10 Best Female Rappers of All Time

You know, it’s been long overdue but it’s time I show the ladies some love around here.

I’ve always been fascinated by female rappers. In an industry dominated by misogyny and machismo, female MCs were forced to be much more creative than men to get their messages across. That has spawned some of the greatest voices ever to touch the mike. Today, we honor the 10 best.

But first, check out our other lists:

The Best Female R&B Singers of the 90s

The Best Male R&B Singers of the 90s

The Best Female R&B Groups of the 90s

The Best Male R&B Groups of the 90s

The Best Male R&B Singers of the 2000s

The Best Female R&B Singers of the 2000s

The Best Rappers of the 1990s

The Best Rappers of the 2000s

You back? Good.

As always, here are the ground rules:

Rankings were determined by lyrical skill and creativity, sales success and overall impact on the industry. This isn’t just my list of favorite rappers (the artist listed at No. 6 is proof of that).

While I usually break these down by decade, this list will be a bit different, featuring artists from the ’80s, ’90s, ’00s and 2010s all ranked together. Of course, that means I had to leave out some really great artists (sorry, Lady of Rage).

Also, since this is a list of solo female acts, I had to regretfully cut the groundbreaking Salt-N-Pepa from the running. I didn’t think it was fair to judge them collectively.

So sit back and enjoy. This is ladies’ night.

Honorable mentions: Trina, Jean Grae, Rah Digga

unrestricted

10. Da Brat

Albums: Funkdafied (1994, platinum); Anuthatantrum (1996, gold); Unrestricted (2000, platinum); Life, Luv & Niteclubz (2003)

No. 1 singles: “Funkdafied” (1994, rap)

Edd said: Brat made history in the early 90s by being the first female solo rapper to go platinum. It was a well-deserved honor; Brat could deftly switch from an insane double-time flow to a laid-back delivery with ease. Her versatility and manic personality made her a star.

_________________________________________________

scorpion9. Eve

Albums: Let There Be Eve … Ruff Ryders’ First Lady (1999, 3x platinum); Scorpion (2001, platinum); Eve-Olution (2002, gold); Lip Lock (2013)

No. 1 singles: “What Y’all Want” (1999, rap); “Love Is Blind” (1999, rap)

Edd said: Let me take you back to 1999, when rap was dominated by men in doo rags and wifebeaters. Eve broke through the pack, releasing punchlines as hard as her Ruff Ryder brethren, but with a feminine edge. Eve was one of the hottest rappers — male or female — on the planet by 2000. She peaked way too soon, but at her height she was a force.

_________________________________________________

broken silence8. Foxy Brown

Albums: Ill Na Na (1996, platinum); Chyna Doll (1999, platinum); Broken Silence (2001, gold)

Edd said: In the mid-90s, female MCs used their sexuality to tempt listeners before beheading them with razor-sharp rhymes. Fox Boogie played the role of mafioso mistress to perfection, becoming a proven seller and an in-demand guest artist.

_________________________________________________

eye legacy7. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes

Albums: Supernova (2001); Eye Legacy (2009)

Edd said: Chances are, you haven’t even heard Left Eye’s two solo albums. Well, don’t worry, she’s not ranked here because of those albums, it’s her contributions as one-third of the groundbreaking R&B group TLC that cemented her legacy. Left Eye might be the most underrated female lyricist ever, giving TLC’s melodies a rugged edge. By the late ’90s, she began to step out on her own as a solo artist; sadly, her life tragically ended before she reached her full potential.

_________________________________________________

roman reloaded6. Nicki Minaj

Albums: Pink Friday (2010, platinum); Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012, platinum); The Pinkprint (2014, gold)

No. 1 singles: “Your Love” (2010, rap); “Moment 4 Life” (2010, rap and R&B); “Anaconda” (2014, rap and R&B); “Only” (2014, rap and R&B)

Edd said: Y’all know I have little patience, and even less love, for Young Money’s pink princess. But even I have to put personal biases aside and admit that, for better or worse, she’s been the measuring stick for female rappers in recent years. When Nicki is focused and puts the gimmicks away, she can hold her own in the booth — she has the sales to prove it. For better or worse, she’s the standard-bearer in the 21st century.

_________________________________________________

all hail the queen5. Queen Latifah

Albums: All Hail the Queen (1989); Nature of a Sista (1991); Black Reign (1993, gold); Order in the Court (1998); The Dana Owens Album (2004); Trav’lin’ Light (2007, gold); Persona (2009)

Edd said: If you’re currently saving up for your girl’s prom corsage, you probably only know Latifah as an actress, model or talk show host. But before she was getting selling y’all makeup, she was a premier rap artist. Latifah’s afrocentric rhymes and aggressive delivery positioned her among rap’s elite in the early 90s. Give it to ’em, queen!

