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Best Rappers of All Time (Part 1)

I have been a “Hip-hop head” my entire life. I fell in love with hip-hop music sometime around the age of 5 or so because my brother would tune-in to JOY FM every Sunday afternoon to listen to DJ Azigizah, the baddest DJ at the time play the best from Tupac, Biggie and the other big boys. I have stayed true to this real hip-hop and it reflects in this list. No wack mumble rappers here.

Presenting some of greatest rappers of all time… at number 20 is:

20. Eazy E

Eric Lynn Wright better known by his stage name “Eazy-E”, was an American rapper who performed solo and in the hip hop group N.W.A. He is affectionately called “The Godfather of Gangsta Rap”. He was born to Richard and Kathie Wright in Compton, California. On March 26, 1995 Eazy-E died from complications of AIDS, one month after his diagnosis, at the age of 30.

Eazy puts the G in OG if you ask me. No MC has ever done hardcore crime rap with as much menace and brutal honesty as E. He set the standard for rhyming detailed lyrics about committing felonies: They’re more scary when they come from a high voice that sounds mad, mean, serious, anxious, excited, devious, and mechanical all at the same time–rather than a slow mellow voice that sounds like it’s exhaling blunt smoke.

19. DMX

Earl Simmons, known professionally as DMX and Dark Man X, is an American rapper and actor. He was born on December 18, 1970.

DMX brought his deepest emotions into rap when he decided he would rap to sustain his family. He wanted to be good for others and expressed this passion with lyrics deeper than most rappers since he was in the game… His emotion and determination are moving and his story is sure to bring a tear to your eye. He music that was remarkable which launched him into fame. When he went to meet the DEF JAM president, he was recovering from an accident and had wires in his mouth. People were amazed when Kanye “spoke through the wire” but DMX spat so hard, wires could be heard POPPING out of his mouth. His downfall was brought on by his cocaine addiction, but if the seemingly harmless blunt he smoked wasn’t laced with cocaine, he would tear down all of the rappers in our time.

18. KRS-One

Lawrence “Kris” Parker, better known by his stage names KRS-One, and Teacha, is an American rapper and occasional producer from The Bronx, New York City, New York.

KRS-One has the quantity (unlike Biggie or L) the beats (sorry Em) the voice (sorry Em) and most importantly, his lyrical content keeps it real (unlike Jay and Wayne). His lyrics are for the PEOPLE in the STREETS, not Hollywood or upscale boutiques. Other rappers try to be “conscious” but also worry about having mass appeal (Kanye, Common). KRS doesn’t pull any punches, and doesn’t worship money.

17. T.I

Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr., better known by his stage names T.I. and Tip, is an American hip hop recording artist and actor born on September 25, 1980 in Atlanta, GA.

T.I. is a beast. In my opinion, he is a perfect example of the evolution of rap. King of the south, yes; but even if he wasn’t coming out of the south, he still would have shined and made it big in the music industry. As far as his generation of rappers, there aren’t a lot of people even close to TI in terms of natural flow and being able to make great songs.

16. Busta Rhymes

Trevor George Smith, Jr., better known by his stage name Busta Rhymes, is an American hip hop recording artist, actor, record producer and record executive.

Busta is likely the most underrated rapper, but that might be largely due to his albums being not so great outside of the few hit singles each has, but should he feature on a track, he’s the best.

Regardless, there is no one who could deliver vocals like him with as much energy, pace, clarity and ability to be melodic at the same time when most would have to be monotone just to spits their lines on time with even the hope of clarity.

15. Big Pun

Christopher Lee Rios, better known by his stage name Big Pun, was an American rapper. Emerging from the underground hip hop scene in The Bronx borough of New York City, in the early 1990s, he was the first Latino rapper to have an album certified platinum as a solo act.

Pun was proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and became an icon within his community. Weighing nearly 700 pounds, he died of heart failure.

Pun wasn’t generally considered the greatest rapper of all time, but was the first rapper to carry such a devoted Latin fan base, one that exceeded that of Cypress Hill.

