In case you haven’t been paying attention, Hip Hop has reached a new era over the last few years. Gone are the days when commercial success seemed limited to one or two female rappers at a time. No longer is it required for a woman to come into the game as the “first” (and often only) woman of a male-dominated crew. There has never been a point in Hip Hop history where so many women have been able to fully stand alongside their male counterparts whether the conversation is about talent, subject matter or commercial viability.
This year has not only seen established artists like Nicki Minaj, Cardi B and the City Girls reach new heights in their careers, it’s also seen rising talent like Flo Milli, Baby Tate and Doechii solidify their positions, along with new stars such as Ice Spice, GloRilla and Lola Brooke usher in a new era. And while the business has often tried to pit its brightest female stars against each other, the current generation of women in Hip Hop are all about cross support, crew love and collaboration. Here are some of the best female rappers who made the most noise in 2022.
The reigning Queen of Rap has been fairly quiet on the music front this year. But when she popped out, her appearances spoke volumes. Her one solo release of the year, “Hot Shit,” set the tone for what fans can expect when her follow-up to Invasion Of Privacy finally arrives. Her features ran the genre gamut from Pop to Reggaeton. And she delivered two of the hottest guest verses of the year on GloRilla’s “Tomorrow 2” and Kay Flock’s “Shake It.”
But perhaps where Cardi shined the brightest in 2022 was in her support of the up-and-coming artists behind her. If Nicki Minaj arguably brokedown the remaining barriers keeping women in Hip Hop from attaining the same level of success as their male counterparts – with a few notable exceptions – Cardi B is making sure that we never return to the days of “one hot female rap artist at a time” by embracing the next generation of talent both through open fandom and sharing the spotlight.
When the internet first caught wind of GloRilla’s“F.N.F. (Let’s Go),” there was a hot minute when what ended up being one of the year’s runaway hits could have just been one of those moments in online pop culture history, revisited as a whole every few years after spawning a ton of memes.
But Glorilla is undeniable. Her authentic personality, willingness to be vulnerable and true to Memphis style have quickly made her a fan favorite. And her follow-up singles “Nut Quick” and the Cardi B-assisted “Tomorrow 2” have proven that she’s far from a one-hit wonder. Glorilla is stepping into 2023 as one of the most promising young talents in Hip Hop, regardless of gender.
While fans didn’t get the City Girls album they were expecting over the summer, JT and Yung Miami were certainly front of mind for the entire year. In addition to releasing two new singles, guest appearances both as a duo and solo, and a national tour alongside Jack Harlow, the City Girls lived their lives fully in 2022. That meant a lot of headlines about their respective love lives, as they enjoyed the spoils of their success and shared some with the men in their lives.
But the year also saw them become television executives as they worked with Issa Rae to deliver the hit HBO series Rap Sh*t!, which is loosely based on their own origin story. We also saw Yung Miami emerge as a charismatic podcast host and burgeoning actress, with JT always ready to support her bestie.
Even in her quietest of years, its impossible to deny that Nicki’s astronomical success at the start of her career broke down a number of barriers that have allowed women in Hip Hop to flourish the way they are currently. But 2022 was not a quiet year for Nicki: she was active! Personal and legal troubles aside, the Queen delivered several solid singles of her own, while also lending her voice to tracks by newcomers like Fivio Foreign and Coi Leray.
And while she’s earned a reputation as somewhat of a bully to her successors, 2022 also saw Nicki Minaj extend a hand an support to a number of up-and-coming rap starlets, tapping Akbar V, Lady Leshurr, Spice, Maliibu Miitch and more for remix verses.
Perhaps the biggest theme in Latto’s career in 2022 has been supporting and harnessing the support of other women in Hip Hop. After scoring a hit with the Mariah Carey-sampling “Big Energy,” the ClayCo, Georgia native received the ultimate cosign by having the megastar appear on the song’s remix, which led Latto to become Billboard’s Top Female Rapper of the year.
While the song was burning up the charts, setting her sophomore album 777 up for great success, Latto joined Lizzo on tour, appeared alongside Trina on the single “Clap,” pushed Glorilla’s “F.N.F.” to new heights on a remix that also featured the City Girls, helped Lakeyah deliver her first hit on “Mind Yo Business” and teamed up with Glorilla on “F.T.C.U.,” with the support of the mother of this new wave, the recently deceased legend Gangsta Boo.
