Music Top 10 Rap Artists

The holy trinity 68

The disparager
Joined
Apr 10, 2016
Messages
3,258
Location
Manchester
Who in your opinion are the top 10 rappers of all time? Whether it is due to favouritism bias, being the most influential, the best lyricist, the best flow etc, who are yours?

I will start.

1. Ice Cube - My favourite rapper and with obvious bias, he is the greatest in my opinion. If he died with only his first 4 solo albums released after he left NWA, he would have been immortalised like BIG and Pac and would receive the recognition he deserves instead of many only remembering him as 'an actor'. The main artist of the infamous NWA, his flow was harder than any and he spat rhymes with so much ferocity. Reality rap which got dubbed as 'gangster rap' by the media. He spoke hard truths about the struggles of the black community in the USA. He also wrote a lot of rhymes for Easy-E, and there is some debate that he also wrote some of Ren's. When he left the group, Ren and The DOC wrote the rhymes but NWA were not the same after his departure. No Vaseline is arguably the greatest rap diss of all time and Tupac even admitted Cube was one of his main rap idols.

2. The Notorious B.I.G - Not the most influential, but his flow was second to none and he was one of the greatest story tellers in the rap game. He has been immortalised by his death at such a young age, which in turn is maybe why he is viewed as the greatest by many. Juicy is iconic and possibly the greatest rap song of all time.

3. Rakim - Been in the rap game since his debut album in 1987, his influence on lyricism cannot be over stated, an MC that influenced all rappers that came after him. He pretty much invented complex, internal rhyming (multiple rhyming words in the same line or words that rhyme in the middle of a line instead of at the end) and he also never used profanity in his lyrics.

4. Tupac - The intent and meaning behind his music was often to open peoples eyes to the real struggles within the black community. Another rapper that has been immortalised due to death at a young age and again maybe put higher on the list of greatest rappers due to this. Hit 'Em Up is arguably the greatest rap diss of all time

5. Nas: Another pioneer at the top end of my list.His rhymes were complex, intelligent and extremely poetic, it is well known that B.I.G. 2Pac and Jay-Z were all heavily influenced by him and he had a huge influence on the underground rap scene.

6. Eminem. My 2nd favourite rapper of all time, especially his 2nd - 4th album music. He had a huge influence on making rap music more mainstream, mainly due to being a white rapper in a mainly black industry and because his music was mainly radio friendly, but he still did open rap up to a much wider audience. He possibly has the best vocabulary in the history or rap and is arguably the best lyricist, but I put him 6th behind all of the above because the ones that came before him all influenced him and it is easier to become great when you have so many others to take inspiration from. He also holds so many records for album sales and such.

It was difficult for me to choose number 7 - 1O but would probably include; Ice T, LL Cool Jay, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick.

Honourable mentions include; Redman, KRS-One, Jay-Z, Run, Snoop Dogg, Too Short and The DOC.
 

VorZakone

What would Kenny G do?
Joined
May 9, 2013
Messages
20,770
2pac is rap's GOAT for me. His music just hits different if you know what I mean.
 

K Stand Knut

Full Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2008
Messages
3,699
Location
Stretford End
Who in your opinion are the top 10 rappers of all time? Whether it is due to favouritism bias, being the most influential, the best lyricist, the best flow etc, who are yours?

I will start.

1. Ice Cube - My favourite rapper and with obvious bias, he is the greatest in my opinion. If he died with only his first 4 solo albums released after he left NWA, he would have been immortalised like BIG and Pac and would receive the recognition he deserves instead of many only remembering him as 'an actor'. The main artist of the infamous NWA, his flow was harder than any and he spat rhymes with so much ferocity. Reality rap which got dubbed as 'gangster rap' by the media. He spoke hard truths about the struggles of the black community in the USA. He also wrote a lot of rhymes for Easy-E, and there is some debate that he also wrote some of Ren's. When he left the group, Ren and The DOC wrote the rhymes but NWA were not the same after his departure. No Vaseline is arguably the greatest rap diss of all time and Tupac even admitted Cube was one of his main rap idols.

2. The Notorious B.I.G - Not the most influential, but his flow was second to none and he was one of the greatest story tellers in the rap game. He has been immortalised by his death at such a young age, which in turn is maybe why he is viewed as the greatest by many. Juicy is iconic and possibly the greatest rap song of all time.

