The 50 Greatest Rap Songs By Women

The 50 Greatest Rap Songs By Women

Published Fri, April 28, 2023 at 12:00 AM EDT

Women have long been on on the frontlines of Hip-Hop, bringing dimension and perspective while helping to shape the genre. Adding layers of complexity and approachability to the culture, while steadily pushing boundaries and challenging perceptions about what it could be, women's impact on Hip-Hop is profound.

Put simply, Hip-Hop would not be what it is today without women.

From MC Lyte and MC Sha-Rock, to Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott, The Lady of Rage, and Lil Kim, here are 50 of our favorite songs from women in Hip-Hop.

50. "WAP" / Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion, 2020

Cardi and Megan Thee Stallion delivered 2020’s most controversial song. The Ayo & Keyz produced track and provocative video was without doubt the most talked piece of music in some time.

49. "Juicy Gotcha Crazy" / Oaktown's 3.5.7, 1989

The Bay Area group’s association with MC Hammer certainly helped, but their brazen 1989 jam stood on its own. —Jacinta Howard

48. "Act Up" / City Girls, 2018

Produced by Earl On The Beat and J.T. Gadsden, "Act Up" quickly became a cultural phenomenon, with its catchy hook and raunchy lyrics inspiring countless memes and viral dance challenges. —Alec Banks

47. "You Been Played" / Smooth, 1993

After dropping the “MC” from her moniker, Smooth returned with her sophomore album, You Been Played. The title track, produced by Smooth and Chris Stokes, was the biggest hit from the project, and remains an entry point for sexy, empowering feminine rap. —Jacinta Howard

46. "What’s Up Star?" / Sweet Tee, 1995

With a new moniker and flow as well as a new label deal with Def Jam and Jam Master Jay’s JMJ Records, Sweet Tee scored a big hit with "What’s Up Star?” from the soundtrack to The Show. –Jay Quan

45. "Where Dem Dollaz At" / Gangsta Boo, 1998

After blasting onto the scene via Memphis’ Three 6 Mafia, Gangsta Boo struck gold with her solo hit, “Where Dem Dollaz At,” a creative flip of fellow Memphis native, Tela’s Jazze Pha-produced classic “Sho’ Nuff.” —Jacinta Howard

44. "The Life" / Mystic, 2002

The queen of Digital Underground, Bay Area rapper Mystic’s solo debut was forward-leaning, earthy, and comforting, stamped by her breezy, subtly dense lead single, “The Life.” —Jacinta Howard

43. "Swing My Way" / K.P. & Envyi, 1997

A late 90s gem, “Swing My Way” may’ve been their only hit, but it was a big one that still gets love today. —Jacinta Howard

42. "Let It Fall" / Lin Que, 1995

With an EastWest Records deal and a single executive produced by MC Lyte, Lin Que shed her X-Clan affiliated Isis moniker and flow with an updated cadence on a Caspa-produced banger.

—Jay Quan

41. "Moment for Life" / Nicki Minaj, 2010

Nicki Minaj's "Moment of Life" featuring Drake is a high-energy anthem that captures the raw power of two of Hip-Hop's biggest stars at the height of their creative synergy. With a sample from the 2005 indie hit "O, Miami" by Canadian band Born Ruffians, "Moment of Life" is a true showcase of Minaj's lyrical prowess and a perfect blend of pop and rap. –Alec Banks

40. "Extra, Extra!!" / Paula Perry, 1998

The Queen of Fort Greene and DJ Premier link for an anthem that is criminally underrated. —Alec Banks

39. "The Cars With The Boom" / L’Trimm, 1988

Miami bass group, L’Trimm’s danceable ode to fly cars enjoyed a resurgence thanks to TikToker’s who caught on to the summery banger for one of its many challenges. Defined by booming 808’s and a sing-along chorus, it’s a staple in Miami bass music. —Jacinta Howard

38. "5 O’ clock" / Nonchalant, 1996

Nonchalant’s warning to nighttime hustlers from her one and only album, Until The Day peaked at #24 on the Billboard Hot 100. —Jacinta Howard

37. "Conceited" / Remy Ma, 2005

“Conceited” is a single from Remy Ma’s 2005 Universal Records debut There’s Something About Remy: Based On A True Story. The Scott Storch track with its “I look too good” hook peaked at #17 on Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs chart. —Jay Quan

36. "Da Baddest B*tch" / Trina, 1998

“Da Baddest Bitch” from the album of the same name has become Florida native Trina’s moniker since its 1999 release. The Tony Galvin-produced lead single reached # 64 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. —Jay Quan

35. "You Don’t Wanna Go 2 War" / Mia X, 1997

A lyrical powerhouse and stand out on Master P's stacked No Limit roster, Mia X's presence on a track always made it better. On this track featured on Unlady Like, she showcases her hard-hitting skills over creeping pianos. —Jacinta Howard

