Opinion: Before Nicki Minaj, These 8 Female MCs Ruled

Remy Ma gave Fat Joe's Terror Squad some much-needed female power with 2004's "Lean Back." As protégé of the late Big Pun, Remy had all the makings of a lyrical force to be reckoned with and her 2006 debut There's Something About Remy: Based on a True Story is a must have for hip-hop heads with contributions from Swizz Beatz, The Alchemist and Scott Storch.

Sadly, a 2007 shooting incident in which Remy shot a woman over allegedly stolen money halted her bright future. Remy was subsequently convicted of assault, illegal weapon possession and attempted coercion and is serving an eight-year prison sentence in NY.

QUEEN PEN

She added sass to the last verse of one of our all-time favorite throwback jams, Blackstreet's "No Diggity," which kept middle school dances jumping back in 1996. Queen Pen followed up with her debut My Melody in 1997 and despite the popularity of the infectious single "Party Ain't a Party," the album featured heavier topics including a groundbreaking song about same-sex relationships. ''Two or three years from now, people will say Queen Pen was the first female to bring the lesbian life to light on wax,'' the rapper said in a NY Times interview in 1998.

She has been largely quiet on the music front over the past decade but her son Nefu Da Don has taken over the rap reins. "Man, my mom is so smart and she knows this music game like the back of her hand…My mom is a true GANGSTA(lol)! … she's not just a mother but a mentor to me when it comes to this rap game!" he said in an interview.

Pen has taken her stage name to heart and literally penned two street novels: Situations: A Book of Short Stories and Blossom.

AMIL

As Jay-Z's protégé, Amil seemed destined for stardom, spitting on 1998's "Can I Get A…" as well as a slew of other memorable songs like "Hey Papi" and "Jigga What, Jigga Who." Amil's 2000 debut A.M.I.L (All Money Is Legal) didn't make huge waves, but she did manage to snag a young Beyonce for the girl power-infused "I Got That." Amil has continued making music but nothing has been able to compare to her ROC glory days.

In 2011, Amil talked to Vibe about her now non-existent relationship with Jay-Z: "I haven't spoken to Jay in years but I really wish I could talk to him because that would just really bring closure to me. But he knows I love him," she said. "People think there was bad blood between us, but there never was any bad blood. Things happen and I wasn't ready for where my career was going at that time. It was really overwhelming."

SOLE

Sole burst on the scene with her husky tone and exotic beauty on JT Money's giant hit "Who Dat." She quickly followed up with her 1999 debut Skin Deep that featured Kandi from Xscape as well as R&B crooner Ginuwine. On and off-wax Sole and GinuFINE had major chemistry (Peep his "None Of Ur Friends Business" video for proof). The two have been together since 1999 and got married in 2003. They have two daughters.

Sole recently announced wanting to return to music, appearing alongside Ginuwine's artist Pyro in "Make It Hot" earlier this year.

SHAWNNA

Rashawnna Guy's lyrics on Ludacris' 2000 banger "What's Your Fantasy" made us all blush until she topped herself with "P-Poppin" the next year. Raunchy and unabashed, this Chicago sexpot – the first artist signed to Def Jam South and the first lady of Ludacris' Disturbing Tha Peace crew - made waves alongside Luda and has consistently collaborated with some of hip-hop's biggest names throughout the 2000s including Diddy, T-Pain and Twista, although she hasn't herself released a new album in six years.

In 2009, she signed with T-Pain's Nappy Boy Entertainment and is at work on a third studio project. From the looks of this video taken inside a club of Shawnna spitting some verses, we expect it to be uh, pretty explicit.

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