The world of hip-hop has long been dominated by male voices, but over the years, powerful and talented women have made their mark in the genre.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the best female rappers who’ve broken boundaries and redefined what it means to be a force in rap music.
From pioneers like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah to contemporary artists such as Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion, these fierce female lyricists serve as inspiration for both current listeners and future generations.
So sit back, enjoy some beats, and let’s discover together how these queens of rap paved—and continue to pave—the way for women in hip-hop.
Table of Contents
Best Female Rappers
MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, Missy Elliott, and Lauryn Hill are some of the most influential female rappers who broke barriers and paved the way for future generations in the hip-hop industry.
1. MC Lyte
MC Lyte, born Lana Michelle Moorer in 1970, is widely hailed as one of the pioneers in female rap. She made her groundbreaking debut at just 17 years old with her critically acclaimed album “Lyte as a Rock” in 1988.
With tracks like “Paper Thin” and “10% Dis,” MC Lyte pioneered a distinct style that combined fierce lyricism with an unapologetically strong presence – setting the stage for future generations of female rappers.
Throughout her career, MC Lyte has proven time and again that she’s more than capable of holding her own against male counterparts in a heavily dominated industry.
Her impressive discography includes eight studio albums, multiple chart-topping singles, and collaborations with notable artists such as Janet Jackson and Brandy.
In addition to breaking barriers within the hip-hop scene itself – not only for females but also by addressing pressing social issues – MC Lyte has used her platform to inspire change beyond music through philanthropic work dedicated to empowering young women.
2. Queen Latifah
Considered one of the best female rappers in the hip-hop industry, Queen Latifah has had a significant impact on both music and popular culture.
With her pioneering efforts as an artist and performer, she paved the way for future generations of women in rap by challenging gender stereotypes and bringing attention to important social issues.
Born Dana Elaine Owens, Queen Latifah emerged onto the scene in 1989 with her debut album “All Hail the Queen.” Her unique blend of fiery lyrics and empowering messages gained mainstream recognition, setting her apart from her male counterparts.
Queen Latifah’s contributions have extended far beyond just being one of hip-hop’s best female rappers. She is also a successful actress, producer, entrepreneur, and talk show host.
Throughout her career spanning over three decades, she has continued to transform herself without compromising on authenticity or integrity.
From starring roles in Hollywood blockbusters like “Set it Off” and hit TV shows such as “Living Single,” to producing award-winning films like Bessie, this multi-talented artist uses every opportunity to bring meaningful change to society through art.
In addition to these achievements, Queen Latifah has been honored with Grammy Awards for Best Rap Solo Performance (‘U.N.I.T.Y’) as well as Lifetime Achievement Award at BET Hip Hop Awards showcasing that she is rightfully considered among the best female rappers.
Through groundbreaking music that tackles misogyny head-on while creating space for feminism within hip-hop culture; along with roles that break barriers in the film – Queen Latifah stands out as not only a legendary rapper but also an inspiration for millions around the world who admire her resilience and commitment towards making positive changes within industries that remain largely male-dominated.
Salt-N-Pepa, founded in 1985 by Cheryl James (Salt), Sandra Denton (Pepa), and DJ Spinderella, was one of the pioneering female rap groups.
They gained mainstream success with their hit song “Push It,” which became an anthem for breaking gender barriers in music. Salt-N-Pepa’s lyrics often tackled social issues such as safe sex and HIV/AIDS awareness, earning them a reputation for being socially conscious.
The group won several awards throughout their career, including a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for their single “None of Your Business.”
Salt-N-Pepa paved the way for future female rappers by proving that women could succeed in hip-hop while staying true to themselves and promoting positive messages. Their bold fashion choices also influenced many musicians who followed them.
Today, Salt-N-Pepa remains an iconic figure in the history of hip-hop and continues to inspire young women to pursue careers in music.
As part of the forthcoming Lifetime biopic ‘Salt N Pepa,’ shows how much they’ve inspired so many people along with Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, and Lauryn Hill among others; these artists are considered some of the best female rappers who have helped shape hip-hop culture into what it is today.
4. Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott is a pioneering female rapper and music producer who has made an indelible mark on the hip-hop industry. She emerged in the mid-1990s as part of the rap group Sista before embarking on a solo career that would bring her international fame and accolades.
Her distinct musical style, which melds rap, R&B, and pop, has earned her critical acclaim and commercial success.
Elliott’s career highlights include six studio albums, multiple Grammy wins, induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and collaborations with some of music’s biggest names such as Janet Jackson, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, and Ciara.
Notably, she was also one of the first females to direct her own music videos – many of which were groundbreaking for their creative concepts and visuals.
Through her lyrics and performances in music videos like “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” Missy Elliott became known for challenging gender norms within hip-hop by wearing baggy clothing rather than revealing outfits typically worn by women in music videos at the time.
5. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill is widely regarded as one of the most talented female rappers in the industry. She first gained fame as a member of the hip-hop group, The Fugees, before releasing her debut solo album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” in 1998.
The album received critical acclaim and went on to win numerous awards, including five Grammys.
What set Hill apart was not only her impeccable lyricism but also her ability to sing soulful melodies with ease. Her unique blend of rap and R&B made her music stand out from other artists at that time.
One particular track on the album, “Doo Wop (That Thing),” became a chart-topping hit and solidified Hill’s place as one of the top female rappers.
Hill’s influence extends far beyond just music; she has been an advocate for social justice issues and often incorporates them into her lyrics.
Her impact on both hip-hop and society as a whole continues to be felt today through new generations of fans discovering her timeless music.
Current Leading Female Rappers 2023
Some of the most prominent female rappers in the industry today are:
1. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj is one of the most successful and popular female rappers of all time. She has won multiple awards, including four American Music Awards, ten BET Awards, and six Billboard Music Awards.
Minaj’s debut album “Pink Friday” was certified triple platinum by the RIAA and reached number 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart.
Minaj has been praised for her unique style and ability to blend different genres seamlessly into her music. Her tracks often feature elements of pop, hip-hop, dancehall, and R&B.
In addition to her music career, she has also ventured into acting with roles in films like “Barbershop: The Next Cut” and animated movies such as “The Angry Birds Movie 2”.
With over 100 million records sold worldwide, Nicki Minaj is a true icon in the music industry who has made a significant impact with her sound and style.
2. Cardi B
Cardi B, born Belcalis Almanzar, is a Grammy award-winning rapper from the Bronx, New York. She gained popularity in 2015 after appearing on the reality show Love & Hip Hop: New York.
In 2017, she released her debut single “Bodak Yellow,” which topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and made her the first female rapper to achieve this since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” in 1998.
Cardi B has released two studio albums; Invasion of Privacy (2018) and its follow-up, Gangsta Bitch Music Vol.2. Both albums received critical acclaim and commercial success internationally.
Her music style often incorporates elements of trap and Latin music genres with bold lyrics that touch on themes such as womanhood, feminism, sex positivity, and personal experiences.
In addition to their music career Cardi B has appeared in various television series including VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: New York (seasons six through seven), BET’s Being Mary Jane in a recurring role as Mercedes for Season Four alongside Gabrielle Union,served as a judge on Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow competition series along with Chance The Rapper and T.I. and co-starred in the film Hustlers alongside Jennifer Lopez, Lili Reinhart, Keke Palmer, Constance Wu, Julia Stiles, etc.
3. Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion is one of the most popular and successful female rappers in the music industry today. She gained significant recognition after her viral single “Hot Girl Summer” in 2019, which became an anthem for female empowerment and self-love.
Since then, she has released multiple hit songs like “Savage” and “WAP,” collaborating with other artists such as Cardi B.
Megan’s lyrics are often bold, and unapologetic, championing women’s rights while embracing her sexuality. Her music celebrates Black culture while standing up against discrimination and racism that exists within society.
Megan’s unique image has also made a significant impact on pop culture – from trademarked catchphrases to trending TikTok dances.
With over 21 million monthly listeners on Spotify as of August 2021, Megan Thee Stallion continues to dominate the rap scene globally.
She is known for being confident about herself, empowering women through her music, and fighting for social justice issues—cementing her spot among the best female rappers out there today.
4. Little Simz
Little Simz, also known as Simbi Ajikawo, is a British rapper and actress who burst onto the music scene in 2014. She gained critical acclaim for her debut album “A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons” which tackled issues such as inequality and political oppression.
Her impressive storytelling abilities and unique flow have made her one of the most exciting female rappers to watch.
Little Simz has been recognized for her contributions to the rap game with nominations at prestigious awards including the Mercury Prize and BET Awards.
Her follow-up albums “Stillness in Wonderland” and “Grey Area” were both well-received by critics as well as fans, with many hailing them as some of the best albums of their respective years.
In addition to her music career, she has also acted in popular TV shows like Top Boy and movies like The Huntsman: Winter’s War.
Despite being relatively new to the industry compared to other leading female rappers, Little Simz is proving herself an important voice both on stage and on screen.
With no plans of slowing down anytime soon, she represents a powerful example of how up-and-coming artists can challenge traditional expectations to make their mark on hip-hop culture today.
Flohio is a rising star in the world of female rap and UK grime. Born Funmi Ohiosumah, she grew up in Bermondsey, South London, and started writing music at a young age.
Her style can be described as raw and energetic, with complex rhymes delivered over hard-hitting beats. She has been praised for her ability to blend multiple genres and sounds into her music.
Flohio’s breakthrough came in 2018 when she released her debut EP, “Wild Yout”, which received critical acclaim from both fans and industry experts alike. Since then, she has performed at various festivals across Europe and even landed a coveted spot on Forbes’ annual “30 Under 30” list.
