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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  1. 1
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    Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Hardcore hip hop

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  2. 2
    + 3,023
    - 1,093


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

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  3. 3
    + 2,749
    - 910

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

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  4. 4
    + 2,261
    - 953

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

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  5. 5
    + 1,673
    - 621


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

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  6. 6
    + 2,122
    - 754


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

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  7. 7
    + 1,474
    - 566


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Rock music

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  8. 8
    + 1,313
    - 621


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Political hip hop

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  9. 9
    + 1,172
    - 1,090

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

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  10. 10
    + 1,087
    - 467


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Rock music

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  11. 11
    + 1,027
    - 467


    Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Hardcore hip hop

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  12. 12
    + 905
    - 466


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Hardcore hip hop

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  13. 13
    + 835
    - 439


    Hip hop music, Jazz rap, Alternative hip hop

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  14. 14
    + 806
    - 375


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

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  15. 15
    + 963
    - 356

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

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  16. 16
    + 843
    - 413


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

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  17. 17
    + 713
    - 388


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Conscious hip hop

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  18. 18
    + 865
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    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Political hip hop

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  19. 19
    + 573
    - 270


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Political hip hop

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  20. 20
    + 534
    - 97

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

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  21. 21
    + 538
    - 226


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

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  22. 22
    + 547
    - 408

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

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  23. 23
    + 503
    - 285


    Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Gangsta rap

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  24. 24
    + 653
    - 445

    often listed
    Hip hop music, Pop music, Gangsta rap

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  25. 25
    + 640
    - 307

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

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  26. 26
    + 513
    - 225
    Tech N9ne is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Rap Lyricists of All Time


    Tech N9ne

  27. 27
    + 489
    - 236


    Hip hop music, East Coast hip hop, Mafioso rap

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  28. 28
    + 492
    - 274


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

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  29. 29
    + 573
    - 284


    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop

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  30. 30
    + 475
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    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Neo soul

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  31. 31
    + 532
    - 237
    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
    + 539
    - 369

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

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  33. 33
    + 401
    - 230


    Hip hop music

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  34. 34
    + 393
    - 288

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

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  35. 35
    + 534
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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
    + 442
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    ranked low on reranks
    Hip hop music

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  37. 37
    + 428
    - 361
    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
    + 426
    - 341


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Horrorcore

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  39. 39
    + 385
    - 200


    Hip hop music, Atlanta hip hop, Hardcore hip hop

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  40. 40
    + 474
    - 228
    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
    + 259
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hip hop music, Old-school hip hop, Gangsta rap

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  42. 42
    + 347
    - 231


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

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  43. 43
    + 614
    - 791

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

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  44. 44
    + 293
    - 144


    Hip hop music, Political hip hop, Hardcore hip hop

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  45. 45
    + 307
    - 62

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

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  46. 46
    + 450
    - 439

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

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  47. 47
    + 287
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    ranked low on reranks
    Hip hop music, Atlanta hip hop, Gangsta rap

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    + 298
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    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
    + 236
    - 100


    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Hardcore hip hop

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  50. 50
    + 322
    - 210


    Hip hop music, Midwest hip hop, Gangsta rap

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