In a genre dominated by men, getting some beautiful or hard-hitting female vocals can really make a rap song. Many talented ladies have proved this over the years; women really help make hip hop what it is.
In this article, we’ll examine some of the best rap songs with female vocals.
“Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj
Song Year: 2014
First on our list of the best rap songs with female vocals is an all-female power anthem by three superstars: Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj’s “Bang Bang.”
The song revolves around the explosive intensity and raw fun of physical attraction and love, so the three vocalists should bring everything they have to the track. While Grande and Jessie J bring tremendous power to the chorus, Nick Minaj offers a characteristically intense and rapid verse. All in all, the song represents the best of women in the rap world.
“Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem feat. Rihanna
Song Year: 2010
The next song on this list is a jaw-dropping ballad that was all the rage at the turn of the decade. The song, which came out in two parts, chronicles the intense passion of a temperamental–and even violent–relationship.
Adding to the song’s intensity is that Rihanna, who delivers a lyrical tour de force, is herself an abuse survivor. This complicated past comes to the surface with her vocals, and it leaves the kind of impression that makes this song last a lifetime.
“Yucky Blucky Fruitcake” by Doechii
Song Year: 2020
Doechii is a relatively new face on the hip-hop scene, but she has already made a name for herself as one of hip-hop’s rising stars.
The Tampa-born rapper first burst onto the scene with her TikTok viral hit “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake.” The song features Doechii’s eclectic production and humorous themes, but it’s most memorable for her clever, biting lyrics.
Since the song shot her to popularity, Doechii has worked alongside SZA and earned an MTV Video Music Award nomination–a sign that good things are still to come for this new voice.
“At My Best” by Machine Gun Kelly feat. Hayley Steinfeld
Song Year: 2017
While Machine Gun Kelly is a superstar talent in his own right, there’s no understating the raw power that radiates off Hayley Steinfeld.
The starlet’s personal goal in life seems to be to demonstrate her talent in pretty much every field imaginable: she’s a successful solo artist, an award-winning actress in such films as Bumblebee, and a show-stealing feature artist. The latter comes to the forefront in “At My Best,” when Steinfeld’s soaring vocals strike an incredible contrast with Kelly’s roughshod vocals.
“Formation” by Beyoncé
Song Year: 2016
Pretty much every human being on Earth seems to agree that Beyoncé represents the best that our species has to offer. If “Formation” is any indication, they’re right.
The track, which comes off Beyoncé’s 2016 hit album Lemonade, demonstrates the multitalented artist’s remarkable rap skills. Not content to blow out our speakers with gobsmacking vocals (as she often does), the pop queen surges through line after line of clever, incendiary lyrics. There is a queen, and her name is Bey.
“Truth Hurts” by Lizzo
Song Year: 2019
It’s no exaggeration to say that Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” was a banner song. The roiling piano on the self-empowerment tune is sure to get any listener dancing, but even if they don’t, they’ll still be belting along with Lizzo’s incredibly agile vocals.
Lizzo has made a name for herself as one of the most talented hip-hop artists in the industry, bringing a remarkable range of singing, dancing, and lyricism to her work. If nothing else, she’s living proof of the power that women can wield in hip-hop.
“Sunday Candy” by Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment feat. Jamila Woods
Song Year: 2015
On the first of two occasions when a Chance the Rapper song appears on this list, we’re looking at “Sunday Candy” by the supergroup known as Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment.
Chance spearheads the verses, speaking about his intense love for his grandmother and his home, but the real treat of the song is Jamila Woods’ chorus. While the track is tender in its own right, Woods’ radiant, melodic voice takes it to the next level, with her beautiful vocals burning a catchy melody that any listener will spend the rest of the day trying to imitate.
“Monster” by Kanye West feat. Nicki Minaj,
Song Year: 2010
It’s one of the universe’s great ironies that, while Kanye West himself has had a troubled and sordid history with women, he also helped open the door for one of the most talented female rappers in history–and facilitated one of the said rapper’s best verses.
That’s right: we’re talking about Nicki Minaj’s verse on “Monster.” The verse could stand up as a song in its own right, with Minaj bouncing between a high-pitched squeak and a cartoonishly deep, monstrous voice, all while delivering a torrent of incredible lyrics. It all culminates in a monstrous screech that is burned into the minds of everyone who has ever listened to it.
“Bad Girls” by M.I.A.
