The Greatest Rappers of All Time Bands/Musicians
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The Greatest Rappers of All Time

List Criteria: Only individual rappers, not rap groups or collectives.

Finally, a definitive list of the best rappers of all time, ranked by fans all over the world. From the early '80s to present day, this list counts down rap's best lyricists and game changers in history. Lil' Wayne, Method Man, Jay-Z, Eminem, Andre 3000, and T.I are among the artists that appear on this amazing countdown. Rappers from all cities, both genders, and all races are all vying to be crowned the greatest rapper ever.

What makes a rapper great? There are a number of differing definitions and philosophies. Rapper J. Cole (who finds himself on the Ultimate List below) cites consistency as the most important attribute, and says it's important to look both for the big humorous "punch" lines as well as the underlying message of the rapper's songs. Nas (another MC featured on the list) focuses as well on the meaning of the songs, as well as the scale and ambition of the rapper's narratives and storytelling. (He has also gone on the record as saying that there is no such thing as the "best rapper" or "Greatest of All Time" - often abbreviated as G.O.A.T.)

Numerous different skills and attributes all must come together to make a truly legendary MC. Obviously, a rapper must display a sense of rhythm and an ability to compliment the beat in unpredictable and exciting ways. A gift for lyricism and vocabulary is similarly essential - you can have the flow of the century, but if the words don't come together to tell a compelling story or present a unique point of view, it's still not going to translate into a great hip-hop song. But of course there's also an intangible element that elevates some rappers into the ranks of the greatest of all time. Who are these rappers who stand heads above the competition? You tell us, by voting for your favorites below or making your own list of Top Rappers.

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  1. 1
    + 6300
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    the people's #1 & most listed All Eyez on Me, Me Against the World, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day ...

    ) open
  2. 2
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    The Marshall Mathers LP, The Slim Shady LP, The Eminem Show

    ) open
  3. 3
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    Ready to Die, Life After Death, Born Again

    ) open
  4. 4
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    Illmatic, Life Is Good, Untitled Nas album

    ) open
  5. 5
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Watch the Throne, The Black Album, Reasonable Doubt

    ) open
  6. 6
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    AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, The Predator, Death Certificate

    ) open
  7. 7
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    The Chronic, 2001, Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang / Let Me Ride

    ) open
  8. 8
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    Doggystyle, Tha Doggfather, Tha Last Meal

    ) open
  9. 9
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    The 18th Letter, The Archive: Live, Lost & Found, The Master

    ) open
  10. 10
    + 2669
    - 1522

    Royal Flush, Class of 3000: Music Volume One, DoYaThing

    ) open
  11. 11
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    - 1531

    good kid, m.A.A.d city, Section.80, Overly Dedicated

    ) open
  12. 12
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    - 1767

    Get Rich or Die Tryin', Get Rich or Die Tryin' / The Massacre, Street King ...

    ) open
  13. 13
    + 2013
    - 1483

    Eazy-Duz-It, It’s On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa, Eternal E

    ) open
  14. 14
    + 2033
    - 1574

    It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, ...And ...

    ) open
  15. 15
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    ranked low on reranks Stankonia, Aquemini, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

    ) open
  16. 16
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Late Registration, The College Dropout ...

    ) open
  17. 17
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    Tical, 4:21... The Day After, The Riddler

    ) open
  18. 18
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    Black on Both Sides, True Magic, The New Danger

    ) open
  19. 19
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    When Disaster Strikes…, The Big Bang, The Coming

    ) open
  20. 20
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    Theater of the Mind, Word of Mouf, Back For the First Time

    ) open
  21. 21
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    Hip Hop Lives, Return of the Boom Bap, Criminal Minded

    ) open
  22. 22
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    Resurrection, Be, Like Water for Chocolate

    ) open
  23. 23
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    King, Urban Legend, Trap Muzik

    ) open
  24. 24
    + 1463
    - 1215

    Radio, Mama Said Knock You Out, Mr. Smith

    ) open
  25. 25
    + 956
    - 713

    Born Sinner, The Warm Up, Friday Night Lights

    ) open
  26. 26
    + 1099
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    Muddy Waters, Whut? Thee Album, Doc's da Name 2000

    ) open
  27. 27
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    The Big Picture, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, Children of the ...

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  28. 28
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    Ironman, Supreme Clientele, Fishscale

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  29. 29
    + 1083
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    Capital Punishment, Yeeeah Baby, Endangered Species

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  30. 30
    + 1012
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    The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, The Art of Storytelling, The Ruler's ...

    ) open
  31. 31
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    The Diary, The Fix, Mr. Scarface Is Back

    ) open
  32. 32
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    Long Live the Kane, It's a Big Daddy Thing, Daddy's Home

    ) open
  33. 33
    + 1007
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    Food & Liquor, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, ...

    ) open
  34. 34
    + 968
    - 950

    Quality, Liberation, The Beautiful Struggle

    ) open
  35. 35
    + 852
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    Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Instrumentals, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II, ...

    ) open
  36. 36
    + 659
    - 364

    ranked low on reranks & added by Fendarr Music & Me, Welcome To The Dogg House, G-Funk Classics, Vol. 1 & 2 ...

    ) open
  37. 37
    + 929
    - 747

    Paul's Boutique, Licensed to Ill, Check Your Head

    ) open
  38. 38
    + 891
    - 784

    Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, The Trials and Tribulations ...

    ) open
  39. 39
    + 869
    - 778

    The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, MTV Unplugged 2.0, Ms. Hill

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  40. 40
    + 832
    - 741

    RZA as Bobby Digital in Stereo, Birth of a Prince, Digital Bullet

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  41. 41
    + 717
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    Revolutionary Vol. 2, Revolutionary, Volume 1, The 3rd World

    ) open
  42. 42
    + 772
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    Liquid Swords, Grandmasters, Pro Tools

    ) open
  43. 43
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    Autobiography of Mistachuck, Rock da Funky Beats / Dance With You, An ...

    ) open
  44. 44
    + 780
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    Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, Got Purp? Vol. 2, Royal ...

    ) open
  45. 45
    + 644
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    Everready, Anghellic, Absolute Power

    ) open
  46. 46
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Tha Carter III, Tha Carter II, Tha Carter

    ) open
  47. 47
    + 556
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    At the Speed of Life, 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz, Restless

    ) open
  48. 48
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    The Renaissance, Amplified, Kamaal/The Abstract

    ) open
  49. 49
    + 607
    - 610

    The Documentary, Doctor's Advocate, Jesus Piece

    ) open
  50. 50
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Take Care, Nothing Was the Same, Thank Me Later

    ) open
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