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Female Rappers: Sex vs Skill

Submitted by on December 11, 2009 – 11:06 am25 Comments

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The Female Rapper has a long history. It’s been debated and written about many times. People discuss the seemingly feminist and “woman power” movement of the Queen Latifah days. Then par for the course is to subsequently discuss the fall of the Female Rapper. The days of Lauryn Hill breaking it down for you again and saying things because she’s truly genuine and warning women that they shouldn’t be a hard rock when they really are a gem are gone.  Thus, we are left with the overly sexed-up faux-female rapper. Right? Maybe… You tell me. Here are the contenders.

Nicki Minaj


Nicki Minaj aka I’m not writing all her pseudonyms is obviously at the forefront of most of our minds when we think of the Female Rapper. Whether you like her or not we can definitely agree she’s the most popular right now. The question is, “Is Nicki Minaj more sex or skill?” This will be a tougher one to answer than some of the following rappers strictly because some will say she’s popular purely because of her sex appeal and will insinuate it can’t be skill because Lil Wayne ghost writes all her stuff. Let’s go ahead and assume she’s writing her own material. Then, is it her sex appeal or is it her raw emcee abilities?



Not to bias the reader, but it was really hard to find a picture of Trina that didn’t scream SEX. With that said, she’s released four albums and of those, 3 are top 10. 2002′s Diamond Princess was number 14 overall in the US and number 5 on the Rap/R&B charts. 2005′s Glamorest Life was number 11 in the US charts and number 2 on Rap/R&B. 2008′s Still Da Baddest was number 6 on the US charts and number 1 on the Rap/R&B charts. Sex or skill? I don’t know but she definitely has sales.

Lil Kim


Can I just continue giving myself props for finding these relatively classy pictures? As one of my cohorts commented, “Just Google Image any female rapper and the sex appeal is going to be obvious.” This is true. I do believe that in order to be a female rapper you have to have some sex appeal. Many would say this is why some female rappers don’t make it. They choose to not be “sexy” and instead just showcase their 100% talent. Is this Lil Kim? A lot of people would be quick to say no. But, could this sexy image just be a genius marketing ploy? I mean she was running with the Notorious B.I.G. and Junior M.A.F.I.A. Her first album went double platinum, her next two went platinum. You go gold when you’re only selling sex. Platinum when you actually have something to say.

Bottom line: If you’re a female rapper you’re more than likely going to have to sell sex to get in the business. The question is whether or not these ladies’ appeal ends there. I know there are some major players missing here. Eve, Foxy Brown, and Missy Elliot just to name a few.

So people of Dr. Jays, it’s time to discuss. Do Nicki Minaj, Trina, and Lil Kim have more sex or skill? Are they strictly selling sex appeal or are they selling their skill as a rapper? Who else should be currently mentioned in the same breath as these ladies?

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  • Nikki – I didn’t think she had any talent until I saw her perform in the Cypher on BET’s Hip-Hop Awards. I genuinely think that she can spit. BUT the HYPE around her comes from sex appeal and gimmicks. The whole “Barbie” image, the airhead affectations in her voice, the Wayne affiliation and her freaky lyrics are what make her popular. She’d be a valid MC to me if she toned down the sex just a tad and got rid of the all “extra.”

    Trina – All sex. Lol. But what made Trina hot was that she was unabashedly IGNORANT. She made music for when a woman is just straight up feeling herself and wants to talk ish.

    Kim – To me, Kim had a lot of sex appeal, but she had skills to back it up. One of her dopest verses was on Mobb Deep’s “Quiet Storm remix” which she KILLED without getting too X-rated. And unlike to two aforementioned ladies, Kim could outspit MEN on tracks. She ran circles around the Lox and Diddy on “All About the Benjamins.”

  • Ricky G says:

    When you mention all those female rappers the first thing I think about is the sex appeal that they have rather than the last verse I heard from them. And maybe that’s because I’m a male but let’s face it, media jumps at pictures of these females more than the lyrical content of their lines. I would say Lil Kim had that both working because she could lyrically hold her weight on a track. Nicki Minaj is riding the sex appeal till that wave dies out..And I don’t blame her. She has a few tight rhymes on that popular mixtape but still waiting for more.

    Now let’s take Missy who needs to be back in the limelight because she’s incredible…Very talented and I don’t think she played the sex appeal game at all. We all know what Lauryn brings to the table so I won’t touch that…

    I hope Nicki makes some more noise with her lyrical skills than her sex appeal. I don’t really care about looking at Nicki’s body because I see beautiful sexier ladies in NYC. Let’s get it!

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  • switch.crew says:

    I think they all might have some actual skills but their image is so sexual and for female rappers that’s all the market wants.

    Two comments above Nicki’s cypher at the BET Hip Hop Awards was mentioned and I saw that too, she killed it. But, I also feel that by that point she had internalized so much of Wayne’s style that it can come to her naturally now.

