We are currently witnessing a vibrant renaissance and it’s being spearheaded by an incredibly talented group of women. Gone are the days when their presence in the industry was limited, and only a select few could reach the top of the charts. In today’s rap game, a diverse range of multifaceted women are fearlessly and ferociously etching their names into the Hip Hop history books, defying stereotypes and making a lasting impact.
Despite criticism suggesting the genre is on the decline, the list of female MCs below have not only persevered but thrived in the ever-evolving world of Hip Hop. Transcending from “up-and-coming” artists to trendsetters and tastemakers, the following figures have had one heck of a year and round out our Best Female Rappers of 2023.
Editor’s Note: The selections below are listed in no particular order.
Known for her innovative and unique approach to Hip Hop and R&B, both in terms of production and lyrical prowess, Missy Elliott has consistently and fearlessly pushed creative boundaries. Coupled with her sweeping impact on fashion, music videos, and pop culture, the four-time Grammy award-winning artist has established herself as not only a musical powerhouse but also a cultural icon.
Boasting a plethora of collaborations that span diverse genres — including luminaries like Janet Jackson, Busta Rhymes, The Pussycat Dolls, Beyoncé, Christina Aguilera, Lil Kim, Mya, and P!nk — combined with over 40 million records sold worldwide, it comes as no surprise the “Work It” rhymer would make history this year, as the first female rapper to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
As fellow Hip Hop heavyweights from the ’90s and 2000s announce upcoming tours in the new year, anticipation mounts for the possibility of Missy Elliott — who headlined Usher’s Lovers & Friends festival in Las Vegas earlier this year — gracing fans with a concert series announcement of her own.
The first solo artist to snag five Grammy Awards in a single night for her debut solo project, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the “Doo Wop (That Thing)” hitmaker has long been regarded one of the most influential figures in Hip Hop; seamlessly blending elements of rap, R&B, and soul, while tackling social and cultural issues that plague the Black community.
To commemorate Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary, Lauryn Hill announced an international trek — in celebration of the 25th anniversary of her groundbreaking 1998 LP — that would double as an opportunity to reunite with her Fugees crew, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel; a first in years for the trio. Although remaining tour dates were recently postponed, fans will have the opportunity to see bask in all Hill’s glory in 2024, when her concert series is slated to reconvene.
Barbz is back and better than ever. In December, Nicki Minaj unleashed Pink Friday 2, the long-awaited sequel to her 2010 debut album Pink Friday, and her first album since 2018’s Queen, scoring yet another impressive record and career milestone.
In less than two weeks, Nicki’s fifth studio album topped the Billboard 200 chart with 185,000 album-equivalent units sold in its first week — making it the bombshell’s third No. 1 album, the most earned by any female rapper. The latest numbers also mark the highest album equivalent units sold for a Hip Hop/R&B album by a woman in 2023, and the most sold by any female rapper in the 2020s.
In an interesting twist, the Young Money hitmaker’s latest offering also brought in a whopping 25,000 sales in vinyl copies, establishing the “Super Freaky Girl” as the first woman rapper to snag the recognition since data analytics firm Luminate began tracking these figures in 1991.
As if her latest wins weren’t already spectacular, Minaj recently sent social media into a tizzy when she announced she will be taking fans to “Gag City” next year with a world tour in support of her new album. The Pink Friday 2 World Tour is slated to kick off in Cali in March 2024.
Taking an unexpected departure from the bubblegum pop sound that made her a household name, Doja Cat urged listeners to join her as she took a walk on the dark side for the release of her fourth studio album, Scarlet. Led by the chart-topping single “Paint the Town Red,” Doja went from having her rap skills questioned to bagging the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the first rap song to top the chart in over a year. The accolade marked Doja’s second Hot 100 win, following “Say So” featuring Nicki Minaj, in May 2020.
Surpassing 12.4 million streams on YouTube, it’s hardly unexpected that the visual treatment for “Paint the Town Red” — which samples Dionne Warwick’s classic “Walk On By” — clinched a HipHopDX Award nomination for Best Hip Hop Music Video of 2023. The nearly five-minute clip is laced with demonic undertones as Doja explores the underworld alongside her trusty companion, a horned devil-like creature, the Grim Reaper, and other creepy creatures.
In an impressive end-of-year closer, Doja has also scored three Grammy nominations for Pop Solo Performance, Melodic Rap Performance, and Rap Song at the 2024 ceremony.
