Hip-hop has always had a symbiotic relationship with style since the B-boy and DJ era. It’s the 49th anniversary of hip-hop. In celebration, we take a look at some of the best female rappers of all time. They have navigated being both rap and style stars and paved the way for their successors in the process.
No matter the era, these women made statements on red carpets, in music videos, and beyond. They helped solidify the ongoing dialogue rap continues to have with fashion.
Lil’ Kim is the fashion icon for women in hip-hop who incorporate haute couture and ghetto fabulous elements. She has been a muse for designers such as Marc Jacobs and Donatella Versace and a fixture for couture magazines and photographers such as David LaChapelle.
It is impossible to think of Queen Latifah’s style without the very thing her moniker signifies – the almighty crown. Incorporating the African diaspora liberally, the iconic rapper and actress paired regal headdresses with vibrant threads. For starters, her Nature of a Sista album cover and HBCU paraphernalia on Living Single spring to mind. As well as her fedoras, baseball hats, and newsboy caps, she also wore casual clothing with style. While “curvaceous” celebrities like herself were the exception, she forged her lane of empowering style.
During the 1980s, there was still a stigma attached to Black women being so open about sex and sensuality. Salt-N-Pepa’s personal style brought their personal style into stark contrast with the cultural raucous. They donned eight-ball jackets created by Christopher Martin and Dapper Dan for the video for “Push It”. They also contributed to fashion with bomber jackets with color blocks, leather co-ords, oversized denim fits, and blunt asymmetrical haircuts.
Foxy Brown’s confidence, commanding flow, and raunchy lyrics made her stand out in the male-dominated rap landscape of the 1990s. Her love for fashion was evident in every appearance she made. She often wore Gucci, Tom Ford, and Minks on red carpets.
Missy is a hip-hop fashion icon known for her outfits and costumes reminiscent of theater. She wore bedazzled Adidas tracksuits and sneakers in the early 2000s, an iconic black blow-up garbage bag from “The Rain,” an orange suit with fur trim for the “Beep Me 911” video, her denim on denim ensembles during her Gap run, and her pink and white tribute jacket from the 2001 MTV VMAs modeled after Aaliyah.
Ruff Ryders First Lady, Eve, is a hip-hop star who fused street style with high fashion. She has frequently worn Fendi, Tom Ford-era Gucci, and Chanel on red carpets. She also sported floor-length fur coats, mini skirts, wife beaters, and striking hair colors.
Trina is a Miami rap pioneer. Her looks date back to her debut in the early 2000s. In Trick Daddy’s “Naan N*gga” music video, she donned a diamond bedazzled bralette with a matching choker and Chanel earrings.
Lauryn Hill’s maximalist style started with her clothes and her beauty. Her floor-sweeping gowns, baggy denim, knitted kufi hats, and hair wraps have made a cultural difference in an industry where women rappers are notorious for showing skin.
Since Pink Friday was released over years ago, Nicki Minaj has been a style icon. From her Young Money days to the present, Nicki has experimented with her personal style. Custom pieces have been designed for Prabal Gurung, Burberry, and H&M.
Rapper Cardi B is a fashion chameleon. Since her debut, fashion and hip-hop have become intertwined. She has performed at BET Hip Hop Awards wearing Christopher John Rogers and accepted her first Grammy in 2019 wearing a white, fringed archival Mugler gown.