We have entered the golden age of hip-hop for female emcees. Never in the history of the culture have so many talented women had the platform to shine in the male-dominated genre like they do today. Many of these incredible rappers are not only making bank through music but using hip-hop has a way to build confidence and empower themselves and their massive female fan base. Whether it’s Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion embracing their sexuality on WAP, Young M.A. attacking the haters on Big or Noname rapping about politics and religion on Self, female rappers are crafting chart-topping anthems that speak to women the world over, with some of our favourites listed below for you to enjoy.
Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing)
It’s a travesty Lauryn Hill has only ever released one album, but what a fucking album! Mixing soul and R&B with elements of hip-hop, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a stone-cold classic responsible for the #1 Billboard hit Doo Wop (That Thing). A warning to men and women about being exploited by the opposite sex, it’s a gender-balanced message with a catchy chorus that remains Hill’s calling card.
Nicki Minaj & Beyonce – Feeling Myself
Two of music’s most respected Queens come together for this banging pop hit. Produced by Hit-Boy and co-written by SZA, Feeling Myself finds Minaj and Bey celebrating their position at the top of the music charts and the success they’ve worked hard to achieve. If anything, this song demonstrates why we need more Beyonce rap tracks.
Janelle Monae – Q.U.E.E.N. (Ft. Erykah Badu)
Queer, Untouchables, Emigrants, Excommunicate and Negroid is the acronym for Janelle Monae’s futuristic afro-pop collaboration with the always wonderful Erykah Badu. It’s funky, challenging and inspiring, with the film clip described by Prince as the best music video of 2013. Believe!
Rapsody – Nina
Hands down the most underappreciated rapper in the game, Rapsody proves her status as one of the modern greats on third album Eve. A celebration of black women, every track on the record is named after a famous African American woman, with opener Nina a breathtaking introduction to Rapsody’s talent. Interpolating Nina Simone’s haunting version of Billie Holiday’s Strange Fruit, the song finds Rapsody waxing lyrical about the Black Panthers, soul legend Roberta Flack and the marginalisation of African Americans. This is conscious rap at its finest.
Missy Elliot – Get Ur Freak On
While many believe the chorus of Missy Elliot’s blockbuster 2001 hit is about getting down and dirty, it’s actually a reference to cutting some shapes on the dance floor. Get Ur Freak On is also a big “fuck you” to the haters, with Missy dropping braggadocious bombs over Timbaland’s Punjabi-inspired futuristic production. The horror-themed film clip featuring the likes of Master P, Eve, Ludacris, LL Cool J and Ja Rule is a must watch.
Princess Nokia – Tomboy
Feminist, activist and LGBTQ icon, Princess Nokia is a fiercely independent artist whose music is a mishmash of hip-hop, rock and punk. Tomboy is all about body positivity, with Nokia embracing her “little titties and phat belly” and challenging female stereotypes and the male gaze over a probing beat.
Cardi B – Bodak Yellow
Cardi B mania exploded on a global scale after the release of her phenomenal single Bodak Yellow. A certified banger, the track features the Bronx spitter displaying her lyrical skills as she addresses her stripper past, taunts her haters and talks up her superior work ethic.
TLC – No Scrubs
Never settle for less in a relationship is the simple message to take from TLC’s monster hit No Scrubs. An upbeat R&B-pop classic, this song has had a massive impact on pop culture, with 'scrub', an Atlanta slang word used to describe someone who can’t get his or her life together, now part of our everyday lexicon. It’s also the first TLC song to feature Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas as the lead vocalist and would go on to win two Grammys.
Lizzo – Juice
Lizzo seemingly came out of nowhere with her hit Juice, but it was a long time coming for the professional flautist. Spouting the joys of self-love and body positivity, Juice is a fun-loving retro pop song, with Lizzo telling The New York Times, “I think Juice is kinda freaky, I think Juice is kind of spiritual and special. I think it’s black pussy.” We love you Lizzo, never change.
Queen Latifah – U.N.I.T.Y.
Sampling Houston-based jazz group The Crusaders’ Message From The Inner City, this Grammy Award-winning single is a blunt response to the mistreatment of women. Trailblazing female MC Queen Latifah maximises every bar as she raps about the disrespect of women in hip-hop and the sexual and violent abuse they suffer with clever rhymes over a classic '90s production that still holds up today.