Hip-hop has been dominated largely by men since it first emerged in the South Bronx, N.Y. in the 1970s. The plight of the female MC has been well-documented and although many women have made strides in opening the door for females on the mic, there is still a shortage of around-the-way girls on the mainstream level and even fewer placing a lasting stamp on the game. But with a new crop of female rappers popping up on the scene and making waves, there may be a renaissance of sorts, as this new generation of women definitely have something to say and are not afraid to let their voices be heard.
Once seen as cute novelty acts, female rappers have continued to evolve over the years, with a choice few rivaling their male counterparts in skill, creativity and star power. There are even instances when a female MC steals the spotlight from a male rhymer and completely owns the track. It happens more than you think. Bet you'll never say "she rhymes good for a girl" again. Check out 10 Times Your Favorite Female Rapper Outshined a Male Rapper.
EveEve's "Let's Talk About" Featuring Drag-On
As the First Lady of the Ruff Ryders camp, Eve was nothing short of ferocious and had as much bite as her bark when placed inside of a vocal booth in the '90s. With platinum plaques and Grammy Awards to her name, she eventually evolved into one of the more successful female artists of the new millennium, leading to opportunities in Hollywood, television and fashion for the woman once known as the "pitbull in a skirt." She may not be as active musically as she once was, but don't get it twisted: Eve could spit with the best of them during her prime, holding her own against label mates such as DMX and the Lox, among others.
One track that proved she was not to be taken lightly by her male counterparts was the Drag-On-assisted "Let's Talk About," off of her debut album, Let There Be Eve... Ruff Ryders' First Lady. Drag-On may be underrated as an MC, but he's no slouch and Eve manages to catch the little homie off his pivot on this offering.
"Yo let's talk about platinum plaques, hangin' on my wall, see me decorated / She's the one, heard 'em say it, see me celebrate it / I pop s--- when it's necessary, not for nothin' / I use clips for them big beefs, see me bustin'," Eve rhymes, gunning like Snoop in The Wire. She drops heavy-handed bars on the track and proves that she's more than battle-tested.
She continues her verbal assault by nabbing the bragging rights over Drag-On in a photo-finish: "I wanna talk about ride or die / My dogs control confrontation in any situation / Five n----s on your team, five n----s you replacin' / Five n----s used to gleam, five n----s left with nathin' / But their game that we took and now they back to chase it."
These days, she's known more for being married to a billionaire than her aggressive rhyme style. Eve may have showcased even the roughest pitbulls can be domesticated, but she's still more MC than soccer mom in our hearts.
Remy MaTerror Squad's "Lean Back" Featuring Fat Joe & Remy Ma
The Bronx may not produce many female rappers, but Remy Ma is definitely one of the elite when you take into account pure lyricism. Discovered by the late Big Pun, she made her name off of a number of standout freestyles and guest appearances including her buzz-worthy verse on M.O.P.'s "Ante Up (Remix)." Following Pun's death, her career was in limbo until Fat Joe decided to pull the Terror Squad back together and record the crew's 2004 effort, True Story.
The album had a few notable cuts, but none resonated greater than the smash single, "Lean Back," which featured Fat Joe and Remy Ma giving the goons something to dance to in the club. Don Cartagena may have continued to make a case for most improved rapper, but Remy completely stole the show with her verse on the track and effectively made herself a budding star overnight.
"R to the Eezy, M to the Wizeye / My arms stay breezy, the Don stay flizeye / Got a date at 8, I'm in the 7-40-fizive / And I just bought a bike so I can ride 'til I die / With a matchin' jacket, 'bout to cop me a mansion / My squad in the club, but you know they not dancin' / We gangsta and gangstas don't dance, we boogie / So never mind how we got in here with burners and hoodies," she raps. Remy gives the track an equal amount of estrogen and gangsta at once and grabs the listeners' attention off the rip with her sultry, yet menacing voice.