Song Year: 2012
M.I.A.’s “Bad Girls” was nothing short of a girl power anthem in the years following its 2012 release, as evidenced by the fact that it appeared on no fewer than eight TV series and in several film commercials.
“Bad Girls” is one of the strongest statements on female empowerment on this list, and it has a musical style to match. The British-born M.I.A. includes a wide variety of global musical influences, especially Middle Eastern stylings, but the entire song works because of the way it culminates in the singer’s sung-spoken chorus. All in all, it’s nothing short of a feminist masterpiece.
“Fancy” by Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX
Song Year: 2014
Iggy Azalea was one of the biggest women in hip-hop throughout the 2010s, and perhaps no effort was more successful than her 2014 collaboration with Charli XCX, “Fancy.”
An entry into the genre of electro-hop, “Fancy” uses electronically distorted vocals to create a unique sound and simple but memorable melody. In addition to Azalea’s agile verses, Charli XCX brings everything and the kitchen sink to the chorus, whose deliberate, rich tones are nothing short of stellar. There’s a reason that it’s one of the best-selling singles in the world, after all.
“Finish Line” by Chance the Rapper feat. Noname, Eryn Allen Kane, T-Pain, and Kirk Franklin
Song Year: 2016
Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book marked a moment of evolution in the Chicago rapper’s career, finalizing his transition from a conflicted young man struggling with addiction to a reborn artist in love with life, his family, and his religion. But what didn’t change was Chance’s ability to highlight incredible talents, including fellow Chicagoan Noname.
This spirit “Finish Line” encapsulates makes it one of the strongest tracks on the mixtape, in which Chance declares his open joy for everything in his life. But the song's best part isn’t Chance’s own words: it’s Noname’s melodic, contemplative, tear-jerking verse. Noname is an incredible thinker and great rapper, but her soothing, silky voice puts the bow on this entire song.
“Airplanes” by B.O.B. feat. Hayley Williams,
Song Year: 2010
At a time when everyone on planet Earth can use an extra wish, prayer, and break, it’s fitting to put on B.O.B. and Hayley Williams’ stellar song “Airplanes.”
Like others on this list, this song throws into relief that although men headline many rap songs, female singers are often responsible for imprinting the tunes into popular consciousness. This is eminently clear in “Airplanes,” which is carried by Hayley William’s desperate, almost mournful tunes. Her talent makes the song perfect for a cathartic moment of desire.
“Empire State of Mind” by Jay Z feat. Alicia Keys
Song Year: 2009
“Empire State of Mind” is Jay-Z’s famous love letter to the Big Apple, the City that Never Sleeps, New York City. But it’s likely that when you think of the song, you don’t think of Jay-Z’s verse (as good as it is), nor the production of the song, but rather Alicia Key’s catchy and powerful chorus.
Keys made a name for herself as one of the best vocal talents of the 2000s, and “Empire State of Mind” might just be her crown jewel. With soaring vocals that evoke the soaring towers of the city itself, Keys succeeded in creating the perfect vocal tribute to a city that famously escapes all our identifications.
“California Girls” by Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg
Song Year: 2010
The next song on our list is another song that inverts the classic formula, leading with a female voice and only featuring a man.
Katy Perry’s “California Girls” is one of the pop star’s many campy entries into the bubblegum pop genre, but don’t mistake it for everyday drivel. Perry is a powerful singer, and between her catchy chorus and Snoop Dogg’s silky-smooth verse, this song is one that you can return to over and over again.
“Ladies First” by Queen Latifah
Song Year: 1989
Before Queen Latifah led films from Last Holiday to Girls Trip, she was an incredibly accomplished rapper. Before becoming a successful actress, however, Queen Latifah launched her career as a rapper, and “Ladies First” perfectly encapsulates her raw talent.
With its complex arrangement of instrumentals and its hammering vocals, “Ladies First” places women front and center in the struggles for global justice and liberation. The incredibly striking track measures, not just the breadth of Queen Latifah’s career but also the worldwide connections of women in hip-hop.
Top Rap Songs With Female Vocals, Final Thoughts
While there is still a long way to go for gender equity in music, the world of hip-hop has come far since it splashed on the scene in the late 1970s. Where women once held relatively little sway in mass-market hip-hop, many are now leading talents in the industry–and indeed, in the world. We’re all too confident that prestigious icons like Beyoncé and newcomers like Doechii will continue bringing the noise with feminine flair to lengthen this list of the best rap songs with female vocals.