12 Greatest Female Rappers To Grab the Mic

These twelve rap Queens have heavily influenced hip-hop culture, and the rap game would not be the same without them.

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12 Greatest Female Rappers

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Female rappers have been pushing boundaries and establishing the status quo for over five decades. Rappers Sha-Rock, Roxanne Shanté, MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa, and Queen Latifah are instrumental voices in paving the foundation for female MCs to take center on a predominantly male stage.

Over the years, the hip-hop movement has produced several rappers who embody female empowerment. As a result, more women rappers are taking the stage today than in any other generation.

These twelve rap Queens have heavily influenced hip-hop culture, and the rap game would not be the same without them.

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1. Missy Elliott

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Missy Elliott is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer who captivates her audiences with dope rhyme schemes, insane dance sequences, and the most visually stunning videos of all time.

Elliott exploded onto the scene and terminated the stereotype of how female rappers should look and sound. As a result, she is a five-time Grammy award-winning hip-hop Queen and number one on our list.

Some of her biggest hits include “Gossip Folks,” “Work It,” and “I Can't Stand the Rain (Supa Dupa Fly).”

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Missy Elliott

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In addition, Missy Misdemeanor Elliott produced a powerhouse rendition of Patti Labelle's “Lady Marmalade” for the musical Moulin Rouge. The Grammy award-winning song features Pink, Mya, Christina Aguilera, and rap legend Lil' Kim.

She voices the chorus in Lil' Kim's “Not Tonight (Ladies Night)” and drops an iconic verse. Missy Elliott is the G.O.A.T., the best female rapper of all time.

She continues to produce hits that set the bar for female MCs. Even when not acknowledged, her musical influences are undeniable in the sounds of female rappers today.

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2. Nicki Minaj

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Nicki Minaj is the hottest Trinidadian-born rapper ever to pick up a mic. Her usage of alter-egos and vocal inflections define her iconic sound and energetic flow.

Minaj has dominated the charts and airways with hit after hit. Notably, she is the first female artist to ever have one hundred entries on Billboard's Hot 100. 

Additionally, she is the most successful female rapper of all time. Nicki Minaj is an international superstar and one of the best-selling music artists, with over 100 million albums sold worldwide.

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Nicki Minaj

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She also boasts the most Instagram followers of any rapper, male or female, with 196 million followers. In addition, she's one of the best female rappers to represent New York City (Queens).

Some of her most popular hits include “Superbass,” “Starships,” and “Anaconda.” However, tracking Nicki Minaj back to her mixtapes hits, “Itty Bitty Piggy,” is a must-listen and is still in heavy rotation 13 years later.

Some of Nikki's most notable features include Jay Sean's “2012 (It Ain't the End),” Katy Perry's “Swish Swish,” and Doja Cat's “Say So” (Remix).

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3. Lauryn Hill

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Lauryn Hill is so legendary that she is on several great women rappers lists, even with only one album that includes lots of singing. She is a heavy influence on the music industry.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a groundbreaking record and one of the best albums of all time, spanning all genres. 

It is in the number 10 spot on the Rolling Stones 500 Best Albums of All Time list! That is an impressive feat. Lauryn has a stand-alone voice that demands attention.

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Lauryn Hill

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In addition to her phenomenal rhyme schemes and lyrical genius, she has a sultry singing voice.

Before releasing her solo masterpiece, Lauryn Hill debuted in the hip-hop group, The Fugees. To this day, her verse in their hit song, “Ready or Not,” is one of the dopest verses in rap history. She did a lot of rapping on The Fugee's CDs.

Lauryn Hill made history at the 41st Annual Grammys, where she was nominated ten times (the most of any woman) and took home five awards, including Best Album of the Year. She was the first hip-hop artist to win that award.

She is one of the most influential artists of her generation. Hill's most popular hits include “Can't Take My Eyes Off of You,” “Ex-Factor,” and “Doo-Wop (That Thing).”

However, her duet “If I Ruled the World (Imagine That)” with Nas is one of the greatest rap songs of all time.

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4. Rapsody

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Rapsody, also known as Rapdiddy, is one of the greatest female rappers alive and deserves much more attention. Her style is unique, and her music is unlike the trending themes in female rappers' lyrics.

Rapsody is from Snow Hill, North Carolina, and has been rapping for over a decade. She put out four albums with hip-hop group Kooley High while dropping her mixtapes and has since gone solo and released three studio albums.

Rapsody's first feature was from the legendary Big Daddy Kane, “Young, Black with a Gift,” a standout track on her 2010 debut mixtape, Return of the B-Girl. The project also features hits from artists Rah Digga, King Mez, and Mac Miller.