From rhyming about getting firearms inside the venue to throwing a nod to Jigga's "Money Ain't a Thing" verse, Remy Ma gets a deserving nod from rap fans here. And while she never attained the crown due to landing in prison, "Lean Back" forever gives her a permanent position in this thing of ours.
Jane DoeBlackstar's "Twice Inna Lifetime" Featuring Jane Doe, Punchline & Wordsworth
Jane Doe may not be a name many rap fans are familiar with outside of dead bodies, but the one in question happens to be a long-forgotten name in the annals of female rap. A New York City native, Jane Doe was a part of the underground scene in the latter half of the '90s and the Lyricists Lounge/Rawkus movement. She was respected for her astounding rhyme skills and her ability to hang with some of the best spitters at the time.
She got the chance to prove this during an appearance on Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star album cut, "Twice Inna Lifetime." With a lineup including Mos and Talib, as well as fellow verbal technicians Punchline and Wordsworth, Jane may have been given the opening verse out of chivalry, but she quickly proved that she had one of the most impressive showings from a female that we can think of.
"Hail Mary, 'matta fact hail Jane / N----s take my name in vain like I was cocaine / My affirmations kill MCs like assassination / Bringin' you pain until you wish you had a vaccination / Or vaccine, I shine like Vaseline / Gas plays like petroleum, walk over them like linoleum / My vocab expand like a rubber band / Walkin' naked through the motherland, give the finger to my brotherman," Jane rhymes. Her opening bars are enough to make you rewind the track in disbelief. Yes, this is a woman spitting better than most dudes do.
She continues to burn the booth down with more standout bars and delivers what many regard as a classic verse. "Did I mention my name, yo, go by the Jane Doe / Drenched in Polo, chill downtown in SoHo / You don't know, this is just half my potential / Check my credentials, come harder than sequential / It's essential, you listen, I drive, you a pedestrian / They bless me on the track 'cause I attack wit' the estrogen," she serves.
This female rapper may have vanished from the scene shortly after this track was released but this verse remains murderous nonetheless and is more than worthy of making this list of 10 Times Your Favorite Female Rapper Outshined a Male Rapper.
AmilJay Z's "Can I Get A..." Featuring Amil & Ja Rule
Amil may be a footnote in rap history at this point, but at one time, she was pegged as next up in the female rap hierarchy. As a member of the group Major Coins, she found herself working with Jay Z, who was in the midst of recording his third LP, Hard Knock Life. Featured on the album's lead single, "Can I Get A...," Amil may have been a virtual unknown, but quickly made her presence felt with her infectious 16 bars. "You ain't gotta be rich, but f--- that, how we gon' get around on ya bus pass / 'Fore I put this p---- on ya mustache," she coyly spits. Amil's raspy voice immediately stands out and is a perfect compliment to the track.
She continues to shine with other catchy lines like, "When you produce a rock / I let you meet mama and introduce you to papa / My coochie remains in a Gucci name / Never test my patience, sweety, I'm high maintenance / High class, if you ain't rollin', bypass / If you ain't holdin' I dash, yo," and effectively gives a classic performance in crunch time.
Amil and Jay Z's musical partnership may not have ended on the best of terms and many may scoff at the notion, but at least she's one of the few that can say she outshined one of the all-time greats on a track. And that's saying a whole lot.
Mia XSnoop Dogg's "Slow Down" Featuring Mia X
No Limit Records was unstoppable during their rise to fame and Mia X, the leading lady of the camp, was far from a sideline player and on the frontlines repping for the house that Percy built. Signed to No Limit since 1994, the New Orleans native helped popularize the label with her NOLA brand of tough talk and the aura of Griselda Blanco.
She released three albums under the No Limit umbrella and staked her claim as one of the most respected female rappers out of the south. One of her most memorable performances came courtesy of then-free agent acquisition Snoop Dogg, who released his third solo album, Da Game Is to be Sold, Not to be Told, on the label in 1998.
