There is no doubt that making it as a female artist in the rap game is hard work. Being mostly dominated by men, female rappers work that much harder in making it in the industry. While many of these rappers on our top 10 list are no longer part of the rap scene today, many of them continue to find success in other ways besides making music.
There are quite a few female rappers who have been in the industry, but being able to make a name for yourself and maintaining that status becomes more and more difficult over time. While new male rappers pop up daily, there are only a select few of female rappers that can say they’ve made an impact on the hip-hop world and its music. When it comes to being the highest paid female rappers of all time, the following 10 women have locked in their spots.
10. Trina: $6 million
Trina is just the stage name of rapper and model Katrina Laverne Taylor. Born on December 3, 1978, Trina made her debut on the song “Nann Ni**a” from Trick Daddy’s second album www.thug.com. Being active in the industry since 1998, Trina has released five studio albums titled Da Baddest Bitch (2000), Diamond Princess (2002), Glamorest Life (2005), Still da Baddest (2008), and Amazin’ (2010) throughout her career as a female rapper.
Besides music, Trina took on other projects in different fields to further her career. She is the co-host on Tameka Cottle‘s late night talk show Tiny Tonight, which premiered in December 2012. Trina has also released mix tapes and songs since her last studio album consistently every year.
In March 2015 Trina revealed that she is now signed to Penalty Entertainment and will release her new album in December 2015, titled 6, representing the number of albums released in her career. Trina, although on the down low, still remains active in the rap game.
9. MC Lyte: $8 million
Born Lana Michelle Morer on October 11, 1970, MC Lyte became one of the first ever-female rappers to release a solo album. MC Lyte became famous in the late 80’s for her solo album release of Lyte as a Rock. A successful career, MC Lyte produced a total of 8 albums, with her most recent Legend, released in April 2015, 12 years after her seventh album titled Da Undaground Heat, Vol. 1 (2003).
In 1993, MC Lyte’s fourth album Ain’t No Other reached gold status with her song “Ruffneck” being nominated for a Grammy for Best Rap Single, making her the first female solo rapper ever nominated for a Grammy. Other than music, MC Lyte also went ahead and appeared in other fields. MC Lyte featured on television as herself on shows like MTV Unplugged, In Living Color, Moesha, Cousin Skeeter, New York Undercover, My Wife and Kids, and Sisters in the Name of Rap. Lyte also acted in both television and film. You can find her playing in the following TV shows: In the House, Get Real, Half & Half, and The District. Her first film role was in 1993 for the movie Fly by Night, and other movies such as, A Luv Tale (1999), Train Ride (2000), Civil Brand (2002), and Playa’s Ball (2003). Her most recent appearance was in 2011, where she guest starred in the Regular Show episode “Rap It Up,” portraying a member of a hip-hop group, which included characters voiced by Tyler the Creator and Childish Gambino.
MC Lyte also became part of the fashion industry, opening a Los Angeles boutique called Shaitel, specializing in accessories. Also the CEO of the global entertainment firm Sunni Gyrl Inc., founder of Hip Hop Sisters Foundation, and an honorary member of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, MC Lyte has a long list of successes that keep her on the Highest Paid Female Rappers of All Time list.
8. Eve: $8 million
Tied with MC Lyte on our Highest Paid Rappers list is Eve Jihan Jeffers-Cooper, better known as Eve. Born on November 10, 1978, Eve is known for her paws tattoo on her chest, and her songs “Let Me Blow Ya Mind and “Who’s That Girl,” both of which granted her international success and a Grammy.
Throughout her career, Eve has released four albums Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady (1999), Scorpion (2001), Eve-Olution (2002) and Lip Lock (2013). Besides being a rapper, Eve also has a career as an actress. She plays in both Barbershop and Barbershop 2: Back in Business as Terri Jones, and will be in the 2016 release of Barbershop 3. She also appeared on television shows like Glee, where she played rival coach Grace Hitchens, one episode of Whitney as Britnee, a contestant on The Apprentice (2005), as well as many other television shows. Besides music and acting, Eve also took a shot at the fashion industry and has her clothing line Fetish, which is very successful.