14. Andre 3000

André Lauren Benjamin, known by his stage name André 3000 is an American rapper from Atlanta, Georgia, and is most known as one half of the hip-hop duo OutKast. Despite never actually releasing an official solo studio album, 3000 has built up a strong following online among hip hop listeners and often ranks very high on hip hop lists.

13. Dr. Dre

Andre Romelle Young, better known by his stage name Dr. Dre, is an American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur born on February 18, 1965 in Compton, CA. He is the founder and current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics.

Dr. Dre has definitely contributed the most to hip hop out of everyone on this list by far. To start off, he made two of the most classic rap albums ever; 2001 and The Chronic. Anyone who disagrees just has to listen to them. Also he was part of the best rap group ever NWA. He also made the careers of Game, Eminem, 50 Cent, Snoop and even contributed to Nas’ career. He is widely known as the best producer/beat maker ever.

12. Snoop Dogg

Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr., (born October 20, 1971) known professionally as Snoop Dogg, is an American rapper, actor, record producer, and television personality from Long Beach, California.

Snoop dog is a great rapper he has lots of skills and style. Lots of musicians do cross between rap and singing snoop dog also sings but he rarely ever sings. But he does have a few good songs where he sings on key and he sounds nice. Snoop dog sings a little bit on songs such as nothing but a g thang, young wild and free, and hold us back

11. Ice Cube

O’Shea Jackson, born June 15, 1969 in Baldwin Hills, CA, known by his stage name Ice Cube, is an American rapper, record producer, actor, and filmmaker. He began his career as a member of the hip-hop group C.I.A and later joined the seminal gangster rap group N.W.A. After leaving N.W.A in December 1989, he built a successful solo career in music and films.

Ice cube is a legend he can be one of the best he overall is one of the most well balanced in flow, voice, beat, pitch, lyrics, and rhymes. He has a lot of his own stuff. Ice cube and Dre must be very good at piano and other rappers play some other instruments because the notes in lots of his songs are awesome. He still is one of the best his rhymes are clever for instance in straight outta Compton he gets two rhymes in each line mostly comparing it to mc ren and eazy e more in a complete word way but ren and eazy have syllable rounding in there verses. In his latest album he is more consistent he always has been. He is one of the masters in diss tracks so he is well rounded.

10. 50 Cent

Curtis James Jackson III, better known by his stage name 50 Cent, is an American rapper, actor, entrepreneur, investor, record, film, and television producer.

9. Rakim

William Michael Griffin, Jr., better known by his stage name Rakim, is an American rapper. He was born on January 28, 1968.

Rakim, must be given recognition in hip hop due to his most classic work, with DJ Eric.B. all albums with Eric. B were brilliant in showcasing Rakim’s lyrical skill. Rakim is a master on the mic, never missing a beat. His first eagerly anticipated solo album The 18th Letter was a critical success and a present for all of Rakim’s fans. Rakim’s best songs include I Ain’t No Joke, I Know You Got Soul, Lyrics Of Fury, Follow The Leader, What’s On Your Mind, Know The Ledge and The Mystery. If you don’t know who Rakim is you must go back and explore the excellence of the Golden Age of Hip Hop.

8. MF Doom

Daniel Dumile (January 9, 1971 – October 31, 2020), also known as MF DOOM, was a British-born hip hop recording artist who spent most of his life in the United States. He died on October 31, 2020, however, his death wasn’t revealed until December 31.

This guy literally has an unbelievable amount of talent, I guarantee you will never find a better lyricist. I still remember the first time I listened to “Hoe Cakes” and I’ve loved him ever since. DOOM comes up with such innovative raps and never disappoints. His unique style, voice, and lyrics are near impossible to replicate as he influenced those like Earl Sweatshirt and Joey Badass. MF DOOM considers himself to be a villain, but he’s a hero to the rap game.

7. Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (born June 17, 1987) is an American rapper and songwriter. Raised in Compton, California, Lamar embarked on his musical career as a teenager under the stage name K-Dot, releasing a mixtape that garnered local attention and led to his signing with indie record label Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE).