34. "Imperial" / Rah Digga, 2000

With an assist from Busta Rhymes, Rah Digga delivered a banger centered around a Musical Youth inspired hook with “Imperial” from her 2000 debut Dirty Harriet. “Imperial” remains one of Rah Digga’s most revered songs. —Jay Quan

33. "Deeper" / Boss, 1993

Boss’ gangster musings on the bass-heavy “Deeper” soared to #1 on the rap charts, solidifying her place as one of the most interesting figures in early 90s rap. –Jacinta Howard

32. "Just Another Day" / Queen Latifah, 1993

"Just Another Day" was released in December 1993 and is the second single from Black Reign. The song, produced by Long Island's S.I.D. Reynolds and co-written by The Flavor Unit's Apache, discusses gunplay and violence in the hood. "Just Another Day" peaked at number 54 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the charts for 11 weeks. —Jay Quan

31. "3 Tha Hard Way" / Bahamadia, 1996

Taken from her debut album Kollage, this DJ Premier production featured K Swift And Mecca Starr and was accompanied by a popular video. “3 The Hard Way” remains one of Hip-Hop’s most celebrated posse cuts as well as one of Bahamadia’s best. —Jay Quan

30. "Ruffneck" / MC Lyte, 1993

With its infectious beat, catchy hook, and bold feminist message, "Ruffneck" shattered stereotypes and set a new standard for women in rap, paving the way for generations of female MCs to come. —Alec Banks

29. "I Got An Attitude" / Antoinette, 1987

This Hurby Luvbug produced song is Antionette’s signature. Her Rakim-like cadence and Hurby’s loop of “Impeach The President” is considered a classic. —Jay Quan

28. "My Story" / Jean Grae, 2008

One of the most gifted lyricists in Hip-Hop history, Jean Grae’s visceral abortion story over classic 9th Wonder production exemplifies why she’s considered a giant in the genre. —Jacinta Howard

27. "Oh Yeah" / Foxy Brown, 2001

Featuring a flip on a classic Toots & the Maytals “Oh Yeah” vocal sample, Foxy Brown — with one of the most buttery smooth deliveries — delivers a song that oozes energy and lyrical dexterity. —Alec Banks

26. "Crush On You (Remix)" / Lil Kim, 1997

Lil Kim's fiery vocals on "Crush on You" are a testament to her undeniable talent as a rapper and a trailblazer in the male-dominated world of hip-hop. Combined with The Notorious B.I.G.'s iconic cameo, the wsong is an unforgettable banger.

—Alec Banks

25. "Ibtihaj" / Rapsody, 2019

Any time you’re thinking of tinkering with a classic — in this case RZA and GZA’s classic “Liquid Swords” — you run the risk of looking uninspired and corny. However, when it works, it REALLY works. Rapsody absolutely shines, and GZA only solidifies there is no rust on his Ginn-su sword. —Alec Banks

24. "Not Tonight (Ladies’ Night Remix)" / Lil Kim featuring Angie Martinez, Left Eye, Da Brat, Missy Elliott, 1997

There’s nothing quite like this all ladies posse cut where no one misses a beat. A special shout out goes out to Missy Elliott who refuses to be “Patti Labelle singing hooks.” —Alec Banks

23. "You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo" / Yo-Yo, 1991

An L.A. native and mentee of Ice Cube, Yo-Yo arrived on the scene, fierce and full of pointed ideology which she readily expressed on her debut single.  Produced by Sir Jinx and Ice Cube, it featured a prominent sample of Earth Wind & Fire's "Devotion” making it all the more catchy. —Jacinta Howard

22. "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly") / Missy, 1997

Timbaland’s space age production and Missy’s wholly original execution made for one of the most memorable debuts in rap history. —Jacinta Howard

21. "Funk U Up" / The Sequence, 1979

Columbia South Carolina’s The Sequence were the first female act to release a rap record in 1979 with “Funk You Up.” “Funk You Up” has been repurposed for “Keep Their Heads Ringin," by Dr. Dre, “Jimmy” by Boogie Down Productions and many others. —Jay Quan

20. "Daddy’s Little Girl" / Nikki D, 1991

Nikki D sought out Russell Simmons and earned the distinction of becoming the first woman signed to Def Jam. Within a short period of time, she released her debut single, "Daddy's Little Girl," which shot to the top of the Billboard Rap Charts.