_________________________________________________

supa dupa fly4. Missy Elliott

Albums: Supa Dupa Fly (1997, platinum); Da Real World (1999, platinum); Miss E … So Addictive (2001, platinum); Under Construction (2002, 2x platinum); This Is Not A Test! (2003, platinum); The Cookbook (2005, gold)

No. 1 singles: “Hot Boyz” (1999, rap); “Work It” (2002, rap)

Edd said: I dare you to find an artist, male or female, who exhibits the level of creativity as Missy Elliott. Missy made a career out of crossing lines and turning heads. What she lacks in lyrical skill, she makes up for with boundless energy and a vivid imagination. Missy always did things her way, that’s why she’s a legend.

_________________________________________________

hard core3. Lil Kim

Albums: Hard Core (1996, 2x platinum); The Notorious K.I.M. (2000, platinum); La Bella Mafia (2003, platinum) The Naked Truth (2005)

No. 1 singles: “No Time” (1996, rap); “Crush On You” (1997, rap); “Not Tonight” (1997, rap); “Lady Marmalade” (2001, pop); “Magic Stick” (2003, rap)

Edd said: It’s easy to write Kim off as a punchline in 2015 but don’t sleep, young’ns, your favorite rappers WISH they could be as good as Kim in her prime. Sure, she was in the forefront of rap’s sexual revolution in the 90s, but she’s more than just panties and a pretty face. Kim often flowed side-by-side with some of rap’s most prominent voices, outshining them every time. And that Cookie y’all love so much from Fox’s Empire? Inspired by Kim. She was a pop culture phenom.

_________________________________________________

bad as I wanna b2. MC Lyte

Albums: Lyte as a Rock (1998); Eyes on This (1989); Act Like You Know (1991); Ain’t No Other (1993); Bad As I Wanna B (1996); Seven & Seven (1998); Da Underground Heat, Vol. 1 (2003)

No. 1 singles: “Paper Thin” (1988, rap); “Cha Cha Cha” (1989, rap); “Poor Georgie” (1991, rap); “Ruffneck” (1993, rap); “Cold Rock A Party” (1997, rap)

Edd said: The blueprint. Every artist on this list followed the lead of Lyte, who paved the way for legions of ladies. In a male-dominated industry, Lyte had to be twice as good as her male peers to be taken seriously. She lived up to that challenge. Her contributions as an MC have taken a backseat to other projects in recent years, but don’t underestimate her impact on the game. She didn’t just open doors, she dropkicked them off the hinges.

_________________________________________________

miseducation of lauryn hill1. Lauryn Hill

Albums: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998, 8x platinum); MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 (2002, platinum)

No. 1 singles: “Doo Wop (That Thing)” (1998, pop)

Edd said: Yes, I know Lauryn only has one solo album to her name. I know she’s often considered a mere cog in the machine known as the Fugees. And yeah, in 2015, Lauryn’s more known for legal troubles and media gaffes than music. All of that is irrelevant; here’s the bottom line — there has never been a female rapper who has delivered rhymes with the passion and intellect as Miss Lauryn Hill. Her album is a modern-day classic and her honest, introspective rhymes inspired millions of fans. She may be an enigma, but that just adds to her legend. She’s the best female rapper of all time, bar one.

Who did I miss? Show your love for your favorite female MC.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

23 Comments

  1. Why does everyone want to demean Nicki Minaj? If you hate her, or dislike her, then why in the hell is Lil Kim #3 and she is #6. If Nicki is such a copycat of Lil Kim then why is she lower. Admit it! Everything she does is better than what Lil Kim has done. Her flow, lyricism, and creativity cannot be matched by anyone and she proves that by outperforming some of the best popstars of today! Impact wise in all music genres, she is definitely #1. In five years, people will have no choice but to admit that Nicki is The Queen and the best female rapper to EVER live! These old school people are always trying to degrade our music and the legacy of our artists today when their artists are never brought up in music conversations. And by the way, without a doubt Nicki has the best hits, and really? The Pinkprint a classic.

    • Hey, Nicki, thanks for reading!

      • Yo, I ain’t Nicki’s biggest fan but you tripping on The Pinkprint being boring. It’s ironic how she gets more shit than Iggy and Kim combined for basically bullshit reasons you could say about most females in the game, when she put out an album that’s way better than her mixtapes and Re-Up EP, and not like her 2nd.

        She had substance for more than half of this album. This article brought up a lot of things I didn’t notice at 1st, especially it being the only album in Hip-Hop that pays homage to Hov’s discography, yet done in a natural way. There’s a lot of East Coast references as well.

        http://genius.com/Murkman-postmodern-black-feminism-the-pinkprint-decoded-lyrics

      • And I wouldn’t put a chick who talks about the same shit for 4 albums even on this list, let alone who had their “classic debut” entirely penned by Big.

        The more I think about, Lauryn was great though she has no diversity in her flow, delivery and subject matter, not to mention sucks at storytelling. She maybe the best songwriter (Miseducation) but if that’s the album women have to surpass these days to be respected, then that is sad because that’s one dimensional as hell.

        She basically talks about religion, politics and every other boring ass predictable “sista” topic that every other woman the 90’s talked about, only she was more popular. Black women are way more multifaceted than that shit, but that’s just me.

        • All of Lil Kim’s albums talk about the same thing? Lol never heard that before. Each of her albums are different and has a total different sound. How old are u?

