Music

The Dopest Rappers of the '90s 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated August 19, 2019 240.7k votes 27.1k voters 1.3M views 139 items

List Rules Only rappers whose peak years came in the 1990s.

The best '90s rappers and rap groups brought us some of the best rap songs of all time with artists like Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre, and the Notorious B.I.G. dominating the decade. Often described as the "golden age" of hip hop and rap, the 1990s introduced many rappers and rap groups that would go on to become the best rappers of all time.

During the beginning of the decade, prominent acts and rappers like Ice Cube, LL Cool J, and Public Enemy led the charts as their fame, first established in the 1980s, continued. Each brought something new and interesting to the rap world, such as Ice Cube's 1991 release of "Death Certificate," which dealt with real-world issues like racism, Los Angeles gangs, and drugs.

As the decade continued, one of the best rap albums of all time came along in 1992. Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" made the now-legendary producer and rapper's name, along with the name of another up-and-coming rapper, Snoop Dogg, known around the world. Snoop and Dre represented the West Coast of the United States and alongside the late Tupac Shakur and the rest of the Death Row family, these rappers dominated the genre for the next several years. But there was another coast ready to battle for that top spot on the charts.

Enter the Bad Boy family from the East Coast with top names like Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and Christopher "The Notorious B.I.G." Wallace. These two sides were crucial in the East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry that not only produced some of the top rap music of the decade but also ultimately ended the lives of 2Pac and Biggie, as both were tragically murdered.

All of these rappers and their music influenced and ushered in a new generation of rappers, the best rappers of the 2000s, and put up a good fight for the best decade for rap music ever. Which 90s rapper is your favorite? Vote for the ones you like the best below or add your favorite to the list!
list ordered by
1
Ranker Video
All Eyez on Me, Me Against the World, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Political hip hop, Gangsta rap, West Coast hip hop

Labels: Amaru Entertainment, Death Row Records, Interscope Records

More Tupac Shakur 

#216 of 275 The Most Trustworthy Celebrities in the World #313 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Time A Timeline Of How Biggie And Tupac's Friendship Turned Into An Infamous Feud

2
Ranker Video
AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, The Predator, Death Certificate

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Political hip hop, Hardcore hip hop, Gangsta rap, + more

Labels: Lench Mob Records, Priority Records, EMI, Ruthless Records, Virgin Records, + more

More Ice Cube 

#757 of 1,148 The Best Actors in Film History #1,354 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time The Best Ice Cube Movies

3
Ranker Video
Ready to Die, Life After Death, Born Again

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop, Gangsta rap, Mafioso rap

Labels: Atlantic Records, Uptown Records, Bad Boy Records

More The Notorious B.I.G. 

#238 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #338 of 926 People We Wish Were Still Alive A Timeline Of How Biggie And Tupac's Friendship Turned Into An Infamous Feud

4
Ranker Video
Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, Wu-Tang Forever, 8 Diagrams

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop, Gangsta rap, Mafioso rap

Labels: Loud Records, Various Wu-Recording Labels, Universal Motown Republic Group, Sony Music Entertainment, SRC Records, + more

More Wu-Tang Clan 

#510 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #82 of 411 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s 9 Stories That Led The FBI To Think The Wu Tang Clan Was An Organized Crime Syndicate

5
Ranker Video
Straight Outta Compton, Niggaz4Life, Greatest Hits

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Political hip hop, Gangsta rap, G-funk, West Coast hip hop, + more

Labels: Priority Records, Interscope Records, Ruthless Records, EMI Records, Capitol Records

More N.W.A 

#168 of 284 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #10 of 222 Bands/Artists With Only One Great Album

6
Ranker Video
Illmatic, Life Is Good, Untitled Nas album

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, East Coast hip hop

Labels: Def Jam Recordings, Ill Will Records, Columbia

More Nas 

#420 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #5 of 509 The Greatest Rappers Of All Time The Best Songs Feat. Nas

7
Ranker Video
Doggystyle, Tha Doggfather, Tha Last Meal

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Pop music, Gangsta rap, G-funk, Reggae, + more

Labels: Atlantic Records, TVT Records, Priority Records, Geffen Records, EMI, + more

More Snoop Dogg 

#123 of 284 Musicians Who Belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame #42 of 411 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s The Best Songs on Snoop Dogg's Album 'I Wanna Thank Me'

8
Ranker Video
The Marshall Mathers LP, The Slim Shady LP, The Eminem Show

Genres (Music): Hip hop

Labels: Aftermath Entertainment, Web Entertainment, Game Recordings, Mashin' Duck Records, Rawkus Records, + more

More Eminem 

#140 of 453 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years #229 of 282 The Best (Male) Actors Working Today The Best Eminem Songs of All Time

9
Ranker Video
The Chronic, 2001, Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang / Let Me Ride

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Rap music, Gangsta rap, G-funk, West Coast hip hop

Labels: Aftermath Entertainment, Priority Records, Epic Records, Death Row Records, Interscope Records, + more

More Dr. Dre 

#51 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #30 of 411 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s The Best Songs Feat. Dr. Dre

10
Ranker Video
Eazy-Duz-It, It’s On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa, Eternal E

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Old-school hip hop, Gangsta rap, G-funk, West Coast hip hop

Labels: MCA Records, Priority Records, Epic Records, Relativity Records, Ruthless Records

More Eazy-E 

#1,392 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #750 of 854 These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time

