In recent years, women have been climbing their way to the top in an industry that has long been male-dominated. Rap’s newest princess Ice Spice and industry G.O.A.T. Nicki Minaj continue to dominate the charts, outselling the competition with their latest collaboration “Princess Diana”. They outsold the top 25 on the Billboard Hot 100 being downloaded 77,000 times following its April 14 release. This isn’t an anomaly, however, as there are more women succeeding in rap right now than ever before.
Even before getting the recognition they deserve, women have constantly been at the forefront of rap culture as emcees, producers and artists. These pioneering women helped shape the way for those to come after them. Artists like Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, Lil’ Kim, Da Brat, Eve, Missy Elliot and Trina are all iconic women who changed the game. As rap solidified its place into mainstream culture in the ’80s, these women fought for respect as artists. Today, the landscape for women in rap has changed.
In the early 2000’s women like Remy Ma, found moderate success in the industry but it was not like the early ‘90s that was plentiful in successful female rappers. This changed as Nicki Minaj rose to massive mainstream success after being signed by legendary artist Lil Wayne. Nicki Minaj began gaining national recognition between 2007-2009 as she dropped three mixtapes. In 2010, her debut album “Pink Friday” topped the Billboard charts with her single “Super Bass” reaching number three as well as becoming diamond certified by the RIAA. For years, she broke many records selling over 100 million total records worldwide making her the first female rapper to do so.
In 2018, Cardi B released her critically acclaimed debut album Invasion of Privacy which featured the hit single “Bodak Yellow”. This album was tremendously successful, debuting in the US Billboard 200 and earning 103,000 in pure album sales the first week. It won Best Rap Album at the 61st Grammy Awards, making Cardi the first female rapper to do so as a solo artist.
Two years later, in 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Megan the Stallion captivated a global audience with her song “Savage” which accumulated over 30 million TikTok video creations securing her a remix with Queen Bey. Cardi B and Megan later collaborated on “WAP” which prompted intense controversy due to its explicit lyrics, reminiscent of an early Lil’ Kim and Trina. Despite the backlash they faced, “WAP” reached number one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart. Other artists like Coi Leray and Saweetie also capitalized on TikTok using it to strengthen their marketing efforts with curated content generating massive plays on the entertainment app.
The girlies were just heating up though with 2020 proving to be a formative year for women in rap. Latto released her debut album Queen of da Souf allowing her to slowly but surely become a household name. She steadily ascended up the charts over the years, securing Grammys, Billboard awards and BET awards. The same year Alabama’s own Flo Milli stepped into national attention with her debut mixtape Ho, Why is you Here?
New women constantly breakout into the scene like Lola Brooke, New York’s newest heavy hitter, KenTheMan, Omeretta, Lakeyah, Monaleo, GloRilla and so many more. The most important part of all of this is that they are fostering a better community and environment for the next generation of female rappers, just like those before them. Many of them have songs together, appear in each other’s videos or simply promote each other’s music. Thanks to marketing and social norms the recognition of women in these spaces has changed drastically. There is an old saying that “many hands make light work.” We are witnessing in real time as the new generation of women continue to break barriers and achieve the accolades they deserve as artists.
We’ve compiled a playlist of songs featuring our favorite female rappers and you can listen below now! Our playlists include the artists mentioned above as well as popular and rising artists. You can tweet us at @thisisvinyl for any recommendations.
Taijahnai Scott is a student at the University of Georgia studying Marketing and Music Business with hopes of finding a job in music marketing post grad. Growing up she always had a deep love and cultural connection to music, especially Hip-Hop/Rap, Pop, R&B and NeoSoul. She is fascinated with all things music including the business aspect of it. She hopes to bring her opinions to the Athens music scene and expanding her tastes.