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With the recent re-explosion of female MCs, we should take a look at the Top 10 Most Influential Female MCs of all time. With this list there’s bound to be different opinions. But this isn’t about necessarily being the best music-wise, but rather the most influential ladies who set the bar high for those coming after.

10. Queensbridge’s own Roxanne Shante laid the early foundation for most of the females MC’s on this list. She is an original member of Marley Marl’s infamous Juice Crew and rose to prominence via the classic hip hop record ‘Roxanne’s Revenge’. The song was considered an early diss record toward the group UTFO, who made the original song Roxanne, Roxanne, even though the 14 year old Shante had no personal beef with the group. Roxanne’s Revenge set off the Roxanne Wars in hip hop and made Shante an instant household name in the young 1980’s rap world. As a rapper she had that voice and skill that sounded so much better then many of her male counter-parts.In her career, Shante recorded two full albums and a slew of singles from the late 80’s into the early 90’s. She retired from rapping at 25, well before the commercial exploits of rap music were available. In a new age 2013 world Shante’s contributions in hip hop have largely been forgotten. But through her skill and creativity she was a trailblazing pioneer who set the hip hop world on fire. 

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9. Some may argue that Foxy Brown should be higher up on this list. Her entrance in the game was legendary, being discovered by The TrackMasters after a talent show in Brooklyn. The then 16 year old got her first ‘shot’ on the LL Cool J’s remix ‘I Shot Ya’ but it was Foxy’s record with Jay Z ‘Ain’t No Nigga’ that catapulted her into the mainstream. She had a successful career that included 3 albums, 2 of them (Ill Na Na and Chyna Doll) which were certified platinum and a gold record with rap super group The Firm which featured Nas, AZ, and Nature. Unfortunately Foxy was ‘feisty’ which caused her massive problems with the law and with people in the public. Also while working on new material, she briefly lost her hearing in 2005. Still Foxy was apart of some of the biggest, most known and respected hip hop records of the 90’s. She had a hand in on raising the bar for female MC’s to be fashionably trendy with the latest most expensive whatever . Foxy helped push the sex symbol status of the female MC’s onto whole another commercial level. 

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8. Da Brat was important just in her style alone. Her timing both musically and fashion-wise was a direct reflection of the street culture that was dominating pop culture during the early 90’s. She wore braids in her hair, Timberland Boots on her feet and over sized jerseys. When it came to rapping Brat was a new breed. She could spit lyrics in double time to the beat effortlessly. No other female MC did this before. Brat was also the first Chi Town (ATL) rapper to have commercial mainstream success. Her album Funkdafied sold platinum making her the first female MC to do that as a solo artist. She had two songs that were in the Billboard Top 100, Funkdafied at # 6 and Give It To Ya at # 26. These were unheard of feats at this time rappers not named Dre or Snoop, but especially for a female MC. Brat also had a small TV & Film career that helped soften her image. She had a few legal issues that she survived but her successes as a musician were so much more.

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7. Lauryn Hill has arguably the most iconic complete album of any MC on this list with The Miseducation of Lauren Hill. Like Drake, Hill was an accomplished actress well before she became known as L Boogie. When she first joined The Fugees she was more recognized as a poet then a rapper. Still she went on to have huge success with the group but as a solo artist she smashed all records. Miseducation sold 8 million copies in the US, selling 400+ thousand copies in it’s first week. This set a record for a female artists of any music genre. She got nominated for 10 Grammies taking home 5, again setting another benchmark for a female artist of any genre of music at the time.  As for accolades the album is regarded as one of the greatest hip hop albums ever. So why isn’t she higher on the list? She quit the business, at least for a while. The hiatus, then the bad appearances and negative press hurt her image. Still Lauren Hill’s influence cannot be denied. If you needed proof you should have seen her rock the stage this past June at Hot97’s Summer Jam.

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6. Few female MC’s get the genuine respect that MC Lyte does. She has released 7 studio albums with 2 of them ‘Bad As I wanna Be’ and Act Like You Know’ reaching gold status. Lyte was light years ahead of her time. Records like 10% Diss and Cram To Understand You really showcased her battle rap talents as an MC. The beat on her classic record Paper Thin is still one of the hardest hitting street records of all time. Party anthems like Ruff Neck helped her achieve mainstream appeal. But it was reality records such as Poor Georgie that showed that Lyte could make a hit record while touching on a serious subject matter. MC Lyte also excelled at remaining relevant. From the New Jack Swing late 80’s into the ‘RuffNeck 90’s she was there. Even in the ‘cristal club popping big willie late 90’s, and into the now era, Lyte has found a way to fit in perfectly with class and respectability. 