Her support of women wasn’t limited to music though. Latto also made headlines in 2022 for not only advocating for sex positivity and against body shaming; but also taking a stand on behalf of Planned Parenthood as the Supreme Court’s decision to reverse Roe Vs. Wade launched a national conversation about reproductive rights.
Hip Hop purists have had the historical tendency to deny the Southern artists their rightful place when it comes to lyricism. Like many of her peers, TDE’s Doechii has stepped up to prove that what Andre 3000 proclaimed in 1995 remains true: the South still has plenty to say. Doechii has emerged as one of the latest stellar examples of Tampa, Florida’s impressive growing Hip Hop scene. Her bars and charisma earned her a spot on HipHopDX’s Rising Stars list for 2022.
But after delivering her five-track EP she / her / black bitch as a follow-up to her 2020 sophomore project Oh The Places You’ll Go, Doechii has proven that, whether singing or rapping, she is more than capable of standing on her own, no matter the subject matter.
After proving that she was more than a Nepo Baby in 2021, Coi Leray kicked off 2022 ready to work. Building off of the success of her two biggest hits to date – “No More Parties In LA” and “TWINNEM,” she started the year with an onslaught of singles leading up to her debut album Trendsetter. When the project failed to meet some critic’s sales expectations – despite landing on the Billboard Hot 200 albums chart with features by some of the biggest names in the game, including Nicki Minaj, H.E.R. and Fivio Foreign – Coi Leray proved just how much of a star she is by not only staying the course, but by being as vocal in her support of others as she was in advocating for herself. Yes, even if that meant going toe to toe with her famous dad.
Now with another viral hit on her hands in “Players,” a bevy of one-off singles and her first national tour under her belt, Coi Leray is in prime position to once again stand out amongst her peers in 2023.
It might be easy for a certain sector of Hip Hop fans to dismiss Ice Spice as a one-hit wonder or even assume her social media antics are an attempt to mask a lack of talent. Neither could be further from the truth. In addition to keeping the gossip pages talking, the Bronx newcomer has amassed a pretty impressive catalog of singles and currently boasts Spotify streams in the millions for four of the five tracks she dropped in 2022.
While many have characterized Ice Spice’s content by the dismissive attitude she displays on “Munch (Feelin’ U),” her second single of the year, “Name Of Love,” served as proof that there is depth to be found in her music as well. And if her latest, “Bikini Bottom,” is any indication, Ice Spice seems determined to continue to be the topic of conversation, regardless of what her detractors might have to say.
Baby Tate has long made it clear that she is in her own lane, one that very comfortably straddles uber commercial success and a dedicated niche audience. With the aftershocks of her megahit “I Am” continuing to impact her career – one of the many factors that landed her on our HipHopDX 2022 Rising Stars list – Baby Tate has continued to cement her place in the Rap zeitgeist with stellar live performances and undeniable vocal elasticity.
The arrival of her latest project Mani/Pedi, which Baby Tate predicted would be her most successful release, has spawned a handful of singles that have kept the streaming platforms in a chokehold, as the Atlanta-native continues to manifest staying power and a legendary career by simply being her true authentic self, while creating space and opportunity for others to do the same.
Still basking off the success of her 2021 single “WHOLE LOTTA MONEY” — which became an even bigger hit following a Nicki Minaj assisted remix — BIA kicked off 2022 as a HipHopDX Rising Star; one of the artists we knew would be worth keeping an eye on in the new year. And she definitely didn’t disappoint. The Medford, Massachusetts native held on to the spotlight through a series of high profile guest appearances and her first major endorsement deal.
In addition to notching stellar performances in the U.S. and abroad, BIA proved her staying power after recruiting J. Cole for her only official solo release of the year, “LONDON.” And Cole made sure to tell the world just how impressed he was with his newest collaborator when the song dropped in April. “I Asked BIA to come through the studio for some whole other shit,” he wrote after sharing a clip of the video on Instagram. “First time meeting her. We chop it up. She plays me this new song she had just did. Mannnnnnn. in that moment I was blown away. I thought about this song for a month straight, it was my favorite song and I only heard it one time.”
In Hip Hop, few qualities serve artists better than authenticity… especially in an industry where so many are chasing success based on the careers of others. TiaCorine has never been anything but authentic. And as she continues to lean heavily into her lane, her following and influence have continued to grow.
Defining her brand of animated, visually descriptive music as “anime trap,” her 2022 album I Can’t Wait serves as proof that even while crafting a sound of her own, this rising North Carolina star is not afraid to showcase her versatility. She’s also having a breakout moment with the viral “FreakyT” signifying she’s likely to be around for quite some time.
