It’s a man’s world. That could easily be the slogan for the male-dominated industry of hip hop. As an aspiring female rapper it takes skill, drive, and a certain ‘it’ factor to break through. Consistency, a solid fan base, and surviving the ups and downs of the business keeps you relevant.
In honor of women’s history month, Billboard featured a female MC each day during March. The end result is a list of the 31 greatest female hip hop artists of all time. From pioneers like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah, to women like Lil Kim and Trina who owned their sexuality, to groundbreaking artists like Missy Elliot, they all had an impact on the genre and culture. Through each generation women rappers have offered the female perspective. None have done it quite like Salt-N-Pepa, Lauryn Hill, and Nicki Minaj.
When you think of female rap in the 80’s Salt-N-Pepa should automatically come to mind. Hits like “Push It,” “Shoop,” and “Let’s Talk About Sex” solidified their position as the best-selling female rap group of all time. Their distinctive style, energetic vibe, and empowering female anthems made members Salt, Pepa, and Spinderella icons. They served as a voice for women of their time. They joined forces with R&B group En Vogue on “Whatta Man” for a smash hit collaboration that was true to their essence. They undoubtedly helped pave the way for future female MC’s.