3. Rakim - Been in the rap game since his debut album in 1987, his influence on lyricism cannot be over stated, an MC that influenced all rappers that came after him. He pretty much invented complex, internal rhyming (multiple rhyming words in the same line or words that rhyme in the middle of a line instead of at the end) and he also never used profanity in his lyrics.

4. Tupac - The intent and meaning behind his music was often to open peoples eyes to the real struggles within the black community. Another rapper that has been immortalised due to death at a young age and again maybe put higher on the list of greatest rappers due to this. Hit 'Em Up is arguably the greatest rap diss of all time

5. Nas: Another pioneer at the top end of my list.His rhymes were complex, intelligent and extremely poetic, it is well known that B.I.G. 2Pac and Jay-Z were all heavily influenced by him and he had a huge influence on the underground rap scene.

6. Eminem. My 2nd favourite rapper of all time, especially his 2nd - 4th album music. He had a huge influence on making rap music more mainstream, mainly due to being a white rapper in a mainly black industry and because his music was mainly radio friendly, but he still did open rap up to a much wider audience. He possibly has the best vocabulary in the history or rap and is arguably the best lyricist, but I put him 6th behind all of the above because the ones that came before him all influenced him and it is easier to become great when you have so many others to take inspiration from. He also holds so many records for album sales and such.

It was difficult for me to choose number 7 - 1O but would probably include; Ice T, LL Cool Jay, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick.

Honourable mentions include; Redman, KRS-One, Jay-Z, Run, Snoop Dogg, Too Short and The DOC.
There is no way I’d have picked this list but actually the 1-6 is spot on.

Not convinced on the order of them and think we could discuss that all day long but the members of the top 6 are nailed on.

I’d probably make Jay-Z my number 7 but then it’s starts to get harder
 

The holy trinity 68

The disparager
Joined
Apr 10, 2016
Messages
3,258
Location
Manchester
There is no way I’d have picked this list but actually the 1-6 is spot on.

Not convinced on the order of them and think we could discuss that all day long but the members of the top 6 are nailed on.

I’d probably make Jay-Z my number 7 but then it’s starts to get harder
Yeah I understand what you mean, I wouldn't oppose if someone had a different order, because all of them all GOAT level.
 

horsechoker

Sailor vee, this is a right off.
Joined
Apr 16, 2015
Messages
20,021
Location
The stable
Not in order, just the 10 I think are the best

Nas
Jay-Z


Hard to put one over the other, Nas probably has the best album but Jay-Z I think had more classics overall

Notorious BIG

Prefer him to 2pac these days and feel that he was such a smooth lyricist

Andre 3000

An alien who used to rap

Eminem

Early Eminem was one of the greatest ever and still comes up with a decent rhyme or two now

2pac

He got really strong towards the end of his life.

MF DOOM

Had such a cryptic rhyme scheme and came up with lyrics no other rapper could

Black Thought

The perfect frontman for a group like Roots and felt he was always consistent

Redman

I love his flows and silly/funny rhymes

Rakim

The pioneer of hip-hop, I feel that he modernised hip-hop from the simplistic rhymes of the 80s into something substantial and set the foundations for the golden age of hip-hop. Rap/hip-hop owes him a lot.

Honourable metions:
Mos Def, Method Man, Killer Mike (late career), Prodigy, Q-Tip, GZA, Kendrick Lamar
 

The holy trinity 68

The disparager
Joined
Apr 10, 2016
Messages
3,258
Location
Manchester
Nice and simple. Nas is fantastic, I started to appreciate him the more I listened to him.

Not in order, just the 10 I think are the best

Nas
Jay-Z


Hard to put one over the other, Nas probably has the best album but Jay-Z I think had more classics overall

Notorious BIG

Prefer him to 2pac these days and feel that he was such a smooth lyricist

Andre 3000

An alien who used to rap

Eminem

Early Eminem was one of the greatest ever and still comes up with a decent rhyme or two now

2pac

He got really strong towards the end of his life.

