Top Ten Female Rappers, From Trina to Lauryn Hill

The rap game is tough. Some might say it's no place for a lady. But those people would be chauvinistic douche popsicles.

No doubt, it takes a tough woman to become the boss. At the top, it doesn't matter if you're sexy. You're judged by the content of your lyrics and the freak of your flow. Only the realest survive.

Here are the top ten female rappers ever.

10. Trina. We have to give it up to local mama Trina. She's "Da Baddest Bitch." You don't want to test her flow or her temper. If you're a baller, chances are you can touch, but don't think you're about to pull a fast one. She'll eat your face off and then write a hit dis track about what a piece of shit you are.

9. Salt-n-Pepa. During the mid'-80s, Cheryl "Salt" James and Sandra "Denton" Pepa, along with Deidra Roper (AKA DJ Spinderella), helped pave the way for females in the rap game. They had just the right amount of edge and kinkiness to take over MTV, but they always stayed positive with their strong feminine message. Without Salt-n-Pepa, who could imagine a group like TLC? They set the all-girl formula on fire.

8. Nicki Minaj. She's the youngest on our list, and Queen Barbz is clearly supertalented. Her verse on "Monster" outshines the rest of the song's star-studded cast. But maybe Nicki would rank higher if she weren't busy filling her albums with half-assed pop bullshit. "Starships," really?

7. Lil Kim. She is a hard-ass bitch. Years before Minaj was poppin' her booty with YMCMB, Kim was getting heated, runnin' with Biggie, Diddy, and Lil' Cease. She's the queen bee of hard sexuality, but Lil Kim never goes pop with her shtick. Her flow is smooth and her disses scathing. Just the way a lady should be.

6. Da Brat. Let's take it back to the '90s for one of the hottest female flows ever. Da Brat is so "Funkdafied," spitting that ghetto slang for the So So Def crew. This Chicago chick was the first woman in the rap game to go platinum.

5. Jean Grae. She may not be as commercially successful as all of these other ladies, but Jean Grae has rhymed with the likes of Talib Kweli, the Roots, Mos Def, Styles P, Immortal Technique, and on and on. You have to listen to her only once to see why these hip-hop superstars would be enamored with Ms. Grae's flow. Add her incredible talent for storytelling and a refusal to speak anything but the truth, and you're messing with a woman who's dangerously real.

4. MC Lyte. Lyte is another founding female of rap. All MCs who come after her just gotta give some respect to Brooklyn's fly spitter. She's got an old-school delivery and a hard-edged voice, making her mark on the game in the late '80s and early '90s. She became the first solo female rapper to release a full album with 1988's Lyte as a Rock. Can you believe it took that long? Much respect to MC Lyte for smashing hip-hop's glass ceiling.

3. Queen Latifah. Another strong woman fighting for women's rights is the Queen. It was bad in the '90s, when every girl was a bitch or a ho. But Latifah reminded both girls and boys that women are more than the sum of their body parts. She can sing, she can rap, and she continues to make her presence felt beyond the rap game. The honorable Queen Latifah has solidified her place in the annals of hip-hop.

2. Missy Elliott. As one of the funkiest human beings — male or female — on the planet, Missy has always taken hip-hop to the next level, blending genres and freakin' flows more fearlessly than any rapper of any gender had ever dared. We couldn't be more stoked for Ms. Elliott's triumphant and imminent return to the game after a four-year hiatus.

1. Lauryn Hill. Without a doubt, the queen of all lyricists and beat-eating monsters is the one, the only, the miseducated Lauryn Hill. Her work with the Fugees made Ms. Hill one of America's most wanted MCs, and her solo career only cemented that rep. People still write rhymes wishing she'd come back to rap. But whether she will is impossible to predict. Either way, it'll be a long time before anyone comes close to her majesty.