Opinion: Before Nicki Minaj, These 8 Female MCs Ruled

PHOTO: Nicki Minaj at AMAs

Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Nicki Minaj is on top of the world right now, and anyone who's listened to her brand new album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded The Re-Up, knows she's not stepping down from her throne anytime soon.

But while she basks in the spotlight now – and she does love to bask – what about all those other female rappers who once ruled but then disappeared into oblivion?

But it's like they say – keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Just look at Foxy Brown, who got onstage with Nicki this past summer in New York but would otherwise be completely irrelevant, making headlines not for her music but for assaulting manicurists and what not. (Lil Kim on the other hand, still hasn't learned her lesson and is still picking fights with Nicki every chance she gets.)

"I believe in giving props where props are due," Nicki said before bringing Foxy onstage to perform "B.K. Anthem" and "Oh Yeah." "And sometimes it happens to be one person that has influenced me more than any other woman. I wanna bring the baddest bitch out that ever did this sh*t."

From fly girls to street spitters, we rounded up some of our favorite female rappers from the past to see what life has been for them after hip-hop's spotlight.

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EVE

The First Lady of the Ruff Ryders crew, Eve proved to be one of the most versatile female rappers of her time, balancing poignant, serious tracks like 1999's "Love Is Blind", about domestic abuse, with more commercial fare like 2001's "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" featuring Gwen Stefani.

Eve then took over Hollywood with appearances all over the big and small screens ranging from Barbershop, Whip It and Glee to having her very own sitcom Eve that ran from 2003 to 2006 on the UPN network. Since then, the original "pitbull in a skirt" has kept recording (when she's not globetrotting with her multi-millionaire Brit beau Maximillion Cooper) and is slated to release her much-delayed fourth album Lip Lock in 2013. Last year, Eve dubbed Lip Lock a "fun record" and although little has been confirmed, rumored guests include Chiddy Bang, Flo-Rida and Adam Levine.

CHARLI BALTIMORE

By dating the late Notorious B.I.G. and spitting bars alongside Ja Rule (most notably on "Down Ass Chick"), Charli Baltimore was hip-hop's feistiest redhead in the 90s. Her debut The Diary (You Think You Know) in 2003 spawned several lukewarm buzz tracks and actually never came out.

Since then, Charli has left Murder Inc. and, aside from occasional run-ins with Biggie's other ex, Lil' Kim, has been largely quiet. Just recently, she tweeted that her new album True Lies has been pushed back. It seems talent runs in the family - Charli's gorgeous daughter India Christin Lane is all grown up and pursuing a modeling and singing career of her own. Check her out in Avery Storm's music video.

VITA

Murder Inc's other female rapper was Vita. The spunky younger sister of Kima from R&B group Total, Vita appeared on several songs with Ja Rule, Ashanti and crew, but our hands down favorite was "Put It On Me," a Romeo & Juliet-esque track about forbidden young love.

Since leaving Murder Inc, Vita took a break from music due to family issues. XXL mag revealed last year that Vita was actually recording with Rick Ross and besides music, has been working on film projects and designing a lingerie line. She recently dropped the (regrettably-titled) Pre-Cumm mixtape earlier this year.

REMY MA

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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