    I think that even Lil’ Kim and Trina mimicked the rappers who they were associated with as well, Kim’s style was so raw she could have been the female Biggie (not nearly as great) and Trina, I guess she’s similar to Trick Daddy because they’re both just ignorant in the music.

    Maybe I’m too young to remember MC Lyte’s career but the art of the female rapper was lost with her and Lauryn Hill. I think what it comes down to is that female rappers only way to stay relevant is the game is to play to the overly sexual role.

    P.S. Look up Kid Sister, female rapper, not totally mainstream and hopefully they don’t blow up her image when she makes.

  • @Robin I’m definitely going to have to listen to those tracks again to be reminded of Kim’s raw talent. I wasn’t a Nicki fan (and I’m still not) but recently I have heard some tracks that made me listen twice so I’m beginning to respect her as a rapper.

    @Ricky You’re right. I mean they have to use sex appeal but of those women mentioned I think Kim had the best balance of sex/skill.

    @switch.crew That was a great point about female rappers imitating their male mentors. So many people get on Nicki Minaj about imitating Wayne when people definitely referred to Lil Kim as the female Biggie.

  • I agree with switch.crew. On Hard Core, especially, Kim was positioned as Big’s female counterpart. By her third album (which I think is her best), she finally sounded like HERSELF and not Big. Same with Fox and Jay, Trick and Trina, and now Wayne and Nicki. I give Eve props because even though she “bitch of the litter” in Ruff Ryders, she still had her OWN style that was distinctive from her male crew. Same with Mia X in No Limit (Who doesn’t get nearly enough credit in my eyes.)

  • uptown_beauty says:

    You just can’t rumble with the B! No, really, I never thought to many (not even males) could stand up to Kim’s skills. Never found her particularly attractive. I kind of thought and still think to an extent that physically, she tries to hard. She is the only female rapper I can stand to listen to without caring about what she’s actually saying. When I was a kid, and she was doing her Bad Boy, Jr. Mafia thing, She killed every collaboration she was on. She killed on the collaboration with Short. I don’t know about here sells but… she kills!

  • Reecie says:

    I find it peculiar that Nicki, Foxy and Kim all had rumors of ghostwriting behind them by their obviously famous cosigners (Wayne, Jay & BIG). Nobody to my knowledge ever accused Eve of having DMX or Lox for ghostwriters or L Boogie for having Clef or Pras (ok even I laughed at the thought of that. lol)

    Anywho for the choices today, I’ve heard Nicki’s Beam Me Up Scotty mixtape and it was aight. Still on the fence but I think its her gimmick that makes her entertaining.

    Trina, I gotta agree all sex. When the Naan N verse came out it was just so raw like wow! Reminds me Kim on the Call Me joint, it was just too raw for words and that made folks eat it up.

    Moving on to Kim. I ride for Kim. sex got her on the scene but songs already mentioned by Robin as well as I Came Back For You, Spellcheck and a few others from her CDs after BIG’s death makes me think she has skills. Not sure how’s she’s utilizing them these days but I dig her.

  • Rx1 says:

    Why are we having this conversation?
    Rap is hard enough to break into.
    Let the girls be girls.
    Seriously, do we question the difference between Jay-Z and Andre3000 and Snoop?
    I mean, we’re talking but we’re not saying anything.

  • @Rx1 …yeah… we do question the difference between them all the time. East Coast vs West Coast vs Southern Rap.

  • Ricky G says:

    @Rx1 If we’re not saying anything then say something so we can look at it in a different light or a different perspective. I’m always ready to make my mind think. Lehh do it! (Flocka)

  • th!z says:

    lil kim’s on quiet storm? “hard as a c***” “you sucked d** just to get to the top” quiet storm? she def was pretty explicit on that track, as always.

    i say nicki takes all of them in the skill/sex ratio because she is undoubtedly an MC. two mixtapes and countless freestyles, she was not an image created and then sold, as lil kim and trina both were by their male overlords, wayne found nicki on the come up DVD when she already had a bit of a fanbase based on her bars alone

    i think in this day and age no one is gonna be able to pull off the MC Lyte, Queen Latifah persona’s of the 80s and 90s. and considering that nicki has an ass the size of a planet, i dont think she can hide her girliness. but she is definitely NICE, see either “beam me up scotty” or “sucka free” for proof, in addition to the BET cyphs.. think about what chicks have been on em before, remy ma, that japanese chick, jean grae, all beasts in their own right. the Cyphers are the only thing BET does right and their selection process seems to require a serious amount of skill.

  • ahlot says:

    Trina and Nikki absolute sex. Kim, sexy skill (back in the day). I truly feel sorry for the culture. Lol.

