What better way to celebrate women than by chanting along to some of their greatest girl-power hits? For Women’s History Month, we’ve gathered some of our favorite anthems by women rappers — and a few singers who dipped into the genre — who range from certified legends to burgeoning stars.
According to a recent Spotify-funded study from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, less than 25% of the artists on Billboard’s Hot 100 Year-End chart for 2021 were women–something that has gone virtually unimproved over the last decade. When it comes to songwriters, the numbers are even more alarming, with women comprising 12.7% within the last ten years. It’s hard to believe, with so many certified hits from women across genres, which is all the more reason to keep these uplifting tracks in your rotation.
The round-up spans three decades (beginning with Queen Latifah and ending with Ice Spice) and includes widely-acclaimed hits like Lizzo’s chart-topping single girl anthem, “Truth Hurts” to unforgettable Y2K favorites like “Bossy” by Kelis, all the while keeping you prepared to dominate whatever is to come, regardless of your gender. Some artists on the list even sampled songs from artists who came before them, for example Lizzo sampling Lauryn Hill’s “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” on her 2022 album cut, “Break Up Twice.”
Some cuts motivate us to demand the respect we deserve while others simply get us in the mood to pop out with our baddie friends. While we could’ve listed about a hundred more, here are 15 ear-worm anthems to get you started.
Queen Latifah, "U.N.I.T.Y."
If instinct leads Queen Latifah “to another flow” every time she hears a man “call a girl a b—h or a ho,” then she must’ve written quite a few raps. While misogyny doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, Latifah’s 1993 Grammy-winning single “U.N.I.T.Y.” serves as a healing balm to women dealing with disrespect across the many facets of life. On the track, the iconic rapper fights back against instances of sexual harassment, abuse and cat-calling, offering golden advice: “A man don’t really love you if he hits ya/ This is my notice to the door, I’m not takin’ it no more.”
Lauryn Hill, "Doo-Wop (That Thing)"
One of the greatest rappers of our time despite only releasing one studio album, Lauryn Hill has proven time and time again that quality trumps quantity. While many cuts from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill continue to permeate pop culture at large, “Doo-Wop (That Thing)” remains the most anthemic, spending two weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and marking Hill’s first and only visit to the top spot on the chart. You’d be hard-pressed to find a woman who can’t rap at least one verse of the truth-filled single word for word, especially the lyric, “Baby girl, respect is just a minimum.”
Eve, "Who's That Girl?"
If you ever need to gain that final boost of confidence before asking for a raise, confronting your ex or simply want to step outside knowing you’re *that* girl, Eve’s got something for you. The then-first lady of Ruff Ryders Entertainment set off her sophomore album, Scorpion, with a bang, releasing the supergirl cut that went on to appear on the Hot 100, US Rhythmic and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. “Power moves is made every day by this thorough b—h/ I’ma get this bank any way that I do this shit,” she raps.
Missy Elliott, "Work It"
“If you’re a fly gal, get your nails done/ Get a pedicure, get your hair did,” Missy Elliott instructs on the Timbaland-produced “Work It.” An anthem celebrating women of all shapes and sizes, Missy’s “Work It” represents a reclaiming of women’s power over their bodies, sexuality and desires. While the still-heavily-rotated cut never made it to No. 1 on the Hot 100 (“Lose Yourself” by Eminem claimed the top spot for twelve consecutive weeks), “Work It” remained at No. 2 for ten weeks and stuck in our heads forever.
Kelis taught us the important lesson that being liked is not required to be respected. Especially if you’re a boss. The Harlem cool girl who gave us “Milkshake” in 2003 continued to exude H.B.I.C. energy with this 2006 cut, which became Kelis’ third Hot 100 entry. Featuring Bay Arena legend Too $hort, the bouncy track is sure to get you feeling unapologetically badass.
Remy Ma, "Conceited"
Before body positivity and affirmations became hot topics, we had songs like “Conceited,” Remy Ma’s 3-minute self-love pep talk. “Yeah, okay, I got a little fat but/ My shorty tell me he like it like that,” she raps while rolling around blue silk sheets. And why not? She’s conceited, she’s got a reason.
Meet Beyoncé’s boisterous, unapologetic alter ego, Sasha Fierce. She first stepped foot on the scene by way of Bey’s hit-filled 2008 album, I Am… Sasha Fierce. Unlike the sweet and bubbly Beyoncé we all knew, Sasha confidently declares herself the “No. 1 diva in the game,” with reason. In 2023, the pop icon broke the record for most Grammys ever won, bringing in her 32nd gramophone after Renaissance won for best dance/electronic album.
Nicki Minaj feat. Beyoncé, "Feeling Myself"
It’s the link-up of all link-ups. On her epic third studio album,The Pinkprint, Nicki Minaj enlisted none other than Queen Bey for the record-breaking single, “Feeling Myself.” The track, co-written by SZA, spent 20 weeks on the Hot 100 chart, making it the longest charting non-single by a female rapper.
Rihanna, "Bitch Better Have My Money"
There’s a reason why Rihanna opened up her historic Super Bowl Halftime Show with “B—h Better Have My Money.” The track is overflowing with assertive, confident and eye-catching energy, the recently elusive star popping out in an all red look accentuating her growing baby bump. All the while, she effortlessly entranced the crowd, running through her laundry list of No. 1 tracks and barely breaking a sweat. What’s more badass than that?
City Girls, "Act Up"
If they don’t play “Act Up,” was the party really active? In 2019, City Girls burst into the mainstream with this epically viral smash hit that galvanized women across generations. As soon as the opening melody sounds off in the club, the entire crowd is sure to scream-chant Yung Miami’s opening verse word for word … and likely the rest of the three and a half minute song. It’s always the songs that can liven a crowd in a matter of one second that stand the test of time, and it’s clear that “Act Up” is no exception.
Lizzo, "Truth Hurts"
Lizzo brought us the best catchphrase of 2019 with her Hot 100 chart-topper, “Truth Hurts.” While “Why men great til they gotta be great” is a close second, we’ve got to give it to the Detroit-born songwriting genius’ DNA test, declaring that she is, in fact, “100% that b—h.” With “Truth Hurts,” Lizzo entirely changed the game, proving that in 2019, you don’t have to fit an ultra-skinny, white mold to be an absolutely glamorous pop star.
Lola Brooke feat. Billy G, "Don't Play With It"
While she stands at a petite four-foot-nine, Lola Brooke is not one to mess with. Case-in-point: “Don’t Play With It.” On it, Brooke proves her versatility, asking for a kiss and an extended clip. Fans joked that the TikTok-viral cut was to women what Chief Keef songs are to men, numerous users posting videos aggressively rapping the lyrics to their boyfriends, who looked on with a tinge of fear in their eyes. And yes, you should be scared.
Latto, "It's Givin"
Latto enlisted some of our favorite ladies in her “It’s Givin” music video, including Halle Bailey, Ella Mai, Angela Simmons. The track is an ode to all women, featuring mothers, people with physical disabilities, healthcare professionals and same-sex couples posing for portraits as the “Big Energy” singer raps, “Workin’ 9 to 5 and she tryna finish school/ I bring the table to the table, n—a, why would I need you?”
GloRilla & Cardi B, "Tomorrow 2"
Following her breakout hit, “F.N.F. (Let’s Go),” GloRilla had no plans of letting up, enlisting superstar rapper Cardi B for her follow up single, “Tomorrow 2.” The track is pure feminine energy, with the two rappers riding around New York City with all their girlfriends in the video, twerking on cars and in subways, or leaving the bodega munching on Takis corn chips. Cardi’s iconic verse on the cut is sure to endure on party playlists for years to come.
Ice Spice, "Bikini Bottom"
No artist took over the past year as swiftly and effortlessly as Isis Gaston, better known as Ice Spice. The Bronx native took the world by storm, releasing bop after bop and uplifting the ladies all the while. While cuts like “Munch (Feelin U)” and her internet-breaking appearance on PinkPantheress’ “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” dominate her catalog, “Bikini Bottom” begs the essential question, “How can I lose if I’m already chose?”