20 of the best female rappers of all time, ranked (updated)

20 of the best female rappers of all time, ranked (updated)

Do you enjoy rap music? You will appreciate the genre's progress over the years if you do. Since the beginning of rap, many female MCs have emerged, some more talented than others. It's not surprising that fans disagree on who the greatest rapper of all time is, with some even taking the debate personally. It is undeniable that music arouses people's passions and emotions. Discover the best female rappers of all time ranked.

female rappers
Lauryn Hill, Eve and Queen Latifah. Photo: Anthony Barboza, Harry Langdon, Tim Mosenfelder (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Rap queens have reigned supreme in both underground and mainstream hip-hop circles. As a result, when it comes to the hip-hop community, females have had a lot of success. Since the game's inception in the 1970s, there has been a steady rise in female rappers taking over the industry. As a result, some notable female rappers have made a name for themselves in the hip-hop scene after several years.

Who are the best female rappers of all time?

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Who is the best female rapper of all time? Lauryn Hill tops the list of the best female MCs. She has received numerous accolades, including eight Grammy Awards, the most for a female rapper to date.

However, some fans consider certain rappers to be the best. But, regardless of their position, the rappers mentioned below are still among the best in the game.

1. Lauryn Hill

female rappers
Portrait of American Pop and Rhythm & Blues musician Lauryn Hill as she poses against a white background, New York, New York, 1998. Photo: Anthony Barboza
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1980s - 2020s
Born26 May 1975 in East Orange, NJ
GenreR&B, Rap
StylesAlternative Rap, Adult Contemporary R&B, Contemporary R&B, Neo-Soul
Also known asL. Boogie, Lauryn Noelle Hill
Member ofThe Fugees

Lauryn Noelle Hill is widely regarded as one of the best female rappers of all time, as well as one of the most influential musicians of her generation. According to the Academy of Achievement, Hill has received numerous honours, including eight Grammy Awards, the most for a female rapper to date.

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Lauryn Hill is best known as a member of the Fugees plus for her 1998 solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. In 1999, Hill received five Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist and Album of the Year. As a result, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill became one of the best-selling albums of all time.

2. MC Lyte

female rappers
Rapper MC Lyte (aka Lana Moorer) appears in a portrait taken on 20 June 1991 in New York City. Photo: Al Pereira
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1980s - 2010s
Born11 October 1971 in Queens, NY
GenreRap
StylesEast Coast Rap, Golden Age Pop-Rap
Also known asLana Moorer

Lana Michele Moorer, better known as MC Lyte, is a rapper, DJ, actress, and entrepreneur from the United States. According to The Source, her groundbreaking music career spanned 30 years, and she was the first solo female rapper to release a studio album with her 1988 debut, Lyte as a Rock.

MC Lyte was named No. 26 on Live About's list of the 50 Greatest MCs of All Time. In addition, According to AllMusic, she is one of the first female rappers to call out sexism and misogyny in hip-hop.

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3. Queen Latifah

female rappers
Portrait of Queen Latifah smiling. Photo: M. Caulfield
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1980s - 2010s
Born18 March 1970 in Newark, NJ
GenreRap
StylesEast Coast Rap, Pop-Rap, Golden Age, Vocal Jazz, Contemporary Jazz Vocals
Also known asDana Elaine Owens
Member ofNative Tongues

Queen Latifah was one of the first female rap artists to capture the attention of the music industry, particularly hip-hop superstars. She made her mark in hip-hop by rapping about black women's issues. Her debut album, All Hail to the Queen, sold over one million copies, and her single U. NITY earned her a Grammy Award.

Thanks to Queen Latifa's third album, Black Reign, many female rappers could carve out a place for themselves on the charts as the 1990s progressed. According to Rock the Bells, Black Reign became the first female MC album to go gold. Latifah soon moved on to other forms of media, appearing in comedies and films and hosting her talk show.

