We’ve complained about the current state of women in Hip Hop, and we’ve agonized over the fact it’s a male driven industry—but what moves are we making to change the dynamic?

The history of women in Hip Hop is endless, but is the future as promising? Growing up in the 90s, women were neck and neck with the heavy hitters in the genre: Foxy Brown, Lil Kim, Eve, Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliot, Left Eye, Da Brat and the list goes on.

Prior to the breakout of these female MCs, where their inspiration stemmed from is what we call the “foremothers of Hip Hop”: acts like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa, Roxanne Shante and Yo-Yo.

Nicki Minaj deserved to be recognized as the Best Female Hip Hop artist at the BET Awards for the past six years running. Aside from Iggy Azalea, Minaj has been the only female to maintain mainstream visibility since the release of her debut album Pink Friday in 2010. There has always been a dire need for Hip Hop music that appeals and empowers women, and we’re hoping 2016 is the year emerging lady rappers get the props they deserve. Here are three tips that distinguish a one-hit wonder and a six time best female Hip Hop artist:

1. Delivery and lyricism: These are the two main components that solidify who deserves a seat at the industry table. As a female there are already a number of obstacles to face from the get-go, so the least you can promise is talent and creativity. The legendary Lauryn Hill has been in the conversation of the Top 10 best rappers of all time, alongside some of the greats: Biggie, Nas, and Jay. The Fugees’ first lady is famous for her melodic poetry, sang with a sultry tone and incredible range that made her comparable to none. Her lyrics were rooted from her truths and that alone made her relatable to the audience. Originality is what makes a female hold dominance as a rapper.

2. Timeless records – Music that remains relevant now and a decade from now is what music has been missing. When Queen Latifah released “U.N.I.T.Y” her mentality was current but her message was so ahead of her time. “Who you calling a bitch?” The Queen represented for every woman that has been shamed by a man or a woman for that matter. It’s almost as if the terms “bitch” and “hoe” are no longer offensive, since it’s so commonly used to refer to females in our music. If the female Hip Hop artists embraced their womanhood in their music and delivered messages of substance there would be more queens in the game.


3. Legacy – As an artist there comes a responsibility to fans and the people that drive your success. Creating a hashtag #Team doesn’t get your career long-term support. These ladies earned respect and diehard fans by identifying with their listeners. Aside from being an undeniable lyricist, Nicki Minaj has been a brand from the start of her career. She owns up to her social responsibility as a celebrity, claims her femininity within her music, and grinds as if she’s an independent artist. Sharing her story motivates young women who have Hip Hop dreams and seeing the evolution of her career is testimony to the fact that women belong in Hip Hop.

If your dreams are to be an artist in this industry, your goals must go far beyond making a good song. Strive to be unforgettable with every move you make and every punch line you spit.