20 Best Female Rap Albums of All Time

Hip-hop frustrates me sometimes. It’s the only genre of music that only honors the present, rarely its past.

And here’s a bit of real for you — that past was built on the backs on many talented women.

Today we honor hip-hop’s female trailblazers by naming the top 20 albums recorded by female artists. We’ve already named the best female rappers in the game — now, listen to their best work.

Just missing the cut: Trina, Diamond Princess; Rapsody, The Idea of Beautiful; Nicki Minaj, The Pinkprint; Ms. Jade, Girl Interrupted

cool hot vicious20. Salt-N-Pepa, Cool, Hot & Vicious (1986)

Salt-N-Pepa’s debut was important for many reasons: It was one of the first albums released by a female rap group, and that group became the first female act to reach gold and platinum status.  Their witty banter and infectious charisma made them instant stars.

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funkdafied19.  Da Brat, Funkdafied (1994)

When Da Brat first hit the scene, she was unfairly cast as a “female Snoop Dogg.” This album helped her establish her own persona, launching one of the more prominent voices of the ’90s.

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black pearl18. Yo-Yo, Black Pearl (1992)

Yo-Yo’s best album is also arguably the most important piece of her discography. Yo-Yo had always been a voice for female empowerment but this album took that message to a greater level, helping girls realize the power in loving themselves.

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unrestricted17. Da Brat, Unrestricted (2000)

Funkdafied may be Brat’s signature album but it’s not her best. That honor goes to her third effort, combining mainstream appeal with her vicious brand of wordplay.

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ill na na16. Foxy Brown, Ill Na Na (1996)

Foxy’s 1996 debut lived up to its lofty expectations by studying the blueprint of her male counterparts. It had the same themes of sex, drugs and mafia tales that were rampant in the mid-90s, but instead were delivered from a woman’s point of view. It worked, and the album yielded plenty of heat.

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supa dupa fly15. Missy Elliott, Supa Dupa Fly (1997)

It’s been nearly 20 years and this album STILL sounds like something from the 30th century. Missy’s coming out party oozed with the creativity and charisma that made her an bonafide star. It’s still in its own galaxy.

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ruff ryders first lady14. Let There Be Eve … Ruff Ryders’ First Lady, Eve (1999)

In an era when oversexed female rappers became cliche, the Ruff Ryders’ pitbull breathed new life in the game. Putting skills before sexuality, Eve ushered in a new breed of female MCs for the upcoming millennium.

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naked truth13. Lil Kim, The Naked Truth (2005)

Kim’s debut may be more influential, but many consider her final studio album to be a more complete body of work. It’s hard to argue that. Kim experimented with different sounds while putting a greater emphasis on lyricism. The results were fantastic.

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dirty harriet12. Rah Digga, Dirty Harriet (2000)

It doesn’t matter if they’re packing X or Y chromosomes — few rappers can go toe-to-toe with Digga Digga. Her flow and intensity is a throwback to rap’s Golden Era, and those bars created an album that still stands the test of time.

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very necessary11. Salt-N-Pepa, Very Necessary (1993)

Very Necessary is the quintessential Salt-N-Pepa album, loaded with radio hits and sprinkled with social messages. It’s an album that’s as entertaining as it is insightful.

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Broken_Silence10. Foxy Brown, Broken Silence (2001)

After a sophomore project that tried too hard to imitate the success of rival Lil Kim, Fox returned to her street roots with her third album — it was the best move of her career. Fox embraced her Trinidadian roots and penned some of her most personal rhymes to date. Foxy learned that she’s at her best when she just remains true to herself.

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necessary roughness9. The Lady of Rage, Necessary Roughness (1997)

This is easily the most overlooked album on our list, and that’s a shame. Rage’s star was on the rise following her “Afro Puffs” single, but by the time her solo album dropped it was overshadowed by Death Row Records drama. That doesn’t keep it from being a masterful mix of hard-core flows and intricate wordplay. This is a must-hear if you missed out the first time around.

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jeanius8. Jean Grae, Jeanius (2008)

It took almost four years before we heard the official release of Jeanius and it most definitely was worth the wait. It not only solidified Jean Grae as the best female rapper of her generation but it was a defining moment for producer 9th Wonder as well.

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kollage7. Bahamadia, Kollage (1996)

Kollage is the perfect title for Bahamadia’s debut album — she rhymes with the intricacies of a learned scholar. Bahamadia’s wordplay is absolutely unmatched. Every young rapper should take a course in Professor Bahamadia’s class — there’s no better way to learn the craft.

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hard core6. Lil Kim, Hard Core (1996)

Not only is this one of the most infamous rap albums of all time, it’s also one of the most influential, one that has birthed dozens of inferior clones. This album not only made Kim a star, but set the template for so many acts to follow.

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all hail the queen5. Queen Latifah, All Hail the Queen (1989)

Before she was a movie star, talk show host or Cover Girl, Latifah was the queen of rap during the era’s golden age. Her debut continues to be one of the greatest standouts during rap’s greatest era.

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under construction4. Missy Elliott, Under Construction (2002)

Missy has a pretty stellar record of cranking out top-notch albums, but they all pale next to Under Construction. Missy’s ode to the old school embraced hip-hop’s history while charting a new course. Plus, it’s loaded with her signature brand of creativity.  Supa dope album.

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black reign3. Queen Latifah, Black Reign (1993)

Yes, Latifah gets two albums in our top 5 and she deserves it. Black Reign is her best work critically and commercially, loaded with anthems of pride and empowerment. Latifah’s also an extremely underrated storyteller and her prowess is on full display here. Women’s empowerment and black pride never sounded so good.

 

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miseducation2. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)

Yeah, yeah, I know this album has just as much soulful singing as it does rugged raps, but don’t write this off as an R&B album. It’s a wonderfully diverse interpretation of hip-hip. In my humble opinion, Lauryn Hill is the best female lyricist of all time, and her debut masterpiece only strengthens that claim. Male or female, it’s one of the greatest albums of the genre.

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lyte as a rock1. MC Lyte, Lyte as a Rock (1988)

I debated long and hard about the rankings of our top two albums. I went with Lyte for the top spot simply because her debut is still the standard bearer for female rap albums. A female rapper has to be twice as good as her male counterparts to be taken seriously, and yes, Lyte as a Rock is 90% better than any male rap album on your playlist. Lyte blazed the path that scores of women still follow today. This album is the manual for stardom.

 

 

 

 

Which albums did I overlook? Let a brother know in the comments.

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4 Comments

  1. You forgot Azealia Banks Broke With Expensive Taste…not being biased but that’s just automatically number one on your list

  2. Calvin D Carter II July 25, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Gangsta Boo Enquiring Minds (1998)

  3. Jackie hill perry-art of joy will make you edit that list.

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