It’s International Women’s Day today, and all around the globe people are stopping to celebrate the accomplishments and contributions of women. AuthorityHop.com is taking that moment alongside all others, to discuss the best Female MC’s. What would hip hop be without balance? Not only is this art-form an outlet of expression for African American men, it has also been an outlet for African American women. I’m talking historically of course, from the roots of hip hop.
Today, of course, hip hop has been expanded into all cultures who appreciate what the African American community birthed. We’ll be sure to talk about appropriation on these pages soon, but for now let’s get into the best female MC’s. Happy International Women’s Day!
Where It All Began For me: M.C. Lyte
You really can’t start a discussion about the best female MC’s without mentioning M.C. Lyte’s name. There is a lot of recent talk about Remy Ma vs Nicki Minaj, and which one of them is the best female MC in the game. Truth be told, there may be other female MC’s who are even better now. Meanwhile do either of them hold a candle to MC Lyte? Also should we even be comparing female rappers to one another? For example, if I had to pick the best female MC of all time, I’d go with who I Feel is arguably the best female MC of all time. None other than, Lauryn Hill. L. Boogie.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is perhaps, one of the best rap albums of all time, regardless of gender. I’ve always put here right up there in my Top 10 as well. Meanwhile over the years of hip hop’s rich history there have been many female MC’s who have made hip hop great. You know how we do it here. We want to make sure to mention more than just a handful – take this journey with us today. Let us know if you agree on our Line Up, of the best female MC’s.
We gotta Start this Tribute With perhaps, the first Diss track of all time.
Roxanne Shante (Best Female MC’s)
This has to be on the list because a huge part of what has made hip hop what it is today, is Rap Beef. Rap Battles are the heart of hip hop. When MC’s are not simply communicating messages to the people about what’s going on, they compete against one another. This is what keeps MC’s sharp. Competition is what makes the best, better. The fact that Roxanne Shante eventually ended up taking on several early MC’s makes her, The G.A.M.E. before The G.A.M.E. – I won’t lie and say this is the dopest verse ever spit. It’s pretty basic, by today’s standards. Back in 84 though?!
Do yourself a favor on today, and look up what happened after she dropped this diss track.
M.C. Lyte, Paper Thin (Best Female MC’s)
As I said earlier, we can’t even have this discussion without M.C. Lyte. I remember when this song first came out. It was one of the hardest songs I had ever heard at that time. What this did for hip hop, early on was show the world it wasn’t just a male’s playground. Women, have always had a voice. Songs like Paper Thin, Cha Cha Cha, Poor Georgie, or Cappacino, M.C. Lyte established herself early, and created a lane for female MC’s to do and say what ever they’d like to on the Microphone.
Queen Latifah (Best Female MC’s)
With honorable mention to Monie Love on this classic here, Queen Latifah is so much more than just one of the best female MC’s of all time. She contributed some of the most positive messages to the culture. To this day, tracks like Ladies First, U.N.I.T.Y., and several others in her catalogue were meant to uplift our people. Keeping in mind that hip hop, especially at this time was mostly a tool of expression for black people. Historically this nation has always put it’s efforts into telling black people they are lesser than. Negative messages have been used to attack black women as well. Taking a look back, we see the need for female MC’s who lift our people up, and not just their own pockets. Queen Latifah took the lane that MC Lyte created, and turned it into a 2 way, multilaned highway.
Lyrically though, I always felt Monie Love was better than Queen Latifah.
She was one of the first international stars in the hip hop community. Coming all the way from Britain, and delivering some of the earliest, most memorable guest appearances. We have to mention her contribution to that De La Soul Hip Hop Classic, featuring Native Tongues & Tribe Called Quest Classic, Buddy. This was clearly that time period in hip hop Common referred to in I Used To love H.E.R., when ‘she’ was Afrocentric. However, I would argue that it wasn’t the West Coast that turned her ‘away’ from that center. These early female rappers helped show the corporate world that this form of expression was here to stay. It was also, profitable as well.