7. DJ Spinderella: $10 million
Deidra Muriel Roper born August 3, 1971, is better known as DJ Spinderella. She is a DJ and rapper who was a member of the former hip-hop group Salt-n-Pepa, who disbanded in 2002. Her career in Salt-n-Pepa began when she was only 16. She joined the group after they parted with their original DJ and were on the hunt for someone new.
Once the band was over, Spinderella was a co-host from 2003-2006 for a radio show in Los Angeles called “The BlackSpin”. A year later, she appeared on a reality show titled Salt-n-Pepa, about her band members’ lives after the band’s breakup. DJ Spinderella appeared in two films, Stay Tuned (1992) and Kazaam (1996), and opened up her own beauty salon in 1997. Spinderella is also active in the community as a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association Celebrity Cabinet, a TV ONE UnSung Ambassador, supporter of Saving Our Daughters Mentoring Program, and founder of the Spinderella DJ Academy.
6. Cheryl “Salt” James: $14 million
Cheryl James or known by her stage name Salt, was the vocalist and one of three members of the band Salt-n-Pepa. Born March 26, 1966, James was a success as a Grammy winner and an influence in the late 80’s and 90’s.
Very Necessary (1993) was the most popular album of the band’s career and their single “None of Your Business” won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance. She also collaborated with singer Kirk Franklin in 1997, for their song “Stomp,” a contemporary gospel.
Cheryl “Salt” James also appeared in the reality television show, Salt-n-Pepa, about the band’s life in 2007-2008, with her two other band members. Although popular in the late 80’s and 90’s, Cheryl “Salt” James and her band are one of the first all female hip-hop groups, and are still considered pioneers of music of their time.
5. Sandra “Pepa” Denton: $15 million
The last member of the hip-hop group Salt-n-Pepa on our Highest Paid Female Rappers list is Sandra “Pepa” Denton. She was also a vocalist of the band. Born on November 9, 1969, Denton is both a rapper and actress.
In 2005, she became a cast member of the show The Surreal Life (season 5), she played in the movie Joe’s Apartment (1996), she made an appearance in the HBO TV movie First Time Felon (1997), the HBO drama Oz (2000-2003), and again returned to The Surreal Life: Fame Games (2007). With her other band members, she featured in the Salt-n-Pepa Show (2007-2008) and also had her own reality show titled Let’s Talk About Pep (2010). Recently, she starred as herself in many TV series, and was a contestant on the new TV series Lip Sync Battle (2015).
Not only is Sandra “Pepa” Denton a rapper and actress, but she also released an autobiography in 2008 titled Let’s Talk About Pep. The autobiography allowed her fans to get an inside look of her life from everything to behind the fame, both failure and success in her life, and what it was like being part of the most successful hip-hop group. With her book, her success as a rapper, and her appearances in both film and television, Sandra “Pepa” Denton still does what she can to keep her spot as one of the Highest Paid Female Rappers of All Time.
4. Lil’Kim: $18 million
Kimberly Denise Jones, better known as Lil’ Kim is notorious. Born on July 11, 1975, Lil’ Kim is a well-known rapper, songwriter, record producer, model and actress. Lil’ Kim struggled throughout the early stages of her life, and through these hard times, she met Notorious B.I.G (Christopher Wallace) who was a big influence on her, both personally and musically. At the age of 19, Lil’ Kim got her start with Junior M.A.F.I.A, a group created by Biggie Smalls. A year later, she decided to release her own solo album Hard Core (1996). Her lyrics and style had a fierceness and edge that was completely different from other female rappers of that time.
After the death of Notorious B.I.G, Lil’ Kim took a break in her career and released her next album The Notorious K.I.M only in 2000. It wasn’t until her remake of the song “Lady Marmalade” with singers Christina Aguilera, Pink and Mya for the soundtrack of the movie Moulin Rouge in 2001, did her career flourish. The song reached No.1 on the charts and won a Grammy, making Lil’ Kim one of the most sought after rappers of the 21st century. She later went on to release another album La Belle Mafia (2003). In 2005, she was sentenced to jail for an incident that happened in New York City in 2001. Before her one year and one day sentence, she released another album, The Naked Truth (2005). After her time in prison, Lil’ Kim released her mix tape Ms. G.O.A.T (2008), and later released her second mix tape Black Friday (2011), as a response to her feud with female rapper Nicki Minaj.
