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Meet the illest femcees ever


By Quiban Salazar-Moreno


In my opinion, the best female emcees write their own lyrics, so that takes out people like Salt N Pepa who didn't write their own stuff until the 1990s and Lil Kim as Notorious BIG wrote almost her entire first album.

The best female emcees don't bite other people's styles, so that takes out Da Brat, when she first dropped it’s obvious she was biting Snoop's style

The best female emcee won't use sex or her body to sell records, so that excludes everyone from Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Trina to Jacki-O.

But at the same time, a good female emcee is very lady-like so that takes out Eve, Remy Ma and Rah Digga.


In addition, the best femcees are recognized for their contributions to hip-hop as well as how good they are on the mic. Here is my Top 10 female emcees ever!!!

10. Mystic - Whoa, who's Mystic? She's an emcee, singer, poet straight out of the Bay area. She released an incredible album, Cuts for Luck and Scars for Freedom. The album name alone kills a lot of stuff out there now. She had a joint called "The Life" which was nominated for a Grammy when it dropped.  Although she only has one album out as well as a re-released version a couple of years later, she is the future. Hear this review from NPR:

9. Medusa - Hailing from the West Coast, Medusa is definitely the Queen of underground hip-hop and you can't get more soulful than her. She has a band called Feline Science and she's been running things in L.A. for a long time. So next time you go to L.A, look her up, cop an album and give the sista some love! In the meanwhile peep this live set: http://hiphoppass.net/sr/mi/?ID=NDg1&BR=NTY=&MIME;.asx

8. Roxanne Shante - This is the only female emcee who didn't write all her lyrics that you'll see on here. A lot of her stuff was written by Big Daddy Kane, but at just 14 years old when she first dropped, she could spit! She's well known for setting off the whole Roxanne battles with UTFO back in the 1980s but she really earned her stripes being down with the Juice Crew. In addition, she said KRS One's name "sounds like a wack radio station" and that "BDP stands for Broken Down Punks" on "Have a Nice Day"...ouch! One of the few emcees to ever diss KRS and did a good job at it!



         Roxanne Shante: Dissed KRS One





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7. Bahamadia - I once went on tour with Bahamdia back in 2000 as part  of the Lyricist Lounge Tour with Mos Def. She's laid back and chilled just like her music. She has a dope voice, a sick flow and is actually talking about meaningful things. She had two joints; Kollage in 1996 and BB Queen in 2000.  She has since made a few public appearances, mostly staying in Philly, but when she grabs the mic, watch out! Peep Rugged Ruff and Commonwealth (Cheap Chicks) and see if you can find the full joints somewhere.

6. Sha-Rock - Aww man, what can you say about Sha-Rock? She was one of the first female emcees ever to put it down alongside the male dominated hip-hop scene of the late 70s and early 80s. Of course, many of you remember her scene in Beat Street with Lisa Lee and Debbie D performing "Us Girls". Check out this recent interview with Sha-Rock talking about the good old days.

5. Queen Latifah - The reason I like Latifah so much is because from the moment she stepped into the game she demanded respect. Period. The first time I heard her was in "Ladies First" which was ho-hum to me... I was more impressed with Monie Love. But in the early 1990s Latifah turned up the heat with "Latifah's Had it up To Here", "U.N.I.T.Y." and her work with Naughty By Nature and Flava Unit. Of course, later on, her stuff wasn't so hot.... but still, she made her mark. You can see a couple of her videos here



         Queen Latifah: She made her mark


4. Mecca the Ladybug - Yeah, I used to have a crush on her back in high school. She was the lone female group member of Digable Planets. She has a chilled demeanor about her and when she grabbed the mic, you just want to listen to what she has to say. She was recently touring with the Digable Planets again and has just dropped a solo album that ranges from emceeing to singing and it sounds pretty good. But she's #4 almost solely on what she did with Digable Planets and it's tough to compare what she did then to anyone else. Check out her website: http://www.ladybugmecca.com/

3. Jean Grae - Jean Grae has to be the illest femcee on the mic right now. She's even better than half the dudes out here in the industry now. She used to be part of another group that went by the name Whatwhat, but when she went solo and changed her name to Jean Grae, she received greater recognition. She has worked with everyone from The Roots to Talib Kweli. You know what, just check out her website and you can hear some of  her music.


2. MC Lyte - What can be said about MC Lyte that hasn't already been said? She dropped her first joints when she was a teenager and was one of the few ladies of rap who actually wrote their own lyrics back in the days. She battled Antoinette after she took Lyte's beat and Lyte ripped her to shreds. Then she came out in the 1990s, made some Top 10 hits and now she's getting her acting thing going on. She opened the door for women to be raw on the mic and still be lady-like.

1. Lauryn Hill - Despite what some music critics may say,
the dopest female emcee on the mic ever has to be Lauryn Hill. This is based on her work with the Fugees, her solo album and her cameo appearances.



I just listened to this mixtape called the Best of Lauryn Hill mixed by J. Period; it's a two disc set with one disc featuring nothing but rhymes and she absolutely kills it. I'm telling you right now, some of the rhymes she spit in 1997 kills anything that is being said right now. Period. Even her acoustic album that she dropped. She rhymes on two songs and it totally rips anything out there today. I can't wait for her new stuff to drop!


Q is a hip-hop and entertainment journalist. He writes regularly for AOL BlackVoices and also freelance for Vibe Magazine and SoHo magazine. He blogs as Qsviews.

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