Hip-hop is a competitive sport. The girls of Sisterhood of Hip-Hop, premiering July 12 at 9/8c, know that to garner respect, female rappers have to go just as hard (if not harder) than their male counterparts. Rappers like Lil' Kim and Nicki Minaj have proven not only that they can go toe-to-toe, verse-for-verse with the best, but they can outshine them. Here are seven hip-hop tracks in which females stole the show.
1. "Ready Or Not"
The Fugees may have been a group but this hit belonged to Lauryn Hill. She owned the dark melody and out-rapped both Wyclef and Pras on 1996's "Ready Or Not" with memorable lines like, "So while you're imitating Al Capone, I'll be Nina Simone/And defecating on your microphone." Bow down, boys.
2. "Affirmative Action"
This track is technically on Nas' 1996 album. Amid a strong group effort featuring AZ and Cormega, Foxy Brown kills the song with her lyrical sword. To this day, hip-hop fans laud her wordplay and impressive--albeit incorrect--math on the last verse: "Thirty-two grams raw, chop it in half/Get sixteen, double it times three/We got forty-eight, which mean a whole lot of cream/Divide the profit by four, subtract it by eight/We back to sixteen now add the other two that Mega bringing through."
3. "Quiet Storm Remix"
It's not often that the remix is bigger than the original song. Lil' Kim jumped on Mobb Deep's street anthem "Quiet Storm" in 1999 and pumped the song with Queen Bee adrenaline.
TLC's "Waterfalls" was a cautionary tale about chasing dangerous paths. The late Left Eye added hip-hop flavor to the Grammy Award-winning song with what would become her most memorable verse.
Nicki Minaj is a pretty face but don't let that fool you—she's a monster on the mic. She not only held her own on Kanye West's 2010 track but amid verses from lyrical giant Jay Z and Rick Ross, she completely stole the spotlight. Even Adele approves.
6. "You Got Me"
"You Got Me" is The Roots' tale of long distance love. Black Thought's rhymes were taken to another level with the female perspective provided by a then-largely unknown Eve.
7. "Not Tonight"
One of the most girl power-packed rap songs of all time. In 1997, Lil' Kim enlisted a slew of famous friends including Left Eye, Missy Elliott, Da Brat and Angie Martinez for "Not Tonight." This feel-good, empowering anthem showcased women in hip-hop bringing each other up and included big-name cameos from artists like Queen Latifah.