1. Lauryn Hill “Lost Ones” (1998)
Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Producer: Lauryn Hill/Che’ Guevara/Vada Nobles
Peter Rosenberg:“Lauryn Hill is probably the more likely choice for people’s number one female MC of all time. This song, if you look back at that album, which won [however many Grammys it won] and had hits and hits and classics, I don’t know if you’ll find a moment where it’s more about her rapping her ass off than ‘Lost Ones.’
“And, at the time, I remember hearing it for the first time, and it being so clear that she was going at Wyclef, and me just thinking that was so hard. And from that moment on, that set the tone. And that wasn’t even really the first lead single. They put that out as kind of a white label, like, ‘Here’s something to throw on radio,’ to get people to start buzzing.
“Of course, if you look back, it’s kind of crazy to think, ‘Did they know that Lauryn Hill was going to go on to become the Lauryn Hill that she became?’ Because that song now seems strategic, and I guess it probably was. But at the time I just remember thinking that the song was so simple. It’s really just the drums, and her.
“But I think this song belongs at number one, because I think she put out, hands down, the greatest album that any female MC has ever put out. And this song is the rap song that exemplifies that album.”