“Us ladies have actually constantly been talented. But it was a thing where there might just be one lady [rapper] at a time. You got all these man rap artists out here who ain’t truly discussing a lot! [Laughs.] But all of us would applaud them, as numerous as they come.”
That’s how Megan Thee Stallion explained the state of gender equality in the rap video game to Billboard in late 2019. And she’s not incorrect. The male-dominated category—not to discuss its fan base—has long had a complex relationship with the female MCs bold to edge in on their grass and spit bars like the very best of them.
And yet, at every point in rap’s storied history, you can discover ladies pulling the spotlight, showing that they simply may be “the best” of them.
From the leaders like MC Lyte and Queen Latifah to the ’90s queens like Lil’ Kim and Missy Elliott, the modern-day queens like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B—who commemorates a birthday on Sunday, Oct. 11—to the increasing stars like Meg and Doja Cat, there are queens advising these so-called kings that this has never ever been simply their kingdom.