The celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary continues. The Bronx witnessed hip-hop’s inception in the ’70s, and the music world changed forever. This year the industry recognizes hip-hop’s evolution from a localized, underground movement to a global phenomenon. It has shaped music, fashion, politics, business, and popular culture.

Rap music videos have undergone significant evolution over the decades, paralleling the genre’s growth. Each era brought distinct styles, themes, and aesthetics that reflected both the broader cultural trends and the specific narratives of the hip-hop community. And while men dominate most Hip Hop lists, women have also made a lasting impact.

In the eighties, artists like Roxanne Shanté maximized minimal budgets for impactful videos. But it was the ’90s that marked a change in Hip Hop in America. the recognition of women’s contributions became undeniable. Filmmakers like Diane Martel redefined hip-hop’s visual language, introducing novel perspectives and depth. Female artists, notably Missy Elliott and Lil Kim, began to occupy a significant space, their video avatars mirroring their impactful personas in the real world. Their presence wasn’t confined to music; their influence permeated fashion, art, and pop culture.

The transition to the YouTube age saw budgets contracting but didn’t deter artists. The online platform’s democratizing nature meant talents like Missy Elliott continued to thrive, capturing global audiences with innovative visuals and powerful narratives. Their videos weren’t just songs but statements addressing issues that range from female empowerment to societal critiques.

In celebration of Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary, Rolling Stone chose 150 of the best rap music videos. And of course, some of the industry’s most influential women in the game made the list.

Top Female Rap Videos

Here are the top women who made the list.

1. Missy Elliott, ‘The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)’ (1997)

Missy Elliot started off as a writer for other artists, but eventually stepped in the lime light and became an overnight sensation. The vibrant, animated visuals laid the foundation for what would be signature elements of Missy’s artistic persona: imaginative and boundary-pushing themes, an ethos of women empowering women, and a blend of contemporary and avant-garde fashion sensibilities. As reported by Essence, when Williams inquired about her vision for the “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” video, Missy’s directive was succinct: “Bring the song to life.” The ensuing creation redefined norms and introduced a fresh, audacious energy to hip-hop.

Elliot Recently tweeted about filling up the infamous blow up suit and how after she got air into, she couldn’t fit in the car. The Virginia rapper was stuck walking back to the music video shoot.

Credit: @missyelliot/Twitter

2. Cardi B feat. Megan Thee Stallion, ‘WAP’ (2020)

The 2020 music video for “WAP” creatively revamps DJ Frank Ski’s 1992 hit “Whores in This House.” Set in a vibrant digital funhouse, Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, amidst lively dancers, channeled wild personas. While the visuals are playful and slightly offset the song’s dominant theme, director Colin Tilley aimed to capture an essence “with a touch more innocence.” The result? A video celebrating the joy and creativity of sexuality, mirroring the song’s core spirit.

3. Missy Elliott, ‘Work It‘ (2002)

By the time Missy Elliott collaborated with Dave Meyers for their fifth video project, she had already established herself as a game-changer. With a legacy of iconic visuals rivaling the likes of Michael Jackson, one might’ve expected her to take a step back. Instead, Missy upped the ante, delivering a series of striking visuals that kept viewers on their toes. Highlights include Missy surrounded by a swarm of real bumblebees, a nod to Prince, captivating dance sequences in a dystopian playground, and a bold moment addressing racial prejudice. Simply put, it showcased Missy at her unapologetic best.

4. Queen Latifah feat. Monie Love, ‘Ladies First’ (1989)

The video for the N.J. artist’s standout single is a powerful reflection of Black identity — undiluted and unapologetic. Released amidst the apartheid era, “Ladies First” encapsulates the spirit of Black solidarity and underscores the significance of Black women uniting for a collective cause. Through glimpses of iconic figures like Harriet Tubman and Angela Davis, it signals the ongoing multi-generational struggle for equality. Latifah, adorned in military attire featuring African prints, employs imagery of raised Black fists, positioning herself as a formidable force in hip-hop.

5. M.I.A., ‘Bad Girls’ (2012)

“The idea was to compile Arabic references, fantasized or not, into a pop video,” explained Director Romain Gavras. “While most pop videos showcase American youth in their natural surroundings, ours highlighted Arab youngsters in a thrilling car rodeo setting.” M.I.A’s video seamlessly blended the majestic desert scenery reminiscent of epic movies with adrenaline-pumping vehicular stunts straight from action blockbusters. The inspiration came from YouTube videos showcasing Saudis performing two-wheel car stunts. M.I.A. recalled the intensity of the shoot, saying, “The drifting made me think I was risking my life.

6. Lauryn Hill, ‘Everything Is Everything’ (1998)

In this visually arresting, Grammy-nominated video, New York City transforms into a rotating vinyl, with its streets forming the grooves. While one could see this as a nod to the profound influence of hip-hop, where the very act of scratching disrupts police activities and scatters newspapers, director Sanji envisioned a deeper, more philosophical message.