Once considered a man’s game, the rap music industry has seen a burst of talent from female artists in recent years. From some of the best-known Queens of Rap to artists who have just recently hit the stage, our list of black female rappers will introduce you to some real talent.
Hopefully, you’re familiar with some of these names. But, if not, you’ll have a lot of new music to look forward to! With that, let’s cover 25 of the best ladies in the rap game.
Cardi B was born on October 11, 1992, and raised in New York City. In her younger years, she worked as a stripper to earn money so that she could leave a violent relationship. She was a cast member of the 2015 reality show Love & Hip Hop: New York.
Her first album, Invasion of Privacy was released in 2018 and was the best-selling female rap album that decade. It also won a Grammy Award – the only one given to a female solo artist for best rap album. In 2020, she was recognised by Billboard officially and named Woman of the Year.
Monica Denise Arnold was born in Georgia on October 24, 1980. She is a rapper and songwriter as well as an actress. Her debut album Miss Thang was released in 1995 and featured the songs “Like This and Like That,” as well as “Don’t Take It Personal (Just One of Dem Days).”
In 1998, she released her second album, The Boy Is Mine. The title track was a duet with the singer Brandy and this song was given the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. Her most recent album, Code Red was released in 2015 and features work with Missy Elliot, Timbaland, and Akon.
Born in Trinidad and Tobago on December 8, 1982, Nicki Minaj is a rapper and songwriter. Her first album, entitled Pink Friday came out in 2010 and featured the hit single “Super Bass.” In 2011, she was an opening act for Britney Spears’ Femme Fatale Tour.
Nicki Minaj has sold over 100 million albums and has received four Billboard Music Awards and eight American Music Awards. She has worked to raise awareness and funds for various causes including domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, food insecurity, women’s rights, and the LGBT community.
Born in Detroit Michigan on April 27, 1988, Melissa Viviane Jefferson goes by the stage name Lizzo. She is a rapper and songwriter who released her first studio album, Lizzobangers in 2013. It wasn’t until 2019 that Lizzo became well-known after releasing her Cuz I Love You album. The top two hits from this record were “Tempo” and “Juice.”
Other popular songs by Lizzo are “Truth Hurts” and “Good as Hell.” She won the 2020 BET Award for Best Female R&B/Pop Artist, the 2020 Billboard Music Award for Top Song Sales Artist, and three Grammy Awards in 2020. Lizzo’s songs feature lyrics about body positivity, race, and sexuality.
Mary J. Blige
Mary Jane Blige was born in New York on January 11, 1971. She released her first album, What’s the 411? in 1992. It was later featured on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Popular songs by Mary J. Blige include “Be Without You,” “Real Love,” and “Not Gon’ Cry.”
In 2021, she formed her own record label called Mary Jane Productions. Mary J. Blige won her first Grammy Award in 1996 and has since been awarded eight additional awards, including one for Best Contemporary R&B Album in 2009 for Growing Pains.
Rapper and actress Eve was born in Philadelphia on November 10, 1978. Her albums include Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady, Scorpion, Eve-Olution, and Lip Lock. Some of her most popular songs included “Gangsta Lovin” with Alicia Keys, “Love is Blind” with Faith Evans, and “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” with Gwen Stefani.
She has won multiple awards, including a Grammy and a BET Award. She was called one of the 30 Greatest Female Rappers in 2020 by Spin magazine. In addition to her music, Eve has also had her own clothing line called Fetish, starred in the Barbershop film series, and co-hosted a daytime talk show.
Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Jovon Ruth Pete was born in San Antonio, Texas on February 15, 1995. This American rapper goes by the stage name Megan Thee Stallion as a reference to her height and body frame. Her first studio album entitled Good News was released in 2020 and featured the songs “Savage,” “Girls in the Hood,” and “Don’t Stop.”
She has collaborated with several other artists including Young Thug, Beyonce, Doja Cat, and Cardi B.
Her song “Thot Shit” was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance. She was named, along with others, as one of Time’s 100 most influential people in 2020.
Known by her stage name Doja Cat, Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini was born on October 21, 1995, in Los Angeles, California. Her career started when she began uploading music to SoundCloud and was signed with Kemosabe Records when she was 17.
She released her album Amala in 2018, followed by Hot Pink a year later and Planet Her in 2021. Her hit singles include “Need to Know” and “Kiss Me More.” Doja Cat has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards. Along with Nicki Minaj, she holds the Guinness World Record for the first female rap duo to reach number one on the Billboard top 100.
