“Queen of Rap” is often used to refer to female rappers in hip hop’s male-dominated scene. These women have challenged stereotypes and broken barriers within hip hop music itself.
Their innovative lyricism and influence on culture have revolutionized how we perceive hip hop music. Their presence can no longer be denied when on and off stage.
Nicki Minaj has become one of the most iconic female rappers of her era, becoming four-time Billboard Hot 100 number-one artist and inspiring countless women to follow in her footsteps. Known for her signature animated flow in rapping, creative alter egos, and extensive music catalog, Minaj’s fourth album Queen marks a return to form following a four-year hiatus and is her best work since Pink Friday.
Queen is filled with high-profile collaborations, double entendres and tropical beats that perfectly reflect Queen’s high-class feel. “Bed” features Ariana Grande – no stranger to pop collaborations herself – providing it with a cool yet sexy edge that perfectly complements their duo style.
Though production on some of Minaj’s lesser singles may become overly complex, her flows remain top-tier throughout. Minaj does not shy away from more emotive topics such as in “Thought I Knew You,” which touches upon relationship betrayal.
Queen may not reach the same dizzy heights of Minaj’s magnum opus, but it remains an exceptional contender in rap’s hierarchy. Minaj shows no loss in her fiery humor or provide fans with plenty of memorable quotables to enjoy.
Cardi B is one of the most inspiring female rappers around, born Belcalis Marlenis Almanzar. First rising to fame through reality TV before making her mark as a record-breaking chart-topper and rapper, her raunchy yet empowering lyrics have inspired women across all backgrounds – making her one of the few female artists with multiple number one singles on Billboard Hot 100; moreover her 2020 collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion even conservative politicians furious with her lyrics!
Cardi B has maintained an undisputably humble attitude during her meteoric rise to stardom, working tirelessly both musically and social media, never allowing the negativity from critics or detractors get her down. Her dedication is clear in “Bodak Yellow,” featuring some of the catchiest lyrics on this list and becoming both an iconic feminist anthem and rap classic.
Cardi B is known for her skill at flexing without coming off as clownish; while she may deliver humorous lines (such as, “That weave stinks”), her lyrics demonstrate she’s an important businesswoman with serious goals in mind.
Cardi B’s uncompromising lyrics and her unwavering response to criticism distinguish her from other rappers. On this track, she makes clear to listeners that she intends to keep taking the crown from anyone who dares stand in her way; unlike in pop, which often sees multiple female rappers achieve success simultaneously; rap tends to keep its queens separated through competition among each other.
Lil’ Kim revolutionized women’s rap music, emerging as an influential icon and trailblazer. Her groundbreaking lyrics on “Queen B@#$H” captured audiences worldwide, helping break down gender barriers in hip hop culture and inspiring generations of female activists to assert themselves against male-dominated societies. She dismantled stereotypes while inspiring generations of women to stand up for themselves within male-dominated societies. Her iconic presence helped empower generations to stand up and fight back in male-dominated societies; her unapologetic lyrics from “Queen B@#$H” were unforgettable – captivating audiences worldwide and breaking gender barriers within hip hop culture itself.
Kim showcased both her lyrical prowess and seductive personality through this song, which showcased both of their talents with confidence and assertiveness. It became an instant hit due to its message of female empowerment and confidence that made it an anthem for women everywhere.
“Kim’s Hit Song,” released as the first single from her debut album Hard Core in 1996, was an unapologetic declaration of Kim’s sexual prowess and power that broke gender norms in hip hop music at that time and went on to become the highest charting female rapper single at that time. Her music video for it would become iconic; featuring Kim wearing various outfits that would later become iconic among female rappers worldwide.
Reworked versions of both songs appeared on compilation albums such as 2004’s The Best of Both Worlds. Each featured an updated chorus that highlighted both Kim’s singing abilities as well as her rapping talent; eventually this version reached number two on Billboard Hot 100 charts.
On this single produced by young Jermaine Dupri, Kim successfully showcased pussy rap, an explicit sexual content-heavy style of rapping that she learned from mentor Biggie. Following in Biggie’s footsteps, Brooklyn emcee Kim raps about oral sex as a source of pleasure – although some may consider its lyrics offensive or pornographic, its commercial success cemented Kim’s status as an explicit female rapper.
Lyte was one of the pioneering female rappers who used rhymes with street cred, making her 1988 debut single “I Cram to Understand U (Sam)” an instant classic. At a time when women in hip hop had limited creative options available to them, Lyte’s collaboration with producers Hurby Luv Bug, Milk, and Gizmo set an unforgettable standard that set women’s roles moving forward in hip hop music.
Lyte released her debut album “Lyte As a Rockin,” showcasing her true talent as a young rapper. Though other female emcees had graced the music scene prior to Lyte’s arrival, her unique style set her apart from others emcees; unlike Salt N’ Pepa or Queen Latifah who relied heavily on visual flair or fierceness of flow delivery for their performances, Lyte reveled in being more humorous while remaining relaxed during her performances.
This album highlighted Emcee’s impressive skill at writing and performing songs with deeper meaning. While some songs had more lighthearted approaches, she addressed some serious issues affecting hip-hop genre at that time, like rampant sexism. For instance, in 1989’s “Cappucino,” she discussed youth vulnerability while later advocating unwavering agency in intimacy through 1993’s “Ruffneck.”
MC Lyte released albums and collaborated with fellow artists throughout her career. Her music inspired Missy Elliott and was featured in the Smithsonian’s 2021 Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap Music. Furthermore, she continues to make waves as an MC on television by appearing as a guest star on USA Network’s Queen of the South and Netflix’s Patti Cake$.
Women’s History Month marks 50 years of Hip Hop history and we are shining the spotlight on female rappers throughout it all, including Lauryn Hill who has left an unparalleled legacy behind her. Our pick for Women’s History Month this week? Sheryl Crow.
Born and raised in East Orange, New Jersey to Mal and Valarie Hill, Lauryn was an overachiever throughout her childhood, participating in track, cheerleading, gospel choir and violin lessons as well as attending Columbia University for studies. Lauryn was taught the value of community service from both her parents, instilling in them an ethos that ultimately saw Hill becoming an activist and human rights campaigner herself.
After The Fugees disbanded in 1996, Lauryn took steps to make her own mark on the world. She began an aid project for refugees and recorded The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill at Bob Marley studios in Jamaica – its title derived from two books her parents kept at home and read to her as children: The Mis-Education of Negroes and The Education of Sonny Carsons
This record was an overwhelming success and broke several records at its release. Nominated for ten Grammys, Hill became the first woman ever to win five categories on one night; her acceptance speech also helped spread mainstream awareness for hip hop music.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill combined African-American and Caribbean influences with socially conscious lyrics into one groundbreaking album. It challenged R&B and hip hop music genre boundaries while blurring them further together, garnering critical and commercial success and garnering Lauryn Hill praise as an important feminist voice of neo soul music. Her music continues to influence contemporary artists today.