Lil Kim (Best Female MC’s: Honorable Mention)
We want to be mindful of what we call ‘best’ on this platform, hence the honorable mention. Lyrically speaking, I’ve always wondered if she was writing her own lyrics or if Biggie was penning those for her. Maybe even Lil C’s. However it’s hard not to have this discussion without bringing her name up. When she first came out, literally NO female Mc’s were talking about the things she was talking about. Women are not to be muzzled though.
Whether or not we here at AuthorityHop agree on the ‘messages’ that are sometime sent through hip hop, it’s hard not to say that Lil Kim opened up the doors for the modern Female MC’s, who came after her like (the earlier mentioned) Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma. She went to places we just had not heard female rappers go to. She had a Raunchy style, that only rappers like Too $hort and Easy E came with. We were used to hearing male rappers talk about how many women they had been with.
We had to get used to hearing a woman talk about how she was using men, to get hers.
In so many ways, several fans of rap music are still adjusting to her contributions.
However this was 1995, and hip hop was starting to go in several different directions. Female MC’s weren’t nearly as explicit as Lil Kim was. Meanwhile, another female MC was on the scene. As we look back on her contributions, it’s hard to say she isn’t one of the best MC’s of all time. Let’s take a few moments for L-Boogie, aka Lauryn Hill.
Lauryn Hill (Best Female MC’s Top Spot)
Why every Indian wanna be the chief?
Feed a man ’til he full and he still want beef
Give me grief, try to tief off my piece
Why for you to increase, I must decrease?
If I treat you kindly, does it mean that I’m weak?
You hear me speak and think I won’t take it to the streets
I know enough cats that don’t turn the other cheek
But I try to keep it civilized, like Menelik
And other African czars, observing stars with war scars
Get yours in this capitalistic system
So many caught or got bought you can’t list them
How you gonna idolize the missing?
To survive is to stay alive in the face of opposition
Even when they comin, gunnin I stand position
L’s known the mission since conception
Let’s free the people from deception
If you looking for the answers then you gotta ask the questions
And when I let go, my voice echoes through the ghetto
Sick of men trying to pull strings like Geppetto
Why black people always be the ones to settle?
March through these streets like Soweto, uhh
Debuting with the rap Group Fugees, (around 93-94) Lauryn Hill was shinning even then as the dopest MC in their collective.
She went on to bless the world with this album, that combined all of her talents. From Writing, Singing, Playing Instruments and Producing, this album stands as one of the greatest albums (of any genre) ever made. Those who disagree, have never heard the entire album.
In so many ways, her decision to focus more on singing than MC’ing has robbed hip hop. We cannot fault her for those personal decisions. However, we can be thankful, forever, for what she gave us, and still continues to give us from time to time. Specifically, she has continued to be an example of how a female rapper can compete with males without relying purely on her sexual powers. So many debates continue to this day about how both Lil Kim and Lauryn Hill have impacted the conversation of female rappers in hip hop.
Meanwhile there is Jean Grae (Best Female MC’s)
She’s been around as long as Lil Kim, and Lauryn Hill, but hasn’t really gotten the kind of attention that either have received.
Several heads will say that She is the best female MC of all time though. She’s been featured on several top MC’s from the East Coast. However more importantly, Jean Grae was one of the first MC’s to understand that we are in a digital age. There is really no need for rappers to seek out contracts with white owned corporate labels. Releasing music directly to her fans, she has been able to continue to be true to the purity of expression through rap. She hasn’t had to sell her body, to sell records, and has been able to focus on keeping it lyrical and creative.
Relevant, an interview with Jean Grae in 2010, discussing female MC’s – and she’s so insightful with all of her comments. She points out, that a lot of the rap beef we see happens because the consumers ask for it. Jean Grae discusses how many people request that she battle other female rappers. We saw how people lost their minds over the SHether diss track Remy Ma dropped. She has a major point, … several points!
Female MC’s do not need to be compared to one another. We can and should appreciate all of them for what they bring, uniquely to hip hop!
Thanks for checking out this collection, of what we feel are some of the Best Female MC’s of all time. Stay tuned as more Honorable Mentions will be added below:
Best Female MC’s Honorable Mention:
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