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Updated by John Huh on Nov 30, 2016
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Ten Best Rappers of All Time

If 70% of any new experience is sound, then music has to redefine what new experiences can be. It fills people with a sense of hope and happiness, inspires them to reach for the stars and lift them up when they are down. I am one of those many people who can confidently say that I wouldn’t be where I am now or who I am now without the vital role of music in my life.

Hip hop has been as big a part of my life during my formative years that I feel very strongly about some of the artists on this Ten Best Rappers countdown. I’ve taken several factors into account, from record sales to impact on the hip hop community, and there’s a definite reason for each rapper on this list.

Having said that however, I realize that I may have snubbed a rapper that you may feel strongly about. As much as music inspires and touches people in their everyday lives, you can believe that any top ten list of musical talents will always divide and upset certain people. So in that, I realize that people will disagree with my countdown but hey what else is new?

So sit back and groove as I countdown and tackle the task of listing the Ten Best Rappers in history.

1

Big Pun

Apr 23, 2015
Big Pun

Rappers that were taken from us before their time is something that is far too much a part of the rap and hip hop community, and sadly there’s too much of it on this list as well.

The Puerto Rican Big Pun was a talented, bilingual rapper that inspired a legion of fans across America. Blending a deep voice and long winded raps into a unique powerful sound that sounded so incredibly different than anything else at the time. Big Pun’s got a smaller sample size of albums and songs to choose from, but many of these raps are simply without equal.

Some of his greater hits include Capital Punishment and Yeeeah Baby, which feature quite a few of his classic hits. With the ability to weave his unique rapping style into his long delivery made this rapper deserving of his spot on the top ten best rappers of all time.

2

50 Cent

Apr 23, 2015
50 Cent

50’s meteoric rise to the top has been well chronicled, and well deserved as well. The gangster rapper is unapologetic in his rhymes and his voice lends a true rugged street vibe to his music.

With over 50 million albums sold, he’s clearly a big hitter and an icon in the hip hop industry. Some may say he’s just another hardcore gangster rapper, but to simply shove 50 into this lump would be ignorant.

Outside of his record sales and rapping style, 50 Cent belongs on this list more for what he represents to this generation of rappers. He’s arguably the most successful hip hop businessman of all time, able to turn his skills into his vast reaching empire in a relatively short amount of time.

The effect of his success cannot be lost in a generation just a few years removed from the bloody rapper battles of the 90s.

3

Snoop Dogg

Apr 23, 2015
Snoop Dogg

One of the original gangster rappers, Snoop Dogg has over 25 years in the game under his belt. His DoggyStyle album still stands the test of time as one of the most progressive sounding rap albums of the 90s.

His flowing style and smooth voice give you the impression that something so wonderful comes so easily to a man of his ability.

His true impact on gangster rap in the mid 90s cannot truly be measured, but Snoop weathered the many struggles he would encounter both personally and professionally. During a time which rap music was vilified for being too violent and deemed abusive towards women, Snoop Dogg survived and thrived with a style that’s uniquely his.

Snoop also has appeared in several motion pictures, further diversifying his body of work and maintaining his status as a hip hop idol.

4

Jay-Z

Apr 23, 2015
Jay-Z

Checking in at number 7 is Hova himself, Jay-Z who is one of the most successful hip hop artists of all time. With a smooth voice and delivery, Jigga’s place on this list of top ten best rappers of all time can most definitely be argued.. to be higher.

Jay-Z’s rapping style blends his sound against his lyrically brilliant verses, spit out in silky smooth grace. He’s also a very shrewd businessman who has a grasp on the Rocafella and Def Jam empires he has built at his feet.

His rap style is also very diverse, sharing the mic with several musicians outside of his genre multiple times, never once looking or sounding out of place. One of the greatest albums of all time The Blueprint, came during some of the most turbulent times of Jay-Z’s life, and yet took just two days to write.

He’s not everyone’s favorite but to me his place on this ten best rappers list just might be too low

5

Rakim

Apr 23, 2015
Rakim

I realize I may have lost anyone that is younger than the age of 25 with my sixth entry on the top ten best rapper list of all time, Rakim. As one of the best MC’s in the business, he may not be high on many people’s list but to overlook the man’s influence and impact on rap, is not doing the discussion of hip hop any justice.

