Celebrating the iconic female rappers of the ‘90s who changed the hip-hop industry

Lauryn Hill. Photo: Essence

The world of ’90s hip-hop is a part of the decade we wouldn’t be forgetting anytime soon.

There were some great hits from Snoop Dogg, Jay Z, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony but the men were not the only ones with the big hits.

The ’90s female hip hop artists brought more fire to the era, from Missy Elliot to TLC to Queen Latifah.

Here’s a list of the iconic ladies who rocked the airwaves in the ’90s with their banging hip hop tunes:



Cheryl James and Sandra Denton ruled the sex-positive revolution of the ’90s when they teamed up in 1985. Lyrics to songs such as ‘Push It’, ‘Do You Really Want Me’, ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’, and ‘Shoop’ were vocal about their sexuality. They also used their voice to speak against sexist based assaults and discrimination.


Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill remains an inimitable voice in the league of female rappers. Her unique blend of neo-soul and strong feminist lyrics highlighted issues pertaining to womanhood, the music business, black femininity, and motherhood. Songs like, ‘Everything is Everything’, ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’ and ‘Ex-Factor’ are still relevant and relatable today.


Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah was one of the earliest female rappers in hip-hop who rose to fame rapping about issues in the lives of black women, particularly, street harassment and domestic violence. The former Native Tongues crew member is well remembered for hits like ‘Ladies First’ and ‘UNITY.’ She was also big on women having a united front.


Foxy Brown

A feisty little Miss Foxy Brown hit the airwaves at age 15 when she was featured on LL Cool J’s Mr Smith album. Def Jam signed her in 1996 and her debut album Ill Na Na was released amidst critical reviews.

Her sales did not plummet due to criticisms. She, however, soared on air with ‘Get Me Home.’ She was clear about her sexuality and flaunting one’s sexuality is not an invitation for disrespect or abuse. She demanded respect every step of the way.



MC Lyte

In 1988, MC Lyte became the solo rapper to release her own, full-length album, Lyte As A Rockdropped. Her storytelling abilities could get you hooked unto her rap for days; all the while, her songs addressed industry-based issues and general issues with censorship.

MC Lyte was the first female MC nominated for a Grammy for her song ‘Ruffneck’ in 1993. She was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Single. Staying true to the game, she has recently called for more female voices in the hip hop culture to let the world hear the feminine side to relevant issues.

Last Edited by:Ama Nunoo Updated: February 4, 2021


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