20 Classic Female-Fronted Hip Hop Tracks

Oh, Rolling Stone. Sometimes you make it so easy. We try not to spend too much of our time nitpicking the amusingly out-of-touch pontifications of Jann Wenner’s empire, but occasionally something comes along that annoys us so much that it’s hard not to react. So it was recently, when the magazine’s editors came back from the mountain with stone tablets purporting to contain “The 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time.” In fairness, reading RS for hip hop recommendations is like reading Trucking Monthly for advice on bicycles, but even so, if you’re going to claim to make a definitive list, you don’t relegate Nas’s “NY State of Mind” to #31 (11 places behind 50 Cent’s risible “In Da Club”) — and, more annoyingly, you don’t make the mistake of including only three songs featuring female vocalists.

The only women included in the RS vision of hip hop’s finest moments are Salt-N-Pepa (“Push It” at #46), Lauryn Hill (“Lost Ones” at #45), and Missy Elliott (“Get Ur Freak On” at #38). Hip hop’s enduring fascination with dick-waving has long been one of the genre’s least appealing characteristics, and seeing it reinforced like this is kinda depressing — so as something of a riposte, here’s a bunch of our favorite female-fronted tracks that we reckon should have made the list.

Angel Haze — Cleaning Out My Closet”

It’s no surprise to see ’80s tracks dominating Rolling Stone‘s Top 10 — after all, this is a magazine that’s made a living for the last two decades out of purveying the myth of the capital-c Classic. But frankly, this coruscating, harrowing piece of naked confessionalism shits all over most of RS’s Y chromosome-centric canon — it’s braver, smarter, and features better rhyming to boot. It’s far and away our favorite track of the year, and we don’t need 20 years of hindsight to know it’s a classic right here and now.