Megan Thee Stallion
Despite the ongoing controversy surrounding her legal drama with disgraced Canadian rapper Tory Lanez, Megan Thee Stallion soared to significant commercial heights in 2023. Notably, her portfolio included a string of chart hits such as “Cobra” and the Cardi B-led “Bongos,” a sequel to their 2020 fan-favorite single “WAP.”
Extending beyond music, the 28-year-old Houston Hottie secured lucrative sponsorships, such as her prestigious 2024 Paris Olympics deal, and a newfound fit-following, thanks to her slender new figure. Adding to her list of triumphs Meg made her feature film debut in the A24 movie Dicks: The Musical.
With the promise of a forthcoming album and the likelihood of more significant roles on the big screen, 2024 is shaping up to be a highly promising and productive year for Hot Girl Meg.
In 2016, NoName emerged as an unapologetic poet/rapper, leaving a lasting mark with her Telefone mixtape. The project was quickly succeeded by her debut studio album, Room 25 (2018) which, littered with outspoken opinions and critiques of racial and social injustice, solidified her much-needed presence in the rap game.
Over the years, the Chicago native has released a string of singles including “Song 31” featuring Phoelix, “Song 32,” the Saba and Smino-backed “Häagen Dazs,” “Song 33,” and “Rainforest.” However, it wasn’t until her triumphant comeback with the release of her highly anticipated second studio album, Sundial, this past summer, that really got the fans locked in.
The Saba, Ben Nartey and AJ Halls’ collaborative effort, which was among HipHopDX‘s Best Hip Hop Album of 2023 honourable mentions, is, as DX writer Nina Hernandez wrote, “a lyrical and spiritual masterclass” that embraces vulnerability and silences her naysayers all the while exploring themes of toxic love, politics, and much more.
Although she didn’t drop an album, Bardi showed up and showed out in a number of ways this year — kicking off awards season as a presenter at the 66th Annual Grammy Awards, turning heads in a stunning, electric blue ensemble on the red carpet.
In true Cardi B fashion, the Bronx MC served up a series of sizzling summer hits boasting catchy hooks and equally bold visual treatments. Teaming up with Megan Thee Stallion, the “WAP” collaborators would drum up a Top 5 debut on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs for “Bongos” which soared to the No. 4 spot.
The reality star turned rapper continued her dominance with the release of “Put It on da Floor Again” featuring Latto, “JEALOUSY” with Offset, “Nasty Girl” featuring Offset and 6ix9ine, and “Point Me 2” with the lesser-known FendiDa Rappa; proving she’s got the lyrical chops to explore various musical territories and captivate audiences worldwide.
Now, amid news she’s single and embroiled in a very public parting with estranged husband Offset, we imagine tales of her rollercoaster relationship will come to the surface in her highly-anticipated sophomore album, slated to drop in 2024.
At the age of 24, Latto has worked with a host of musical icons including Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, BTS, Childish Gambino and Lil Wayne to name a few — proving she’s got the lyrical chops to lend her talents to an array of diverse genres.
This year, the two-time Grammy-nominated rapper was the talk of the town, thanks to the success of the Cardi B-boosted banger “Put It on da Floor Again,” landing her second Top 10 hit on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The tantalizing track was preceded by “Lottery” featuring rising pop star Lu Kala and Lola Brooke, and Billy B’s “Don’t Play With It” remix.
Recently, the Atlanta rapper unveiled her plans for an upcoming album, indicating that she is hard at work on new material. The artist has dropped hints that the album may feature appearances from the likes of Megan Thee Stallion, Summer Walker, Chris Brown, Don Toliver, SZA, Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Kim Petras, or Doja Cat. Fans eagerly await the reveal to see which collaborators will join her on her rise to ultra stardom.
2023 has proven to be a monumental year for Ice Spice, marked by a series of awe-inspiring achievements. The curly-coiffed rapper kicked off the year with a high-profile collaboration alongside global superstar Taylor Swift. But, she didn’t stop there, delivering not one but two summer smash hits with her idol, Nicki Minaj. Her star continued to shine as she secured the coveted role of musical guest on an episode of Saturday Night Live, further cementing her status as a cultural phenomenon.
Adding to her accolades, the Bronx hitmaker claimed the title of Best Breakthrough Hip Hop Artist at the BET Hip Hop Awards and Best New Artist at the MTV VMAs. As she gears up for the 2024 Grammys, she finds herself nominated in four categories, including Best New Artist and Best Rap Song for her Nicki Minaj-backed “Barbie World.”
