The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s Bands/Musicians

The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

By Read The Full Story! 14k votes 2.1k voters 2.5k views 46 items tags f p @

It’s fashionable to say that the ‘90s were better, especially when it comes to rap. Here at Complex, we often go out of our way to catalog and defend the contemporary era because hey, we got now and we don’t care who got next. There’s no denying that the '90s yielded a huge amount of top-shelf rap music. But there’s nothing more dangerous than being blinded by nostalgia.


 This sentiment was best explained in Woody Allen’s 2011 comedy Midnight In Paris when one character said, “Nostalgia is denial—denial of the painful present...the name for this denial is 'golden age thinking'—the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in. It's a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”


 Maybe that’s why many millennials fetishize the '90s, pretending as if Saved By The Bell and Full House were actually good shows. (Try watching them today, they’re downright awful.) That same logic applies to rap listeners who are quick to point to classics like Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle but forget clunkers like its follow-up, Doggfather.

Still, the '90s really were a golden age for rap. In the early part of the decade, the genre was ushering in its platinum era. By the end of the decade, it was a full-on commercial monster, a dominant force, the dominant force, in pop music, in all of youth culture worldwide. Maybe '90s rappers weren’t as revolutionary as their '80s counterparts—the forefathers who laid the groundwork for hip-hop. But the '90s rappers matured the form, modernizing rap to the style that’s still prevalent today. Though the era was marred by controversy, violence, arrests, coastal rivalries, and finally tragedy, the '90s stand as the heyday of the greatest, most impactful, influential artists rap has ever produced.


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  1. 1
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    Tupac Shakur is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #1 on the original list
    Tupac Shakur Hip hop music, Political hip hop, Gangsta rap

  2. 2
    + 958
    - 295
    The Notorious B.I.G. is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #2 on the original list
    The Notorious B.I.G. Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop http://www.complex.com/music/2013/10/best-90s-rappers/the-notorious-big

  3. 3
    + 840
    - 256
    Nas is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #3 on the original list
    Nas Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, East Coast hip hop

  4. 4
    + 502
    - 149

    #8 on the original list & added by NickAllen
    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

    ;
  5. 5
    + 497
    - 199

    #6 on the original list
    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Political hip hop

    ;
  6. 6
    + 492
    - 210

    #5 on the original list
    Hip hop music, Pop music, Gangsta rap

    ;
  7. 7
    + 387
    - 195
    Big L is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #16 on the original list & added by ChrisRaudez
    Big L Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Hardcore hip hop

  8. 8
    + 173
    - 61

    #4 on the original list & added by RemyMischke
    Hip hop music, Rap music, Gangsta rap

    ;
  9. 9
    + 141
    - 46
    Method Man is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #27 on the original list & added by RemyMischke
    Method Man Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

  10. 10
    + 141
    - 51
    DMX is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #11 on the original list & added by RemyMischke
    DMX Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Hardcore hip hop

  11. 11
    + 281
    - 156
    Big Pun is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #20 on the original list & added by NickAllen
    Big Pun Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

  12. 12
    + 356
    - 213
    André 3000 is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #15 on the original list
    André 3000 Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Rock music

  13. 13
    + 327
    - 194
    Redman is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    Redman Hip hop music

  14. 14
    + 292
    - 169

    #10 on the original list & added by strangecorn
    Hip hop music, Old-school hip hop, Gangsta rap

    ;
  15. 15
    + 427
    - 277
    Jay-Z is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #14 on the original list
    Jay-Z Hip hop music, East Coast hip hop, Gangsta rap

  16. 16
    + 237
    - 140
    A Tribe Called Quest is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #34 on the original list & added by NickAllen
    A Tribe Called Quest Hip hop music, Jazz rap, Alternative hip hop

  17. 17
    + 258
    - 158

    #23 on the original list & added by СтрахињаВукић
    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Rock music

    ;
  18. 18
    + 253
    - 158
    Scarface is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #25 on the original list
    Scarface Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Gangsta rap

