Which female rappers have released number one albums?

The rise of the female rapper has been clear for decades. Female rappers may have broken through and had their voices heard, but that doesn’t mean many have been able to top the album charts in America. In fact, only five have been able to achieve this. But, which rappers are they?

Lauryn Hill

The first female rapper to do it was Miss Lauryn Hill, with her 1998 album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.

Lauryn Hill first found fame alongside Pras Michael and Wyclef Jean as group the Fugees, particularly following the huge success of their second album The Score in 1996. After the group split a year later, Lauryn Hill would go on to record her own material as a solo artist. The decision to make a solo album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, was inspired by Hill having her first child.

Hill brought together styles of neo soul, hip hop, R&B and reggae for her debut album. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released in August 1998, receiving rave reviews from critics. It entered at number one on the Billboard 200, selling over 422,000 copies in its first week, breaking the record for first-week sales by a female artist.

The 1999 Grammy Awards saw Hill become the first woman to be nominated in 10 categories in a single year and the first woman to win five times in one night. She took the crown for Album of the Year, Best R&B Album, Best R&B Song and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for Doo Wop (That Thing) and Best Newcomer.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill has been certified platinum eight times in the US, seven times platinum in Canada and three times platinum in both the UK and New Zealand.

Foxy Brown

Dubbed the ‘Hip-Hop Princess’, Foxy Brown first rapped on LL Cool J’s I Shot Ya before appearing on the remix of You’re Making Me High by Toni Braxton. As Foxy continued to make her mark, a bidding war began to sign the starlet – Def Jam won, signing her at just 17 years old. Her debut album Ill Na Na dropped in 1996, selling more than 100,000 copies in the first week.

Brown would go on to join rap supergroup The Firm along with other New York artists like Nas. Her next albums would go on to have strong first week sales, surpassing her debut. Brown’s Chyna Doll debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, making her only the second rapper to do so after Lauryn Hill.

Foxy has teased that a fourth album is on its way. Titled King Soon Come, Foxy is currently working on it but there is no official release date.


Rapper Eve was a dominant force in the early 2000s. Her debut album Let There Be Eve… Ruff Ryders’ First Lady was released in 1999 and was an unprecedented success. It topped the Billboard 200, making Eve only the third rapper to do so. Although her debut was a huge success, it would be her second album, 2001’s Scorpion that would make her a household name.

Scorpions’ lead single Who’s That Girl? brought Eve international fame, which continued with second single Let Me Blow Ya Mind featuring No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani. Third album, Eve-Olution, released in 2002 went gold having sold 720,000 copies. It would be 11 years before another Eve album drops but it was unsuccessful commercially.

Nicki Minaj

Bright wigs, outlandish outfits and even an English alter ego – who else could we be talking about except for the wonderful Nicki Minaj? Young Money’s female superstar, she hit the scene back in 2009 having gained interest from her two mixtapes. Debut album Pink Friday dropped in 2010, with singles like Your Love, Check it Out and Right Thru Me charting in the Billboard Hot 100.

Off the back of Pink Friday’s success, Minaj released Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded in 2012, with a mix between hip hop and dance tracks. Lead single Starships went on to be one of the best-selling singles of all time. Both Pink Friday and Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded were chart topping albums. True to form, Minaj released third album The Pinkprint two years later in 2014, with the title being a nod to her favorite rapper Jay-Z.

Latest offering Queen dropped on August 10, 2018 – earlier than scheduled – despite a number of delays.

Cardi B

Belcalis Almanzar first rose to fame on the social media platform, Instagram. Her no filter kind of attitude that shone through her videos got the world talking about the one they call Cardi B. By 2015, Cardi had graced the reality TV show Love & Hip Hop: New York and quickly became the standout star and she sought to become a successful artist.

The stars would align two years later when she dropped her commercial debut single Bodak Yellow that topped the Hot 100, making her the first rapper to do so since Lauryn Hill’s Doo Wop (That Thing) way back in 1998.

Cardi dropped debut album Invasion of Privacy in April 2018 and within just three short months, she sold one million copies. The album also saw the biggest streaming week for a debut album and the largest on-demand audio streaming week ever for an album by a woman.

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