Billboard Explains: The Women of Hip-Hop

For this latest episode of Billboard Explains, the topic of discussion anchors around the women of hip-hop. While names like Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Travis Scott continue to cause waves in the landscape, it’s a golden age in the genre thanks to the plethora of female MCs wreaking havoc on the mic.

Before the scorching success of Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Megan Thee Stallion and more, many pioneers broke through the seams of hip-hop and paved the way for generations to come. Hip-hop’s first female artist was MC Sha-Rock, who originally started as a Funky 4 + 1 group member. Following Sha-Rock were MC Lyte and Roxanne Shanté, who further fortified the lanes of female hip-hop with their presence in the ’80s. Queen Latifah, Lil’ Kim, Salt-N-Pepa, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliott and Eve were among some of the thriving stars in the ’90s and ‘2000s who placed the welcome mat for women looking to step onto the scene.

Even with contrasting styles, their lyrics, individuality and unshakable confidence were the ingredients needed to step inside the lion’s den and prove to be fierce competitors alongside their male counterparts.

“It’s took years, but it’s just that time. They’re not going to be held back,” Nas tells Billboard regarding the feats of female rappers.

Today, sisterhood in hip-hop is at an all-time high, as many collaborations find female artists pairing together and, in some cases, legacy acts joining forces with rookie talents.

“We have our own fanbases, messages, shows — our own everything,” says Baby Tate. “I don’t really see any of this as a competition. Everybody has their own story.”

Watch the newest episode of Billboard Explains on The Women of Hip-Hop.

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