When it comes to naming the greatest rappers of all time, it’s no secret that the field — like so much of the music industry — is extremely male-dominated. However, there are still plenty of women that make their way to the top in rap and hip hop, and celebrating the achievements of those women only paves the way for even more talented women to get their chance in the industry, too.
We’re taking this chance to celebrate our favourite female rappers and providing you with the five greatest to ever pick up the mic.
Ever since the start of hip hop, women have been working and participating in the scene, even if it’s taken a while to get to the point where we are now, and even if the industry still has a long way to go.
Whether you’re a fan of the modern rappers that dominate the charts today or you’d rather kick back with some old school classic hip hop, there are some brilliant women rappers who have plenty to say and the talent to make you keep listening.
The 5 greatest female rappers:
5. Lil’ Kim
‘Lady Marmalade’, ‘Magic Stick’, and ‘Crush on You’ are just a few of Lil’ Kim’s many songs that put her on the map, and based on her range, creativity, and writing skills, she definitely deserves her slot on this list.
Getting her start in the rap game in the 1990s, she was one of few female artists consistently running in the big leagues and putting out rap music that blended the mainstream styles with her own unique flow. Not only has she evolved with the hip hop culture around her, but she has had a decades-long career, with her last studio album having come out in 2019.
4. Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion is a newer rapper—perhaps the newest on this list—but she’s made quite the impression. Yes, her songs have gone viral on Tik Tok and have taken the internet by storm, but even just listening to her music on its own will show you just how talented she is.
Megan Thee Stallion has her own unique style. She has an intonation that anyone could recognise, a flow that balances attitude and precision, and lyrics that keep you coming back for more.
We simply had to include a British rapper on this list, and who better than M.I.A.? While plenty of people know her best for her song ‘Paper Planes’, that’s just the beginning of what she has to offer.
M.I.A. has produced countless hits like ‘Bad Girls’, ‘Visa’, and ‘World Town’—and so many more on top of that. M.I.A. doesn’t just utilise a unique flow and lyrics, either. She backs it with creative beats and distinct instrumentation that permeates other genres beyond even rap music, and that’s an impressive feat.
2. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj has become one of the most iconic rappers in history—regardless of gender—ever since she started her career. Her 2010 album, Pink Friday put her on the map from the very start, and from then on, she seemed to produce hit after hit.
Not only is Nicki Minaj an absolute master of flow and the technical side of rap, but her voice, style, and lyrics do the work of embracing her feminine qualities at the same time as she brings a balance of technical prowess. The two complement one another, making her style interesting and influential.
1. Missy Elliott
Is it really any surprise that Missy Elliott makes the top of the list as the best female rapper of all time? She’s bound to be near the top of every list for the best rappers of all time regardless of gender, and why wouldn’t she be? She’s the woman behind some of the most popular songs in the last few decades. ‘Work It’ and ‘Get Ur Freak On’ speak for themselves.
Not only has she produced some amazing songs and amazing beats, but everything from her lyrics to her creative sound mixing have made her the rap legend she is today. Everyone from Lil Wayne to Princess Nokia finds inspiration in her, making her one of the best, inarguably.