11
Ranker Video
Blackout!, How High, Blackout! 2

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

Labels: Def Jam Recordings

More Method Man and Redman 

#42 of 77 The Best Music Side Projects #36 of 233 The Best New York Rappers The Best Method Man And Redman Songs

12
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It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Hardcore hip hop, Christian hip hop, East Coast hip hop, + more

Labels: Bloodline Records, Def Jam Recordings, EMI, Ruff Ryders Entertainment, Her Royal Majesty's Records, + more

More DMX 

#211 of 411 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s #503 of 770 American Public Figures Who Are National Treasures The Best DMX Songs

13
Ranker Video
Tical, 4:21... The Day After, The Riddler

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

Labels: Def Jam Recordings

More Method Man 

#12 of 43 Rappers with the Best Flow, Ranked The Best Method Man Songs The Best Songs Feat. Method Man

14
Ranker Video
E. 1999 Eternal, BTNHResurrection, The Art of War

Genres (Music): Urban contemporary, Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Midwest hip hop, Gangsta rap, + more

Labels: Warner Music Group, Interscope Records, Full Surface Records, Warner Bros. Records, Ruthless Records, + more

More Bone Thugs-N-Harmony 

#2,137 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #12 of 20 20 Otherworldly Curses in the Music Industry The Best Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Albums of All Time

15
Ranker Video
The Infamous, Blood Money, The Infamous Mobb Deep

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop, Gangsta rap, Mafioso rap

Labels: Sony Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, G-Unit Records, Zomba Group of Companies, + more

More Mobb Deep 

#1,345 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #467 of 508 The Best Duos of All Time The Best Mobb Deep Albums of All Time

16
Ranker Video
When Disaster Strikes…, The Big Bang, The Coming

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Ragga, Dancehall, Hardcore hip hop, Pop music, + more

Labels: Conglomerate, Aftermath Entertainment, Universal Motown Republic Group, Violator, Cash Money Records, + more

More Busta Rhymes 

#122 of 411 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s #18 of 509 The Greatest Rappers Of All Time The Best Songs Feat. Busta Rhymes

17
Ranker Video
GabrielDylanArteaga added Stankonia, Aquemini, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below

Genres (Music): Alternative hip hop, Dance-pop, Jazz, Electronica, Southern hip hop, + more

Labels: Sony BMG Music Entertainment, LaFace Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Zomba Group of Companies, Arista Records, + more

More Outkast 

#174 of 350 The Greatest American Rock Bands #35 of 411 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s

18
Ranker Video
The 18th Letter, The Archive: Live, Lost & Found

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

Labels: 4th & B'way Records, MCA Records, Universal Records, Island Records, Aftermath Entertainment, + more

More Rakim 

#16 of 509 The Greatest Rappers Of All Time #17 of 82 Rappers with the Best Album Discography, Ranked

19
Ranker Video
The Low End Theory, Midnight Marauders, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Jazz rap, Alternative hip hop, Rhythm and blues, Alternative rock

Labels: Jive Records

More A Tribe Called Quest 

#349 of 381 The Best Pop Artists of the 1980s #406 of 465 The Best Current Pop Groups/Singers The Best A Tribe Called Quest Albums of All Time

20
Ranker Video
Royal Flush, Class of 3000: Music Volume One, DoYaThing

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Rock music, Electronic music, Rhythm and blues, + more

Labels: LaFace Records, RCA Records

More André 3000 

#574 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time The Best Songs Feat. Andre 3000

21
Ranker Video
Raising Hell, Run-D.M.C., King of Rock

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Hardcore hip hop, Industrial hip hop, Rock music, + more

Labels: Def Jam Recordings, Arista Records, Profile Records

More Run–DMC 

#316 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #139 of 381 The Best Pop Artists of the 1980s #202 of 350 The Greatest American Rock Bands

22
Ranker Video
Music & Me, Welcome To The Dogg House, G-Funk Classics

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Pop music, Neo soul, Gangsta rap, G-funk, + more

Labels: Atlantic Records, Doggystyle Records, Death Row Records, Elektra Records

More Nate Dogg 

#1,000 of 2,187 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time #22 of 509 The Greatest Rappers Of All Time The Best Nate Dogg Albums of All Time

23
Ranker Video
bigolooch added Cypress Hill, Black Sunday, III - Temples Of Boom

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Nu metal, Hardcore hip hop, Latin American music, + more

Labels: Ruffhouse Records, Priority Records, Suburban Noize Records, Sony Music Entertainment, Columbia, + more

More Cypress Hill 

#54 of 411 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '90s #7 of 127 The Best Hip Hop Groups of All Time The Best Cypress Hill Albums of All Time

24
Ranker Video
Radio, Mama Said Knock You Out, Mr. Smith

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop

Labels: Def Jam Recordings, Violator, G-Unit Records

More LL Cool J 

#859 of 1,057 The Best Singers of All Time The Best LL Cool J Albums of All Timelisted on Famous Black Conservatives List

25
Ranker Video
The Big Picture, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, Children of the Corn: The Collector's Edition

Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Horrorcore, Hardcore hip hop, Gangsta rap, Underground hip hop

Labels: Sony Music Entertainment, Rawkus Records, Columbia

More Big L 

#31 of 509 The Greatest Rappers Of All Time #25 of 43 Rappers with the Best Flow, Ranked The Best Big L Songs