This article will introduce you to the most influential female rappers who have a massive impact on the world of music.
Women have played an important role in rap music since the early days of rap in the late 70s and early 80s. In recent years, female rappers have played an even bigger role in the scene, with rap queens like Cardi B and Nicki Minaj becoming household names.
Let’s jump in and learn about some of the female rappers who have changed the hip-hop game.
Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion is a rising star who is set to become one of the great female rappers of this generation.
Her rise to fame first saw her feature on Maroon 5 song ‘Beautiful Mistakes,’ and then on Cardi B’s wildly successful ‘WAP’ – which went seven times platinum and became one of the biggest tracks of 2020.
Her debut album Good News (2020) peaked at number two on the Billboard 200, going platinum. Her second album Traumazine (2022) peaked at number four.
MC Lyte is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of female rap.She has released eight studio albums in her career which took off in the late 80s with her album Lyte as a Rock (1988).
Her biggest hits include ‘Cha Cha Cha’ (1989), ‘Ruffneck’ (1993), ‘Keep On, Keepin’ On’ (1996), and ‘Cold Rock a Party’ featuring Missy Elliot (1996).
As one of the first female rappers in the game, MC Lyte has been acknowledged as an influence on many later figures including Queen Latifah, Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliot, Eve, and Lauryn Hill.
Rising star Latto is one of the youngest female rappers on this list. She first rose to success in 2016, winning The Rap Game reality TV show. She rejected the record deal that she was offered for winning the show.
Her debut 2019 single ‘Bitch from da Souf’ was her first major commercial success, with her 2021 hit ‘Big Energy’ taking her to new heights. The track peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, and won Song of the Year at the 2022 BET Hip Hop Awards.
In 2023 she received two Grammy nominations, and won the Billboard Women in Music Powerhouse Award.
Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
Lisa Lopes is best known as one of three members of the R&B group TLC, in which she was a rapper and backing singer. She has been described as the creative force behind TLC, holding the most co-writing credits in the group.
Lopes tragically died in a traffic accident in 2002 in Honduras. Before the accident, Left Eye had begun a solo career, which saw her release her debut album, Supernova in 2001. She is the only TLC member who pursued a solo career.
Her solo tracks ‘Not Tonight’ and ‘U Know What’s Up’ were top ten hits in the US. She also topped the UK charts with her feature on Mel C’s ‘Never Be The Same Again.’
Noname is a highly regarded female rapper, poet, and producer. She is not as commercially successful as some artists on this list, but is widely praised in the hip-hop community.
Her debut mixtape Telefone (2016) received critical acclaim, and was featured on the Consequences of Sound and Stereogum’s top albums of 2016. Her 2018 follow-up album Room 25 received further acclaim, with Rolling Stone pronouncing Noname one of the best living rappers.
Aside from her solo releases, she is a member of the trio Ghetto Sage, along with rappers Saba and Smino.
Saweetie is one of the most successful female rappers on the scene today. She dropped her debut EP High Maintenance in 2018. Her long awaited album Pretty B*tch Music is due for release in 2023.
Saweetie’s biggest hits to date include ‘My Type’ (2019), ‘Tap In’ (2020), ‘Back to the Streets’ featuring Jhené Aiko (2020), and ‘Best Friend’ featuring Doja Cat (2021).
In 2022, she was nominated for two Grammy awards, including Best New Artist and Best Rap Song, for ‘Best Friend.’
Lizzo has established herself as one of the leading female rappers of this generation. The rapper and singer released her debut album Lizzobangers in 2013. After several years grafting in the shadows, she finally got her break in 2019.
Her top ten hits include ‘Truth Hurts’ (2019), ‘Good as Hell’ (2019), ‘Rumors’ featuring Cardi B (2021), and ‘About Damn Time’ (2022). Her 2019 album Cuz I Love You peaked at number four on the Billboard 200, and her 2022 album Special peaked at number two.
Both ‘Good as Hell’ (first released in 2016) and ‘Truth Hurts’ (first released in 2017) are regarded as sleeper hits – songs that didn’t make an impact when first released, but became huge when re-released.
British rapper M.I.A. was the most successful female rapper to emerge from the UK in the 00s. She has released six studio albums since 2005.
Her biggest hits from her early days include ‘Bucky Done Gun’ (2005), ‘Jimmy’ (2007), and her two times platinum smash hit ‘Paper Planes’ (2008). In recent times, she featured on the Travis Scott track ‘Franchise’ (2020) along with Young Thug.
She has been a vocal political activist over the years, weighing in on both Sri Lankan issues (she is of Sri Lankan descent) and British issues.
Tierra Whack is one of the most innovative and experimental artists on this list, and also one of the best-regarded..
The Philadelphia-born rapper and singer rose to acclaim with her 2018 album Whack World, which consists of fifteen songs, each of which is just one minute long. The album is accompanied by eccentric videos which span the record’s fifteen minute duration.