    • Nicki Minaj as the BEST ever??!!! Thats hilarious. You must be young… no offense. Nicki can rap no doubt but she was fortunate enough to come at a time when she could take a little from everyones career BEFORE her and put it all together to make a brand which is what has sold her internationally. The MCs before were on top of their game BEFORE the internet was created. Before you could access ppl overseas by uploading a video, before you had videos even being played on tv because we were black ppl. So dude she has talent, i can respect her grind and her music but the best ever… nah. The BEST ever … strictly off of LYRICS which ids what hip hop music is supposed to be about — is LAUYRN HILL , like the author said. She is GOAT level ….because not many men or women can top her lyrically. … Nicki won’t be able to say that ever. sorry

      • Being young has nothing to do with it. I know plenty of young teens that believe Lil Kim and Lauryn Hill are better than Nicki.
        Anyone when it comes to being a female rapper, Lauryn isn’t touching Nicki or some of the people listed.(when it comes to being a rapper)
        Her flow is basic, her delivery isn’t great. What is she is known for is soul, and how she makes people feel. She is loaded with intelligence though. Trina said in an interview that she wouldn’t even call Lauryn Hill a female rapper, she thinks her title should be higher than that. Needless to say, she shouldn’t be number 1.

        Now about Nicki. She is being slept on forreal. With only 1 album out, she had broken records and made history. Nicki’s delivery, her versatility, egos, energy, punchlines, metaphors, and truth are why I believe she should be higher. MC Lyte at 2? No. Nicki at 2, is more like it. Lil Kim had BIG writing her lyrics and it was stated in her interviews as well.

    • True! Nicki is a best and should be #1 and Foxy should be #2. Trina definitely deserves to be on the list. I don’t consider Lauryn Hill a rapper nor do I take Missy serious as a rapper.

      • Lol, you don’t consider Lauryn a rapper? I seriously know you’re 21 or under, if you’re older then I’m sorry, lol. I’m not a Missy fan, but her AND Lauryn are superior than Minaj, lol. Been listening to rap since Mc Lyte was starting…

    • That’s your damn option that Nicki is Lil Kim

    • Lol…
      Minaj has a superior contract deal. The larger in value of a contract is, the larger advertising is needed of revenue to cover contractual expenses. Cash/Young are under University Music Group. Minaj will always be inlisted in every list in the top 5 or top 3 for advertisement purposes until all contractual expenses are paid. Remember when Lil Wayne was headlining everything, then he fell off? Contract/revenues were filled. I’m sorry to crush your corporate-slave mentality.

    • Also, can’t believe you entitled Pinkprint a “classic”, Don you even know the definition of classic?
      Also, it hasn’t surpassed Gold, hope you know Platinum is worth more than Gold.

    • List looks about right. Top 10 are on the money! Respect the facts

    • Shut up you sound stupid LIL’KIM IS THAT BITCH POINT BLANK PERIOD

  2. Kim wrote her own stop hating ,Wallace mentored her well he’s also stated Kim writes her own… also all her success came after BIG. NICKI had S.B. write het shit 💩, now that he’s gone minaj’s bars are 💤💤💤💤😴😴😴.

  3. Icki fans are so pathetic. Sorry but no list is the greatest will ever put her above Lyte or Kim. She’s lucky to be above foxy on this list to be honest.

  4. Nicki is the worst rapper ever all she talk about is big butts and boy and this is coming from an 11 year old yall need to give Lefteye some respect she is the BEST of all time

  5. i’m a nicki fan, but i agree with the list 😉

  6. EVE QUEEN LATIFAH MISSY MC LYTE NEED TO TOUR 2-GETHER OPEN UP WITH DABRAT AND LAUREN HILL THAT WILL B THEE TOUR FOR 2016 LADIES REPRESENTING THE RAPPERS HANDS UP SECOND 2 NOBODY! AMEN AGAIN LOVE IT DONT HATE OK THEE FEMALE RAP WAY!

  7. Ok, i must’ve missed it. If sumone iz THE 1ST at sumthing that accomplishment is groundbreaking, ceiling shattering…rite?. Mission accomplished;Brat! But she continued to flex. Consider her weakest effort went Gold (Anuthatantrum). Consider that from 96 to 2000 she didnt even drop an album yet she waz evetywhere, on everything, with everybody!! The “Like Whoa!”remix? CMurder,Biggie,Missy,Destiny’s Child, Mariah and on and on. When she does drop her 3rd effort, it goes platinum. For her verbal dexterity,longevity,persona and versatilty if she iznt top3 this iz an altered universe.

  8. There is only 1 good female rapper,the rest just do stereotypes over and over again,its thier producers fault tbh,none of them are like that in real life,with the exception of yolandi from die antwoord,now she can out rap most men,face it tho female rap is just sub par shit compared to the male rap scene

  9. Everyone has their own opinion….but I’ve got Jean at #3

  10. This is based off of years of success. Honestly Nicki shouldn’t even be on this list.

2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. 20 Best Female Rap Albums of All Time | Soul In Stereo
  2. Flashback Friday: Remy Ma and Da Brat | Soul In Stereo

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*