MF DOOM

Had such a cryptic rhyme scheme and came up with lyrics no other rapper could

Black Thought

The perfect frontman for a group like Roots and felt he was always consistent

Redman

I love his flows and silly/funny rhymes

Rakim

The pioneer of hip-hop, I feel that he modernised hip-hop from the simplistic rhymes of the 80s into something substantial and set the foundations for the golden age of hip-hop. Rap/hip-hop owes him a lot.

Honourable metions:
Mos Def, Method Man, Killer Mike (late career), Prodigy, Q-Tip, GZA, Kendrick Lamar
Some very good choices there. I see there is no Cube anywhere near your list, do you not like him?
 

Skizzo

Full Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2013
Messages
11,347
Location
West Coast is the Best Coast
In no particular order. Just in terms of who I’ve enjoyed the most and listened to

Tupac
Biggie
Nas
Jay-z
Ghostface
KRS
Andre Nickatina
Eminem
Mac Dre
Cube

honorable mentions to more recent artists that I think will replace some of them eventually

Kendrick Lamar, Logic, and Joyner Lucas
 

Cheimoon

Best Newbie Promoted 2020
Scout
Joined
Jun 22, 2020
Messages
2,883
Location
Canada
Supports
no-one in particular
I don't have a list, but I'm watching the Hip-Hop Evolution documentary series on Netflix right now (just finished season 1), and it's awesome. I thought I knew the key bits of hip-hop's early history already, but I still learned quite a lot. :)

And great music of course.
 
Last edited:

Lay

Incorrectly predicted the 2020 US Election
Joined
Jan 29, 2013
Messages
11,168
Location
England
Haven't got an order and I'm not sure if I'm going down the personal favourite route or who I think is in the top 10 without bias, but for now:

Tupac
Nas
Jay Z
Biggie
Eminem
Big L
Krazyie Bone
Rakim
DMX

Will change later when I've thought about it a bit more.
 

Salt Bailly

Full Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2017
Messages
1,420
Location
Valinor
I don't have a listen, but I'm watching the Hip-Hop Evolution documentary series on Netflix right now (just finished season 1), and it's awesome. I thought I knew the key bits of hip-hop's early history already, but I still learned quite a lot. :)

And great music of course.
You don't have a listen? Shame on you, creature.
 

Dante

Bang Average but can post Blindfolded for 15 secs
Joined
Oct 22, 2010
Messages
20,416
Location
My wit's end
I'm surprised by the lack of Killer Mike, Snoop and Kendrick mentions. They'd probably be in my top 5, let alone top 10.
 

Panther

Full Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2015
Messages
1,204
Definitely gonna be controversial here, since most people seem like they're more into 90s hip-hip, and seem more like "hip-hip purists" but I'll give my opinion, and be ready for the disagreement.

10. Was torn between Lupe Fiasco and Common for this spot, but I think I'm gonna go for Common, both have excellent discographies but it came down to 'Be' v 'Food & Liquor' and I think I'd go for 'Be' by Common personally. Kind of a short album at 42 minutes, but in my opinion one of the best of the 00s. Chi-City and Go being my two favourites on here, the production on this album is fantastic too, as it is for a large part of his discography. An excellent lyricist with a great flow, also kind of brought conscious rap into the spotlight during the gangster rap era.

9. Kendrick Lamar. A newer artist, but has 4 albums out right now, and all of them (in my opinion) have been excellent, if he can keep it up he'll definitely go higher but it's harder to put someone relatively new over the artists I have above him. Though, his song "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst" is my favourite hip-hop song of all time.

8. Lil Wayne. *eyes rolling*. Has a bad reputation amongst purists for some reason and gets lumped with "mumble rappers", despite actually being very good lyrically, his punchlines are something else and his flow for the most part is excellent, his influence on hip-hop too is pretty high, having influenced a ton of rappers in the 2010's, including heavily influencing my #9 choice, Kendrick. He also has an excellent discography, especially with his Carter, Dedication and Da Drought series of albums.

7. Jay-Z. He has an excellent discography and is very influential in music, possibly the best discography in hip-hop. The Black Album and the Blueprint trilogy is heavily recommended, amongst others.

