The good people at Dead End Hip-Hop had a great debate about this topic and it stimulated me to throw my two cents in. Artists like Lil Kim, Trina, Foxy Brown, and Nicki Minaj has become successful rappers because of their sex appeal more than their lyrical ability. If I had to I would blame them from the stereotypes that surround female rappers. At this point I do not believe female rappers will ever be commonplace. Female rappers will always be associated with having no substance.
The problem that will always be with the tag “female rapper” is the must find their individuality and their own style because men do not want to hear a woman rap like a man and talk about how much money she has and men certainly do not want to hear how attractive their “companion” is. I know that I certainly get tired of hearing a female rapper talk about how attractive she is. If she is an attractive female that is great but the repetition of how attractive she is or how good she is in bed does not hold the attention of listeners.
Missy Elliott is the key example or blueprint to what a female rapper should be. Being a female in a misogynistic field is a hard task to manage but Missy brought originality and dominated the industry for a better part of a decade. Most female rappers are put on by a dominate male who is already established in hip-hop. Missy broke that mold. Missy wrote for R&B singers for a long time until she finally got her shot. Although she was brought into game with assistance from Timbaland, the success Missy had made Timbaland what he is much more than Timbaland made her what she is. Missy Elliott has 4 platinum albums all between 1997 and 2005.
There are plenty above-average female emcees in Hip-Hop today but until lyrical hip-hop reigns supreme again it is doubtful we’ll see another female artist be as commercially successful and as lyrically talented as Missy Elliot.