Hip hop gets a bad rep. Look, while I’m the first person to say that it’s possible to like things that are problematic, I’ll also be the first person to call out any hip hop artists who are sexist, homophobic jerks with lyrics to match. But people act as if hip hop is the only medium in which that kind of behavior can fly. Nobody is calling out metal music for its violent lyrics about women, are they? Not really. And when I look back on some of the pop punk songs I used to love in my early teens, I can’t help but cringe at how sexist and slut shaming so many of the lyrics were. I shouldn’t even start to go into the number of indie rock artists out there who have been accused of committing actual abuse in real life.
Maybe its hip hop’s bravado that puts people on edge, or maybe people tend to assume the worst from a genre that was created and popularized by black musicians (hey, rock n’ roll was despised at first, too). But I know that regardless of people’s assumptions or understandable criticism, hip hop is home to some of the most progressive, empowering and straight up exciting artists who are all about being female positive. In fact, most people don’t even give female hip hop artists the respect they deserve!
Well, it’s time for everyone reading this to get re-educated. If you don’t think hip hop can be here for the ladies, check out these 10 female hip hop artists who will prove you wrong!
Missy is amazing. She is all about pushing boundaries visually and lyrically. I mean, how many other female rappers wore giant, inflated trash bag looking outfits during live performances? How many other female rappers are into their heads being detached from their body in music videos? Uh, I think the number is zero. Also, she’s always been proud of her curves and she isn’t afraid to see herself as a beautiful, sexual woman. One of my favorite Missy lyrics is, “Love my guts, so f*** a tummy tuck.” I’m about that.
One of the original female emcees! If you’re just starting to explore more women in hip hop, MC Lyte is definitely the place to start. Check out this ’80s classic!
Yasiin Bey (formerly known as Mos Def)
I love a lot of dudes in hip hop, but sometimes their lyrics make me side eye. Okay, a lot of the time. But Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def) was the first male rapper I thought of for this roundup. He is by far one of the best male artists of this genre. Period. Bar None. Everybody else can go home.
Here’s what I love about Eve: She has a whole lot of bravado! I was shocked when she first hit the scene with her super short hair while most of the other women in her genre were still rocking ultra long weaves. She is all about being herself and telling people that if they don’t like it, they can get out of her face. Goals.
Okay, Dai Burger is super new to the scene, but if you’re into queer girls in the music industry you’re going to love her. She’s super explicit and pretty brash, but…well, there’s no but. What’s there to dislike about that? With all the explicit songs about straight people doin’ it out there, why not have a song about queer girls doing the same thing? Also…look at her clothes!
Lauryn! Ugh, I wish that she had more than, uh, one studio album in the past fifteen years, but so be it. The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill is still one of the best albums of all time. If you’re into hip hop but you like a little bit of R&B mixed in there as well, Lauryn is your girl.
Most of us know about M.I.A. by now. Her lyrics are heavy and political and her beats and flow is out of this world. If you only know her song “Bad Girls” and “Paper Planes” then I suggest you check out her entire discography because it is makes you think and dance at the same time.
TLC is EVERYTHING! They were all about girl power, empowerment and embracing your sexuality. They weren’t afraid of being offbeat, either.
I love Rye Rye and I want her to be more popular! She is just so fun and is the definition of being yourself. Also, her style and flow is a little different than a lot of the popular hip hop out right now.
Sure, she’s mostly known for her acting these days but in the early ’90s Queen Latifah was an amazing rapper. Her song U.N.I.T.Y. is one of my favorites and is super relatable because she calls out misogynistic men and street harassment. If you’re ever feeling like you’re undervalued or disrespected for being a woman, blast this.
So who was left off the list? Who do you consider to be a great, female positive hip hop musician? Do you think that hip hop’s bad reputation is unfair? Tell us in the comments!