  19. 19
    + 105
    - 42
    Rakim is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #13 on the original list & added by RemyMischke
    Rakim Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

  20. 20
    + 95
    - 43
    Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #12 on the original list & added by TommieKitt
    Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Urban contemporary, Hip hop music, Horrorcore

  21. 21
    + 105
    - 55
    Raekwon is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #19 on the original list & added by matixmc1
    Raekwon Hip hop music, East Coast hip hop, Mafioso rap

  22. 22
    + 182
    - 122

    #49 on the original list & added by NickAllen
    Hip hop music, Jazz rap, Jazz

    ;
  23. 23
    + 76
    - 39
    Gang Starr is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #57 on the original list & added by RemyMischke
    Gang Starr Hip hop music, Jazz rap, Alternative hip hop

  24. 24
    + 213
    - 183

    #35 on the original list
    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Neo soul

    ;
  25. 25
    + 139
    - 114

    #36 on the original list & added by NickAllen
    Hip hop music, Jazz rap, Alternative hip hop

    ;
  26. 26
    + 185
    - 162
    Prodigy is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #40 on the original list & added by Complex
    Prodigy Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

  27. 27
    + 117
    - 96
    Kool G Rap is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #65 on the original list & added by NickAllen
    Kool G Rap Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

  28. 28
    + 121
    - 103
    Slick Rick is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #41 on the original list & added by NickAllen
    Slick Rick Hip hop music, Old-school hip hop, East Coast hip hop

  29. 29
    + 147
    - 134
    De La Soul is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #37 on the original list & added by priceman.arens
    De La Soul Hip hop music, Jazz rap, Alternative hip hop

  30. 30
    + 66
    - 53
    No image

    added by matixmc1
    Raekwon

  31. 31
    + 50
    - 38
    Big Daddy Kane is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #78 on the original list & added by RemyMischke
    Big Daddy Kane Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

  32. 32
    + 18
    - 5
    Busta Rhymes is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #18 on the original list & added by AlDeSouza
    Busta Rhymes Hip hop music, Ragga, Dancehall

  33. 33
    + 106
    - 102

    #71 on the original list & added by NickAllen
    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

    ;
  34. 34
    + 43
    - 41
    No image

    added by TommieKitt
    Bone Thugs

  35. 35
    + 4
    - 1
    Chuck D is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #60 on the original list & added by TimmyKnight
    Chuck D Hip hop music, Political hip hop, Hardcore hip hop

  36. 36
    + 101
    - 114

    #61 on the original list & added by NickAllen
    Hip hop music

    ;
  37. 37
    + 18
    - 20

    #58 on the original list & added by JakkiVienna
    Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, Rock music

    ;
  38. 38
    + 3
    - 3
    Lil' Kim is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #39 on the original list & added by malmrphy
    Lil' Kim Hip hop music, Dirty rap, Hardcore hip hop

  39. 39
    + 91
    - 111
    Black Thought is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #87 on the original list & added by NickAllen
    Black Thought Hip hop music

  40. 40
    + 23
    - 33
    Jeru the Damaja is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #90 on the original list & added by PierreStaz
    Jeru the Damaja Hip hop music

  41. 41
    + 14
    - 25

    #79 on the original list & added by AkiraTakagi
    Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Hardcore hip hop

    ;
  42. 42
    + 67
    - 96

    #99 on the original list & added by PabloPerezAmoedo
    Hip hop music, Nu metal, Hardcore hip hop

    ;
  43. 43
    + 26
    - 45

    #94 on the original list & added by JuusoVartiainen
    Hip hop music, Jazz rap, Alternative hip hop

    ;
  44. 44
    + 14
    - 33
    Del tha Funkee Homosapien is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #91 on the original list & added by PierreStaz
    Del tha Funkee Homosapien Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Funk

  45. 45
    + 48
    - 100
    Mase is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The 10 Best Rappers of the ’90s

    #81 on the original list & added by idiallo1992
    Mase Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, Christian hip hop

  46. 46
    + 7
    - 37
    No image

    added by PierreStaz
    Del the Funky

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