Born in Berlin, Germany on August 29, 1968, Meshell Ndegeocello was raised in Washington DC. She is a rapper and songwriter in addition to playing bass guitar. Her first album, Plantation Lullabies was released in 1993 and included the song “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night).”
Her 1994 song “Wild Night” with John Mellencamp is one of her best-known songs. She has also worked with Madonna and Chaka Khan. Her music incorporates soul, reggae, hip hop, and funk. She has been an outspoken activist for HIV/AIDS awareness and has contributed to raising funds for women in Congo.
Diamonte Quiava Valentin Harper was born in California on July 2 1993 and goes by the stage name Saweetie. After graduating from the University of Southern California, she began focusing on developing her music career. Using Instagram, SoundCloud, and YouTube, she developed a following and was signed to Warner Bros Records in 2018.
Her debut EP High Maintenance was released in March 2018 and featured the single Icy Girl. Along with her music, Saweetie has her own jewelry, clothing, and makeup collections. She is also a television actor and has hosted the Netflix comedy Sex: Unzipped.
An American rapper, Foxy Brown was born on September 6, 1978. Her first album Ill Na Na was released in 1996 when she was only 17 years old. It featured hit songs “I’ll Be” and “Get Me Home” and included other artists like Blackstreet, Jay-Z, and Method Man.
Foxy Brown has been both criticized and embraced for her lyrics and style which are overtly sexual. She has been nominated for a Billboard Music Award for her song “I’ll Be” and was also nominated for a 2003 Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance.
A native of Alabama, Flo Milli was born Tamia Monique Carter on January 9, 2000. She began songwriting and rapping as a preteen and had her first viral hit with the song Beef FloMix in 2019. That same year she signed with RCA Records and released the singles “My Attitude,” “Eat It Up,” and “Like That Bitch.”
Flo Milli has collaborated with artists like YungManny, G-Eazy, and Latto. In 2020 she was nominated for the Best New Artist BET Hip Hop Award. Her latest single “Roaring 20s” was released in 2021.
American rapper and music producer, Missy Elliot was born in Virginia on July 1, 1971. Her debut album Supa Dupa Fly was released in 1997 and was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 1999 she released her second album, Da Real World.
Some of her hit songs include “Get Ur Freak On,” “Work It,” and “Sock It 2 Me.” Her work has included songs about sex positivity and feminism. She was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2021. Missy Elliot has been an advocate for animal welfare and HIV/AIDS.
Known by her stage name Kash Doll, Arkeisha Antoinette Knight was born in Detroit Michigan. After working as a dancer and studying business, she began focusing on her music. Kash Doll has worked with artists like Lil Wayne, Tee Grizzley, DJ Infamous, Big Sean.
Her songs include “Bad Azz,” “How It’s Done,” and “Ice Me Out.” She also has an acting career, playing a paralegal and mother on the Starz show BMF.
Born March 18, 1970, as Dana Elaine Owens, she is better known by her stage name – Queen Latifah. Her first album entitled All Hail the Queen was released in 1989 when she was just 19. Queen Latifah’s songs have included lyrics about women’s experiences like harassment and domestic abuse.
She has been called the Queen of Rap and was the first rapper to perform at the halftime show at a Superbowl. She was also an actress who starred in the 1990s sitcom Living Single and had her own talk show called The Queen Latifah Show.
Born on May 7, 1997, in Washington DC, Maria Cecilia Simone Kelly is better known by her professional name Rico Nasty. In high school, she began rapping and in 2014 released a mixtape entitled Summer’s Eve. She became popular in 2018 with songs like “Poppin” and “Smack a Bitch.”
Her music has been described as “sugar trap” and combines gritty vocals with synthesized beats. Her inspirations include Nicki Minaj and David Bowie.
Better known by her stage name Lil’ Kim, Kimberly Denise Jones was born in New York City on July 11, 1974. She released her debut album Hard Core in 1996 which featured the songs “No Time” and “Crush on You.” Her second album The Notorious K.I.M. came out in 2000, followed by La Bella Mafia in 2003.
In addition to being a successful singer and rapper, she has also used her fame to advance several causes. Lil’ Kim has successfully raised money and awareness for causes including HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, and animal welfare. She has also been an advocate for LGBT rights, homelessness, and violence against women.