The record received critical acclaim with Pitchfork rating it 8.3 and Rolling Stone ranking it in their 200 greatest hip-hop albums of all time.
She released three EPs in quick succession in December 2021 – Rap?, Pop?, and R&B?.
Trina broke into the rap scene in 2000 with her debut album Da Baddest Bitch. She went on to release a further six albums, all of which charted in the Billboard 200.
This is part of the reason that she has been described by XXL as the “most consistent female rapper of all time.” Her steady output of commercially successful releases has seen her drop more albums than many of the biggest female rappers. Most importantly, they’ve all been quality releases.
Her biggest hits include ‘Pull Over’ (2000), ‘Here We Go’ featuring Kelly Rowland (2005), and ‘F*** Boy’ (2021).
Despite only releasing one solo studio album, Remy Ma has had a long and auspicious career.
The rapper and singer has twice won the BET Award for Best Female Hip-Hop Artist, and has four Grammy nominations to her name. She has had several major chart successes with her biggest hit ‘All The Way Up’ (2017) going three-times platinum.
Other famous songs by Remy Ma include ‘Whutever’ (2005), ‘Conceited (There’s Something About Remy)’ (2005), and ‘Money Showers’ featuring Ty Dolla Sign (2016).
Rapsody rose to fame in the 10s, following a series of collaborations with neo-soul legend Erykah Badu and conscious rapper Talib Kweli. She dropped her debut album The Idea of Beautiful in 2012, and rose to greater recognition thanks to her feature on Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 song ‘Complexion (A Zulu Love).’
She has since release two further albums, Laila’s Wisdom (2017) and Eve (2019). Rapsody has been nominated for three Grammy awards and is signed to Roc Nation.
Up-and-coming artist Rico Nasty has quickly become one of the best-known female rappers in the game. After emerging from Soundcloud, she burst onto the mainstream scene with her 2018 single ‘Smack a B****.’ Other hits include ‘OHFR?’ and ‘Pussy Poppin (I Don’t Really Talk Like This).’
Her distinctive style blends rap and trap with elements of rock and metal, with her fashion style drawing on the punk aesthetic. She dropped her debut album Nightmare Vacation in 2020.
She has released eight EPs since 2014, with her 2022 EP Las Ruinas reaching number twenty-two on Billboard’s Heatseekers album chart.
Little Simz is the most successful female rapper to emerge from the UK scene in recent times. Her steady climb to success began with her debut 2015 album A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons. She released two more albums before achieving widespread acclaim with the 2021 Sometimes I Might Be Introvert.
Sometimes reached number four in the UK album charts, also charting the US, Australia, and Scotland.
She has won numerous prestigious British music awards including the 2021 MOBO award for Best Female Act, the 2022 Mercury Prize for Album of the Year, and the 2022 MOBO award for Album of the Year.
The influential rapper Da Brat is one of the best-selling female rappers of all time. She was one of the most successful female rappers of the late 90s and early 00s.
Her 1994 debut album Funkdafied went platinum, making her the first solo female rapper to be platinum certified. She went on to release three more albums before 2003. She dropped her comeback album The Return in 2018.
Her biggest hits include ‘Funkdafied’ (1994), ‘Da B Side’ featuring The Notorious B.I.G. (1996), ‘What’chu Like’ featuring Tyrese (2000).
Cardi B is one of the biggest names in rap today and has already cemented her reputation as one of the best female rappers of all time.
In 2018 she finally released her debut studio album Invasion Of Privacy, which topped the Billboard 200 album chart, selling 3.4 million copies.
Invasion of Privacy featured two chart-topping singles including her debut hit ‘Bodak Yellow.’ She is amongst the most-streamed artists on Spotify, with both ‘WAP’ featuring Megan Thee Stallion and ‘I Like It’ exceeding one billion streams on Spotify alone.
Cardi B is the only female rapper to win a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album As A Solo Artist.
Foxy Brown is one of the most successful female rappers of all time, enjoying significant success in the late 90s. Her 1996 debut album Ill Na Na went platinum and reached number seven on the BIllboard 200.
Foxy was a member of the rap supergroup, The Firm, along with Cormega, Nas and AZ, and again topped the album charts with the group’s 1997 self-titled album.
Her 1999 sophomore solo album Chyna Doll topped the BIllboard 200, making her only the second female rapper to top the chart, after Lauryn Hill’s 1998 The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.
Her career may have been short-lived, but it’s fair to say that Foxy made an enormous impact in a single decade.
Lil’ Kim shot to success thanks in part to being discover by the legendary Notorious B.I.G. in in 1994. After hearing her freestyle rap talents, Biggie insisted on her joining his group Junior M.A.F.I.A.
