the mixtapes, Cum Cake was included in the best rap albums of the year by Rolling Stones.
Since then she has released four albums, all to high praise for their way of commenting on the political climate but in 2019 she was reportedly admitted into a hospital after she had committed a suicide attempt. She took a hiatus from music but then hopped back to release a bunch of singles like ‘Marge Simpson’ and ‘Moonwalk’ leading up to her eventual fifth album release.
The most experimental artist on this list, MIA first exploded on the scene through the Internet in 2000 when she appeared as a visual artist and a filmmaker. In 2004, she came into the underground music scene through her singles ‘Sunshowers’ and ‘Galang’, the latter of which is a mix of 505 beats and claps with edgy vocals and lyrics.
Her first two albums, ‘Arular’ and ‘Kala’ gained massive critical acclaim in the underground scene for her experimentation with hip hop and electronic music. Amongst this, she nabbed her first huge chart-topper with ‘Paper Planes’ reaching number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and since then she hasn’t stopped.
Her next two albums ‘Maya’ and ‘Matangi’ were her best highest mainstream efforts, one peaked top 10 on several charts while the other had the single ‘Bad Girls’ which won her an MTV Video Music Award. In 2016, she released her fifth album ‘AIM’ to minimal success.
9. Little Simz
The newest sensation on the block, Little Simz is an English rapper who made it big with her single Venom when it appeared amongst the Venom movie soundtrack. The song in question became a big trend on TikTok which helped with the massive popularity of Little Simz herself.
Last year she put out the album ‘Sometimes I Might Be Introvert’ which was atop a lot of lists as the best album of 2021, with songs like ‘Women’ and ‘Introvert’ it is certifiably the best rap album if not the best album of 2021.
Dropping at the same day Ye’s ‘Donda’ and Drake’s ‘Certified Lover Boy’ hit the music industry it sparked so many critics to state that she won the supposed battle that Drake and Ye were a part of, coming out with an excellent album.
The only rapper from the conscious rap genre, Little Simz is sure to start some discussions about the place and status of women in a male-dominated genre like rap. The next chapter in this musical genius’ career is going to be a sight to witness.
8. Lil Kim
The fashionista of the bunch, Lil Kim was so ahead of her time, she was thrown out of her house and lived on the streets while she was just an adolescent and in her teens, she would start doing freestyle rapping which eventually got discovered by a rap legend himself, Notorious B.I.G.
In 1996 she dropped her album Hard Core, which gained critical acclaim for the way it talked about women and their bodies. Lil Kim dropped ‘Notorious K.I.M.’ and ‘Bella Mafia’ and in this period, she would release two of her biggest singles.
First with Christina Aguilera, Pink, and Mya titled ‘Lady Marmalade’ which would top the Billboard Hot 100, and ‘Magic Stick’ which reached top 2the and was the closest that Kim got to the top as a lead artist.
Lately, her fourth album had released titled ‘9’ but was a total flop and did not even chart at the Billboard Hot 100. Lil Kim has been mentioning that there will be a follow-up to the album which will feature City Girls and Missy Elliot among others.
7. Salt N Pepa
Made up of Salt, Cheryl James, Pepa, Sandra Denton as well as DJ Spinderella. They blew off on their first attempt itself when they released ‘Push It’ in 1987 which received massive commercial and critical success as well as their first album ‘Hot, Cool & Vicious’ which earned them a lot of mainstream attention.
During their time, hip hop had a really bad image in the eyes of feminists for its portrayal of women’s bodies and objectification but Salt N Pepa changed the face of hip hop with their single ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’.
Later in their career when they released their fourth album ‘Very Necessary’ it became the first female rap album to be a multi-platinum selling album. This album also contained ‘None of Your Business’ which scored them their first Grammy and also made them the first female rap act to get a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Group or Duo.
6. Megan Thee Stallion
The hot girl summer herself, Megan has made a name for herself in the rap industry as well as the music industry. She is one of the biggest names in rap right now. Any track or feature that is released by her pops off on the Billboard Hot 100 immediately.
While she popped on the scene years ago, the single ‘Hot Girl Summer’ caught fire and the rest is history. She started her career in 2019 when her mixtape ‘Fever’ dropped alongside the single ‘Hot Girl Summer’ which was followed by ‘Suga’ which featured the original single ‘Savage’ both of these mixtapes gained massive attention from the mainstream.
She has topped the Billboard Hot 100 twice, first with her banger ‘Savage (Remix)’ alongside the queen, Beyonce, and even after that with the single ‘WAP’ alongside another rapper on this list, Cardi B.
Her debut studio album ‘Good News’ did massive numbers on the sales side of it as well as gained massive critics’ recognition. The album was a part of many year-end lists.
Lastly, another achievement that she gained was becoming the second-ever female rap artist to win Best New Artist at the Grammys after another one of her late contemporaries on this list, Lauryn Hill.
5. Queen Latifah
The queen of all trades, from singing to acting to rapping she can do all and also with style. Queen Latifah is a name that will go down in history and her story is one of the most influential personas of the modern world.
She has many albums to her name, starting with ‘All Hail The Queen’ and ‘Nature of a Sista’ with Tommy Boy Records which were her first two records. Then she featured in her first sitcom ‘Living Single’ and after that released ‘Black Reign’ the first album by a solo female artist to receive an RIAA certification.
On the album, there’s a single called U.N.I.T.Y. which garnered huge acclaim as it talked about raising awareness about violence against women and also the objectification of Black women.
She is a pioneer in everything she does, from getting an Academy Award Nomination for her role in Chicago to hosting her talk show she’s an all-rounder.
4. Cardi B
The Bardi gang assemble, it’s Cardi freaking B. There is a reason she is the biggest name on this list and it’s not solely because of her music. A marketing genius and the jolliest personality to have around, Cardi B is a certified star.
She launched on the scene with the banger, ‘Bodak Yellow’ which shot up to the Billboard Hot 100, marking her as the first female rapper since 1999 to set the record. This was followed by ‘I Like It’ which was dubbed as one of the best summer songs of all time.
Then she dropped her highly anticipated album ‘Invasion of Privacy’ which blew up on every radio, mall, and Spotify and as one of the best albums in 2019, even winning Best Rap Album at the Grammys.
But stating that she ain’t a one-trick pony, even after the first album she topped the Billboard Hot 100 alongside Maroon 5 with ‘Girls Like You’ as well as both of the singles for her upcoming album release ‘WAP’ and ‘Up’ sat atop the Billboard Hot 100.
‘WAP’ alone was such a big hit that influenced many people to openly talk about sex and made the music industry a space that is free to talk about sex positivity and women’s bodies. Regardless of when she releases her second album, it is certified to be on everyone’s minds for the coming years.
3. Lauryn Hill
The greatest female rapper of all time and one of the most influential rappers of all time, Lauryn Hill made a name for herself right through the first gate that she opened when she joined the band Fugees. She recorded two albums as a part of Fugees the latter of which won the Best Rap Album at the Grammys making her the first woman to ever receive that award.
When the band disbanded Hill started her solo career and the first album ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ as well as the first single ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’ shot right up their respective charts making her the first artist to ever achieve this accolade of debuting at No. 1 with their debut song and album.
She also was the first female rapper to have her album be nominated for 10 categories including Best New Artist and Album of the Year, the latter was the first rap album to ever be nominated.
Her first album was her last, she has since never released an album but that doesn’t mean that fame has left her behind. The reason for her not being No. 1 on this list is that she has brought limelight to a lot of her actions which can only be deemed as erratic. We hope to get an album from this great legend any day now.
2. Nicki Minaj
The woman who held the female rap industry on her back for nearly a decade, Nicki Minaj is the barbie of the rap industry that can’t ever be broken or twisted. From Trinidad to America she has always been a trailblazer in the rap industry.
She was first noticed by the general audience when she marked her territory with a verse on ‘Monster’ by Kanye West. The flow and cadence and different alter egos’ accents made her pop out even in a track where Kanye West and Jay Z both rap legends in their rights are present.
Her first album, ‘Pink Friday’ was a commercial success with the single ‘Super Bass’ gaining massive numbers for the singer. The next album would come as a departure from hip hop and would focus more on the disco-pop popular at the time but it resulted in poor sales.
For her third venture ‘Pinkprint’ she switched it back to the same hip hop style and the album was a big success, from ‘Anaconda’ reaching peak Nicki heights and the album being cited as her best project, this was a gem.
‘Queen’ was the next album on Nicki’s list which also gathered some hype but not at the same level as her previous projects. Since then she has acquired her two number ones, first on the top with Doja Cat on their song, ‘Say So’ and then with 6ix9ine on the track ‘FeFe’. Still, Nicki Minaj is not known for music, she is first and foremost an entertainer and she is a queen at that.
1. Missy Elliot
The OG, the OP, the moment, Missy Elliot is our top female rapper who has some of the dopest beats under her belt. A pioneer in rap music she has garnered her fair share of acclaim from critics but the mainstream knows little to nothing about this sensation.
She started her career in the early-90s with her childhood friend Timbaland and worked on various hip hop and R&B records. She started her solo career with the album ‘Supa Dupa Fly’ which climbed the third spot Billboard Hot 200, new to any female rapper.
She popped into the mainstream consciousness with a barrage of her albums from ‘Miss E.. So Addictive’ to ‘Under Construction’ and ‘This is not a Test’ Missy cemented herself as the best female rapper on the planet. Some of the most notable singles from this time are ‘Get Ur Freak On and ‘Work It’s the latter of which won ‘Video of the Year’ in multiple shows.
She is the first female rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame as well as getting herself a shiny star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She is a rap legend and the queen of beats and always will be.
With these many rappers at the helm of the boat, the ship to better diversity in rap music and worthy recognition for women is guaranteed. And if you liked this list please do check out albums and songs by them to know more about the sheet artistry and excellence these women put in their works.