Top 15 Countdown: Female Rappers

Welcome to the first of a regular series on Kureen called the Top 15 Countdown. This week we look at the 15 greatest female rappers ever to spit bars.

15. Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes

Despite enjoying a successful solo career and three No. 1 hits as a member of TLC, Lopes’s personal life was marred by her rocky relationship with American football player Andre Rison, and in 1994 she was arrested for burning down his home. Lopes died in a car accident on April 25, 2002, in Honduras at the peak of her powers.

14. Yo-Yo

Yo-Yo (born Yolanda Whitaker) is among the most sophisticated and unpredictable female rappers of all-time. Despite refraining from an overtly feminist tack, she dealt with issues of sexual restraint and self-worth in young women.

13. Rapsody

With her polished and distinct style, Rapsody’s wordplay and flow are virtually unparalleled in both delivery and execution. Still only 27 years old, the North Carolina resident remains one of the most promising forces on the contemporary hip-hop landscape.

12. The Lady of Rage

Though she had made more than a dozen appearances on soundtracks as well as albums from her Death Row Records cohorts from 1988 onwards, the Lady of Rage didn’t release an album until 1997; the explosive Necessary Roughness was worth the wait.

11. Foxy Brown

Diminutive Brooklyn-based MC, model and actress whose brash style helped mould a generation of sexually-activated female rappers. First hit the scene in 1989, aged just 15.

10. Salt-N-Pepa

All-female rap crew from Queens whose assertive rhymes, topped with a dollop of feminism, earned them worldwide success. The group, consisting of Cheryl James, Sandra Denton and Deidra Roper, was formed in 1985, peaking a year later with the release of seminal album Push It.

9. Bahamadia

Philadelphia rapper whose unique monotone delivery and crafty rhymes wooed critics in the 1990’s, Bahamadia rose to prominence on the hip-hop scene as the female protégée of Gang Starr’s Guru, and lent her smooth-flowing lyrics to a variety of projects during the latter part of the decade.

8. Eve

Former member of the Ruff Ryders crew, her photogenic looks and impudent rhymes, Eve was number 48 on VH1’s “50 Greatest Women of the Video Era” list. Another female rapper to seamlessly transition into acting.

7. Da Brat

Chicago-based spitfire who burst onto the mid-’90’s hip-hop scene with her bold, defiant delivery.  Her debut album, Funkdafied, sold one million copies, making her the first female solo rap act to go platinum.

6. Missy Elliott

Individualistic female MC who altered the hip-hop landscape with her eclectic, innovative, sexually charged rhymes, buoyed by Timbaland beats. Recent Bestival headline set was a noteworthy example of effectively keeping a large audience on a short leash.

5. Lil’ Kim

Fiercest, most provocative, and most infamous female rapper of the late-1990s, Kim lost steam as her career entered the 21st Century, but her legacy remains pivotal in the evolution of female hip-hop.

4. Nicki Minaj

First stepping into the spotlight as an affiliate of Lil Wayne, the quirky, cool Minaj went from mix-tape queen to bona fide superstar with a string of successful releases. Regular surgeries have rendered her barely identifiable in a physical sense when placed alongside the Minaj of the late 2000’s, but her rap game remains tight.

3. Queen Latifah

One of the first politically conscious female rappers, selling nearly two million records worldwide as she feuded with Foxy Brown. She later became better known for a successful acting career and talk show.

2. MC Lyte

Trailblazer who came to the fore in the late 1980’s, becoming the first solo female rapper to release a full album with 1988’s critically acclaimed Lyte as a Rock. MC Lyte has long been considered one of hip-hop’s pioneer feminists.

1. Lauryn Hill

Singer, actress, songwriter, rapper and producer best known for being a member of the Fugees and for her brilliant solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Has become a virtual recluse in recent years, distancing herself from the music industry excepting the occasional low-key venue.

 Agree with the list? Think we missed someone out? Let us know in the comment section below!



Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

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