Kendrick Lamar in my opinion is one of the best rappers in the game right now. His ridiculous flow in rigamortis amazes me as well as his 100% beast flow in “look out for detox”. The way he slays every track he features makes the actual artist who made the song look small compared to his lyrical thunder. Don’t believe me? Just check out the song “The City” by The Game or “Text Book Stuff” by XV. This MC is a monster and for many in 2011 he made his first album “Section 80” that was by far the best album of the year for many. Also checkout his song Cartoons and Cereal.

6. Kanye West

Kanye Omari West is an American rapper, songwriter, and fashion designer. He was born on June 8, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia. After West’s parents divorced, him and his single mother moved to Chicago, Illinois. At the age of 10, West temporarily moved to Nanjing, China, because his mother was teaching at Nanjing University. As a child, art such as poetry and drawing fascinated him. By the age of 13, West was already recording hip-hop songs. West received a scholarship for several universities as a teenager, but dropped out after recognizing that the universities he was attending was not meeting up with his expectations.

Kanye West went on to be a producer in the late 1990s, for musicians such as D-Dot and The Go-Getters. As time went on, he began working more well-known artists, like Nas and The Notorious B.I.G.

He’s a lyrical genius and always knows what he stands for. He’s not like any other artist out there, his mind runs wild with art and creativity, he NEVER stops no matter what. The media seems to label him as heartless, an ass, and garbage but he’s nothing like that. You need to look above and beyond him, listen to the “Last Call” on the college dropout album you’ll definitely view him differently after peeping that but in a good way. The college dropout and my beautiful dark twisted fantasy are two of my favorite albums by him, just because he never really talks about living in the hood or having to live through a tough time as a child doesn’t mean he’s not full of knowledge and doesn’t know how to rap.

5. Jay Z

Shawn Corey Carter, known by his stage name JAY-Z, is an American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur and investor born on December 4, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York. He is best known for his albums Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint, and The Black Album. He is considered to be one of the best rappers of all time.

4. Notorious BIG

Christopher George Latore Wallace, born May 21, 1972, better known by his stage name The Notorious B.I.G (sometimes Biggie Smalls or just simply Biggie), is an American rapper from Brooklyn, New York. On March 9, 1997, he was murdered in a drive by shooting in Los Angeles, California at the age of only 24. To this day it’s unknown who murdered him.

The Notorious B.I.G. married R&B Singer Faith Evans, and had 2 kids, T’yanna Wallace and Christopher Wallace II. The Notorious B.I.G sold 17 million units worldwide, with 4 albums released. His first album Ready To Die (1994), is regarded as a hip hop classic by most critics.

3. Nas

Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, better known by his stage name Nas, is an American rapper and entrepreneur born on September 14, 1973 in New York City. His album, Illmatic, is considered to be one of the best rap albums of all time. He is also considered to be one of the best rappers of all time.

2. Tupac

Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known as 2Pac, was an American rapper and actor born on June 16, 1971 in East Harlem, New York. Tupac sold over 75 million records worldwide and has been referred to in multiple major publications such as Rolling Stone as one of the greatest music artists of all time. 2Pac was assassinated on September 1996 at the age of 25.

Shakur is consistently ranked as one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time, and he has been listed and ranked as one of the greatest artists of any genre by many publications, including Rolling Stone, which ranked him 86th on its list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. On April 7, 2017, Shakur was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

  1. Eminem

Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is an American rapper, actor and music producer born on October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph, Missouri. Eminem has sold over 300 million records making him the bestselling hip-hop artist of all time. In addition to his solo career, he is a member of D12 and (with Royce da 5’9″) half of the hip-hop duo Bad Meets Evil.

Rolling Stone ranked him 83rd on its list of 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, calling him the King of Hip Hop. Including his work with D12 and Bad Meets Evil, Eminem has had ten number-one albums on the Billboard 200 and 5 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100, and 13 worldwide.

Thank you for making it this far, I hope you liked the list. Watch out for the second part of this list!