Much of Dreezy’s career has been characterized by her quietly putting numbers on the board. Her releases have been consistent, both in terms of timing and quality. Her name has made many of the coveted “best” and “year end” and “ones to watch” lists. Hit singles and freestyles, prove that she’s just as nice as a singer as she is as an MC: Dreezy has earned her stripes, but somehow seems to remain right under the surface.
In 2022, Dreezy decided to demand her flowers. She returned with her first new track in years in March, declaring herself “the hardest rapper of my generation” and promising that “this year y’all gone respect that.” To that end, her collab with Hit-Boy, the aptly titled Hitgirl, did not disappoint. The project found both of them in rare form, as Dreezy talked her shit over some out of the box production from Nas’ late career secret weapon. But Dreezy was plenty active away from the mic as well this year. In addition to serving as one of the writers crafting lyrics for fictional rapper Shawna on Issa Rae’s hit series Rap Sh!t, the Chicago rapper also linked with True Religion to create their first women’s line in four years.
One of the most consistent artists to hit the scene in the last five years, Leikeli47 remains an enigma in so many ways. Without the super active social media presence, crazy cross branding, features or crews, she remains one of the most celebrated and anticipated in the game anytime she drops.
After a four-year hiatus on the album front, Leikeili47 reclaimed her position in the Hip Hop conversation with her third album Shape Up, wrapping up what she calls the beauty series trilogy that included 2017’s Wash & Set and 2018’s Acrylic. With bold beat choices and boastful lyrics, Shape Up is a victory lap for Leikeli: one final check in the mirror to make sure all the small details are in place before heading out.
Since releasing her What’s My Name EP in October, Houston native KenTheMan hasn’t taken her foot off the gas. By March, she was back with a two-song EP and has consistently dropped one-offs since. The 28-year-old was selected for a spot on the coveted 2022 XXL Freshmen list, made a standout appearance in the BET Hip-Hop Awards Cypher, and was selected for a special incubator program with Soundcloud. “KenTheMan launched her career here first and has been finding special ways to express her vibrant personality and engage with her community,” Soundcloud’s vice president of artist and label partnerships Erika Montes told the Houston Chronicle . “She’s a talented, multifaceted rapper with a distinct sound.”
After a stint at Asylum Records, KenTheMan is closing out the year as an independent artist with a hit single on her hands: her latest release “Not My N-gga” has already amassed over 2 million streams on Spotify and is becoming a viral sensation on both Instagram and TikTok.
When the conversation of Hip Hop pioneers surfaces, the Queen of Memphis doesn’t come up half as often as it should. This year made up for that all too frequent omission in many ways. Not only did she continue to drop singles as she has quietly for the past few years, reminding us exactly how she earned her title, but Gangsta Boo stepped fully into her role as an OG, blessing Memphis newcomers like 38 and GloRilla with guest verses. The cherry on top of perhaps her most active year in two decades was Gangsta Boo’s appearance on Drink Champs where she not only got to receive her flowers and share her story, but deservingly talk her shit as well.
Following the release of Latto and Glorilla’s “F.T.C.U.,” on which Gangsta Boo blessed the intro, she spoke to Billboard about finally accepting her level of impact and influence. “I would honestly say that I have to admit, respectfully and humbly, that I am the blueprint,” she said. “I hear my cadence in a lot of men and female rappers. So, I am the blueprint and I wear that badge proudly as fuck. I used to run away from it. I used to didn’t want to even give myself flowers because I’ve been so low-key and humble, but I’m on some fuck that shit. It’s time to claim what’s mine. I’m one of the main bitches.”
Sadly, just as it seemed Gangsta Boo was gearing up for a career resurgence, the Queen of Memphis passed away on January 1, 2023. She was 43 years old.
Four years after signing to Atlantic Records, Rico Nasty shows no sign of relinquishing her crown as the queen of alt-rap. Despite admitting to being emotionally impacted by a traumatic tour experience alongside Playboi Carti in 2021, the Maryland native bounced back with another stellar year under her belt. After announcing a planned sophomore effort called RX and releasing three singles expected to appear on the project, Rico Nasty announced in April that she was scrapping the entire project in favor of something new.
Las Ruinas arrived in July, with only one of the aforementioned singles, “Vaderz” appearing on the album. Days later, she kicked off a co-headlining national tour with Kehlani, regaining her confidence and finding proof that the bullying she experienced while opening for Carti wasn’t enough to break her stride.
