The Best Rap Lyricists of All Time

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A list of the best rap lyricists of all time. Since hip hop and rap music became popular at the beginning of the 1980s, many fans of the genre have focused on the message described in each rapper's lyrics. A form of street poetry, rap lyrics focus on many different things, dependent on who is speaking of the harsh realities of the streets. Others, contrarily, rap about the glamorous life and what it's like to live large. Sometimes, lyrical rappers fluctuate between both of these extremes.

The best rap lyricists are universally respected by both their peers and fans for the honesty and the way they use their words in a creative fashion. Some of the most respected wordsmiths came from the golden age of hip hop. Here, you had groups like Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, N.W.A. and Black Star and individual rappers like KRS-One and Nas who are universally known as the best lyricists. On the other side of the coin, you have two of the greatest rappers of all time, Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., who connected with millions of hip hop fans due to their strong lyrics that touch on the harsh realities of urban culture. A rapper who has switched from rapping about his rough upbringing to glitz and glamour is Jay Z. His debut album was universally praised for talking about life in Brooklyn during his youth, and his recent album was panned for praising brands like Tom Ford and excess.

This list includes many of greatest rappers of all time, who are also among the genre's most popular as well. The one thing that these rappers have in common is that their lyrics are considered some of the best in the history of hip hop music. These top lyricists are the greatest of all time, and it's up to you to decide who is the best lyricist in rap music.
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  • 54 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 3,897
    - 1,204


    Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Hardcore hip hop

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  2. 2
    + 3,110
    - 1,137


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, East Coast hip hop

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  3. 3
    + 2,827
    - 939

    the people's #1
    Hip hop music, Political hip hop, Gangsta rap

    ;
  4. 4
    + 2,336
    - 974

    most listed
    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

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  5. 5
    + 1,719
    - 637


    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

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  6. 6
    + 2,191
    - 786


    Hip hop music, Political hip hop, West Coast hip hop

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  7. 7
    + 1,513
    - 587


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Rock music

    ;
  8. 8
    + 1,351
    - 642


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Political hip hop

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  9. 9
    + 1,199
    - 1,121

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hip hop music, East Coast hip hop, Gangsta rap

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  10. 10
    + 1,122
    - 482


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Rock music

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  11. 11
    + 1,046
    - 478


    Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Hardcore hip hop

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  12. 12
    + 923
    - 475


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Hardcore hip hop

    ;
  13. 13
    + 860
    - 447


    Hip hop music, Jazz rap, Alternative hip hop

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  14. 14
    + 828
    - 383


    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

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  15. 15
    + 1,010
    - 377

    ranked low on reranks & added by raynakuzio
    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Rhythm and blues

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  16. 16
    + 861
    - 425


    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

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  17. 17
    + 726
    - 395


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Conscious hip hop

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  18. 18
    + 887
    - 459


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Political hip hop

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  19. 19
    + 592
    - 278


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Political hip hop

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  20. 20
    + 558
    - 100

    ranked low on reranks
    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

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  21. 21
    + 670
    - 455

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hip hop music, Pop music, Gangsta rap

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  22. 22
    + 547
    - 230


    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

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  23. 23
    + 554
    - 415

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hip hop music, Old-school hip hop, East Coast hip hop

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  24. 24
    + 513
    - 291


    Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Gangsta rap

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  25. 25
    + 659
    - 310

    ranked low on reranks
    Hip hop music, Jazz rap, Alternative hip hop

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  26. 26
    + 541
    - 229
    Tech N9ne is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Rap Lyricists of All Time


    Tech N9ne

  27. 27
    + 502
    - 238


    Hip hop music, East Coast hip hop, Mafioso rap

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  28. 28
    + 500
    - 278


    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

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  29. 29
    + 585
    - 288


    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop

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  30. 30
    + 489
    - 282


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Neo soul

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  31. 31
    + 544
    - 239
    Busta Rhymes is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Rap Lyricists of All Time

    ranked low on reranks
    Hip hop music, Ragga, Dancehall

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  32. 32
    + 551
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hip hop music, Rap music, Gangsta rap

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  33. 33
    + 414
    - 233


    Hip hop music

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  34. 34
    + 406
    - 292

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

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  35. 35
    + 548
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    DMX is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Rap Lyricists of All Time


    Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Hardcore hip hop

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  36. 36
    + 454
    - 215

    ranked low on reranks
    Hip hop music

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  37. 37
    + 438
    - 364
    L.L. Cool J is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Rap Lyricists of All Time

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    L.L. Cool J

  38. 38
    + 396
    - 204

    ranked low on reranks
    Hip hop music, Atlanta hip hop, Hardcore hip hop

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  39. 39
    + 438
    - 351

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Horrorcore

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  40. 40
    + 488
    - 230
    Royce Da 5'9 is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Rap Lyricists of All Time

    ranked low on reranks
    Royce Da 5'9

  41. 41
    + 270
    - 198

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hip hop music, Old-school hip hop, Gangsta rap

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  42. 42
    + 354
    - 236


    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

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  43. 43
    + 324
    - 64

    ranked low on reranks
    Alternative hip hop, Dance-pop, Jazz

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  44. 44
    + 630
    - 807

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Pop music

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  45. 45
    + 301
    - 148

    ranked low on reranks
    Hip hop music, Political hip hop, Hardcore hip hop

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  46. 46
    + 461
    - 446

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hip hop music, Gangsta rap

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  47. 47
    + 298
    - 186

    ranked low on reranks
    Hip hop music, Atlanta hip hop, Gangsta rap

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  48. 48
    + 307
    - 249


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, East Coast hip hop Political, Conscious, Ghost writer for your favorite rappers. Technical wordplay. 

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  49. 49
    + 244
    - 104


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Hardcore hip hop

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  50. 50
    + 330
    - 215


    Hip hop music, Midwest hip hop, Gangsta rap

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