5 Foxy Brown
If you’ve got sensitive ears, leave this one to the young’uns. Foxy’s raunchy lyrics—and the shock value that comes with them—are part of her shtick. She can crossover when she wants to, of course, as she proved when she sang “Candy” on the soundtrack of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.” Early critics never thought she’d go the distance, but she’s still appearing on some impressive “top” lists. She’s had some legal woes over the years that may have taken her focus away from the music, so here’s to hoping she’s just getting started.
4 Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott’s talent sometimes goes unappreciated because she writes lyrics for fellow female rappers, such as MC Lyte, Adina Howard and Jodeci. She’s truly a force to be reckoned with since she’s been nominated for too many awards to list and has won three Grammys and countless other accolades, including Best Female Hip Hop and Favorite Female Artist. Missy Elliott’s career and future is blinding bright after working with such notables as Whitney Houston, the Spice Girls’ Melanie Brown and Janet Jackson.
3 Queen Latifah
Oh yeah, the queen’s alive and well and living in Los Angeles, Georgia and New Jersey. Queen Latifah’s a triple threat, having sung, acted and danced her way through several movies, including blockbuster movie musicals “Chicago” and “Hairspray.” An outspoken opponent of misogynistic rap, Queen Latifah was born Dana Owens to a straight-up law-enforcement family. Much of her work has been influenced by her upbringing. She’s been on so many lists for so long, she’s become as legendary as another queen—Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul.
2 Lauryn Hill
Lovely Lauren Hill almost took the road to obscurity with her first album, “Blunted On Reality,” which she sang with the Fugees. But her career took off when she quit the group and made a solo debut album, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.” That album won five Grammys and set a record for a female recording artist. Not bad for the first time out of the gate as a solo act. The album features a sensual mix of hip-hop and R & B. The haunting lyrics about her own loves and losses set music critics all abuzz.
1 Lil’ Kim
Kimberly “Lil’ Kim” Jones shows up on lots of great girl rapper lists, including IMDB, L.A. Sentinel and Elite DC Magazine. She won the Grammy in 2002 in the Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals category for “Lady Marmalade,” which she shared with Christina Aguilera, Pink and Mya. Since then, she’s been nominated for more Grammy Awards, American Music Awards and BET Awards. Her dress code is, well, nonexistent and she’s known for her overtly provocative clothes. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.