6. Eminem. His first 3 albums (SSLP, MMLP, TES) is probably one of the best 3 album runs in hip-hop and he was unbelievable during this time, but this time only lasted 3/4 years. I also really liked Relapse, but the rest of his albums in my opinion since Encore (2004) have been decent to below average. Possibly the best lyricist of all time, and definitely very influential but his poor albums since 2004 have let him down a lot. Recovery is liked by a lot of people, but it's really not a very good album, nor is MMLP2. Revival was just awful, and Kamikaze aged terribly since it's just him crying over people (rightfully) calling Revival bad. MTBMB is pretty decent though, but a long way from a classic or anything amazing. Maybe he set too high standards for himself with his first 3 albums, but they still justify his place at 6th.

5. Andre 3000. Part of Outkast, who didn't make anything BUT classics, Andre 3000 though in my opinion is the better of the two, and deserves his place at 5th due to his excellent lyricism, incredible flow and his consistency throughout his career.

4. Nas. Illmatic and It Was Written are two of the greatest albums ever, which he wrote when he was pretty young, he's still had a few good-great albums since then but like Eminem, his discography has been kind of inconsistent since then though, but I think it beats out Eminem's, plus his influence is undeniable.

3. Biggie. I don't actually listen to Biggie a lot, but his influence on hip-hop is insane, it would be hard to find a rapper who isn't influenced by him in some sort of way, his flow and lyrics were top tier too and his discography, whilst short for obvious reasons, was extremely good.

2. Tupac. As with Biggie, it would be VERY hard to find a rapper, mainstream or not, that doesn't cite Tupac as being influential in their music, even 25 years after his death. His music was extremely good, and whilst I don't think he was as lyrical as Biggie, I think his music was better and what he rapped about was very good. I think he was a better artist than Biggie, and that's why he is ahead of him.

1. Kanye West. This is why I said I'm gonna be controversial, because I know everyone will disagree with this, but opinions are opinions. I will explain my opinion though. Firstly, his influence far exceeds music, he also has a very big influence on the fashion industry, whether you like his fashion or not, this is undeniable. His influence on music too is very great, and possibly higher than most artists, especially since the start of the 21st Century, he has influenced Lil Wayne and Kendrick in big ways who are both on my list. He also also influenced Drake and Travis Scott massively, who whether you like them or not, are two of the biggest artists on the planet right now. His discography is also very very good in my opinion, and a big part of why I have him at #1. His Dropout Trilogy (TCD, Late Registration, Graduation) are pretty much loved by most people, and are what people refer to when they say "I miss the old Kanye", these are three excellent albums each with their own unique sound and message, not to mention that Graduation also helped usher out the gangster rap era by knocking 50 Cent off his perch. 808s, whilst a polarising album, was a complete change in his sound, and is heavily influential on many of the sounds you hear in mainstream R&B and hip-hop today and influenced Drake, Kid Cudi, The Weeknd and Travis Scott a lot. MBDTF is considered his magnus opus and was ranked by many publications as the best hip-hop album of the 2010s. Yeezus, also polarising, but another drastic change in his sound, I do like a lot of songs on this album, but I get why people dislike it. TLOP, not sure why this is polarising but it is, it is a very good album and one of my favourites by Kanye, the production on it is fantastic and there's a ton of fantastic songs. Ye and Jesus is King are two albums I do like, but they're probably bottom two for me, he has kind of fell off since his switch to Christian music, but it's been just over a year so not gonna write him off just yet, especially considering how he can change his sound a lot. Kids See Ghosts also came out after Ye and is a fantastic album, but is very short. Another collab album by him is Watch the Throne with Jay-Z which is a good album. Final point to why I have Kanye as #1 is his production, he has pretty much produced his entire discography, where he manages to switch up his sound with every album to sound as unique as possible, as well as producing for many other artists, including producing "Be" by Common, and a lot of Jay-Z's classic songs. Final thoughts: I cannot think of another artist, not just in hip-hop, but in music in general, who has been able to drastically change their entire sound so much, whilst a the same time managing to stay so relevant, influential and consistent with the quality of music they produce.
 

The holy trinity 68

The disparager
Joined
Apr 10, 2016
Messages
3,258
Location
Manchester
I'm surprised by the lack of Killer Mike, Snoop and Kendrick mentions. They'd probably be in my top 5, let alone top 10.
I actually love Snoop and he is one of my favourites, more so than some of the people on my list but I was going for greatest rather than favourite for most of my list.

