Billboard ranked the top greatest rappers of all time, the list consists of Alive and dead rappers.
The GOAT talk for top rappers of all time has been going on for many years even when it comes to ranking who or what is the ultimate best, whether you’re talking films, TV shows, restaurants or any other subject. When it comes to rappers, it’s a debatable topic, especially for Hip hop lovers.
Billboard/Vibe ranked the Top 50 Greatest Rappers of All Time as part of their salute to this year’s golden anniversary of hip-hop. (The genre dates back to 1973 when DJ Kool Herc first set up his two turntables to rock a Bronx party.) The rollout began with the Jan. 11 reveal of the rappers ranked 50-41. Billboard revealed 10 more rappers each week since, with the final top 10 now unveiled below.
10. Nicki Minaj
From South Jamaica, Queens by way of Trinidad and Tobago, Nicki Minaj earned her crown as the modern-day Queen of Rap. Her 2009 mixtape Beam Me Up Scotty established her as a lyrical powerhouse, shortly before she emerged as the First Lady of Young Money, solidifying the label’s ineffable trinity of chart-conquering rap beasts with Lil Wayne and Drake.
Her catalogue ranges from songs like; SuperBass, Anaconda, Beez in the Trap, Starships
9. Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg’s impact as one of the founding fathers of West Coast and gangsta rap. Alongside mentor Dr. Dre, the lanky Long Beach rapper introduced his ultra-cool demeanor and laid-back flow as the guest on the former’s 1992 debut solo single “Deep Cover.”
Snoop Dogg brought his career full circle by purchasing his alma mater Death Row in 2022. Some of his songs include; Drop It Like It’s Hot, Sexual Eruption, and Sensual Seduction.
Drake forecasted his superstar climb when he was Wheelchair Jimmy on the popular ’00s teenage show Degrassi: The Next Generation. Since his 2009 breakthrough mixtape classic, So Far Gone, Drake’s ability to swerve in and out of genres and mix of sugary crooning with spiky bars made him an untouchable force. His biggest songs include; One Dance, Hotline Bling, Know Yourself, God’s Plan.
7. Lil Wayne
“Bring the crowd and I’m loud in living color/ It is Weezy F–kin’ Baby, got these rappers in my stomach,” Lil Wayne opens his 2005 deep cut, “Best Rapper Alive,” foreshadowing the years to come. Wielding words like swords, Wayne is one of the most masterful lyricists of our time, delivering mind-boggling verses for the last quarter century.
Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III album became a million-seller in the first week of its release and its hit songs “A Milli” and “Lollipop” helped establish him as a mainstream artist. He also helped develop fellow musicians Drake and Nicki Minaj through his record label Young Money/Cash Money, turning them into global icons. His catalogue includes; Lollipop, Love Me, A Milli, Mrs. Officer, Mirror and more.
6. The Notorious B.I.G.
Christopher “The Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace is the ultimate rap phenomenon. Starting with 1993’s riotous “Party and Bullshit,” the Brooklyn, New York kingpin later signed with Diddy’s Bad Boy Records. Building a reputation for delivering gritty tales in a laid-back style, accented by deep-toned, rumbling vocals and a signature dark sense of humor, Biggie went on to score 16 Hot 100 hits – including two No. 1s with “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems” and “Hypnotize.” Big completed two classic solo albums, 1994’s Ready to Die and 1997’s double-disc Life After Death – the latter spending four weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Eminem is a talented freestyle rapper known for his controversial, macabre, and often humorous lyrics. He has engaged in numerous feuds and enjoys playing the role of rap’s supervillain. He has impressive rhyme schemes and syncopation and holds the record for the fastest rap in a hit single with “Godzilla,” where he rapped 225 words in 30 seconds.
Tupac Shakur was a talented and multifaceted individual in the 1990s, known for his work as a poet, actor, activist, and rapper. He started as a member of Digital Underground and quickly gained recognition for his standout verse on their 1991 hit “Same Song.” As a solo artist, Tupac showcased his duality, creating empathetic classics like “Dear Mama” and “Keep Your Head Up,” as well as explosive tracks like “Hit ‘Em Up” and “Hail Mary.” Despite not being the best lyricist or having the craziest flow, Tupac’s unique voice and motivational messaging made him one of the greatest MCs of all time.
Nas is a well-respected hip-hop artist known for his successful career. He was first introduced to the rap scene in 1991 through his appearance on Main Source’s “Live at the Barbeque.” His debut album “Illmatic” was released in 1994 and is considered a classic in the hip-hop genre, serving as inspiration for many aspiring lyricists. Despite having high expectations to live up to, Nas continued to evolve and remain relevant, releasing multiple No. 1 albums into the 2010s.
2. Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar, a native of Compton, is widely considered one of the most influential artists in the music industry due to his unique and thought-provoking lyrics, fearlessness in experimenting with different genres, and impressive flow. He initially gained recognition as a teenage rapper known as K.Dot through mixtapes before releasing his first studio album on Top Dawg Entertainment. After signing with Dr. Dre’s Interscope imprint Aftermath Entertainment, he released “good kid, m.A.A.d City,” which was an instant success and marked a major revival in West Coast and gangsta rap. The album produced several commercial hits and was followed by “To Pimp a Butterfly,” which became Lamar’s first No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Jay-Z is a rapper who has been recognized for his genius-level talent and has become highly influential in the hip-hop industry. He has had a long and successful career and is considered by many to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. He is the first rapper to be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
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