On the single, "Slow Down," Snoop comes correct, but Mia X is nothing less than stellar on this outing and manages to steal the show with ease. "I used to cook up dope, ride with n----s / Know about the hits, hang with killas / Take the broads down for the jailhouse visits / Keep my bed warm with a cutthroat n---," she struts on the track with the bop of a supreme gangstress plotting her next lick.
"Slow Down" is yet one of the many examples that proves that Mia X may have been the original trap queen and that she was one of the best ladies to ever step behind a microphone.
Princess & DiamondCrime Mob's "Knuck If You Buck" Featuring Lil Scrappy
By 2004, southern rap was taking the country by storm and was dominating the Billboard charts, as well as radio and video playlists. One of the more popular rap groups to emerge during this time was Crime Mob, a quintet consisting of three male rappers -- Lil Jay, Killa C and M.I.G. -- and two female rappers, Princess and Diamond.
After making noise in the local Atlanta underground scene for their raucous shows and high energy, they aligned with fellow ATLiens Lil Scrappy and Lil Jon for their debut single, "Kuck If You Buck," in 2004. The track was an instant classic, energized many a party across the nation and embodied the aggressive energy of teenagers and young adults alike. And while the guys all came through with memorable verses, the ladies clearly take home the win on this one.
Who can ever forget Princess setting it off with her opening lines, barking, "Yeah, we knucking and bucking and ready to fight / I betcha I'ma throw them thangs, so haters best to think twice / See me, I ain't nothing nice, and Crime Mob beat, aint no stopping / They be like Sudaam Husein, Hitler and Osama Bin Laden," and taking top honors within eight bars.
Diamond also impresses with her rapid-fire flow. "I come in the club, shaking my dreads, throwing these bows and bussin' these heads / Bitches irrelevant, step to my residence / Besta to back up 'fore I give you a lick," and serves as the perfect counter to Princess' rhyme style.
Crime Mob may no longer be in effect, but this song is still sure to insight a riot and a testament that the ladies can get rowdy too.
Lauryn HillFugees' "Fu-Gee-La"
Lauryn Hill's solo discography may be short in comparison to other female rappers, but that doesn't keep her from appearing in many fans and critics' top five female MCs lists and regard her as a musical icon. Add to the fact that out of her three studio albums, two were part of rap group the Fugees with male MCs Wyclef Jean and Pras.
And Lauryn did more than hold her own, outshining her members -- lyrically or vocally -- on more than a few occasions. One of these instances occurred on the group's single, "Fu-Gee-La," off of their sophomore album, The Score, which has become one of the most successful albums from a rap group in the genre's history.
"Yeah in saloons we drink Boones and battle goons 'til high noon / Bust rap tunes on flat spoons, take no shorts like poom pooms / See hoochies pop coochies, for Guccis and Lucci / Find me in my Mitsubishi, eating sushi, bumping Fugees," she raps. You're instantly aware that you're not dealing with any ordinary rap chick here, but someone that will rip apart the best rapper in a battle with ease.
Dropping more quote-worthy lines, like "I'm twisted, blacklisted by some other negroes / Don't remove my Polos on the first episode / Ha ha ha ha, you shouldn't diss refugees and / Ha ha ha ha, your whole sound set's bootie and / Ha ha ha ha, you have to respect Jersey / 'Cause we super fly when I'm super high on the Fu-Gee-La," Lauryn absolutely bodied this cut and it serves as another example of her greatness.
Foxy BrownNas' "Affirmative Action" Featuring AZ, Foxy Brown & Cormega
Foxy Brown rose to prominence in the mid '90s after a standout showing on LL Cool J's "I Shot Ya," off of the rapper's Mr. Smith, album. That debut led to a number of buzz-worthy guest appearances, which ultimately culminated in the release of her debut LP, Ill Na Na, and her rap star status. But in between all of that, the feisty Brooklynite linked up with Nas -- whom was working with her mentors, Trackmasters -- and made an appearance on his breakthrough 1996 album, It Was Written.
Featured on the cut, "Affirmative Action," Foxy anchored the track with a complex closeout verse that still has folks talking nearly 20 years later. "In the black Camaro / Firm deep, all my n----s hail the blackest sparrow / Wallabees be the apparel, through the darkest tunnel / I got visions of multimillions in the biggest bundle / In the Lex pushed by my n----Jungle," Foxy spits. These opening bars alone are enough to give you the chills. She then shows more crew love to her Firm affiliates and lists off a few of the hot brands her and her team spend cash on, among other fly talk.
Faulty math aside, Foxy's verse on "Affirmative Action" remains one of the more notable ones from a female and added up to Foxy one-upping Nasir, AZ and Cormega on one of the legendary posse cuts of the '90s.
Lil' KimMobb Deep's "Quiet Storm (Remix)" Featuring Lil' Kim
Lil' Kim instantly made an impression on listeners with her standout performance on Junior Mafia's Conspiracy album, as well as her solo debut, Hard Core, quickly rising to the top of the female rap racket and becoming a sex symbol and fan favorite.
In between her debut and sophomore albums, after mourning the loss of her mentor, the Notorious B.I.G., Kim hit the feature circuit with a vengeance, placing her indelible stamp on a few hit records during the late '90s. One of those appearances was on Mobb Deep's remix to their ominous-sounding cut, "Quiet Storm," which was a street and mixshow banger until Kim came through and blew up the spot.
Setting off her verse, barking, "Hot damn ho, here we go again / Light as a rock bitch, hard as a cock, bitch," Kim pays homage to fellow Brooklyn legend MC Lyte before continuing on her war path.
"My Brooklyn style speak for itself / Like a wrestler, another notch under my belt / The embezzler, chrome treasurer / The U-N-O competitor / I'm 10 steps ahead of ya," she delivers, showcasing confidence in her zone.
Subliminal shots get thrown at Foxy Brown ("I'm a leader, y'all on some following s--- / Coming in this game on some modeling s--- / Bitches suck cock just to get to the top, I put a hundred percent in every line I drop") and by the end of the verse, you almost forget that it's a Mobb Deep song.
The Queen Bee hijacking Prodigy and Havoc's hit single and using it as a platform to vent and throw down the gauntlet in spectacular fashion is one of the best things ever in life and this list is another excuse to celebrate it. Sue us.
Nicki MinajKanye West's "Monster" Featuring Jay Z, Nicki Minaj & Rick Ross
Nicki Minaj is undoubtedly the best female rapper in hip-hop at this time. And while her debut album, Pink Friday, solidified her as a proven hit-maker, it was one showing in particular that cemented her status as one of the all-time great female MCs: her verse on Kanye West's posse cut, "Monster."
While Minaj has a litany of standout guest verses to her credit, this scorcher was magnified by the stature of the other artists featured on the track. First you have Kanye West, who was in the middle of an MVP season in hip-hop and one of the biggest artists in all of music. Then add in Jay Z and Rick Ross, who are no chumps themselves, and what you have is a formidable lineup of MCs that would strike fear in the heart of most male rappers let alone a female with minimal time in the big leagues under her belt.
But Nicki Minaj did the unexpected and murdered all three with a close-out verse for the ages. "Pull up in the monster automobile, gangsta / With a bad bitch that came from Sri Lanka / Yeah I'm in that Tonka, color of Willy Wonka / You could be the king but watch the queen conquer," she serves before letting her hair down and sinking her teeth into the beat.
She goes on to throw shots at her competition, rapping, "So let me get this straight, wait, I'm the rookie? / But my features and my shows 10 times your pay? / 50K for a verse, no album out / Yeah, my money's so tall that my Barbies got to climb it / Hotter than a Middle Eastern climate, violent / Tony Matterhorn, dutty wine it, wylin' / Nicki on them titties when I sign it / That's how these n----s so one-track-minded," and leaves a blaze of quotables behind her. Nicki still has a ways to go before being considered the greatest female MC of all time, but as for now, she definitely has one of, if not the best verse from one that we've ever heard.