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4. Eve

female rappers
Rapper Eve (Eve Jihan Jeffers) signs autographs and greets fans at George's Music Room in Chicago, Illinois, in March 2001. Photo: Raymond Boyd
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1990s - 2020s
Born10 November 1978 in Philadelphia, PA
GenreRap
StylesEast Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap
Also known asEve Jihan Jeffers
Member ofRuff Ryders

Eve is a rapper and actor from the United States. She is best known for her Grammy-winning collaboration with Gwen Stefani on Let Me Blow Ya Mind and singles such as What Ya Want and Gangsta Lovin. Eve was among a new generation of aggressive and skilled female MCs who emerged on the rap scene in the late 1990s.

Eve is also among female rappers who act, appearing in films such as the Barbershop series, The Next Cut and the sitcom Eve. According to IMDb, the rapper has received numerous awards, including a Grammy Award, a BET Award, an MTV Video Music Award, and a Teen Choice Award. She has also been nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards.

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5. Da Brat

female rappers
Rapper Da Brat attends the VH1 Hip Hop Honors: All Hail The Queens at David Geffen Hall on 11 July 2016 in New York City. Photo: Nicholas Hunt
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1990s - 2010s
Born14 April 1974 in Chicago, IL
GenreRap
StylesHardcore Rap, Midwest Rap, Pop-Rap
Also known asShawntae Harris

Da Brat was one of the first of a new breed of tough-guy female MCs to emerge on the hip-hop scene in the 1990s. The rapper is one of many female hip-hop artists who emerged in the mid-1990s. Brat rose to prominence in the music industry following the release of her studio album Funkdafied.

According to IMDb, Da Brat is a two-time Grammy Award nominee and three-time Billboard Award winner. Critics have dubbed her one of the best female rappers of all time.

6. Missy Elliott

female rappers
Missy Elliott poses in the press room with 'The Video Vanguard Award during the 2019 MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on 26 August 2019. Photo: Johannes EISELE
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1990s - 2020s
Born1 July 1971 in Portsmouth, VA
GenreRap R&B
StylesPop-Rap, Contemporary R&B, Contemporary Rap, Pop
Also known asMelissa Arnette Elliott, Melissa Elliott, Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott

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Elliott has been dubbed Queen of Rap by the media. According to Best Selling Albums, she has sold over 30 million records in the United States. Among other honours, Missy has received four Grammy Awards. She has the most platinum records of any female rapper, according to Hype Beast.

According to Billboard, she was the first female rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2020, she was ranked fifth on Billboard's list of the 100 greatest music video artists of all time, and she was honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2021.

7. Nicki Minaj

female rappers
Nicki Minaj attends the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on 27 August 2017 in Inglewood, California. Photo: Frazer Harrison
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active2000s - 2020s
Born8 December 1982 in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago
GenreRap
StylesPop, Pop-Rap, Contemporary R&B, Hardcore Rap
Also known asCookie, Onika Maraj, Onika Tanya Maraj, Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty
Member ofYoung Money

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Nicki Minaj is among the top successful female rappers of this generation. The renowned rap artist was born in Saint James, Port of Spain, and was named Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty. Nicki gained public recognition when she released mixtapes, Beam Me Up Scotty, Sucka Free, and Playtime Is Over.

Nicki is ranked the top rapper in 2022 by Ranker. According to IMDb, the celebrity has received many accolades, including 11 BET Awards, 6 American awards, 2 Billboard Women in Music Awards, 4 Billboard Music Awards, 4 MTV Video Music Awards, and 10 Grammy Award nominations.

According to Best Selling Albums, Nicki has sold over 9 million albums, including 8 million in the United States and 800,000 in the United Kingdom. The best-selling album by the star is Pink Friday, which sold over 3.3 million copies.

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8. Jean Grae

female rappers
Jean Grae performs onstage at The Golden Probe Awards 2016 at Le Poisson Rouge on 2 October 2016 in New York City. Photo: JP Yim
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1990s - 2010s
Born26 November 1976 in Cape Town, South Africa
GenreRap
StylesUnderground Rap, East Coast Rap, Alternative Rap, Hardcore Rap

Jean Grae is a well-known rapper and producer for her complex polysyllabic lyrics and biting sense of humour. Since the mid-1990s, she has been a fixture in New York City's underground hip-hop culture. She began releasing her music in 2002 after working with musicians such as the Roots, the Herbaliser, Talib Kweli, and many others.