  • real talk says:

    missy, foxy & ever are much more talent than kim, trina & nicki.

    listen to foxy’s lyrics, she’s fire.
    missy is playful n witty
    eve is a realist..

    they spit reality.

    kim/trina/nicki spit fiction & sexy-only. u can’t even categorize them the same.

  • Paul Rocks..Duh says:

    To me nikki minaj seems sooooo fake. I mean just from hearing her talk on the bed rock behind the scenes video she sounds pretty educated and could spit if she really wanted to. But all this sh*t about sex sucks…Wayne has to be writing her material

    Trina…still the baddest…plus all the pics…that one is a wrap

    Kim… I think she has the ability of somebody like MC Lyte ie: All About The Benjamins. Just shows that she can rhyme…but since sex sells in todays market she dresses sexy.

  • Modi says:

    there aren’t too many good mainstream females out there. it’s a hard position to be in. you gotta look fly all the time, and it costs money to maintain their star quality. makeup, hair, etc. how can you do that andkeep shit profitable with just skill? you gotta sell that sex, baby! LET’S GO!!!!!!!

  • ggggg says:

    ive noticed none of them is ugly

  • Jason G. says:

    I hear the argument sex vs skill but the only artists that were discussed were selling straight sex. period. what about the ladies that are clearly amazing rappers but will never get seen because the media floods the game with sex? like jean grae, invincible, bahamadia just to name a few. everyone always jumps from latifah and lyte to kim to lauryn and then thats it. and then its like…where the ladies at? im tuned in to so many dope female lyricists its crazy. but only because i search for it. mcs like boog brown, kandi cole, lady lust, hedonis, miki vale, mayday,….this list can go on. im simply saying that the media will continue to force feed the sex kittens – but only if we buy into it. dont drink the kool-aid. a good female rapper doesn’t have to be half naked to be heard.


  • Love of the game says:

    No disrespect, but we need a few more contestants on this list. Those mentioned all play and have played their part in the history of the beloved genre. But there have been many more female artists I can recall who would give male artists from their time and especially from the current crop a real run for their money.

    I at least hope somebody agrees that some of these currents cats gettin airplay callin their stuff Hip Hop are gettin over when there are a lot of more talented artists who don’t get recognition or the “pay to play”.

  • @Love of the game – who would you add to the list?

  • RJReynolds says:

    For Nicki Minaj… I’m going to say skill. I had NO clue what she looked like the first few times I heard her. And I thought she was pretty good. Well her flow that is. When I saw her I sort of thought she looked like a black “lady Gaga” with a much bigger backside. I dnt know that ANY content of most of the new Rappers is actually good. But if the beat is good, and the flow is good, the song shall sell…

    Trina’s lyrics that I’ve heard were all about sex. She does have a good flow tho… So I’d say a healthy mix of both… I’d heard rumors that she’d slept with a good amt of people in power… Though, those are just rumors so I don’t know.

    Lil Kim— for her to go platinum and what not, homegirl had to spit. She’s not all that attractive, though her ability to make a sprite can disappear is attractive to some folks… LOL but yea she’s had to spit hardbody. She was hanging around Junior Mafia and Biggie so she wasnt going to just spit random crap and get by.

    As for Missy Elliot- she’s just well yea… She’s more rap than sex appeal to me. I think the ratio is 90/10 respectively.

  • female rapper MISS SAIGON VIDEO “OVER N OVER”

    link to her video “over n over”


  • coco says:

    BETTY BOO is the best rapper, better than any rapper out here know she open up for rapper trina down Richmond Va and did a better job than her the chick didn’t even show up until 5 min before the club was about to close (trina)but betty boo will get my vote my support and my money for her cd’s and venues

  • lala says:




  • Ky Savage says:

    @DREW SHANE DANILES,n GLOBAL GRIND,its becuz we’ve put this image up for mc’s to be something dey not and to hate who we are as women. Nicki aint promoting BLACK WOMEN or MCs ppl our out for self and being said the Freshman class i being held back untill this matter is resolved .. im not a Nicki Fan i love music and she aint on my playlist or can get played in my car. period if she loves being a black women or MC wers the UNITY before hand reguardless off lilKim she aint helpin nobody theres’ better talent den her and they wont be heard of cuz of the shade…smh ima Remy-ma,Shawnna,Jacki-o,Trina,Eve,Diamond,Rasheeda,kidsister,Muffy,Sonyae,Hedonis,Jean Grae,Skittles,baps,Reece,lady luck,Mac-bre-z,d-girlz-MIa,Rye rye Nina B,gA GILRS,BAPS and KHIA ALL R WOMEN OF HIPHOP HERES A REALCLASS OF MCS SOMEHOW YALL LEFTD DEM OUT BECUZ OF NICKI SHE NO COMPETITON 2 ANY OF THE CHICK I JUST NAMED SORRY

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