Recently unveiled as the second-most Googled artist of 2023, it comes as no surprise Ice would secure new management to oversee her continued ascent. In a strategic move, she recently signed with major talent agency WME, parting ways with her previous representatives at CAA. This places her in esteemed company alongside A-listers including Rihanna, Pharrell, Future, Nicki Minaj, and Travis Scott, among others.
Hailing from Memphis, Tennessee, GloRilla is arguably one of the most captivating female MCs to emerge from the underground rap scene. Last year, the uninhibited rhymer, best known for the viral Hitkidd-produced “F.N.F” — for which she nabbed a Grammy nod for Best Rap Performance — signed with Yo Gotti‘s Collective Music Group (CMG).
Since then, the 24-year-old has maintained an impressive trajectory pumping out the Latto and JT-assisted “F.N.F” remix as well as her most recent solo single “Lick Or Sum.” The rapper was also seen on the rough-n-tough Moneybagg Yo collaboration “On Wat U On,” marking the first time the duo have worked together. While the track peaked at No. 56 on the Hot 100, the song’s accompanying video slid into the No. 2 spot on YouTube at the time of its release.
Love Sexyy Red or hate her, the “Pound Town” rhymer has a firm grip on the competition — and knows how to turn heads. Much like the provocateurs before her, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, and “Da Baddest Bitch” Trina, the rising rap star, hailing from St. Louis, leans fully into her sexuality.
Leaving little to the imagination on the hit record while dictating her saucy sexual exploits, she spits: “My coochie pink, my booty hole brown/ Where the n-ggas?/ I’m looking for the hoes/ Quit playin’, n-gga, come suck a bitch toes.”
After dropping another viral hit in the form of “SkeeYee,” she then joined forces with Dominican rapper Tokischa for a racy, high-energy track and visual treatment for “Daddy.” Combine this with the announcement she’s got a lipgloss line in the works, the Hood Hottest Princess MC has set a course for global domination in the new year.
With backing from fellow Bronx baddie Cardi B and the legendary Busta Rhymes, Scar Lip — often likened to late Ruff Ryders hitmaker DMX — made a dynamic entrance, delivering a barrage of bold bars. In April, Scar Lip caught the attention of Swizz Beatz, who recruited the then 22-year-old for his Hip Hop 50: Vol. 2 EP, which features Scar Lip alongside New York heavyweights Jadakiss and Benny The Butcher on the track “Take ‘Em Out.”
The emerging artist also received a major co-sign from West Coast legend Snoop Dogg, who joined her on the remix of her breakthrough hit, “This Is New York,” transforming it into “This Is Cali.” With an impressive list of collaborations already in her repertoire, the horizon looks limitless for this up-and-coming rap star.
Lady London is ready for her close-up. This year, the New York-born, New Jersey-raised rapper expanded her reach, gracing the remix of Ciara’s “Da Girls,” alongside fellow burgeoning rhymer, Lola Brooke. The empowering anthem was a hit among the girlies, and keeping the momentum going she unleashed her “Pop Ya Shit” freestyle, which went on to take social media by storm.
Since finding viral success with her hit single “Don’t Play With It,” the powerhouse Brooklynite has set out on a mission to prove she’s more than an overnight TikTok sensation — a promise fulfilled with the release of her debut project, Dennis Daughter.
Boasting collaborations with Bryson Tiller, French Montana, and more, the 12-song effort was led by the catchy “You” and “Pit Stop,” in addition to a remix of her aforementioned breakthrough hit featuring Latto and Yung Miami.
Continuing her ascent from a young girl in Mobile, Alabama to a Hip Hop sensation, Flo Milli dropped multiple singles in 2023, setting the stage for her highly anticipated second studio album, Fine Ho, Stay. Among these releases are standout tracks like the high-energy “Fruit Loop,”“Blow Da Whistle” and “Chocolate Rain.”
With an estimated net worth of $1.5 million, (according to FamousPeopleToday) the 2021 HipHopDX Rising Star (real name Tamia Monique Carter) has quickly mastered the art of cashing in on her rap chops. In a brief span of time, the artist under RCA Records has garnered a whopping half-billion streams; showing no signs of slowing down.
Check out our previous Best Female Rappers lists below:
You can also check out the winners and nominees for the HipHopDX Awards 2023 here.
Artwork and Graphic Design by JR Martinez.