Lil’ Kim found success in the 1990s and 2000s. She also appeared in films like, Zoolander (2001) and You Got Served (2004), and on television as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars (2009), returning in 2015 for their 10th year anniversary. Lil’ Kim still remains active in the rap scene and she is a name anyone can recognize and will always remember.
3. Nicki Minaj: $45 million
Nicki Minaj whose real name is Onika Tanya Maraj, born December 8, 1982, is a female rapper known for her crazy outfits, hairstyles and alter egos. Throughout her career, she has released three mix tapes; Playtime is Over (2007), Sucka Free (2008), and Beam Me Up Scotty (2009), and three albums; Pink Friday (2010), Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012) and The Pinkprint (2014). Minaj is the only female artist to make Forbes Hip-Hop Cash Kings list four consecutive times.
It wasn’t until Lil Wayne signed Minaj in 2008 to his Young Money Entertainment Label, that she slowly started making herself known in the rap scene. She featured in a lot of top songs like “5 Star B**ch” remix, “BedRock,” “Roger That,” “Up Out My Face” and “Shakin’ It 4 Daddy.” Her first album Pink Friday, was released in 2010, which granted her the title of the first female solo artist to have seven songs on the top Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. In 2012 she released her second album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. That same year, she performed at the Super Bowl XLVI halftime show, joining Madonna, and was the first solo female rapper to perform at the Grammy Awards. Two years later she released her last album, Pinkprint (2014).
Other than music, Minaj was the voice of Steffie for the movie Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), and a judge on the twelfth season of American Idol. She also played in the movie The Other Woman (2014), as Lydia. Nicki Minaj is one of the leading female rappers of today’s hip-hop scene, with a long list of awards, this is only the beginning for her.
2. Missy Elliott: $55 million
Who doesn’t know Missy Elliott? Melissa Arnette Elliott was born on July 1, 1971, and she is a singer, songwriter, rapper and a music producer. Missy Elliott is famous for coming out with hit after hit with songs like, “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly),” “Hot Boyz,” “Get Ur Freak On,” “Work It” and “Lose Control.”
In 1996, Missy Elliott and Timbaland worked together as a songwriting/production team. It was their work for Aaliyah that put Missy Elliott on the map. Throughout her career, Missy Elliott has released six very successful albums titled, Supa Dupa Fly (1997), Da Real World (1999), Miss E… So Addictive (2001), Under Construction (2002), This Is Not a Test! (2003) and The Cookbook (2005). There is also a comeback album in the works. Other than her albums, Missy Elliott took time off to produce numerous tracks for other artists that added success to her career. She appeared in films like Honey (2003), owns restaurants, owns a football team called the Portsmouth Angels, has her own vodka, a fashion line called Missy Elliott Seduction, and her own perfume. With that long list, it’s no surprise she made it to number two on this list.
1. Queen Latifah: $60 million
When thinking about Queen Latifah, not many people think about her as a rapper, but Dana Elaine Owens started her career as a rapper, and later became known for her many accomplishments as a singer, songwriter, actress, model, television producer, record producer, comedian and talk show host.
Born March 18, 1970, Queen Latifah released seven albums throughout her music career titled, All Hail the Queen (1989), Nature of a Sista (1991), Black Reign (1993), Order in the Court (1998), The Dana Owens Album (2004), Trav’lin’ Light (2007) and Persona (2009).
Starting out as a beat-boxer, she then turned to rap about issues of black women, and then had a singing career. Queen Latifah has been dubbed the “Queen of Jazz-Rap” and also became the first female hip-hop recording artist to get nominated for an Oscar. Besides music, Queen Latifah is also very famous for her roles in the films, Bringing Down the House (2003), Taxi (2004), Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2005), amongst many others. She had her own talk show The Queen Latifah Show (1999-2001), which returned in 2013-2015. She is also a celebrity spokesperson for CoverGirl, with her own line for women of color called the CoverGirl Queen Collection. Queen Latifah also has a perfume line called Queen and Queen of Hearts. With so much under her belt, it is no surprise that Queen Latifah is number one on our Highest Paid Female Rappers of All Time list.