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5. Lisa Left Eye Lopes was the star of the show when it came to TLC. It was her energy and her rhymes that made TLC’s classic such as Ain’t To Proud To Beg and Waterfalls the big hits they became. As a group TLC, had unparalleled success with their 3 albums selling over 30 millions records worldwide. Their album Crazy Sexy Cool made them one the biggest selling girl groups of all time behind The Spice Girls. Left Eye was the news story that kept this huge pop group relevant in a  hip hop world dominated by 90’s street hip hop. Left Eye had a bad girl sexiness that was so intriguing. She had the big tattoos ,that eye black under her left eye and she burned down her boo, football star Andre Rison’s crib and never went to jail. Left Eye was a responsible artist in that she carried a positive message of safe sex in her music. This really set her apart from any one else. In photo shoots she helped to make condoms into a trendy fashion statement for a generation affected by juvenile pregnancy and AIDS. Sadly she left us just as her career was beginning move into its next phase. R.I.P.

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4. Nicki Minaj is the complete package as an artist/entertainer. She is the undisputed hip hop champion of in this new digital era being able to use the new mediums like Twitter, Blogs and music services such a Spotify to push her artist dominance to a whole new level. Minaj is also a barrier breaker coming up with alter ego’s in her music and showing us a fashion sense only Lady GaGa can top. She embraced the less hardcore urban image for a style that is more like character in a comic book. Her style who has many moods during her performances. This is pushing the creative bar in a new age. Nicki is challenging artist to be more creative in their presentation. Nicki has also openly embraced her gay fans which had been ALMOST (I can hear critics now) non existence in hip hop circles. She has so many more fans worldwide then most hip hop artist male or female. All this and we still haven’t spoke about how dope of an MC that Minaj is when she rhymes. He body of work in its total though hasn’t YET surpassed the next lady on the list.

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3. Lil Kim took rap and sexuality to a new level of domination with and without the whip. Never before had a female MC been so sexually graphic in her songs while sounding so damn good. Her songs were hardcore porn for the ears.The album cover on Lil Kim’s classic debut album Hard Core was a form of sexual expression that was unheard of at the time. This album was the male version of 50 Shades of Grey. What Kim did as a female MC is remarkable. Her first 3 albums all sold platinum with her first going double platinum. Only one other female MC did this. Kim set a record by having 3 # 1 rap records (Not Tonight remix, No Time and Crush On You) on one album. Kim’s small stature coupled with her sex appeal made her a magnet for commercial products. She did pretty well in her Film & TV roles as well. Kim is noted for her philanthropic work with charities too. Let’s not forget that before all of this B.I.G. saw the potential and made her his first lady in rap group Junior Mafia. The only thing that some what derailed her successful career was going to jail.

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2. Missy Elliot is the greatest all in one female artist on this earth. She is a writer, producer, dancer, rapper and singer who can do it all for herself and others. Missy is 1/3rd of the reason why Virginia Beach to hip hop music. Elliot’s music and videos in particular pushed the creative boundaries in hip hop with costumes, imagery and parody long before Nicki Minaj. As an artist she had 6 albums that went platinum including Under Construction that went double platinum. As a producer her magic has blessed artist such as Ciara, Ginuwine and the late Aaliyah. As an MC Missy never focused on rapping about hardcore anything. She focused on hit records being the childhood friend of the legendary producer Timbaland. Missy’s numerous clubs hits like Get Your Freak On gave her a dominance on the charts with consecutive hits that no other female artist has ever done. Even though she was cute, Missy didn’t have the strong sex appeal like other MC’s. Guess what? 

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1. There can only be one #1 and she is appropriately named the Queen, Queen Latifah. Latifah is number one on the list of Most Influential Female MC’s because, quite simply put, she has had the most mainstream success beyond music. She was, is and remains an icon of respect for all female MCs. She’s had 7 studio albums; 2 of which went gold. Latifah’s gold albums ironically didn’t come from the hip hop world but rather they jazz albums she released later in her career. As a female MC she was the standard that all females after would be compared to. The Queen had it all: respect, class, persona and bars. She made big girls dignified and cute. Her style was Afrocentric in the early part of her career which tied into her moniker The Queen. Latifah’s name alone exuded respect; “Queen Latifah”. She pioneered: being a lady running a hip hop label with Flavor Unit;  the whole rapper to TV & Film movement for ladies and was almost before Ice Cube. But Latifah didn’t stop there. She began directing the movies that she acted in. All her movie roles had her cast in important roles and not just cool ass cameo appearances.  The Queen’s endorsements made her a visible face for African American woman on products such as Cover Girl. Latifah has won an Academy, an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Grammy and most importantly several Image Awards. All Hail To The Queen…

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Honorable mentions definitely go to Eve. She did more in her career then a few people on this list but she was a victim of timing. Meaning when her career took off, the foundation had already been laid for her to come in and have big success. The modern digital era hadn’t even began to form so Eve did her thing as a model, actress but also dope MC from the Ruff Ryders camp. With Missy, Foxy, Kim and Lauren all having the spotlight at this time from the late 90’s into the 2000’s, Eve didn’t get the true shine in the spotlight. Of course MC Sha Rock of the legendary Bronx pioneering group The Funky Four Plus One was the first female MC back in 1976. And for the ladies, it all started from her.

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