The Dopest Rappers of the '90s

Over 30.5K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Dopest Rappers of the '90s
Voting Rules

Many artists on this list still perform today, but vote only on their 90s output

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, the 1990s introduced many rappers and rap groups that would go on to become the best rappers of all time

This ranking of the top 100+ Nineties rappers and rap groups was compiled by hip hop fans on Ranker's editorial team; early voters also added a few missing talents. While there were many more talented rappers who were considered, it was decided to keep this ranking somewhat manageable; we hope you will find it more fulfilling than a top 10.  It has since been voted on by tens of thousands of rap music aficionados worldwide, making it the definitive ranking of '90s rap artists. 

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. And then came the Wu-Tang, the Fugees, and so many more. . . 

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. 

Most divisive: The Pharcyde
Ranked by
  • Tupac Shakur
    All Eyez on Me, Me Against the World, The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory
    16,403 votes
    • Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Political hip hop, Gangsta rap, West Coast hip hop

    See The Best Tupac Shakur Songs

    With a career spanning just five years, this legendary artist managed to leave an indelible mark on hip-hop through his powerful lyrics and charismatic persona. Known for addressing contemporary social issues and expressing raw emotions, he became a voice for the disenfranchised youth, paving the way for future rappers. Despite his untimely death, his impact on the genre and pop culture remains unparalleled, making him one of the most influential artists of the '90s.

  • The Notorious B.I.G.
    Ready to Die, Life After Death, Born Again
    13,774 votes
    • Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop, Gangsta rap, Mafioso rap

    See: The Best The Notorious B.I.G. Songs

    This Brooklyn-born rapper's smooth flow and intricate storytelling abilities set him apart from his contemporaries, earning him a reputation as one of the greatest lyricists of all time. His two critically acclaimed albums showcased his uncanny ability to paint vivid pictures with words while delivering infectious hooks that resonated with fans across the globe. Tragically cut short in 1997, his influence on hip-hop can still be felt today, as new generations continue to discover his timeless music.

  • Ice Cube
    AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, The Predator, Death Certificate
    9,807 votes
    • Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Alternative hip hop, Political hip hop, Hardcore hip hop, Gangsta rap

    See: The Best Ice Cube Songs

    Initially gaining fame as a member of a groundbreaking West Coast group, this artist went on to establish himself as a formidable solo act with hard-hitting socially-conscious lyrics and innovative production techniques. Known for his unapologetic style and aggressive delivery, he played a significant role in popularizing gangsta rap throughout the '90s. Additionally, his successful transition into acting and filmmaking only further cemented his status as an influential figure in both music and pop culture.

  • Outkast
    Stankonia, Aquemini, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
    2,486 votes
    • Genres (Music): Alternative hip hop, Dance-pop, Jazz, Electronica, Southern hip hop

    See: The Best Outkast Songs 

    This Atlanta-based duo redefined Southern hip-hop with their eclectic sound that seamlessly blended funk, soul, and psychedelia into their unique brand of rap. Comprised of two distinctively different members - one with a smooth flow and introspective lyrics; the other with a rapid-fire delivery and eccentric style - they consistently pushed creative boundaries throughout their illustrious career. Their undeniable chemistry produced numerous chart-topping hits and earned them critical acclaim, solidifying their place as one of the most innovative acts of the '90s.

  • Wu-Tang Clan
    Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, Wu-Tang Forever, 8 Diagrams
    8,347 votes
    • Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Hardcore hip hop, East Coast hip hop, Gangsta rap, Mafioso rap

    See: The Best Wu-Tang Clan Songs

    Hailing from Staten Island, this nine-member collective revolutionized hip-hop with their gritty, raw sound that showcased each member's unique lyrical prowess. Their debut album became an instant classic, spawning countless imitators and cementing their status as one of the most influential groups in rap history. With an unmistakable kung-fu aesthetic and a penchant for complex wordplay, they managed to capture the imagination of fans worldwide, making them a dominant force throughout the '90s.

  • N.W.A
    Straight Outta Compton, Niggaz4Life, Greatest Hits
    6,816 votes
    • Genres (Music): Hip hop music, Political hip hop, Gangsta rap, G-funk, West Coast hip hop

    See: The Best N.W.A Songs

    Often considered the pioneers of gangsta rap, this West Coast group's unapologetic lyrics and hard-hitting beats brought attention to life on the streets during a turbulent time in American history. Comprised of talented individuals who would go on to have successful solo careers, their provocative music challenged societal norms and inspired future artists to push boundaries. Despite numerous controversies and a relatively short career as a group, their impact on hip-hop remains undeniable.