20 photos that spotlight rap and hip-hop’s most iconic women

MC Sha-Rock and the Funky 4 + 1 were the first rap group to ever appear on national television.

Funky 4 + 1.

Getty/Anthony Barboza

Da Brat was the first ever solo female rapper to have a platinum-certified album.

Da Brat, real name Shawntae Harris.

Getty/Al Pereira

Lauryn Hill’s only studio album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” was the first by a female rapper to top the Billboard 200.

Lauryn Hill performing at Brixton Academy, London in 1999.

Getty/Chris Lopez

Salt-N-Pepa are widely known as the first ladies of rap.

Deidra Roper (DJ Spinderella), Cheryl James (Salt), and Sandra Denton (Pepa).

Getty/Paul Bergen

Missy Elliott is currently the only female rapper to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Missy Elliott has sold over 7 million albums in the US alone.

Getty/Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives

MC Lyte was the first female solo rapper to release her own, full-length album, 1988’s “Lyte As A Rock.”

Rapper MC Lyte performs at the in Chicago, Illinois in 1989.

Getty/Raymond Boyd

TLC had four No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, “Creep”, “Waterfalls”, “No Scrubs,” and “Unpretty.”

Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes, and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, better known as TLC.

Getty/Michel Linssen

Eve had three top 10 albums on the Billboard 200 between 1999 and 2002, which sold a combined 3.5 million copies.


Getty/Harry Langdon

Queen Latifah was the first female rapper to win the Grammy award for best solo rap performance with her song “U.N.I.T.Y.”

Queen Latifah in 1991.

Getty/Al Pereira

J.J. Fad were the first act to release an album on Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records.

MC JB, Stacy Phillips, and Baby D of J.J. Fad in 1989.

Getty/Raymond Boyd

Kelis, one of hip-hop’s most eclectic stars, has sold over 6 million records worldwide.


Getty/Patrick Ford

Rah Digga, a longtime member of Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad, is one of hip-hop’s most revered lyricists.

Rah Digga.

Getty/J. Vespa

Nikki D was the first female rapper signed to Def Jam.

Nikki D, real name Nichelle Strong.

Getty/Raymond Boyd

Cardi B is the only female rapper in history to have five No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100.

Cardi B in 2021.

Getty/Christophe Archambault

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