Megan Thee Stallion
Much of our favorite Texas Hottie’s year may have been dominated by legal and personal drama, but none of it has stopped Megan Thee Stallion from continuing to be a case study in brand positioning and artistic growth. In the midst of a back-and-forth battle with her label 1501 Certified Entertainment and the label’s founder and former MLB all-star outfielder Carl Crawford, Meg kicked off the year with a goal to meet her contractual obligations to the imprint. But her sophomore album, Traumazine doesn’t feel like a throwaway album or label obligation. It sounds like a liberation, where Meg wears her influences on her sleeve and freely expresses herself, addressing rumors, headlines and anything in between before riding off to her next venture.
In addition to new music and award nominations for her past work, 2022 saw Megan Thee Stallion begin to delve into acting, with appearances on P Valley, She-Hulk and a turn as both host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live. As the year came to an end, Meg became the first Black woman to grace the cover of Forbes “30 Under 30” issue, thanks to a number of high-profile endorsements with brands like Nike, Revlon, Cash App and Popeyes – combined with her revenue from music and touring.
Omeretta The Great
If “Shaking the table” was a rapper, in 2022, she would have been Omeratta The Great. Her February track “Sorry Not Sorry” made her a national topic of conversation, despite the song’s hyper-local focus. The song heard Omeretta addressing Atlanta’s changing landscape over the course of her 26 years of life. But it was the song’s hook – in which she called several Atlanta suburbs and neighborhoods for not actually being a part of the city – that caught most people’s attention. She even drew responses from Atlanta OGs T.I. and Ludacris. Yet while many expected Omeretta to remain at odds with her detractors, especially when fellow Atlanta rapper Latto jumped into the conversation, the rapper made it clear that she was not interested in making controversy (or beef) her brand. Because while her definition of Atlanta may be debatable, Omeretta The Great’s talent is not.
Almost two years to the date after her debut mixtape Ho, Why Is You Here?, Flo Milli returned with her debut album, Ho, You Still Here? Not only was the same shit-talking that quickly made her one of the most exciting new artists to watch on display, The project’s VH1 reality TV inspired roll out allowed the Mobile, Alabama native to showcase her creativity and talent outside of the booth.
The album solidified Flo Milli as the sonic embodiment of the homegirl who is always ready to gas her friends up, with a bevy of confidence boosting anthems, each offering a slightly different vibe. “This project is different from Ho, Why Is You Here? because of the versatility of it, I’ve been trying new things but you guys have got to stay tuned to see,” she said of the project ahead of its release. Ho, You Still Here? has also spawned the biggest hit of Flo Milli’s career so far, “Conceited,” which, as of this writing, was just shy of 30 million Spotify streams and 5.2 million YouTube views.
Snow Tha Product
The young O.G. of this list, Snow Tha Product has been a constant part of the Hip Hop conversation since her 2011 track “Holy Shit” went viral, landing her a deal at Atlantic Records. The story behind her new album To Nowhere – and the album itself – serve as an explanation of sorts as to what has kept her from attaining the success she always deserved until now: Snow Tha Product is many things. And until now, she hasn’t had the opportunity to boldly embrace all facets of her life.
Coming off of her first Latin Grammy nomination in 2021, Snow Tha Product boldly created a body of work that she admittedly says is “all over the place, but that’s also true to who I am.” To Nowhere hears her rapping in both English and Spanish, many times within a single song. Sonically, it’s a mixture of all of her influences with Afrobeats-inspired tracks, all out Dembow and Reggaeton tracks, and features ranging from Rotimi to Juicy J to Fifth Harmony alum Lauren Jaregui. The latter also helped Snow Tha Product unapologetically speak to her experience as a queer woman on “Piña” in a way that challenges the taboo and fetishizing narratives that often surround the LGBTQ conversation in both Hip Hop and Latin music.
One could argue that TikTok is the new “ringtones,” in that the platform has spawned more than a handful of hits… and left more than a few artists incapable of capitalizing on their 15 minutes of fame. If you found yourself drawn in by the ubiquitous hook to Lola Brooke’s “Don’t Play With It” – which has been featured in over 200,000 TikTok videos and another 120,000 Reels – then you’ve already discovered that there’s more to the pint-sized Brooklynite than a trending soundbite. Having first grabbed the internet’s attention through a series of freestyle videos starting in 2017, Lola Brooke is going into the new year poised to take her position on top.
Check out our list of Best Female Rappers the last couple of years
Be sure to check out the rest of our 2022 Hip Hop Awards.