This story is part of our new Hip-Hop: ’73 Till Infinity series, a celebration of the genre’s 50th anniversary.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, we’re looking back at 25 songs by women that helped define the genre, from the funk-based offerings of the Sequence (signees to the pioneering Sugar Hill Records label) to the subversive raunchiness of Megan Thee Stallion. It’s no secret that women remain underrated and -represented in rap, though this fact may astound in the face of their consistently brilliant contributions to the genre throughout the decades. Queen Latifah, Salt-N-Pepa, Nicki Minaj, Lauryn Hill, Lil’ Kim, and so many others on this list have left their mark on a genre to such an extent that hip-hop simply would not be the same without them. We salute them.