British rapper and songwriter Ms. Banks was born on April 14, 1994, and named Thyra Kigho Deshaun Oji. She grew up in London and released her first mixtape in 2014 entitled Once Upon a Grind. She followed this with the New Chapter EP in 2016 and The Coldest Winter Ever in 2018.
Ms. Banks was inspired by the music of Nicki Minaj, Lauryn Hill, and Foxy Brown. Recent songs by Ms. Banks include “Go Low,” “You Don’t Know,” and “Nothin’ on Me.” She has collaborated with K-Trap, Little Mix, Tinashe, and Naira Marley.
Best known for her role in the group TLC, Lisa Lopes was a singer and rapper who went by the stage name “Left Eye.” Born in Philadelphia on May 27, 1971, she co-wrote many of TLC’s songs and also worked on the design and artwork of their albums and videos.
TLC is one of the top female music groups of all time. Their hit songs include “Waterfalls,” “No Scrubs,” and “Creep.” They won four Grammy Awards and five Soul Train Music Awards. Lisa Lopes died in 2002 in a car crash in Honduras where she was doing charity work.
Born January 21, 1983, Marlanna Evans goes by the professional name Rapsody. This American rapper is from North Carolina and developed an interest in hip hop music during her college years. She was influenced by MC Lyte as well as Lauryn Hill.
Rapsody’s debut album with Jay-Z’s record label Roc Nation was released in 2017 and entitled Laila’s Wisdom. She collaborated with Kendrick Lamar and Busta Rhymes as well as other artists on this album. She received a Grammy Award nomination for the album as well as a nomination for Best Rap Song for “Sassy.”
Born on May 26, 1975, Lauryn Hill is an American singer and rapper. She was a member of the hip hop group The Fugees, along with Pras Michel and Wyclef Jean. This group was well known for their songs “Ready or Not” and a version of Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly with His Song.”
Lauryn Hill released her solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1998. It went on to become of the best-selling records of all time and featured hits like “Doo Wop (That Thing).” Lauryn Hill has won more Grammy awards than any other female rapper.
Known by her stage name MC Lyte, Lana Michele Moorer was born in New York City on October 11, 1970. She is a rapper, songwriter, DJ, and actress. She was the first female rapper to release a full album in 1988 with Lyte as a Rock. In 2013 she was awarded the BET Lifetime Achievement Award.
In addition to her music career, MC Lyte founded the Hip Hop Sisters Foundation which gives scholarships to youth. She has also been in over a dozen films and had roles in multiple television shows including New York Undercover, Partners in Rhyme, and Power.
Jane Chika Oranika was born on March 9, 1997, in Alabama. The rapper, who goes by the name Chika, is known for songs such as “Industry Games,” “Can’t Explain It,” and “No Squares.” She has worked with artists including Rachel Crow, JoJo, Rapsody, and Chelsea Peretti.
In 2021, Chika was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist as well as an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding New Artist. In the same year, she won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Breakthrough Music Artist.
Beyonce was born in Texas on September 4, 1981, and is a singer, rapper, and songwriter. She was the lead singer for the group Destiny’s Child which had hit songs like “Crazy in Love.” As a solo artist, Beyonce’s songs have included “Single Ladies” and “If I Were a Boy.”
Nicknamed “Queen Bey”, she has sold over 120 million albums and in 2014 had earned more than any other black musician ever. Beyonce was the voice of Nala in the 2019 movie The Lion King. She has also been an advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement and has spoken up against police brutality.
Born Tate Sequoya Farris and formerly known as Yung Baby Tate, she now goes by the stage name Baby Tate. She was born in Georgia on May 13, 1996, and is the daughter of singer Dionne Farris. Writing and producing all of her songs, she is known for “I Am,” “Beckham,” and “That Girl.”
She includes Pharrell and Timbaland as some of the artists that influenced her work, as well as Marvin Gaye and her mother.
Best Black Female Rappers, Final Thoughts
When it comes to talented rappers, there is no shortage of black female artists. Today’s popular stars have been inspired and influenced by earlier women in rap and hip hop, and that trend shows no sign of slowing down.
If you’ve never listened to some of the women on this list, do yourself a favor and spin some of their records. You’ll see where those influences come from, combined with the personal style and flow of each individual. It’s clear that black female rappers have a bright future ahead of them within the industry.