She Plays Music Top 10 Female Rappers

October 6, 2008 by Kimberlee Morrison  

Tonight VH1 hosted the sixth annual Hop Hop Honors, paying respect to hip hop legends, Cypris Hill, Naughty by Nature, Slick Rick, Too Short, and De La Soul.

While they are not honoring any women this year, up-and-comer Estelle will be performing, as will hip hop royal MC Lyte. VH1 may not be giving props to the ladies in the hip hop industry that doesn’t mean we can’t. To wit, I present you with She Plays Music’s Top 10 Female Rappers.

Self professed “Queen B”, Lil Kim has a delivery like a whip and raunchy sex  appeal, the combination of which made her one of the top selling female artists of all time.

One of the first women of hip hop, MC Lyte was known for her gravely voice and socially conscious lyrics. During the course of her multi-decade career, Lyte released 11 studio albums and is considered hip hop royalty.

Yo Yo is yet another royal from hip hop’s early days, most prevalently known for her “Bonnie & Clyde” duet with Ice Cube. She was sexy with a quick-witted delivery and a message of female empowerment that earned her the respect and admiration of both her peers and the hip hop community as a whole. Aside from being one of the best female rappers of our generation,

Lauryn Hill is one of the best battle rappers of all time. In terms of lyrical precision, Hill vastly outshone her Fugees comrades and despite the legal debacle that followed her critically acclaimed Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Hill is still considered one of the most groundbreaking women to ever grace the hip hop genre.

Eve hit the music scene hard during the height of the Ruff Rider’s fame. While definitely one of the best female MCs of all time, it wasn’t the release of her sophomore album that Eve broke out and achieved international success.

Jean Grea was on the verge of true stardom before her album was leaked and shelved by her record label. But for underground hip hop lovers, Grae is a legend for her lacerating battle rap style. After a four year battle with her record label, Jeanious finally made it’s official release on Talib Kweli’s Blacksmith Records, to critical acclaim.

Da Brat was the first and only female rapper to come out of the So So Def camp and while “Funkdified” was her one major hit, there is no doubt that Da Brat was arguably one of the best female rappers to break out in the ’90s. The best part was that she didn’t have to depend on her sexuality like so many other female rappers (*cough Lil Kim, Eve, Foxy Brown cough*) to gain fame.

Rah Digga was Busta Rhymes’ female protege. With a swift flow, deep husky voice and killer good looks, Digga could be one of the one of the most underrated female rappers on the list. While she did release on full length solo LP, she was known for her frequent cameos on Busta Rhymes’ 1997 hit record When Disaster Strikes.

When Foxy Brown broke out, she could have easily been written off as a Lil Kim copycat. Somehow she differentiated herself with her own style of gruff, raunchy female gangsterism and had a number of hits before being shipped off to prison for assault. As with so many other artists, her music career was seriously crippled by having to serve time and her most recent LP Brooklyn’s Don Diva was an unfortunate obscure release.

Missy Elliot spent the early days of her career as a behind the scenes hit-making producer/song writer. Her debut - Suppa Duppa Fly - was an appropriately groundbreaking hit album with quirky lyricism, that launched Elliot into über stardom.

Honorable mentions go to Charlie Baltimore, Queen Latifa - who despite her success is not one of my favorite MCs - and Bahamadia. Did someone not make my list that you thought should have? Tell me about it.

Images via Newscom

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4 Responses to “She Plays Music Top 10 Female Rappers”
  1. Maria Palma says:

    Hi Kimberlee,

    My favorite from your list is Lauryn Hill. In my opinion, she is one of the most creative musical artists. She has such a distinct, unique vibe about her and I hope she comes out with a new album soon!

  2. oscar says:

    roxanne shante and remy martin are the best female rappers ever!

  3. Todd says:

    I respect opinions; but if this list is truly a ‘Greatest Female Rappers’ of all time list and not a ‘My Personal Favorite Female Rappers’ of all time; I don’t understand how you can’t have Queen Latifah. A)She could flat-out SPIT (even tho folks claim Treach ghost-wrote some of her later stuff–but people say the same thing about B.I.G. and Lil Kim’s early stuff
    B) She was the most recognized female in hip hop during rap’s Golden Age. No disrespect to Lyte, who was hands-down the most respected; Latifah’s personality and unique fashion sense (remember the crowns!) made her an hip hop style icon (a la Flav’s clocks)
    C) She was the first solo female rapper to have a gold single and she released a lot of classic tunes; from the classics ‘Ladies First’ and ‘U.N.I.T.Y.’ to the equally as good ‘Dance to the Music,’ ‘Latifah’s Had It Up to Here,’ and ‘Just Another Day’
    D) She was the first female rapper to achieve popularity while presenting a decidedly feminist point of view. Lyte proved she could hang with the fellas; but she never really made anthems that were statements designed specifically empower women. Lyte was a battle rapper and storyteller; Queen Latifah consistently presented feminism in a non-preachy, fun way–on almost every single she ever released.

    I would also have to say that, if this isn’t limited to solo artists; Salt N Pepa should be included. They’ve had the most commercially-successful career of any female act in hip hop (1993s ‘Very Necessary’ is still the best-selling rap album by a female) and their career lasted longer than most of their peers (how many people in hip hop can claim to have had a hit single in 1986 AND 1994? Not many)

    Again, if this is just a My Favorites list, that’s one thing; but if it’s about GREATNESS; I don’t see how these two acts can be left out in lieu of artists like Yo Yo (people place her in the same breath with Queen and Lyte, but she only had one real hit song and a bunch of albums that no one took notice of except for hardcore fans–nowhere NEAR the success of the two women she’s often compared to), Rah Digga (gifted rhymer; but never became what she should’ve been. She’s pretty much a footnote in hip hop history), and Jean Grae (one of my personal favorites; but again–where’s the legacy and/or significance when it comes to hip hop overall?) and even Foxy; who even though she had more skills than the Queen Bee; her overall impact on hip hop is negated by the fact that there was another chick out at the same time who was basically doing the exact same thing. And yet another artist who’s career fizzled relatively fast.

  4. TYGERAA says:

    Hi, My name is Tygeraa, I am a up comming female rapper. With sick flows. You can here my music on stereofame and download it there. I have been pushing as hard as I can. To reach the top. **You will Love me** So go see for your self who should be on the top ten, LOVE YOUR NEW FEMALE RAPPER,,,,,,,,TYGERAA,,,,,,

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