—Alec Banks

19. "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" / Eve, 2001

While having three people at the height of their careers on one song sounds good in theory, there’s no guarantee that the formula is always going to work. Combining Dr. Dre’s production sensibilities with Eve and Gwen Stefani, we got something that still rides to this day. —Alec Banks

18. "Funkdafied" / Da Brat, 1994

While New York and Los Angeles get most of the representation on this list, Chicago’s Da Brat put on for the Windy City with an assist from the Isley Brothers’ “Between the Sheets.” —Alec Banks

17. "Somethin' to Ride To (Fonky Expedition)" / The Conscious Daughters, 1993

The Conscious Daughters helped define the sound of early 90s Bay Area Hip-Hop with their impressive debut, Ear to the Streets, which was led by their infectious, slow-riding single produced by Paris. —Jacinta Howard

16. "Have a Nice Day" / Roxanne Shanté, 1987

Roxanne Shantè delivered a classic in ‘87 with the help of Marley Marl on the beats and Big Daddy Kane on the pen. Over a J.B,’s sample Shantè flexes lyrically, even throwing jabs at KRS ONE and Scott La Rock. —Jay Quan

15. "Monie In the Middle" / Monie Love, 1990

“Monie In The Middle” is the third single from Monie Love's debut full-length album Down To Earth. “Monie In The Middle," a story about Monie being torn between two love interests, helped Down To Earth reach #26 on Billboard’s Top R&B Hip-Hop albums chart. —Jay Quan

14. "Get Ur Freak On" Missy Elliot, 2001

Missy dropped a single that sounded like nothing else when she released “Get Ur Freak On” in 2001. The track, produced by Missy and Timbaland, went on to influence the pop-rap production sound of the early aughts. —Jacinta Howard

13. "10 Percent Diss" / MC Lyte, 1988

“10 Percent Diss” Is one of Hip-Hop’s most storied diss tracks. The track was produced by Lyte’s label mates The Audio 2 and was aimed at Antionette of “I Got A Attitude” fame. —Jay Quan

12. "Ladies First" / Queen Latifah featuring Monie Love, 1989

“Ladies First” marked the introduction of UK sensation Monie Love who would become an integral part of the Native Tongues. The 45 King-produced track spoke to the importance of women in society and on the mic. —Jay Quan

11. "I Wanna Be Down Remix" / Brandy featuring Latifah, Yo-Yo, MC Lyte, 1994

Brandy's "I Wanna Be Down" remix featuring Queen Latifah, Yo-Yo and MC Lyte is a timeless masterpiece that marked a pivotal moment for women in Hip-Hop and R&B. The song's iconic beat, produced by the legendary Keith Crouch, laid the foundation for a groundbreaking collaboration that defied genre boundaries and celebrated female empowerment in all its forms. —Alec Banks

10. "Afro Puffs" / The Lady of Rage, 1994

A top-tier rapper, and lyrical standout on Death Row, Rage’s “Afro Puffs” was an easy hit for the talented rhymer, and solidified her standing as one of the most talented MCs in the 90s. —Jacinta Howard

9. "Supersonic" / JJ Fad, 1988

Are you even a Hip-Hop fan if you can’t break down the “SUPER” acronym? JJ Fad’s insanely catchy 1988 hit also made them the first female Hip-Hop act to earn a Grammy nomination. —Jacinta Howard

8. "My Mic Sounds Nice" / Salt-N-Pepa, 1986

You know a song has longevity when its title becomes an unofficial call and response between Hip-Hop heads on a global scale. —Alec Banks

7. "Roxanne’s Revenge" / Roxane Shanté, 1984

"Roxanne's Revenge" was the big bang that took Roxanne Shanté from the Queensbridge Houses and put her on the world stage. The answer record not only helped the sales and popularity of U.T.F.O.'s already popular hit, but it spawned almost two dozen response records, and just as many fly-by-night labels. —Jay Quan

6. "Work It" / Missy Elliott, 2002

Like Salt-N-Pepa, Missy Elliott’s entire discography could probably be accounted for on this list. But “Work It” seems to transcend Hip-Hop itself, and in many ways, served as a blueprint for how a hit song also had to have a popular music video and dance element to it as well. —Alec Banks

5. "Queen Bitch" / Lil' Kim, 1996

"Queen Bitch" is the quintessential Lil Kim song that showcased her presence, lyrical chops, and laid the foundation for her reign and tremendous influence. —Jacinta Howard

4. "Lost Ones" / Lauryn Hill, 1998

“It’s funny how money changes situations…” and so goes the opening of one of Hip-Hop’s best cautionary tales/disses, “Lost Ones.” Lauryn was already crowned as one of music most gifted writers and MCs, and her flawless lyrical performance on this track only further cemented her standing as an all-time great.  —Jacinta Howard

3. "Paper Thin" / MC Lyte, 1988

“Paper Thin” is a single from Lyte’s debut Lyte As A Rock which marked the first time that a female MC released a full length rap album. The track was produced by King of Chill of The Alliance and served as Lyte’s declaration that she wouldn't be played in a relationship.

—Jay Quan

2. "U.N.I.T.Y." / Queen Latifah, 1993

Latifah was already a star when she dropped one of the most pivotal songs in Hip-Hop history, “U.N.I.T.Y..” It made her question, “Who you callin’ a bitch?” even more powerful. The song is a definitive Hip-Hop feminist anthem that still resonates across the board. —Jacinta Howard

1. "Push It" / Salt-N-Pepa, 1987

Let’s face it, Salt-N-Pepa could make up half of this list. But, we’re not gonna do that. However, there’s no denying that “Push It” has an enduring quality and catchiness that makes it appropriate at all occasions. —Alec Banks

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