Happy Birthday Hip Hop: Our All Time Favorite Songs From Female Emcees
Today, Google told me and the rest of the world that today marked the 44th anniversary of the birthday of Hip Hop. If you haven’t already, check out today’s Google Doodle as it is not only incredible. It gives you the chance to pretend like you’re scratching records. And it’s fun AF.
In honor of this historic day, we’re putting the spotlight on the women of the genre who have provided the soundtrack for our lives. The following songs, made us think, feel, dance, and feel like our p*ssies were powerful. Important work. Check out some of our favorites on the following pages.
Unity- Queen Latifah
You already know this song was going to be included. It’s the quintessential, Black men need to do better anthem. Latifah addresses street harassment, domestic violence and our general elevation as a people. Lord knows it’s a message we (they) still need to heed today. It’s rough, it’s raw and over that jazzy horn, it was unforgettable.
Shoop – Salt-n-Pepa
You’re going to notice a theme of women openly and honestly expressing their lust on this list. And if there’s an origin for this type of bravado in modern day Hip Hop, we have to point to Salt-n-Pepa’s “Shoop.” It might not be as in your face as the lyrics of the 90’s and today but if you listen carefully, you’ll see it too is low key raunchy.
No Time- Lil Kim
The song makes the list because it offers a little bit of everything. Lil Kim includes herself among the likes of rich b*tches like Demi Moore, Princess Diana, she brags about everything from her fashion sense to her sexual prowess. Music of the 90’s would be nothing without a Diddy ad-lib. Then, most importantly, it provides a mantra for life, “I got no time for fake n*ggas.”
Look Back At Me- Trina
I include this one in honor of my sister and her friend. While I knew Trina’s songs “Da Baddest B*tch” and the ones she had with Trick Daddy, I had no idea about this one with Killer Mike. But the energy, passion and conviction with which my sister and her friend sang “licky, licky, licky for an hour,” during Trina’s performance one year at Grits and Biscuits, I will never forget. It sold me on the song.
Conceited – Remy Ma
I’ve already written an entire essay on the importance of this song. So I won’t do that again here. Just know it’s everything. Black women expressing the love she feels for herself? Much needed and much appreciated.
Crush On You- Lil Kim
Five words: Shall I proceed? Yes, indeed.
Doo Wop (That Thing)- Lauryn Hill
It was hard to choose a Lauryn Hill song because she has so many greats. Ultimately, I settled on this one because people like to debate about whether she’s a singer or a rapper. She’s both. And this song with it’s lyrical complexity and mastery proves just how great of an emcee she is. This song tells two stories, makes us want to do and be better and dance all at the same time. Genius.
Love Is Blind- Eve
I love a good story. The thing about storytelling is that you can use virtually any art form to do it and Eve told a haunting and necessary one in her song “Love Is Blind.” Hip Hop so needs women’s voices so we can speak to issues men would rarely if ever address in their songs.
Give It 2 You- Da Brat
This song is just a groove. Plus Da Brat is one of the most threatening emcees ever. And I love it. She’s the perfect person to score your morning commute when you know you have to go into the office and calmly check someone.
Nicki’s verse on “Monster”
Out of everything Nicki Minaj has evah done, her verse on “Monster” is what most directly speaks to my soul. “First things first, I’ll eat your brain.” Savage. Her verse is easily the strongest in a group of legends.
My Neck, My Back Khia
I was in middle school when this song came out. And I thought it was so vulgar. By high school, I was dancing too it, still laughing at the nasty lyrics. In college, I was beginning to understand its significance and as an adult woman, both empowering and extremely necessary. A lot of men don’t know. Nothing wrong with giving them a little bit of direction. “Do it. Do it. Do it. DO it. DO It Now.”
They Don’t Wanna F*ck Wit Me- Missy Elliott
The next few pages are dedicated to Missy because she’s my favorite rapper. I remember when I told my boyfriend that, he wanted to question it. But it’s not up for debate. Missy is the consummate artist in my opinion and as a girl in elementary school, she opened my mind up to all of the possibilities for women. She was creative, sexual, explicit, graphic in her descriptions and above all talented. Those type of people the ones who don’t hide from their uniqueness, always rise to the top.
Hot Boyz – Missy Elliott
I just love the boldness of this song. It’s basically a song about scamming, cosigned by Nas himself. Also, what I appreciate about Missy is that her legacy in this industry will include the other artists she was willing to help along the way. This song, this classic also features Eve and Lil Mo.
The Rain- Missy Elliott
This one makes the list because it was the first time I was introduced to Missy Elliott. I can still remember the day I heard it and how I knew I was listening to something groundbreaking and special.
Bodak Yellow- Cardi B
I was debating about whether to include Cardi B in this list because I was wondering if she’s paid enough dues to be featured among this list of greats. Honestly though, I’m including this song because not only is it hot, it tells the story of overcoming. She “ain’t gotta dance, she make money moves.” Who can’t support and appreciate that?
Party ain’t a Party- Queen Pen
This was Brande’s pick and I’m glad I refreshed myself on this song and how hard it goes. Queen Pen’s raspy voice is perfect.
Did your favorite make the cut? If not, feel free to list it in the comment section below.