If I had to do my top 10 favourites, Snoop, Ren, Xzibit, Eazy-E, Nate Dogg would all be on it, but obviously they are not as great or as influential as others.
 

Jeffthered

Full Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2015
Messages
1,474
Always a good topic..... Difficult to provide top 10, as rap became commercial culture and the quality of those 'in the game' became secondary... true rap is awesome, requiring intelligence, natural talent, musicality, social awareness, and personality... my fave is Kool Keith from the UltraMagnetic MCs. Brilliant mind, superb and v v uniqe delivery, with a terrific way of putting together v v complex lyrics, which sometimes didn't rhyme at all. Rakim, and Black Thought are also some of my favourites... Inspector Deck, B.I.G, Nas, Meth'.. KRS, Eminem.. Kendrick and Lil' Wayne are brilliant talents, superb wordsmiths, v v clever and have added to 'the game'. Q Tip shaped things.. MF does (did) his thing...

However, I would also like to state how this discussion highlights one of the key issues in Hip Hop, that lack of feminine insight. MC Lyte is one of the most natural rappers ever, clever, poetic, insightful and an amazing talent.. all before the game went really global. And L-Boogie (Lauryn Hill) had a sensational impact and influence on hip hop, providing a clever, artistic, extremely feminine perspective on what is a v 'muscular' genre.
 

LuisNaniencia

Sky Sports called my bluff
Joined
May 22, 2010
Messages
9,543
Location
271.5 miles from Old Trafford
In terms of influence, Snoops Doggystyle was the album that seemed to make gangsta rap mainstream. It was quite mad, music from the ghettos of LA was suddenly speaking to lower middle class white kids in the south east of England.
 

2cents

Historiographer, and obtainer of rare antiquities
Scout
Joined
Mar 19, 2008
Messages
12,076
Nas, Killer Mike, Pharoahe Monch, Ice Cube and Common probably my top 5. Not sure who comes after. Snoop, Big Pun and Big L all dropped legendary albums but lack the discography to get them right up there. Also I’m very out of touch with most hip-hop since around 2005 so am almost certainly overlooking some more recent talents.
 

Salt Bailly

Full Member
Joined
Apr 23, 2017
Messages
1,420
Location
Valinor
Definitely gonna be controversial here, since most people seem like they're more into 90s hip-hip, and seem more like "hip-hip purists" but I'll give my opinion, and be ready for the disagreement.

10. Was torn between Lupe Fiasco and Common for this spot, but I think I'm gonna go for Common, both have excellent discographies but it came down to 'Be' v 'Food & Liquor' and I think I'd go for 'Be' by Common personally. Kind of a short album at 42 minutes, but in my opinion one of the best of the 00s. Chi-City and Go being my two favourites on here, the production on this album is fantastic too, as it is for a large part of his discography. An excellent lyricist with a great flow, also kind of brought conscious rap into the spotlight during the gangster rap era.

9. Kendrick Lamar. A newer artist, but has 4 albums out right now, and all of them (in my opinion) have been excellent, if he can keep it up he'll definitely go higher but it's harder to put someone relatively new over the artists I have above him. Though, his song "Sing About Me, I'm Dying of Thirst" is my favourite hip-hop song of all time.

8. Lil Wayne. *eyes rolling*. Has a bad reputation amongst purists for some reason and gets lumped with "mumble rappers", despite actually being very good lyrically, his punchlines are something else and his flow for the most part is excellent, his influence on hip-hop too is pretty high, having influenced a ton of rappers in the 2010's, including heavily influencing my #9 choice, Kendrick. He also has an excellent discography, especially with his Carter, Dedication and Da Drought series of albums.

7. Jay-Z. He has an excellent discography and is very influential in music, possibly the best discography in hip-hop. The Black Album and the Blueprint trilogy is heavily recommended, amongst others.

