Historically, hip hop hasn’t always been the most welcoming of spaces for women, but the culture has made some serious strides in terms of representation in the past few years. In the 90s, femcees were few and far between in the male-dominated hip-hop scene. Now, though, some of the most successful hip hop artists are women. These past three years alone has introduced us to a number of women carrying on the torch from their predecessors while also paving their own lanes and dominating on the charts. In salute to the female-led wave taking over the rap game, this list highlights six times women stole the spotlight at the Hip Hop Awards.
Megan Thee Stallion Brought The Heat With Sweltering, Nautical-Themed Performance Of ‘Hot Girl Summer’
Few other rappers had quite the breakout year in 2019 than Megan Thee Stallion, who transcended from one of rap’s brightest rising stars to the rap elite. The Houston rap sensation staked her claim on summer 2019 with her smash anthem “Hot Girl Summer” and kept the heat coming at the 2019 Hip Hop Awards where she kicked the awards show of a fiery mashup “Hot Girl Summer” and “Cash Shit.” She was joined by DaBaby onstage for the latter.
Lil Kim Reminded Us All Why She Is The Queen Bee Of Rap
An icon in every sense of the word, Lil Kim’s influence on the rap game can still be felt and seen to this day. At the 2019 Hip Hop Awards, the legendary rapper was recognized with the I Am Hip Hop Award and she took to the moment to remind everyone of her legacy with a medley performance to close out the night. Taking the stage in a bedazzled suit, Lil Kim opened the set with “Lighters Up” before she was joined by O.T. Genasis for a brief rendition of their collaboration “Find You.” Just when the night couldn’t get any more epic, Junior M.A.F.I.A. came out onstage for “Player’s Anthem” and “Crush On You.” Lil Kim closed the stage out with her verse on “It’s All About the Benjamins.”
The Ladies Only Cypher
The Ladies Only cypher at the 2018 BET Hip-Hop Awards came right on time amid the current female-led wave taking over the rap game. Composed of Bri Steves, Neelam Hakeem, Sharaya J, Chika and Erykah Badu, the ladies flexed their lyrical prowess while weaving a celebratory ode dedicated to Black women all over the world. It was a precursor of what was to come as 2019 was marked by the dominion of women in rap.
Cardi B Proved Why She’s The Hottest In The Streets
It’s undeniable that Cardi B is at the top of her game right now. With the spirit of a hustler, her success might seem like it overnight but it’s years of Cardi’s sheer grit, determination, charm, and talent that’s gotten her to where she is today. Look no further than her performance of her record-breaking hit, “Bodak Yellow,” at the 2017 Hip Hop Awards as a testament that she was primed for superstardom. Taking viewers to her Bronx roots, the rap star transformed the stage into a street corner. Emerging out a bodega in a lavish, multi-hued fur coat, Cardi reminded everyone why she’s the hottest in the streets — and she’s still breaking records.
Young M.A. Had The Whole Crowd Singing ‘OOOUUU!’
Young M.A. brought the old-school New York vibes with a performance of her breakout hit, “OOOUUU” at the 2016 Hip Hop Awards. Decked out in Chicago Bulls attire, the Brooklyn rapper had the crowd hyped.
Brandy Threw It Back With A Surprise Performance Of Her Classic ‘I Wanna Be Down’
In 1994, Brandy took over the R&B scene with her critically-acclaimed self-titled debut album. It transformed her into a superstar and cemented her title as the undisputable “Vocal Bible.” The album’s lead single, “I Wanna Be Down,” went on to become one of her most definitive works and Brandy later recorded a remix with MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, and Queen Latifah that simultaneously created a moment for the culture and proved why R&B and hip hop go so well together. In one of the more memorable moments in Hip Hop Awards history, Brandy reunited with the three legendary rappers to perform the remix of her 1994 classic. The nostalgic moment still stands out as show-stealer.