Jean Grae has primarily worked as a freelance artist since the late 2000s, digitally self-releasing most of her solo work, but this is due to numerous issues in the music industry. Jean has also dabbled in comedy and acting outside of music. According to Pitchfork, Jean Grae is regarded as one of Rap's greatest lyricists.

9. Cardi B

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female rappers
Cardi B attends the 2019 ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on 20 June 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. Photo: Leon Bennett
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active2010s - 2020s
Born11 October 1992 in Bronx, NY
GenreRap
StylesContemporary Rap, Hardcore Rap, East Coast Rap

Cardi B, also known as Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, is an American rapper, former reality star, social media influencer, and Grammy Award winner. Her commercial breakthrough song, Bodak Yellow, soared to the top of the music charts in 2017.

Cardi B pursued her musical ambitions by appearing as a regular cast member on the reality television show Love & Hip Hop: New York in 2011.

Her debut album, Invasion of Privacy, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 in 2018. According to Billboard, the album broke numerous streaming records and was certified triple platinum by the RIAA. It received widespread acclaim and won the Grammy for Best Rap Album, making Cardi B the first woman to do so as a solo performer.

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10. Lil' Kim

female rappers
Singer Lil' Kim performs onstage during the 2008 BET Awards held at the Shrine Auditorium on 24 June 2008 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Kevin Winter
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1990s - 2020s
Born11 July 1974 in Brooklyn, NY
GenreRap
StylesEast Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap, Pop-Rap
Also known as47 MC Little Kim, Kimberly Denise Jones, Queen Bee
Member ofJunior MAFIA

Kimberly Denise Jones, better known as Lil' Kim, is an American rapper and reality television star. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, and spent much of her adolescent life on the streets after being kicked out of her home.

Lil Kim rose to prominence as a female rapper in the mid-1990s, thanks to Biggie Smalls' guidance and her explicit lyrics and se*y persona. She put on a provocative front and released her debut album Hard Core in 1996, which received widespread acclaim.

According to Hip Hop gods, Lil' Kim's debut studio album, Hard Core (1996), was certified double platinum by the RIAA and sold more than six million copies worldwide. Her next two albums, The Notorious KIM (2000) and La Bella Mafia (2003) were also certified platinum.

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11. Remy Ma

female rappers
Remmy Ma attends the launch of Urban Skin RX on 18 January 2018 in New York City. Photo: Santiago Felipe
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1990s - 2020s
Born30 May 1980 in Bronx, NY
GenreRap
StylesContemporary Rap, East Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap, Pop-Rap
Also known asReminisce Smith, Remy Martin
Member ofTerror Squad

Reminisce Mackie "née Smith", also known as Remy Ma, is among the top female 90's rappers. Big Pun discovered her as she rose to fame as a member of Fat Joe's Terror Squad. There's Something About Remy: Based on a True Story, her debut studio album was released in 2006 and was a modest success, peaking at number 33 on the Billboard 200 chart.

According to IMDb, the celebrity is one of only five female artists to have ever topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart. BET named Remy Ma Best Female Hip Hop Artist in 2005 and 2017.

12. Rapsody

female rappers
Rapper Rapsody attends the BET Experience Youth Program presented by AEG at Staples Center on 22 June 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Paul Archuleta
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active2010s - 2020s
Born21 January 1988 in Wilson, NC
GenreRap
StylesContemporary Rap, Alternative Rap, Underground Rap, Southern Rap

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Marianna Evans, better known as Rapsody, is an American rapper. According to Revolt, the celebrity began her rapping career at North Carolina State University after joining Hip Hop H2O and Kooley High. Rapsody released her first mixtape, Return of the B-Girl, on 7 December 2010, featuring Big Daddy Kane and Mac Miller.

