Respect for the ladies!
Cardi B’s “Bodak Yellow” is one of the summer’s biggest hits and has catapulted her into the Top Ten of Billboard’s Hot 100 singles chart. It’s a fantastic accomplishment for Cardi when you consider her tumultuous road to rap stardom, which included stints as a stripper and supposedly as an escort as well, but also when you realize just how elite the company that she’s keeping actually is.
For better or for worse, female emcees still have a difficult time reaching the upper-echelon of Billboard’s list of the hottest songs in the United States, but those who do have made their lasting mark on the genre as a whole.
To help celebrate Cardi’s achievement and all of the glorious women who have helped pave the way, we’re going to take a closer look at her now-signature song and nine other hits by some of the fiercest ladies on the planet.
There are two caveats: first, they must be the main artist on the sing (featured artists are okay); and second, the song must have reach the No. 10 spot or higher on the Hot 100 at least once. Let’s get into it!
We’ll start with “Bodak,” which caught a lot of hip-hop heads by surprise as it began to demolish the competition, especially versus her female contemporaries, at the beginning of the summer. The beat is simplistic yet still bop-worthy, with Cardi’s flow accentuating her lyrics and an incredibly catchy hook.
Multiple sources have confirmed that she was paying a sort of homage to Kodak Black with her rhyming style on this record, but it’s safe to say that, so far in their careers, she’s eclipsed anything that the Florida rapper has done with “Bodak Yellow.”
Going all the way to No. 2 on the Hot 100 in 2014, Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” took a well-known Sir Mix-a-Lot sample and shaped it around her own lyrics to create an anthem all her own. Bested at its peak only by Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off,” Minaj’s biggest hit proved that not only could women be just raunchy on a rap record as the men, but that it can act as almost an act of defiance. The cover art for the single also went viral before the song was even released, so the lead-in was very strong as well.
“Doo Wop (That Thing)”
One of best female emcees ever to step behind a mic, Lauryn Hill successfully parlayed her success as part of the Fugees, alongside Wyclef Jean and Pras, into formulating one of the most influential albums of that era with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. The lead single off of that LP, “Doo Wop (That Thing)” was a monster hit, going all the way to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. A track that chastises both women and men, Hill bested her previous two singles as a solo artist (both off of movie soundtracks) with a soulful, groove-based song that should reside in any hip-hop fan’s collection.
“Let Me Blow Ya Mind”
Another massive single that reached the No. 2 spot on the Hot 100, Eve’s “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” was one of the most decorated songs of the early-2000’s. It won a Grammy Award in 2002 for “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration” and took home the honor for “Best Female Video” at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards. Featuring Gwen Stefani on the chorus and some seriously dope production from Dr. Dre, this is a track that still gets people on the dance floor.
At one point the highest-charting single of both Foxy Brown and Jay-Z’s careers (keep in mind, this was pre-Big Pimpin’ Jay-Z), “I’ll Be” peaked at No. 7 on the Hot 100. It was the biggest crossover hit for Brown, who remains a criminally underappreciated emcee from an era where hip-hop was undergoing some major transformations. It’s also Brown’s only single to earn a certification by the RIAA, having achieved Gold status.
Produced and written by Jermaine Dupri, “Funkdafied” rode a steamy Isley Brothers sample all the way to the No. 6 position on Billboard’s singles chart. It is still Da Brat’s most successful single and her only track to earn a Platinum certificaiton from the RIAA. It ended up on Billboard’s list of the Best Songs of 1994, which has solidified its status as one of the go-to hip-hop jams of the 90’s.
A leftover from 50 Cent’s seminal Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ release, Lil Kim took the radio-ready beat and took it to the No. 2 spot on the Hot 100. Its success came despite the fact that there was never a physical release of the single or an accompanying music video for consumption on the likes of MTV. Still, for anyone who came of age in the early part of the new millennium, this was the song that teenage couples used as an excuse to dance close and discover what really happens when you rub up against someone’s, um, “magic stick.”
The lead single off her third studio album, Eve-Olution, “Gangsta Lovin’” paired Eve with another one of this century’s great female voices, Alicia Keys, for a track that dominated the charts in the latter half of 2002 and into 2003. It peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100, giving both women a bona fide hit that is still super recognizable today. It features samples from Common and Erykah Badu as well.
Timbaland had worked with Missy Elliott before, helping her break out into the mainstream hip-hop scene in a big way with her debut album Supa Dupa Fly. However, this rapper-producer duo had not reached the heights that “Work It” did before 2002. Outperforming Missy’s other party anthem, “Get Ur Freak On,” this track was certified Platinum and has sold over 2 million copies to date.