6. Eminem. His first 3 albums (SSLP, MMLP, TES) is probably one of the best 3 album runs in hip-hop and he was unbelievable during this time, but this time only lasted 3/4 years. I also really liked Relapse, but the rest of his albums in my opinion since Encore (2004) have been decent to below average. Possibly the best lyricist of all time, and definitely very influential but his poor albums since 2004 have let him down a lot. Recovery is liked by a lot of people, but it's really not a very good album, nor is MMLP2. Revival was just awful, and Kamikaze aged terribly since it's just him crying over people (rightfully) calling Revival bad. MTBMB is pretty decent though, but a long way from a classic or anything amazing. Maybe he set too high standards for himself with his first 3 albums, but they still justify his place at 6th.

5. Andre 3000. Part of Outkast, who didn't make anything BUT classics, Andre 3000 though in my opinion is the better of the two, and deserves his place at 5th due to his excellent lyricism, incredible flow and his consistency throughout his career.

4. Nas. Illmatic and It Was Written are two of the greatest albums ever, which he wrote when he was pretty young, he's still had a few good-great albums since then but like Eminem, his discography has been kind of inconsistent since then though, but I think it beats out Eminem's, plus his influence is undeniable.

3. Biggie. I don't actually listen to Biggie a lot, but his influence on hip-hop is insane, it would be hard to find a rapper who isn't influenced by him in some sort of way, his flow and lyrics were top tier too and his discography, whilst short for obvious reasons, was extremely good.

2. Tupac. As with Biggie, it would be VERY hard to find a rapper, mainstream or not, that doesn't cite Tupac as being influential in their music, even 25 years after his death. His music was extremely good, and whilst I don't think he was as lyrical as Biggie, I think his music was better and what he rapped about was very good. I think he was a better artist than Biggie, and that's why he is ahead of him.

1. Kanye West. This is why I said I'm gonna be controversial, because I know everyone will disagree with this, but opinions are opinions. I will explain my opinion though. Firstly, his influence far exceeds music, he also has a very big influence on the fashion industry, whether you like his fashion or not, this is undeniable. His influence on music too is very great, and possibly higher than most artists, especially since the start of the 21st Century, he has influenced Lil Wayne and Kendrick in big ways who are both on my list. He also also influenced Drake and Travis Scott massively, who whether you like them or not, are two of the biggest artists on the planet right now. His discography is also very very good in my opinion, and a big part of why I have him at #1. His Dropout Trilogy (TCD, Late Registration, Graduation) are pretty much loved by most people, and are what people refer to when they say "I miss the old Kanye", these are three excellent albums each with their own unique sound and message, not to mention that Graduation also helped usher out the gangster rap era by knocking 50 Cent off his perch. 808s, whilst a polarising album, was a complete change in his sound, and is heavily influential on many of the sounds you hear in mainstream R&B and hip-hop today and influenced Drake, Kid Cudi, The Weeknd and Travis Scott a lot. MBDTF is considered his magnus opus and was ranked by many publications as the best hip-hop album of the 2010s. Yeezus, also polarising, but another drastic change in his sound, I do like a lot of songs on this album, but I get why people dislike it. TLOP, not sure why this is polarising but it is, it is a very good album and one of my favourites by Kanye, the production on it is fantastic and there's a ton of fantastic songs. Ye and Jesus is King are two albums I do like, but they're probably bottom two for me, he has kind of fell off since his switch to Christian music, but it's been just over a year so not gonna write him off just yet, especially considering how he can change his sound a lot. Kids See Ghosts also came out after Ye and is a fantastic album, but is very short. Another collab album by him is Watch the Throne with Jay-Z which is a good album. Final point to why I have Kanye as #1 is his production, he has pretty much produced his entire discography, where he manages to switch up his sound with every album to sound as unique as possible, as well as producing for many other artists, including producing "Be" by Common, and a lot of Jay-Z's classic songs. Final thoughts: I cannot think of another artist, not just in hip-hop, but in music in general, who has been able to drastically change their entire sound so much, whilst a the same time managing to stay so relevant, influential and consistent with the quality of music they produce.
Take a moment and realise that you just argued that Kanye West is the best rapper of all time.

Kanye West.

(I love Kanye btw, but this is egregious.)
 

Spoony

The People's President
Joined
Oct 27, 2001
Messages
54,934
Location
Get to the chopppaaaa.
Treach MC was great and all. Loved Naughty's first (and second) album.

Oh Pos from De La Soul wass excellent as well.
 
Last edited: