There are countless male rappers, but when it comes to female rappers, there are a few that stand out. Here we highlight the top 21 most famous women vocalists and rap artists today. Some of these musicians have been rapping for less than ten years, and some for more than two decades. Regardless of their age or length of careers, these ladies have made it to the list of the 21 most well-known female rappers.
1. Nicki Minaj
Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty was born in 1982, known professionally as Nicki Minaj, and is a Trinidadian-born rapper, singer, and songwriter based in the United States. With the help of renowned producer Dr. Luke, she has already released four studio albums and is working on a fifth. She is ranked 52nd on the “Billboard” Hot 100 songs chart, with the song “Anaconda” at number 1. Minaj is one of the most influential women in today’s hip-hop industry and has had a widespread impact on fashion and pop culture with her sexy lyrics and eccentric style.
If you’re curious about how tall Nicki Minaj is, check out our Nicki Minaj Height article. As a Trinidadian-born rapper, Nicki Minaj is known for her unique style and unapologetic lyrics.
2. Missy Elliott
Melissa Arnette Elliott was born in 1971, known professionally as Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, or simply Missy Elliott, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer. She has two compilation albums and five studio albums to her credit. Her most famous song, Get Ur Freak On, became a worldwide smash (2001).
3. MC Lyte
Lana Michele Moorer was born in 1970, better known by her stage name MC Lyte. She is an American rapper and a hip-hop duo Public Enemy member. She is known for her style of rap and has enjoyed chart success. She is one of only four female M.C.s to have ever appeared on the cover of “Spin”.
MC Lyte is undoubtedly one of the most talented and respected women rappers of all time. As a pioneer in the genre, Lyte has inspired many women in the industry and left behind an incredible impact. She is included in our list of the best rappers of the 2000s for her contributions to the culture.
4. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill was born in 1975, better known by her stage name Lauryn Michelle Hastings. She is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter. She has released several critically acclaimed albums, including The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and the Grammy-nominated album The Fugees. She is one of only a few artists to win a Grammy, an Emmy, and a Tony.
5. Da Brat
Shawntae Harris-Dupart, well known by her stage moniker Da Brat, was born in 1974. He is a rapper who is American. She started her career in 1992, the year she signed with So So Def Records, having been born and reared in Chicago, Illinois. She became the second female rap act overall (solo or group) after Salt-N-Pepa in 1994 and the first female solo rap act to gain a platinum certification with her first album Funkdafied, which sold one million copies.
If you want to know more about Da Brat and other famous Chicago rappers, check out Hood MWR’s Top 25 Famous Chicago Rappers section. You will find everything you need to know about the Windy City’s hip-hop scene, from its early days to the present.
6. Queen Latifah
Dana Elaine Owens was reared in Denver, Colorado, after being born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1970. She is known professionally as Queen Latifah. She is an American rapper, actress, and singer. Born, Latifah began her career as a rapper in 1992 with the release of her debut album, All Hail the Queen (1993). Latifah went on to work with other acclaimed hip-hop artists such as Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg.
7. Foxy Brown
Inga DeCarlo Fung Marchand was born in 1978 in New York City, better known by her stage name Foxy Brown. She is an American rapper. Ill Na Na, her debut album, was published in 1996. Over 7 million copies of the platinum-certified album have been sold worldwide.
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Marlanna Evans was born in 1983, better known by her stage name Rapsody, and is an American rapper. She was born in North Carolina and raised in Charlotte. She is most known for her mixtapes “The Black Mamba” (2012) and “Crown” (2014).
She has also worked with several artists, including Ab-Soul, BJ the Chicago Kid, Mac Miller, Kendrick Lamar, and others. Rapsody and Kendrick Lamar won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 2015 for their song “Complexion (A Zulu Love).”
9. Remy Ma
Reminisce Mackie was born in 1980, better known by her stage name Remy Ma. She is an American hip hop recording artist originally from The Bronx. In 1997 she began appearing on mixtapes and released her debut solo album, “There’s Something About Remy: Based on a True Story,” in 2001. In 2003 she signed a major-label record deal with Atlantic Records and released her debut studio album “The Remy Martin Diary”.