From there, Lil’ Kim went on to become one the most influential and most successful female rappers of all time. Her 1996 debut album Hard Core became certified double platinum, spawning smash hits including ‘No Time’ and ‘Crush On You.’
In 2019, Lil’ Kim made something of a comeback with her fifth studio album, entitled 9. The record peaked at number five on Billboard’s Rap Albums chart.
Salt ‘n’ Pepa
Salt ‘n’ Pepa are amongst the most famous and most iconic female rap duos of all time. Although they are regarded by some as something of a novelty act, they achieved significant commercial success, and brought hip-hop to a wider audience.
The group rose to success with their 1986 album Hot, Cool and Vicious, along with the single ‘Tramp’ and the famous B-side ‘Push It.’
Their 1993 album Very Necessary sold over 5 million copies, making Salt ‘n’ Pepa the best selling female rap artists in music history at that time.
In 1995, the pair received the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for their song ‘None Of Your Business.’
Rapper, singer, and actress Queen Latifah is one of the most influential female rappers of all time. Beginning her career in the late 80s, she is amongst the first female rappers to gain commercial recognition.
The majority of Queen Latifah’s releases have been rap records, but influences of jazz and gospel come through strongly on many of her releases.
Her twenty-year recording career saw her release seven solo studio albums. Her biggest hits include ‘U.N.I.T.Y.’ (1993), ‘Just Another Day…’ (1994), and ‘Paper’ featuring Pras (1998).
Rapper and actor Eve was a cultural phenomenon in the late 90s and through the 00s. Her music career alone was huge, and her acting career saw her appear in over a dozen films.
Eve burst onto the scene in 1999 with her debut album Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady. The record topped the Billboard 200 album charts, making her only the third female rapper to do so, following Lauryn Hill (1998) and Foxy Brown earlier that year.
Her follow up album Scorpion (2001) was also a major success being certified platinum, and her third album Eve-Olution (2002) reached number six on the Billboard 200.
Eve’s all-time biggest hits are her 2001 single ‘Let Me Blow Ya Mind’ featuring Gwen Stefani, and her 2002 single ‘Gangsta Lovin’’ featuring Alicia Keys.
Rapper and singer Doja Cat has become one of the biggest names in pop music. She was by no means an overnight success, with several earlier releases failing to make an impact on the charts.
It was her 2019 single ‘Juicy’ that first put her on the map, with her 2020 single ‘Say So’ seeing her rise to new heights. That track was followed by numerous hits including ‘Kiss Me More’ featuring SZA (2021), ‘You Right’ featuring The Weeknd (2021), ‘Need To Know’ (2021), and ‘Woman’ (2021). Her 2021 album Planet Her reached number two on the Billboard 200.
She has received sixteen Grammy award nominations, taking home one, and five Billboard Music awards. She is one of the most-streamed artists in the world, with several songs boasting over one billion streams on Spotify.
Recent years have seen Nicki Minaj emerge as the most popular female rapper of this generation.
Bursting onto the scene in the 2010s, her debut album Pink Friday topped the Billboard 200 album chart, selling over three million copies. Her 2012 follow-up Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded was just as successful, also topping the Billboard 200.
Her 2014 album The Pinkprint and the 2018 Queen each peaked at number two on the Billboard 200. With estimated record sales of nearly 10 million, she is amongst the best-selling female rappers of all time.
Minaj’s biggest hits include ‘Superbass’ (2011), ‘Starships’ (2012), ‘Anaconda’ (2014), ‘Trollz’ (2020), and ‘Super Freaky Girl’ (2022).
She has received ten Grammy award nominations, taking one home, with over forty prestigious industry awards to her name, including numerous awards from Billboard, BET, and MTV.
Missy Elliott is without a doubt one of the most iconic and best-known female rappers of all time. Bursting onto the scene in the late 90s, she released six studio albums in a solo recording career that lasted just under a decade. She has sold an estimated 30 million records.
Her most iconic hits include ‘Get Ur Freak On’ (2001), ‘Work It’ (2002), and ‘Lose Control’ featuring Ciara and Fatman Scoop (2005).
Elliott was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2021, and she became the first female rapper to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2023.
Missy Elliott also holds not one but two honorary doctoral degrees in recognition of her contribution to music.
Few people in the world of hip-hop are so widely revered as Lauryn Hill. The iconic female rapper, singer, and producer initially rose to fame as a frontwoman of The Fugees. She went on to release one of the most celebrated albums of all time.
1998 was the year that Lauryn Hill dropped The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The album topped the Billboard 200 album charts, where it remained for four weeks.selling 10 million copies in the US alone, earning it a diamond certification.
The album’s lead single was ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. ‘Doo Wop’ was the first song by a female rapper to reach number one on the Hot 100, and remained the only song to do so for twenty-three years until Cardi B achieved the same with ‘Up’ in 2021.
Hill has eight Grammy awards to her name, which is most of any female rapper.
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