Rap music is said to have been birthed in East Coast, in Brooklyn, New York more specifically. It is also known that the Rap genre has been dominated by males since its birth so who introduced female rappers today?
It is difficult to pin-point exactly who was the first ever female rapper, as rapping as been around for many years however, if I can pin-point the woman who paved the way for female MC’s in the music industry today, I’d say it was MC Lyte.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Mc Lyte first gained recognition in the 1980s. Her lyrical rapping skills landed her musical career and in 1988, at the age of 18, she released her first album, Lyte as a rock. She is also the first solo female rapper ever to be nominated a Grammy award for Best Rap Single.
Da Brat, becomes the next female rap prodigy for her badass, gansta, twang voice and 90s androgynous style. Her debut album, Funkdafiled released in 1994, which went platinum and landed her as the first solo female rapper to sell a million copies.
Salt N Pepa, the first all-female rap group formed in 1985, changed the rap game for females that was still heavily male dominated. Their raunchy songs such as Let’s talk about sex and provocative dress style meant the new era of female rappers, who previously, would adopt the gruff and raspy voices and tomboy fashion sense to fit in, in the male favoured and influenced rap industry.
The rap industry then begins to see the highly influential Queen Latifah shape the way in music as she introduces feminism and women empowerment after she released Unity. She also touched on the topics of domestic violence and street harassment, taking a different tone from the female rap artist before her.
Fugees member, Lauryn Hill upped the game for female MC’s as she became a threat to most because of her talent to both, sing and rap. She’s also one of the greatest female artist today because of her talent to blend into RnB, reggae, Hip-Hop and neb-soul. Her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill sold 8 million copies in the US and a total of 12 million copies worldwide. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill also earned her 10 category nominations in the 1999 Grammy Awards but only won 5 of the 10.
Although Salt N Pepa opened doors for sexy in the female rap music industry, it was not until Lil’ Kim really brought more heat to the fire. The Notorious B.I.G prodigy who quickly rose to fame for her husky voice, hardcore and raw lyrics and her over the top sexy style such as her purple pastry costume which she wore to the 1999 MTV Awards. Subsequently her outfit also sparked the sexual revolution in an industry where women already had to work 10 times as hard to be recognised and acknowledged. After all, sex sells. Lil’ Kim’s first album Hardcore literally epitomes her and her rap style but I still prefer her La Bella Mafia album.
Today, the female MC doing it big is Nicki Minaj. Her Barbie look and pink wings brought her recognition but this rap artist and dominating Queen of rap today was always going to make it big because of her fast freestyle flow and her vocals. Minaj today is the most successful female rapper in history with record breaking songs on Billboard charts. She has won BET’s Best Female Hip-Hop Artist for 6 consecutive years. Minaj also has the most Billboard Hot entries than any other female artist, been Grammy nominated 10, won 11 BET Awards, 3 MTV Awards and 4 Billboard Awards. Today, Nicki Minaj has been name “the most influential female rapper of all time”. However, Terror Squad’s, Remy Ma, who won the BET’s Best Female Hip-Hop Artist for 2017, and The Bronx’s Cardi B are fast catching up to Nicki Minaj.
Check out Cardi B’s latest song and my favourite Hip-Hop/Rap song today below.