10. Lil’ Kim
Kimberly Denise Jones was born in 1974 in Brooklyn, New York City. She is better known by her stage name Lil’ Kim. She is an American rapper and reality television personality. Lil’ Kim debuted in 1996, at 22, with the release of her first album Hard Core. In 2001, Lil’ Kim was featured on the single “Lady Marmalade”, which was number one for five weeks in the U.S., and a feature on the number-one hit “Lose Yourself”. In 2005, she released her third album, The Naked Truth. In 2007, Lil’ Kim was part of the VH1 reality show Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew
11. Lady of Rage
Robin Yvette Allen was born in 1966, known professionally as the Lady of Rage, and is an American rapper, singer, and actress. She rose to prominence in 1989 as Public Enemy’s main vocalist, a role she still holds today. She has also worked as a solo artist, releasing the albums Necessary Roughness in 1994 and Nitty Gritty in 1996, both on Tommy Boy Records.
Leslie “Trina” McCollum, better known by her stage name Trina, is an American rapper. The recipient of four Grammy Award nominations, Trina is one of the most successful female rappers in hip hop history, having sold over 14 million records worldwide.
13. Lady Luck
Katrina Laverne Taylor was born in 1978, known professionally as Trina, and is an American rapper. She rose to prominence in 1998 with her appearance on the Trick Daddy single “Nann Nigga” and subsequently signed a recording contract with LaFace Records.
Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam M.B.E. was born in 1975, known by her stage name M.I.A. (an initialism for “Missing in Acton”), is a British rapper and singer. Born in London to parents from Jaffna, she moved with her family to Newbridge, County Kildare, at the age of three and later emigrated to Dublin, Ireland, at the age of seventeen.
15. Young Ma
Katorah Kasanova Marrero was born in 1992 in New York, better known by her stage name Young M.A. She is an American rapper. She is best known for her singles “Ooouuu” and “Picky”. Despite never signing with a major label or entertainment company, she released a song called “Brooklyn (Chiraq Freestyle)” that went viral in 2016 and peaked at number 21 on the “Billboard” Hot 100 chart in April 2017.
16. Salt N Pepa
Cheryl “Salt-N-Pepa” Thornton and Cheryl “Pepa” Jones were born in 1965. They are known professionally as Salt-N Pepa and are an American hip-hop trio. Along with co-founding the group in the late 1980s, they are also known as some of the pioneers of the rap genre. “Push It,” “Let’s Talk About Sex,” and “Shoop,” three of their top hits, is their most well-known works.
17. Rah Digga
Rashia Tashan Fisher was born in 1972, known professionally as Rah Digga, and is an American rapper and actress from Harlem, New York. Her second album, Classic, was released in 2010 after her debut, Dirty Harriet, which climbed in the top 20 of the Billboard 200, debuted in 2000. She played Maggie in the 2001 horror movie Thirteen Ghosts.
18. Left Eye
Lisa Nicole Lopes was born in 1971, known professionally as Left Eye, and is an American rapper and singer. She died in 2002. She was best known for being a member of the 1990s R&B/pop girl act T.L.C., with her two sisters Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas.
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19. Jean Grae
Tsidi Ibrahim, known professionally as Jean Gra, was born in 1976, better known by her stage name Jean Grae, and is an American hip hop artist. She is known for her political and socially conscious lyrics. Jean rose in New York City’s underground hip-hop scene and built an international fanbase. Grae’s unique music and lyrical style have earned the artist recognition as a favorite emcee by many rap artists such as Talib Kweli, Jay-Z, and Black Thought of the Roots
20. Cardi B
Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar was born in 1992 in New York City, known professionally as Cardi B. She is a rapper and songwriter from America. She is well known for her direct lyrics and powerful delivery. After rising to fame on social media in 2017, she signed a recording contract with Atlantic Records. She released her debut mixtape “Bodak Yellow” in August of that year, which reached number one on the U.S. “Billboard” Rap Albums chart. She broke a record when she simultaneously placed three songs on the American Billboard Hot 100 in 2018.
21. Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Jovon Ruth Pete was born in 1995, known professionally as Megan Thee Stallion. She is an American rapper. She was first signed to 300 Entertainment in 2017 and shortly after released her debut mixtape, “G.O.A.T.” (2017). In 2018 she released her second mixtape, “Fever,” which featured three singles: “Hot Girl Summer”, “Billboard Hot 100,” and “Rolling Stone 100”.