Laila's Wisdom (2017), Rapsody's second album, was critically acclaimed and received two Grammy Award nominations for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song. On 23 August 2019, the rapper released her third studio album, Eve, to critical acclaim from music critics.

13. Salt-N-Pepa

female rappers
Rappers Salt-N-Pepa and their DJ Spinderella pose for a portrait in 1988. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1980s - 2020s
Formed1985 in Queens, NY
GenreRap
StylesPop-Rap, Golden Age, East Coast Rap
Group membersCheryl "Salt" James, Sandy "Pepa" Denton, Spinderella

Salt-N-Pepa is a Queens, New York-based hip-hop group. The group was one of the first all-female hip-hop groups after forming in 1985.

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According to U Discover Music, Salt-N-Pepa changed the face of hip-hop by being open about sex and their feelings about men. They made their debut with The Show Stopper, a song written in response to Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick's underground hit The Show. The duo is widely regarded as one of the best female rappers.

14. Trina

female rappers
Rapper Trina is leaving the Blonds fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Gallery 1, Skylight Clarkson Sq on 12 September 2017 in New York City. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1990s - 2020s
Born3 December 1974 in Miami, FL
GenreRap
StylesContemporary Rap, Dirty South, Southern Rap, Hardcore Rap
Also known asKatrina Laverne Taylor

Trina is another female rapper who rose to prominence in 1998 after appearing on Trick Daddy's single Nann Ni*ga. In 2014, she was named one of Billboard's 31 Female Rappers Who Changed Hip Hop. Trina also received the 2022 "I Am Hip Hop Award" at the BET Hip Hop Awards.

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15. Foxy Brown

female rappers
Foxy Brown during Olympus Fashion Week Spring 2005 - Fusha - Front Row and Backstage at The Bryant, Byrant Park in New York City, New York, United States. Photo: Shareif Ziyadat
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1990s - 2020s
Born6 September 1979 in Brooklyn, NY
GenreRap
StylesEast Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap
Also known asInga Marchand
Member ofThe Firm

Foxy is a female rap artist who has released several albums throughout her career. A few examples include ill Na Na in 1996, Chyna Doll in 1999, and Broken Silence in 2001. The celebrity is commonly referred to as a "Hip Hop Princess."

According to Rock The Bells, the album "ill Na Na" by Foxy Brown eventually sold over two million copies and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

16. The Lady of Rage

female rappers
"The Lady Of Rage" performs with The Dogg Pound at Summertime In The LBC on 5 August 2017 in Long Beach, California. Photo: Earl Gibson III
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1980s - 2010s
Born6 February 1966 in Farmville, VA
GenreRap
StylesG-Funk, West Coast Rap, Gangsta Rap
Also known asRobin Allen

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Robin Yvette Allen, also known as the Lady of Rage, is a Death Row Records rapper, singer, and actress best known for working with other Death Row artists. She's been on seminal albums like The Chronic and D*ggystyle.

Hip hop Scriptures describes The Lady of Rage as one of the most skilled female MCs, with a mastery of flow and hard-core lyrics. Afro Puff, the rapper's hit single from 1994, peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot Rap Singles chart.

The artist's debut solo album, Necessary Roughness, was released in 1997 and peaked at number 7 on the Billboard R&B Album chart.

17. Megan Thee Stallion

female rappers
Megan Thee Stallion attends the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards at Los Angeles Convention Center on 14 March 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Kevin Mazur
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active2010s - 2020s
Born15 February 1995 in Houston, TX
GenreRap
StylesContemporary Rap, Southern Rap, Trap Rap
Also known asMegan Jovon Ruth Pete

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Megan, Jovon Ruth Pete, better known as Megan Thee Stallion, is a rapper from the United States. According to Utah Pulse, she is among the hottest female rappers in the world as of 2022. Megan rose to prominence after her freestyle videos went viral on social media platforms.

According to IMDb, Megan has won six BET Awards, five BET Hip Hop Awards, four American Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, a Billboard Women in Music Award, and three Grammy Awards during her career. She was named one of the world's 100 most influential people in 2020 by Time magazine.

