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Ladies First: The Reflect Beauty 50th Anniversary Of Hip-Hop Beauty Tribute

50th anniversary hip hop
Photo Artwork: Joy Adaeze

When hip-hop music hit the scene five decades ago, it made an unprecedented impact on popular culture. Our world hasn’t been the same since. And while the music is what fuels the genre, we can’t help but admire the beauty glam that comes with it. 

[SEE ALSO: 90s Black Hairstyles Were Everyday Wearable Art]

The women of hip-hop are a constant source of inspiration to the beauty and style industries. Their creativity and ingenuity are the catalyst of some of the most memorable beauty trends of the last fifty years. Here’s a look at just a few of our faves, plus the current hip-hop chart-toppers who are trendsetters for the next generation and beyond.

SALT ‘N’ PEPA

This hip-hop trio (DJ Spinderella; not shown) released their first single in 1985. As the first women in the genre to achieve commercial success, they are largely responsible for the quintessential 1980s/90s asymmetrical haircut that was requested in hair salons from Brooklyn, NY to Compton, CA.

QUEEN LATIFAH

Busting on the scene in 1989, this lyricist unapologetically rocked Afrocentric headwraps and “kufis,” giving other women the confidence to express their culture in a fly way too. Now a multi-hyphenate entertainer who has conquered not only music but also television, film and theater, Latifah literally popularized the title of this article with one of her signature records.

LIL’ KIM

As the only female member of the Junior Mafia click, this petite powerhouse knew she had to stand out to get noticed upon her 1995 introduction to the world. In addition to her provocative rhymes, Kim’s style always made a statement. Who can forget her legendary rainbow Skittles hair in the 1997 Crush on You video?

FOXY BROWN

When we met this bold raptress in 1996, she was sporting a doobie wrap hairdo, thin brows, and dark vampy lipstick. These three beauty looks became part of her signature look and helped define beauty in the 1990s.

MISSY ELLIOTT

This uber-talented, “supa dupa fly” rapper, record producer and singer launched her solo career in 1997 and put everyone on notice as her music climbed up the charts. These fingerwaves became one of Missy’s signature styles and provided hair inspo for countless other young women in the late 1990s.

LAURYN HILL

Prior to Ms. Hill’s debut as part of The Fugees, dark skin women with natural hair in mainstream hip-hop were…well…kinda nonexistent. Whether it was a curly afro, double strand twists or faux locs, this history maker (she became the first woman to win five solo Grammy awards in 1998) made kinky coils, braids and twists stylish and sexy in the hip-hop community.

EVE

This pitbull in a skirt had a slick tongue and an even slicker hairstyle as the sole female member of Ruff Ryders. When Eve stepped on the scene in 1999, she was confidently wearing a super short blonde curly ‘do (rubia, huh?!) that made everyone take note.

NICKI MINAJ


Lacefront wigs are pretty much a household beauty item, but prior to Nicki they weren’t really known outside of professional hairstylists. Since her 2007 debut, lacefront wigs—especially of the pink variety—have become a highly sought after hair option.

MEGAN THEE STALLION

The South got something to say! A native of Houston, TX, Megan released her first single in 2016 and she let the world know that southern female rappers were not to be slept on. Megan is especially known for her elaborate nail designs. She likes them long, blinged out, and colorful!

CITY GIRLS


These two effortlessly (nah, not really…we know it takes a lot of effort) give their fans ’round the way glam from lashes to hair to nails…with an attitude to match. And we love to see it! Since their initial track was released in 2017, JT and Yung Miami have been shaking things up in the hip-hop world and looking damn good while doing it.

SAWEETIE

This “icy” rapper is never seen without her face beat and her hair did. Period. She released her debut single in 2017 and has been turning heads ever since.

Who is your favorite female rapper? Leave your answers in the comments!

Bridgette Bartlett Royall Reflect Beauty Writer
Bridgette Royall

Bridgette Bartlett Royall is an award-winning content creator with two decades of experience in digital and print media. The Fashion Institute of Technology graduate has written for BET.com, Essence, People, The New York Times and Travel + Leisure. A native of Queens, NY, Royall has also worked on best-selling book projects chronicling the lives of notables like Aretha Franklin, Maya Angelou and Michelle Obama as a research editor, reporter and writer. In addition to her content creation and editing work for major media platforms, she's the founder of BlackBridalBliss.com, the ultimate online destination for Black brides. (IG: @blkbridalbliss) Her most challenging and rewarding assignment yet is being mother to her toddler son, Langston.

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