In the world of ’90s hip-hop, we often hear the saying, “behind every great man there is a great woman.” And this holds true for the women who made their mark in this era.
When we think of ’90s hip-hop, names like Snoop Dogg, Jay Z, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony immediately come to mind. However, it’s important to acknowledge the women who were blazing their own trail in this male-dominated industry.
There were numerous women who played a significant role in shaping the future of hip-hop music and style during this time. They showed us how to express ourselves, be innovative, and break barriers. These women were true pioneers.
While there are too many to mention, here are just a few of the remarkable women who left an indelible mark on ’90s hip-hop and beyond. They defied stereotypes and proved that they could hold their own in a world dominated by men.
These women taught us how to be confident and authentic in our music and style. They inspired us to challenge the status quo and embrace our individuality. They showed us that we don’t have to settle for “scrubs” and can demand respect and recognition.
So let’s take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate these incredible women who helped shape the landscape of ’90s hip-hop. Their contributions deserve recognition and appreciation. They are an essential part of the rich tapestry of this genre’s history.
Aaliyah had an amazing voice that combined R&B and hip-hop in a unique and beautiful way. She made a big impact on the urban music scene in the 90s with her debut album Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number. Her smooth vocals, sultry style, and undeniable charisma resulted in many hit songs that topped the charts. Sadly, we lost this talented artist too early, but her music still has a profound effect on fans all over the world.
Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul, Rock music, Dance-pop
Aaliyah, One in a Million, I Care 4 U
2. Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott, the legendary hip-hop artist, made a big splash in the mid-’90s with her bold and groundbreaking style. Her unique and unapologetic approach quickly set her apart from the rest. One of her most unforgettable hits, “Get Ur Freak On,” showcased her remarkable production skills and solidified her status as a trailblazer in the industry.
Missy Elliott’s lyrics were not just catchy, but also clever and ahead of their time. She fearlessly pushed boundaries, earning the respect and admiration of fans and fellow artists alike. Her ability to constantly challenge the status quo and think outside the box is what truly made her a force to be reckoned with.
It’s undeniable that Missy Elliott’s eclectic style and undeniable talent have cemented her as one of the most influential figures in ’90s hip-hop. She has rightfully earned her place in the hall of fame alongside other legends of the genre.
Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Pop music, Dance-pop, Electronic dance music, Contemporary R&B
Under Construction, Supa Dupa Fly, Miss E …So Addictive
TLC, a female hip-hop group from the ’90s, was bold, sassy, and groundbreaking. They redefined the perception of what it meant to be a female hip-hop group. Combining pop, R&B, and hip-hop, these talented ladies fearlessly addressed significant social issues through their music. Their infectious tracks and impactful messages struck a chord with fans worldwide, resulting in numerous well-deserved accolades. Even today, their lasting influence is evident, proving that TLC was truly ahead of their time.
Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Girl group, Alternative hip hop, Synthpop, Pop music
Crazy Sexy Cool, Ooooooohhh … On the TLC Tip, 3D
4. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill, a prominent figure in the ’90s hip-hop scene, captivated audiences with her soulful voice and profound lyricism. Her music delved into themes of love, spirituality, and self-empowerment, reflecting her remarkable artistic depth. She first gained recognition as a member of the legendary Fugees before embarking on a successful solo career. Her critically acclaimed album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, not only solidified her status as an icon but also opened doors for countless female artists who followed in her footsteps. Even today, Lauryn Hill’s undeniable talent and raw emotional authenticity continue to earn her the adoration and respect of music lovers worldwide.
Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Neo soul, Folk music, Reggae
Movies: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, MTV Unplugged 2.0, Ms. Hill
5. Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige, known as the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul,” won over audiences in the ’90s with her incredible voice and heartfelt lyrics. She had a knack for blending hip-hop beats and soulful R&B melodies flawlessly, establishing herself as a formidable presence in the music industry. Whether it was heart-wrenching ballads or empowering anthems, Mary J. Blige’s music tapped into a wide range of emotions that resonated deeply with her fans. Her groundbreaking career has made a lasting impact on the hip-hop and R&B scenes, securing her place among the legends of all time.
Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Contemporary R&B, Rhythm and blues, Soul music, Gospel music
Mary, My Life, What’s the 411?
Salt-N-Pepa were true trailblazers in every sense of the word. They not only showed that women could hold their own in the male-dominated world of hip-hop, but they excelled in it. Their fearless approach to tackling taboo subjects and their undeniably catchy beats made them a household name in the ’90s. Being one of the first all-female rap groups to achieve major success, their influence cannot be overstated. Even today, Salt-N-Pepa’s legacy continues to inspire future generations of strong and outspoken female artists.
Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Girl group, Pop rap, Dance music
Actors: Very Necessary, Hot, Cool & Vicious
7. Brandy Norwood
Brandy Norwood was a beloved figure in the ’90s R&B and hip-hop scene, thanks to her silky smooth vocals and heartfelt lyrics. She quickly gained a devoted fan base who admired her relatable music and girl-next-door charm. Her success not only opened doors for future female artists, but her empowering songs also inspired a new generation of women to believe in their own dreams. There’s no denying that Brandy’s influence on the ’90s musical landscape was immense, and it continues to have a lasting impact on today’s artists.
Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Pop music, Dance-pop, Contemporary R&B, Soul music
The Best of Brandy, Afrodisiac, Full Moon
8. Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah is a true renaissance woman. She’s a rapper, singer, actress, and producer, excelling in every role she takes on. Back in the late ’80s, she stormed onto the hip-hop scene with an incredible presence and a unique flow that set her apart. Her lyrics were fearless, addressing critical social issues head-on, and she quickly became a leading voice for women in the ’90s. Countless female artists owe their success to her undeniable talent and magnetic personality. Queen Latifah blazed the trail for women in hip-hop and left an indelible mark on its history.
Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Contemporary R&B, Jazz, Soul music, Gospel music
Actors: All Hail the Queen, Black Reign, Trav’lin’ Light
Eve burst onto the hip-hop scene in the late ’90s, leaving a lasting impact with her powerful flow, sharp sense of humor, and straightforward demeanor. Dubbed the “pitbull in a skirt,” she fearlessly pushed boundaries by authentically depicting the challenges of life. This raw and honest approach earned her praise from critics and propelled her to commercial success. Today, her influence can still be felt, as she continues to inspire aspiring female MCs and solidify her spot among the ’90s hip-hop elite.
Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, Pop music, East Coast hip hop, Reggae
Ruff Ryders’ First Lady, Eve-Olution, Scorpion
10. En Vogue
En Vogue was the bomb in the ’90s. They had this sultry, stylish vibe that was just oozing talent. Their harmonies were on point, and their beats were so catchy you couldn’t help but groove to them. They were like this perfect mix of R&B, pop, and hip-hop that appealed to everyone. No wonder they had such a huge fan base.
Not only were these ladies killing it in the music scene, but they were also setting trends in fashion. They were total trendsetters. But it wasn’t just their style that made them stand out. It was their groundbreaking sound that really made an impact. They inspired a whole new generation of artists in the hip-hop and R&B world.
And let’s not forget their incredible success. En Vogue is one of the best-selling female groups of all time. Their music was just so powerful and influential. Their talent and influence are truly unmatched.
Genres (Music): Girl group, Pop music, Contemporary R&B, New jack swing, Rhythm and blues
Funky Divas, Masterpiece Theatre, EV3
11. Lil’ Kim
Lil’ Kim was a force to be reckoned with in the ’90s hip-hop scene. Her unapologetic style and bold lyrics made a lasting impact. She challenged norms with her provocative image and controversial subject matter, showing that women could hold their own against male counterparts. Lil’ Kim paved the way for countless female artists to embrace their sexuality and assert themselves in the world of hip-hop. Her influence on both the rap game and female empowerment cannot be overstated.
Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Dirty rap, Hardcore hip hop, Pop music, East Coast hip hop
Movies: The Naked Truth, Hard Core, The Notorious KIM