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Her second studio album, Laila's Wisdom, was nominated for two Grammy awards in 2017, including Best Rap Album. She is only the fifth woman to be nominated for that award.

Rapsody is a humble storyteller with a dynamic flow. In addition, she is a dope lyricist who uses wordplay and metaphors intricately.

The musical influences of MC Lyte, Lauryn Hill, and Mos Def are detectable, but she exudes her own rhythmic style. Some of her best songs include “Sassy,” “Knock on My Door,” and “Godzilla.”

Rapsody receives excellent recognition for the stand-alone feature, “Complexion (A Zulu Love),” on Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp A Butterfly album. 

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5. Lil' Kim

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Lil' Kim is a vital force in breaking through the barriers of the hip-hop boy's club. Discovered by Notorious B.I.G, she quickly established herself as a sex-positive, Black feminist and Queen Bee of New York. Her sexually explicit lyrics contrasted what we heard from her female rap predecessors.

Lil' Kim was a nineties hard-hitter and go-getter. She was explicitly raw and sexy. There was a time it felt that everyone had her Hard Core album's poster on their bedroom wall.

Her albums, The Notorious K.I.M. and La Bella Mafia, are certified platinum, making her the only female rapper besides Elliott and Minaj to have at least three platinum-certified studio albums.

Some of her most popular songs include “No Time,” “Big Momma Thang,” and “Not Tonight (Ladies Night).” The latter featured other female rapping talents, Da Brat, Angie Martinez, Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, and Lisa Left Eye Lopes.

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Lil' Kim

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The Queen Bee was ahead of her time and paved the way for rappers like Nicki Minaj, Megan Thee Stallion, Saweetie, and Cardi B.

Most recently, Lil' Kim performed at the 2022 BET Awards, paying tribute to Sean “Diddy” Combs, where he received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

She continues to embrace her sex-positive and outrageous fashion. Kim's cut-out blazer and sheer stocking performance went viral, and she was Google's top-searched performer of the night.

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6. Queen Latifah

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Queen Latifah is one of the first rappers to lay the groundwork for today's hip-hop movement. Stepping on the scene in 1989 with her debut album, All Hail the Queen, Latifah brought awareness to poverty, institutional racism, and homelessness.

In addition, she has always advocated for women. Of her seven studio albums, she experienced the most success with her third release, Black Reign.

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Queen Latifah

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Queen Latifah is the first hip-hop artist to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Some of her most popular hits include “U.N.I.T.Y.,” “Ladies First,” and “Just Another Day.”

On another note, Queen Latifah was a pioneer for multi-faceted rappers who have also found success in Hollywood with acting roles and business endeavors. Latifah has experienced tremendous success with both her rap music and acting careers.

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7. Salt-n-Pepa

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Salt-N-Pepa is a trailblazing hip-hop trio featuring Cheryl “Salt” James, Sandra “Pepa” Denton, and DJ Spinderella (Deidra Roper). In the largely male-dominated music industry, Salt-N-Pepa helped define the hip-hop genre.

They are Black feminists and the first ladies of hip-hop who have broken barriers and pushed boundaries to set the stage for today's female rappers. Their debut album, Hot, Cool & Vicious, sold over a million copies, making them the first female rappers to earn gold and platinum.

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In addition, the group has received several Grammy nominations and finally took one home for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for their song “None of Your Business” in 1995.

They share the honor with Queen Latifah for being the first female rap music artist to win. Some of their best songs include “Push It,” “Shoop,” and “Whatta Man,” featuring En Vogue.

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8. Foxy Brown

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Foxy Brown came hard in the paint with her Ill Na Na debut album release in 1996. She signed to Def Jam records and essentially was a Jay-Z protege. Jay-Z wrote some of her initial tracks, but Brown is still highly respected in hip-hop circles as one of the best female rappers to pick up a mic.

Foxy Brown was 17 years old when she came out throwing shots. Perhaps her most notorious beef is with rival Lil' Kim. Brown and Kim's debut albums were released only one week apart.

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Foxy Brown

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However, she is no stranger to conflict and has reportedly beefed with Queen Latifah, Remy Ma, Queen Pen, and Eve. Brown's album Chyna Doll debuted at number one in 1999, making it only the second female rap album to debut at the top spot. The first belongs to The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. 

Her first two albums are certified platinum, and her third earned her gold. Some of her best tracks include “Get Me Home,” “I'll Be,” and “Big Bad Mama,” featuring Dru Hill. Foxy Brown was also the third member of The Firm, with rap greats Nas and AZ.

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9. MC Lyte

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MC Lyte is a pioneer for female rappers and the hip-hop genre as a whole. She is the first solo rapper to drop a full studio album, Lyte as a Rock. 

