10 reasons why 2010 was the best year ever in hip-hop: #3 the girls are back in town…well, at least 1, but Nicki Minaj has opened the door for the next wave of great female MCs.

The role of women in hip-hop should not be overlooked but it often has been.  For more than a decade (including the 90’s which many consider to be the Golden Age of hip-hop) women were a staple in rap music.  In fact, they were so much a part of the hip-hop ethos that their gender wasn’t even discussed.  Rappers like MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, Foxy Brown and Lil Kim stood side-by-side with their male counterparts.  Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott blazed the trail for ALL of hip-hop, while their male peers followed.  While hip-hop was still predominantly male, it wasn’t just a man’s game.  That was important because it gave rap multiple perspectives and prevented it from becoming a caricature of itself–one that was about nothing but “money and hoes.”  Hip-hop is multidimensional but after Lauryn Hill and Missy–the last of the great female MCs– stopped making music regularly (only one album since 2003), the (mainstream) female voice was lost and it coincided with a fairly monolithic period in hip-hop.  No one knows exactly why women disappeared from hip-hop, but BET did an excellent documentary addressing the topic:

Then, seemingly out of nowhere,  in 2010, when Nicki Minaj took the baton from Lady GaGa to become the “it” girl for all of music, things changed.  Suddenly, there was a diversity in hip-hop that had not been heard in…well, ever.  Drake’s emo rap could co-exist with Rick Ross’ cocaine rap.  B.o.B.’s rock/hip-hop could live nicely with Big Boi’s space age funk.  Coincidence?  Maybe…I’m not saying that Nicki is the sole reason 2010 was the best year ever for hip-hop, but she was definitely a big part of it.  You’ve seen many examples of her impact in other of these posts.  Here are a few more: