Hip Hop has grown a lot since the days when a list like this could only possibly consist of Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Yo-Yo and Salt N Pepa (there’s clearly a few more than just these four ladies, of course). Those particular women deserve a salute for maintaining a solid feminine presence in a game all too dominated by testosterone; they had (and still have) the perfect mix of skills, sex appeal and confidence that truly solidified their place in the culture for good, all the while creating a lane for female MCs that has only gotten wider over the years.
As popular culture has become more sexual, so have our female rappers. It all began in the mid-1990s with the Queen Bee Lil’ Kim infamously spreading her legs in a leopard print bra and panties, and it’s just gotten more risqué as time went on. Her peers like Foxy Brown and Trina quickly followed suit, and the vast majority of ladies in the rap game have tended to lean towards a sexual image as it sells more records and lands them more magazine covers. It’s just business at the end of the day.
That said, ‘sexy’ doesn’t always increase in line with the amount of skin on display. Believe it or not, there are some lady MCs today who choose the more demure route and yet still are sexy enough to make this list. As hot as it is to see a gorgeous half naked woman spit bars on par with your favourite dude rapper, it’s equally as dope to see an artist who didn’t have to compromise her sexuality to make a name for herself. But that’s not what we’re here for today – let’s take a look at the hottest women on the mic, both today and back when it all started for them.
The First Lady of Ruff Ryders was the subject of the fantasies of every dude who even remotely listened to Hip Hop in the late ‘90s. Sitting pretty today at 35 years old, E-V-E embodied a healthy balance of sexuality and a gritty rhyme style which resulted in numerous hit singles – most notably “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” and “Gangsta Lovin’” – and it even helped her lock down a few film roles (Barbershop 2, The Cook Out). Eve has been a little quiet as of late, though she recently released “Lip Lock”, her first album in eleven years. Here’s hoping she doesn’t stray too far from the spotlight again any time soon.
Trina busted through the doors into the Hip Hop consciousness back in 1998 via Trick Daddy’s (remember him?) hit single “Nann N*gga”, following that up with her debut album “Da Baddest B**ch” a couple years later. Known more for her sizable backside than for her music, Trina was even named the ‘Most Consistent Female Rapper Of All Time’ by XXL back in 2010. She was among the initial breed of female MCs who overtly sexualized everything they did, spitting about her fantastic posterior in damn near every tune she released. Guess we can’t exactly blame her.
8. Foxy Brown (in 1997)
At her peak, there was (almost) nobody in the game messing with Ms. Brown. Her break-out verse on Jay-Z’s (he used the hyphen back then) “Ain’t No N*gga” back in the mid-‘90s was absurdly dope and incredibly sexual for a 16 year old (!!). Her debut album “Ill Na Na” dropped in 1996 and being that it was named after the inherently superior quality of her genitalia, it’s no surprise that most of her photographs practically exposed her areola. Unfortunately Foxy got in to a ton of legal trouble, had feuds with almost every female MC in the game, suffered a damaging hearing loss in 2005, and also decided she needed plastic surgery which completely changed her appearance. So in light of that, let’s remember her when she was at her best.
7. Missy Elliott (now)
The “Supa Dupa Fly” Missy rockin’ the trash bag suit never really made it to any Sexiest Female Rapper lists, and for good reason. Miss Elliott was the ultimate tomboy – short-haired, thick and super weird, she was Timbaland’s charismatic side-kick that was more like your homie than your lover-friend (word to R. Kelly). Around 2006, Missy was dealing with severe health issues – including extremely high blood pressure that could have lead to a stroke or death – and she decided to get rid of the weight permanently. What the world got in return was a slimmer, sexier and more confident Missy – one that turned heads and made dudes reconsider the whole lover-friend thing.
6. Iggy Azalea
Australian siren Iggy Azalea was a sex symbol straight out of the gate. Her hourglass figure, Wilhelmina model face and down south voice (in both senses of the word – Down Under when speaking, Atlanta when rapping) have entranced both the Hip Hop and pop worlds. Her break out single “Pu$$y” painted Ms. Azalea as an extremely sexual artist, an image she has steadily maintained (and enhanced) ever since – and very much to her benefit. Her latest hit “Fancy” has broken through into the pop charts, taking her to even higher heights. Add that to the fact she has recently shacked up with NBA star Nick Young, which has only made her even more desirable.
5. Angel Haze
Ms. Haze is one of the main entrants on this list who has never given in to the urge to flash some flesh just to get ahead. An extremely talented MC and performer, Angel has broken out of the underground scene to make more of a name for herself via regular festival appearances and even landing guest spots with heavy hitters like Ellie Goulding (if she rapped, she’d be on this list for sure). A Google image search will demonstrate that she’s had a few slightly revealing photo shoots in her time but it’s nothing in comparison to some of her more well-known peers. Angel Haze epitomizes sexuality without compromising her class – something these other ladies could learn from.
4. Nicki Minaj
The YMCMB vixen is the quintessential Sexiest Rapper of the ‘10s. From her extravagant colourful wigs, to her personal Instagram pics in nipple pasties, to her extraordinary booty, Ms. Minaj actually made this list due to her more recent image switch. Gone are the aforementioned extreme get ups; she reverted to her natural hair, less make up, classier attire and even a calmer demeanor. To this author, that in itself is sexy enough to crack the Top 5. Only time will tell if this new Nicki will resonate with the masses, though her change of direction is especially refreshing in the current cultural climate. You go, girl.
3. Lil’ Kim (in 1996)
Ahh, Kim. How the mighty have fallen. Back in ’96, there was nobody hotter than the First Lady of Junior M.A.F.I.A. Nobody. She was the sexiest thing to ever happen to Hip Hop – the cover art and inside booklet of her debut album “Hardcore” was pretty much soft-core pornography, and her lyrical content read like its script (“Got buffoons eating my p*ssy while I watch cartoons” is one of the greatest lines ever). Her legions of fans watched in vain as her physical appearance deteriorated over the years, as she went the way of Foxy Brown with way too much plastic surgery that turned her into the Hip Hop version of that lady who looks like a cat. So as with Foxy, let’s remember Kim back in her heyday when there was nothing touching her.
A somewhat unexpected entrant, M.I.A. falls into the Angel Haze category of being extremely sexy while keeping it classy. Bursting onto the scene with her bratty could-give-a-f*ck-less attitude back in 2004, her avant-garde sound and militant stance (her pops started a Sri Lankan rebel group called the Tamil Tigers so it’s understandable) – not to mention she’s incredibly easy on the eye – made her an instant sex symbol the world over. Her strong politics and regular beefs did nothing to quell the media’s interest in this starlet; even after she married a billionaire and became a MILF, Maya is as hot as ever.
1. Lauryn Hill (in 1997)
At her peak, no female – like literally nobody – was touching Ms. Lauryn Hill. She was undoubtedly the Queen of Hip Hop and by her immense success, the Queen of Pop as well. At no stage did Lauryn ever get her gear off – she embodied poise and class, while being the single most talented human in the industry. “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” is among the greatest debuts of all time; her voice alone sends shivers down your spine, and combine that with her charm, pretty face and rough edges, she’s the whole package. Ms. Hill hasn’t had the greatest run of late, with tax evasion cases, terrible stage shows and below average new music, so we’re all hoping that she can bring it back to ’97 for us and once again show the world how it’s done.