What sets Flohio apart from other female rappers is not just her unique sound but also her unapologetic approach to tackling issues such as identity struggles and mental health through her lyrics.
In an interview with Guardian Music, she stated that she aims to create music that people can relate to while also pushing boundaries within the genre.
With several new projects in the works, including collaborations with some big names in the industry, it is clear that Flohio is just getting started on what promises to be an exciting career.
Emerging Female Rappers To Watch
There are several emerging female rappers to keep an eye on:
1. Arlo Parks
Arlo Parks is a British singer, songwriter, and rapper who has recently gained attention for her eclectic style and unique sound. Parks’ music is often described as introspective and melancholy, with lyrics that touch on themes of mental health, identity, and relationships.
Despite only being 20 years old, Parks has already been featured in several high-profile music publications, including NME and BBC Radio 1. Her debut album “Collapsed in Sunbeams’ was released earlier this year to critical acclaim.
Parks’ blend of indie-pop and rap has won her fans across the globe, with many praising her ability to capture complex emotions through her songwriting.
She’s definitely an artist worth keeping an eye on in the coming years as she continues to make waves in the music industry.
Shaybo is a rising female rapper from London known for her raw and gritty style. Her breakthrough single “Dobale” gained traction on social media and has been praised for its catchy melody and confident bars.
Shaybo’s lyrics often touch on themes of self-love, determination, and overcoming obstacles.
Despite only recently gaining recognition in the music industry, Shaybo already has an impressive list of collaborations under her belt, including with well-known UK artists like JME and Giggs.
In addition to her musical achievements, Shaybo is also an entrepreneur who runs her own company called Queen of the South Clothing.
Shaybo’s unique blend of Nigerian roots with East London grit has made waves in the rap scene both in the UK and internationally. As she continues to grow as an artist, she is sure to make even bigger strides in hip-hop culture.
3. Pa Salieu
Pa Salieu is a rising star in the UK rap scene, known for his unique fusion of grime, afrobeat, and dancehall sounds. Born in Gambia and raised in Coventry, Pa Salieu’s music is strongly influenced by his African roots and his experiences growing up in inner-city Britain.
He first gained attention with his mixtape “Send Them to Coventry” which features collaborations with fellow rising stars like M1llionz and BackRoad Gee.
Since then, Pa Salieu has gone on to win critical acclaim for his powerful live performances and socially conscious lyrics. His breakout hit “Frontline” tackles issues around race, poverty, and violence in post-industrial Britain.
The track was hailed as one of the best songs of 2020 by publications like NME and The Guardian. With a rapidly growing fanbase both at home and abroad, Pa Salieu looks set to be one of the biggest names in British rap for years to come.
Overall, Pa Salieu represents an exciting new wave of young artists who are using hip-hop as a platform to explore complex issues affecting their communities.
With each new release, he continues to push boundaries musically while staying true to his roots – making him not only one of the best female rappers but also one of the most important voices in contemporary British music today.
4. Tia Carys
Tia Carys is a rising star in the UK rap scene. The 20-year-old rapper from West London got her start by posting videos on social media before signing with the Ministry of Sound at just 17 years old.
Her music blends elements of rap, R&B, and pop to create a unique sound that has caught the attention of fans and industry insiders alike.
Carys’ breakout single “English x Ghana” showcases her lyrical prowess as she reflects on her dual heritage and experiences growing up in two cultures.
She also addresses issues like colorism and identity while showcasing her impressive flow over an infectious beat. With only a few singles under her belt, Tia Carys is definitely one to watch in the UK hip-hop scene and could make waves internationally too.
Enny is a rising star in the UK rap scene, known for her storytelling and introspective lyrics. She gained attention with her 2020 single “Peng Black Girls,” which celebrates black women’s beauty, intelligence, and strength while challenging negative stereotypes.
The song went viral on social media and received critical acclaim. Enny grew up in South London and was inspired by artists like Lauryn Hill, Amy Winehouse, and Jorja Smith.
She started writing poetry at a young age before getting into rap music. Her style is deeply personal and socially conscious, dealing with themes of race, identity, mental health, and self-acceptance.
Enny has collaborated with other UK rappers like Jorja Smith, Aitch, and Kojey Radical. She recently released a new single called “Same Old” featuring fellow rising star Ashnikko.
With her unique voice and perspective as a young black woman navigating today’s world through music; Enny is definitely one to watch out for in the future of the female rap music scene.
The world of hip-hop has undoubtedly been shaped and influenced by the contributions of female rappers.
From pioneering legends such as MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, and Salt-N-Pepa to current leading artists like Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, and Megan Thee Stallion – these women have challenged gender stereotypes while bringing unique perspectives to the industry.
Additionally, emerging talents such as Arlo Parks and Shaybo are making their mark on this male-dominated genre.
Their impact goes beyond music awards or chart-topping hits; they inspire young girls worldwide to follow their dreams relentlessly. The future is exciting for female rappers globally with more opportunities opening up than ever before.