He was never able to reach the commercial success of his peers, but who knows what would have happened had Rakim and Dr Dre not parted ways in 2001? Rakim signed with Aftermath at a time where anything seemed possible for the label, but artistic differences changed what ‘Oh, My God’ could have done for Rakim’s career.

His style is unique and the man’s message is far different than his more accredited peers, but Rakim is still one of the greatest MC’s of all time.

6

Dr Dre

Apr 23, 2015
Dr Dre

He’s as old school as it comes, and why would you want it any differently? Dr. Dre most definitely deserves a spot on this top ten best rappers list, and one might argue that even this spot is far too low. The Chronic just might be the greatest single recognizable rap album ever, and I really couldn’t tell you any other album that comes anywhere close.

Beyond the platinum records the album sales and the money, Dr. Dre has had a direct influence on hip hop and the rap game overall. Who else can boast of this sort of impact? Still doubt him? His Aftermath record album brought to us three of the ten listed rappers on this very countdown, what else can you say?

Who you think brought you the o’ G’s, Eazy-E’s, Ice Cube’s and D. O. C’s. The Snoop D O double G’s
And a group that said mutha**** the police

7

Notorious B.I.G.

Apr 23, 2015
Notorious B.I.G.

Biggie’s voice is one of the most recognizable voices in all of rap with a grumbly thick delivery that belied the grace of his flows. His quick striking flowing style had you mezmorized with his rhymes all his own, and nobody flowed better than Biggie.

His songs “Hypnotize” and “Big Poppa” stand the test of time and truly allowed Biggie’s flowing style to shine through. Rhyming with almost effortless ease, he revolutionized the way rap and hip hop sounded like few ever would.

Like his West Coast counterparts, Biggie grew his own stable of rappers and own empire but that’s not what truly matters for Biggie on this list.

His flow, his skill and his delivery were all unmatched with unflinching fluidity and grace. When you speak of GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), Biggie fits that description to a tee because there’s not many rappers better than he was in any facet of the rap game.

Even though the #3 and unfortunately #2 entry on our top ten best rappers list were taken from us prematurely, their music will stay with us and in our hearts forever.

8

Tupac

Apr 23, 2015
Tupac

There isn’t much more to say about the #2 entry on our ten best rappers list, but Tupac truly is one of the greatest rappers of all time. Without a doubt one of the greatest songwriters of our era, many people followed but could not fill Tupac’s shoes.

Tupac took hip hop and rap to another level and like the greatest of anything really, elevated the game and people around him.

Had Tupac been born into a different world or been a different class of musician, there’s no doubt that history would see him as one of the greatest lyrically talented people of all time.

The only reason he isn’t given his just dues is because most of the world prefers to look down their nose at hip hop or rap, as opposed to justly giving credit where it’s due.

Even with his legal struggles and internal demons, Tupac’s rap did more than just brag about money, women and cars. He tackled public issues and addressed problems within our society that wasn’t always easy to talk about.

9

Eminem

Apr 23, 2015
Eminem

I’ll have to admit it took me quite a while to struggle between Eminem and Tupac, and who knows according to some I’ve still got it wrong. But to me Eminem is the best rapper of all time, having not only survived but excelled in an industry that wasn’t always kind to white rappers.

His list of accomplishments on a record selling level however are nearly unmatched however, because he is not only the best selling rapper of all time but he’s also the best selling artist of the 2000’s even though he was gone for four of the ten years.

Revolutionary doesn’t begin to cover his body of work, Eminem took the game of rap and turned it on it’s head with his ability to split stereotypes. His single ‘Stan’ was incredibly different and yet it carried a profound and often times disturbing portrait.

Over 12 million records sold in the UK, and over 85 million sold worldwide, he’s not only an American phenomenon but a truly international one. Able to tear down racial walls and also poke fun at himself at the same time, Eminem’s marketing methods are only surpassed by his dominant rapping ability.

His lyrical ability is unmatched and really, nobody can tell the story like Eminem can and in that very ability is what makes him the greatest. Not the 11 Grammys, Academy Awards and countless commercial success.