Pictured from top left: Missy Elliott, Trina, Salt-N-Pepa, Lil’ Kim, Queen Latifah

(April 15, 2018) Here’s The Short List of Female Rappers To Top The Billboard Album Chart …And The LONG List Of Those Who Haven’t (and how close they came)

Cardi B’s Invasion Of Privacy debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart dated April 21, 2018, exactly six years since the last No. 1 album by a female rapper (Nicki Minaj).

With Cardi B’s crowning on the latest Billboard 200 albums chart – the industry authority on which albums are being bought, streamed and/or downloaded the most in the U.S. – she became only the fifth female emcee to ever top that list.  In the 38-plus years that rap music has charted in Billboard, to still be able to count with one hand how many femcees have reached No. 1 is astounding – and sad. 

It’s a sad testimony to the lopsided state of affairs in hip-hop when it comes to gender inequity.  It’s even worse when one considers that only two of those women – Foxy Brown and Nicki Minaj – have done it twice.  Brown first did it as the only female in the otherwise all-male collective The Firm in 1997, before collecting her own No. 1 fifteen months later.  

And the most recent, Minaj, last did it in 2012…in fact, six years ago to the exact date of the chart that Cardi B’s “Invasion Of Privacy” tops the list. 

In the six years since Minaj topped the chart, there’ve been 52 rap albums – all by men – to reach the pinnacle.  Now Cardi B makes it 52-1 men vs women in the Billboard album chart No. 1 race since April 21, 2012. 

With those extreme statistics in check, I thought it would be interesting to look at which femcees have and have not had No. 1 albums.  And since I couldn’t leave you hanging, for those who haven’t, I thought it would be even more informative to tell you how close they came.  

Obviously, the list of have-nots is much longer, and includes several legends.  You might be surprised who is among them and how close they came to reaching the top.

Continue reading to find out… and remember, both lists are for albums, NOT singles, which isn’t much better by the way.

These five rappers have hit No. 1 on the pop albums chart. From top left: Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Lauryn Hill, Eve and Foxy Brown

The Haves:

  1. Lauryn Hill – “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” (9/12/1998)
  2. Foxy Brown – “The Firm – The Album,” by Nas Escobar, Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature (11/08/1997); “Chyna Doll” (2/13/1999)
  3. Eve – “Let There Be Eve… Ruff Ryders’ First Lady” (10/02/1999)
  4. Nicki Minaj – “Pink Friday” (2/19/2011); “Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” (4/21/2012)
  5. Cardi B – “Invasion Of Privacy” (4/21/2018)

Asterisk No. 1:  Two female rappers, Lauryn Hill and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, topped the chart as members of trios.  Lauryn Hill did it in 1996 as a member of The Fugees (“The Score”), and late rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes had a No. 1 album in 1999 (“FanMail”) as part of the trio TLC.

Now The Have-Nots (with their closest chart toppers listed afterward):

Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott has come closest to reaching No. 1 among those who haven’t yet, and she did it twice with two No. 2 albums, the most recent is pictured.
  1. Missy Elliott – “Miss E… So Addictive” (#2, 2001) and “The Cookbook” (#2, 2005)
  2. Iggy Azalea – “The New Classic” (#3, 2014)
  3. Salt-N-Pepa – “Very Necessary” (#4, 1993)
  4. Lil’ Kim – “The Notorious K.I.M.” (#4, 2000)
  5. Da Brat – “Unrestricted” (#5, 2000)
  6. Trina – “Still Da Baddest” (#6, 2008)
  7. Mia X – “Mama Drama” (#7, 1998)
  8. Rah Digga – “Dirty Harriet” (#18, 2000)
  9. M.I.A. – “Kala” (#18, 2007)
  10. Lil Mama – “VYP (Voice of the Young People)” (#25, 2008)
  11. Queen Latifah – “Persona” (#25, 2009)
  12. Azealia Banks – “Broke With Expensive Taste” (#30, 2014)
  13. The Lady Of Rage – “Necessary Roughness” (#32, 2000)
  14. Khia – “Thug Misses” (#33, 2002)
  15. Remy Ma – “There’s Something About Remy: Based On a True Story” (#33, 2006)
  16. Neneh Cherry – “Raw Like Sushi” (#40, 1989)
  17. Dej Loaf – “…And See That’s The Thing” (#47, 2015)
  18. MC Lyte – “Bad As I Wanna B” (#59, 1996)
  19. Yo-Yo – “Make Way For The Motherlode” (#74, 1991)
  20. Queen Pen – “My Melody” (#78, 1998)
  21. Monie Love – “Down To Earth” (#109, 1990)
  22. Rapsody – “Laila’s Wisdom” (#125, 2017)
  23. Charli Baltimore – (no albums reached the Billboard 200)
  24. Roxanne Shanté – (no albums reached the Billboard 200)
  25. The Real Roxanne (no albums reached the Billboard 200)
  26. The Sequence (no albums reached the Billboard 200)

Asterisk No. 2: The above list does not include any non-rap albums by the above women.  So M.I.A.’s higher charting follow-up to Kala (2010’s “Maya”) is not listed.

Asterisk No. 3: The list of have-nots is not all-inclusive. Clearly there have been more female rappers than the 26 or so notable ones that I’ve listed.

Has Cardi B’s album finally opened the door for women that so many other female emcees before her couldn’t?  Only time will tell.  


Pictured from top left: Missy Elliott, Trina, Salt-N-Pepa, Lil’ Kim, Queen Latifah

By DJ Rob

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