The album received praise and acclaim from critics despite not being a commercial success. It is one of the most influential albums from eighties rap and a significant part of rap history.

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MC Lyte

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Lyte's fourth album, Ain't No Other, became her first to reach gold status. In addition, the single “Ruffneck” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Single, making MC Lyte the first female solo rapper ever nominated for a Grammy.

Some of her most notable songs are “Cha Cha Cha,” “Paper Thin,” and “Lyte as a Rock.”

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10. Remy Ma

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Legend Big Pun found Remy Ma, and Fat Joe signed her after Pun's death. She is well known for contributing to the rap group's number one hit single, “Lean Back.” Her verse dominated that track.

Furthermore, her “Take Me Home” verse is one of her smoothest flows to date. Her sultry voice is unlike any other female rapper, and she seduces the ears to stay listening.

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Remy Ma

Remy Ma
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Remy Ma's studio album release, There's Something About Remy: Based on a True Story, gave us several chart-toppers, including “Conceited,” “Whuteva,” and “Feel So Good,” with Neyo.

In addition, she did her thing on “All the Way Up” with Fat Joe and French Montana. So where is Remy Ma today? She and her husband, rapper Papoose are on VH1's reality series Love & Hip Hop: New York.

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11. Da Brat

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Da Brat began her career in 1992; her debut album Funkdafied sold one million copies and entered the rap albums chart at number one. That record-breaking event made her the first female solo rap artist to receive platinum certification.

In addition, she has four studio albums and has received two Grammy Award nominations for “Funkdafied” and “Not Tonight (Ladies Night).” As previously stated, that single included rap queens including Latifah, Lil' Kim, Missy Elliott, Left Eye, and Angie Martinez.

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Da Brat

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Both of those tracks are top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100. When Da Brat features on a song, it is an instant hit, and she proves that with collaborations, including “Sock It to Me,” with Missy Elliott, and “I Think They Like Me” with Dem Franchize Boyz.

Brandy's “U Don't Know Me” remix features the flame spitter and is straight fire. Da Brat has a unique chopper-style flow that distinguishes her from other rappers.

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12. Cardi B

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Cardi B is a much newer rap goddess with only one album. However, Invasion of Privacy received a Grammy for Best Rap Album as a solo artist. The monumental record was the first female rap album nominated for Album of the Year in fifteen years.

Her banger, “Bodak Yellow,” is the first diamond-certified song by the RIAA. Additionally, it is the first to top the Hot 100 with a solo output in 19 years. The song “I Like It,” with Bad Bunny and J Balvin, marked the first time a female rapper seized multiple number-one songs on the chart.

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Cardi B

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Cardi freaking B is already making history and is on her way to moving quickly up the list. In addition to her vigorous flow and hard-hitting lyrics, she has an infectious personality.

People cannot help but vibe off her energy when her presence is in the room, even via the computer screen. She is an internet sensation and superstar with an enormous Instagram following of 136 million. Okkurrr! Some of her top hits include “WAP,” “Up,” and “Girls Like You” with Maroon 5.

However, Bruno Mar's Finesse (Remix) featuring Cardi B is still a club hit. In addition, they collaborated again in 2019 with the hit track “Please Me.”

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Honorable Mentions

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There are so many incredible women rappers that only barely did not make this list. So here are the honorable mentions.

  • Eve
  • Trina
  • Rah Digga
  • Mia X
  • Left Eye
  • Lizzo

Notably, Lizzo is already breaking records with “Truth Hurts,” a sleeper hit that topped the Billboard Hot 100 two years after its initial release, making it the longest-leading solo song by a female rapper. She has three Grammys and several other accolades.

In addition, she is an icon for body positivity and has a new show that promotes it on Amazon Prime. Ebony Purks states,

“Beyond the choreography, rehearsals, and dance challenges, the contestants on Watch Out for the Big Grrrls are challenged with confronting internal and external insecurities, hate, and oppression so that they have the confidence necessary to be the kind of dancers Lizzo needs.”

With this trending surge of new rappers coming to the stage, we expect to see some new incredible women rappers find their way onto a best female rappers list.

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Best New School Rappers on the Rise

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  • Megan Thee Stallion
  • City Girls
  • Young M.A
  • Kash Doll
  • Rico Nasty
  • Latto
  • Tokyo Jetz
  • Saweetie
  • Sa-Roc
  • Rubi Rose
  • Erica Banks
  • Doja Cat
  • Coi Leray
  • Little Simz
  • Tierra Whack
  • Cupcakke
  • Tay Money
12 Greatest Female Rappers to Grab the Mic
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This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.