18. Rah Digga

female rappers
Rah Digga, during Interscope Records, Presents "The Next New York Showdown" at Fulton State Park in New York City, New York, United States. Photo: Johnny Nunez
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active1990s - 2010s
Born18 December 1974 in New Jersey
GenreRap
Styles East Coast Rap, Hardcore Rap, Alternative Rap, Gangsta Rap, Pop-Rap, Underground Rap
Also known asRashia Fisher
Member ofFlipmode Squad

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Rashia Tashan Fisher, better known as Rah Digga, is an American rapper and actress. She is best known for her involvement with Busta Rhymes' hip-hop group, the Flipmode Squad. According to Discogs, Dirty Harriet, her debut album, charted in the top 20 on the Billboard 200, while Classic, her second album, was released in 2010.

19. Doja Cat

female rappers
Doja Cat poses backstage with awards during the 2022 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on 15 May 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Frazer Harrison
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active2010s - 2020s
BornOctober 21, 1995 in Tarzana, CA
GenreRap
StylesPop-Rap, Contemporary Rap, Pop
Also known asAmala Ratna Zandile Dlamini, Amala Zandile Dlamini

Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini, better known as Doja Cat, is among the top young female rappers in the industry right now. She began making and releasing music on SoundCloud as a teenager. Her song So High piqued the interest of Kemosabe and RCA Records, with whom she signed a joint record deal when she was 17 years old.

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Throughout her career, Doja Cat has received numerous awards. According to IMDb, the rapper has one Grammy Award, five Billboard Music Awards, five American Music Awards, and three MTV Video Music Awards.

20. Iggy Azalea

female rappers
Iggy Azalea attends the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on 20 August 2018 in New York City. Photo: Angela Weiss
Source: Getty Images

Profile summary

Active2010s - 2020s
Born7 June 1990 in Sydney, Australia
GenreRap
StylesContemporary Rap, Pop-Rap
Also known asAmethyst Amelia Kelly

Iggy Azalea, born Amethyst Amelia Kelly, is an Australian rapper, songwriter, and model. At 16, the star relocated from Australia to the United States to pursue a music career. Azalea is one of the world's top white female rappers and is signed to TI's Grand Hustle label.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Who is the best girl rapper in the world? Lauryn Hill tops the list of the best female MCs. She has received numerous accolades, including eight Grammy Awards, the most for a female rapper to date.
  2. Who is the most popular female rapper? According to Ranker, Nicki Minaj is among the most popular female MC in 2022. She has received many accolades, including 11 BET Awards, 6 American awards, 2 Billboard Women in Music Awards, 4 Billboard Music Awards, 4 MTV Video Music Awards, and 10 Grammy Award nominations.
  3. Who are the top 3 female rappers? The top three include Lauryn Hill, MC Lyte and Queen Latifah.
  4. Who is the richest female rapper? According to Wealthy Gorilla, Nicki Minaj tops the list of the wealthiest female MC with an estimated net worth of $75 million.
  5. Who is the biggest female rapper right now? Nicki Minaj is the all-time winner of the BET Award for best female rapper, with seven wins. She is also the most nominated artist, with twelve nominations.
  6. Which female rapper has the most albums? According to HypeBeast, Missy Elliott has the most platinum records of any female rapper.

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Female rappers have made significant contributions to the rap industry. They have altered the perception of rap and hip-hop as male-dominated genres. These women have changed the industry and made it more appealing to the general public by addressing inequality, racism, and misogyny issues. The debate over who the greatest female MC is will never end, but one thing is certain: female rappers will continue to produce some of the genre's best content.

Yen.com.gh recently published an article about Ghana's richest musicians and net worth. Ghana is one of the top African countries for producing some of the world's best musicians. As a result of their success, these artists have lucrative deals with record labels and online streaming, earning them large paychecks.

Learn about the wealthiest musicians in Ghana, including their net worth. Who comes out on top, and by how much?

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Source: YEN.com.gh

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