Having an independent mum and having always gravitated towards women since a young age, there’s something about female rappers and artists that I’ve always loved. I’ve been listening to hip-hop since I was about ten years old, begging my parents to order me the clean version of Lil Kim’s ’Notorious K.I.M.’ and Missy Elliott’s ‘So Addictive’. I used to be just as – if not even more – passionate about male rap, and had Eminem, 50 Cent and DMX on constant rotation of my CD player at the time.
I remember loving how confident Lil Kim was, and how hot her beats were. Eminem’s beats were hot too, but once I got older, I started to realize what the the words ‘faggot’ and ‘no homo’ that Eminem and Busta Rhymes would always spit actually meant, and stopped listening to most male rap.
The female rappers and artists seemed less interested in bashing other men and being violent and more interested in expressing their sexuality and being aggressively confident. I remember thinking how badass Eve was, riding round Manhattan on a motorbike in the ‘Let Me Blow Ya Mind’ video.
Nowadays the male rappers on top of the charts are mostly all pro-gay and equality (or in some cases I suspect, their PR teams need them to be). Yet, I still have a passion for fierce female MCs, who are confident and own themselves. I didn’t have to try hard to compile a list of just female artists from my Spotify, but I did want to create a varied list to show the breadth of females that I love.

1 – Azealia Banks: 1991

Year: 2012

I adore the 90’s house and Vogue sounds of this track – fused with Azealia’s rapping it makes for a really dope song. I also love the jumps and changes in the track sonically. This is truly my jam – I love listening to the lyrics about NY while I’m on the subway or walking.

2 – Jennifer Lopez (Feat. Jadakiss & Styles P): Jenny From the Block
Year: 2002
I’ve always loved this track, and from taking this class I learnt that it samples ‘South Side Bronx’ by Boogie Down Productions. I like the story in the lyrics about J. Lo staying authentic (maybe more true back in 2002 than it is now!) and the song’s production still sounds really fresh.
3 – Lauryn Hill: Doo Wop (That Thing)
Year: 1998
Ms. Lauryn Hill is one of my favorite true artists and I love how this song show’s off both her skills as a rapper and as a singer. Ahead of her time for doing a sung chorus and rapped verse, I feel like this is one of the best examples of this working beautifully. I love the theme of this song, about guys only wanting one thing. (sigh.)
4 – Missy Elliott: She’s A Bitch
Year: 1999
I’ve loved this song since I was about 10, and it’s one of my favorite collaborations between Timbaland and Missy. I love the dark strings and beat, as well as the lyrics – Missy says that she uses the word “bitch” here as a double-edged commentary- in both the negative sense that her critics would label her as a “female dog”, and also in a sense intended by Missy to be self-empowering. The video for this song was also way ahead of it’s time.
5 – Miss Kittin: Professional Distortion
Year: 2004
Sonically, some may not view this track is as conventional ‘hip-hop’ or ‘rapping’, but to me it could be. Released in 2004, the production on this is eerily industrial and glitchy, yet somehow the catchiness of the chorus and lyrics makes it sound like it could crossover into mainstream radio today. It never did of at the time course, but I still spin it.
6 – Natalia Kills: Feel Myself
Year: 2013
I like the trap (my not so guilty pleasure) aspect to this track, mixed with Natalia’s deadpan vocals and the ironic, twisted humor in the lyrics. It’s definitely one of those 4am, dark corner of a club kind of tracks. 
7 – Kat Dahlia: Gangsta
Year: 2013
I think Kat Dahlia is going to blow up soon, and this song – heavily influenced by 50 Cent’s ‘Wanksta’ – has been on my repeat playlist for a while now. I love how gritty and raw Kat’s voice is, and how real, honest and hard the lyrics to this track are. 
8 – M.I.A: Bad Girls
Year: 2012
Women in burka’s driving fast cars through the desert. Nuff said. 
Also, Danja’s production with the middle eastern tones is hot.
9 – Eve (Feat. Gwen Stefani): Let Me Blow Ya Mind
Year: 2001
I’ve loved Eve as an MC since I was about 10 too, and to feature Gwen Stefani on this song I thought was really cool and different. I also think the beat is one of Dre’s best productions – that tinkling piano is just the business.
10 – Trina (Feat. Ludacris): Be R Right
Year: 2002
I really love the Weathermen sample in this, and although lyrically it’s nothing special – there’s something about the sexual lyrics with the sort of melancholy strings that hooks you into this track.
11 – Ana Tijoux: 1977
Ana Tijoux is one of my favorite rappers from Chile, and I just love this track’s production. Sounding like a pulled straight from the Thievary Corporation or Gotan Project’s album, and there’s something entrancing about Ana’s rapping. I could definitely imagine this track in the opening sequence of Tarantino movie or something.
12 – Janelle Monae (Feat. Erykah Badu)
This is my favorite track on this playlist, and definitely one of my early choices for record of the year. Taking you on a real journey sonically, I love everything from the funky, Stevie Wonder-esque melody to the intelligent, female empowerment lyrics. The production is so fresh, even for 2013.
My favorite part however without a doubt starts around 3:50 – the instrumental section with the horns is so smooth, and then Janelle launches into a Martin Luther King esque rap that could slay most rapper’s flo nowadays – both male and female. Channeling Lauryn Hill, the lyrics in that last section are so poignant that I’ve had one stuck in my head ever since hearing it: ‘While you sellin’ dope we gon keep sellin’ hope’. Preach Ms. Monae, Preach.

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