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

  • Women played an integral role in the birth and growth of hip-hop.

  • Today, the ladies are at the forefront of the industry.

  • Here are 20 photos of the genre's most iconic female stars.

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

Portrait of the members of American hip hop grounp Funky 4 + 1, 1980.
Funky 4 + 1.Getty/Anthony Barboza

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

Rapper Da Brat (aka Shawntae Harris) appears in a portrait wearing a "Dickies" cap and a bling chain with her name on April 10, 1994 in New York City.
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. 05/02/1999.
Lauryn Hill performing at Brixton Academy, London in 1999.Getty/Chris Lopez

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

Portrait of American r&b and hiphop/rap trio Salt-n-Pepa, Hilversum, Netheralnds, 1 November 1988. L-R Deidra Roper (DJ Spinderella), Cheryl James (Salt) and Sandra Denton (Pepa).
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.

Photo of Missy Elliott.
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 U.I.C. Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois in November 1989.
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."

American group TLC (featuring Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins, Lisa 'Left-Eye' Lopes and Rozonda 'Chilli' Thomas) posed together in The Netherlands in 1992.
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.

1992 singer Eve poses for a portrait in Los Angeles, California.
Eve.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 (Dana Owens) appears with the film slate in the foreground on the set of music video shoot for "Fly Girl" on June 28, 1991 in New York City.
Queen Latifah in 1991.Getty/Al Pereira

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

Rappers MC JB, Stacy Phillips and Baby D from JJ Fad poses for photos at the Mecca Arena in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in June 1989.
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.

Portrait of American singer Kelis backstage at the Heineken Jammin Festival, Autodromo internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy, June 2000.
Kelis.Getty/Patrick Ford

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

Rah Digga during MTV2 Sisters For Hip-Hop & Soul Tour at Roseland Ballroom in New York City, New York, United States.
Rah Digga.Getty/J. Vespa

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

Rapper Nikki D (Nichelle Strong) poses for photos outside Taurus Records in Chicago, Illinois in May 1991.
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.

US rapper Cardi B poses for photographs as she presents a creation for Balenciaga during the Women's Spring-Summer 2022 Ready-to-Wear collection fashion show in Paris, as part of the Paris Fashion Week, on October 2, 2021.
Cardi B in 2021.Getty/Christophe Archambault

Lil' Kim, known as the "Queen of Rap," reshaped the landscape of rap thanks to her raunchy, unapologetic style.

American rapper, Lil' Kim, photographed in August, 2002 in Alpine, New Jersey.
Lil' Kim in 2002.Getty/Gregory Bojorquez

Born in South Africa and raised in New York City, Jean Grae is an underground rap legend.

Photo of Jean GRAE; Jean Grae on West 23rd Street, New York 7-2-2004.
Jean Grae in 2004.Getty/David Corio

Monie Love was the first British-born rapper to break the US market.

Photo of Monie LOVE.
Monie Love was born in London, England.Getty/Michel Linssen

Nicki Minaj has sold 8 million albums in the United States alone.

Nicki Minaj poses in the portrait studio at the iHeartRadio Music Festival held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on September 24, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nicki Minaj in 2011.Getty/Kevin Mazur

Remy Ma is a multiple-time winner of the BET award for best female hip-hop artist.

Remy Ma poses at the VH1 Hip Hop Celebrity At Your Service at Juniors Restaurant October 13, 2006 in New York City.
Remy Ma rose to fame as a member of Fat Joe's group, Terror Squad.Getty/Kristy Leibowitz

Megan Thee Stallion was the first female rapper to win the Grammy for best rap performance.

Megan Thee Stallion attends the premiere of STARZ season 2 of "P-Valley" at Avalon Hollywood & Bardot on June 02, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Megan Thee Stallion.Getty/Rodin Eckenroth

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