The Female Rappers Who’ve Proved Rap Was Never Just a Man’s Game

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“Us women have always been talented. But it was a thing where there could only be one woman [rapper] at a time. You got all these guy rappers out here who ain’t really talking about a lot! [Laughs.] But we all would commend them, as many as they come.”

That’s how Megan Thee Stallion described the state of gender equality in the rap game with Billboard in late 2019. And she’s not wrong. The male-dominated genre—not to mention its fan base—has long had a complicated relationship with the female MCs daring to edge in on their turf and spit bars like the best of them.

And yet, at every point in rap’s storied history, you can find women pulling the spotlight, proving that they just might be “the best” of them.

From the pioneers like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah to the ’90s queens like Lil’ Kim—who celebrates a birthday on July 11—and Missy Elliott, the modern divas like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B to the rising stars like Meg and Doja Cat, there are queens reminding these so-called kings that this has never just been their kingdom.

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