Music

The Greatest Rappers Of All Time  

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Originally by Ranker Community
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List Rules 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 top hip-hop 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 of all time.

list ordered by
1
Eminem is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Marshall Bruce Mathers III (born October 17, 1972), known professionally as Eminem (; often stylized as EMINƎM), is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, record executive, film ...more
2
The Notorious B.I.G. is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997), known professionally as The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie Smalls, or Biggie, was an American rapper. He is widely considered to be ...more
3
Tupac Shakur is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Tupac Amaru Shakur ( TOO-pahk shə-KOOR; born Lesane Parish Crooks, June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), also known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli, was an American rapper and actor. He is ...more
4
Kendrick Lamar is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (born June 17, 1987) is an American rapper, songwriter, and record producer. He is regarded as one of the most skillful and successful hip hop artists of his ...more
5
Nas is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, better known as Nas, is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer and actor. He is the son of jazz musician Olu Dara. Since 1994, Nas has released eight ...more
6
Dr. Dre is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Andre Romelle Young (born February 18, 1965), known professionally as Dr. Dre, is an American rapper, record producer and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and ...more
7
Snoop Dogg is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. (born October 20, 1971), known professionally as Snoop Dogg, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, media personality, entrepreneur, and actor. His ...more
8
Ice Cube is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
O'Shea Jackson (born June 15, 1969), known professionally as Ice Cube, is an American rapper, actor, producer, director and writer. Ice Cube initially gained recognition in 1984 as a member of ...more
9
Jay-Z is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Shawn Corey Carter (born December 4, 1969), known professionally as Jay-Z (stylized as JAY-Z), is an American rapper, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur, and record executive. Considered among ...more
10
50 Cent is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Curtis James Jackson III (born July 6, 1975), known professionally as 50 Cent, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, actor, television producer, entrepreneur and investor. Born in the South ...more
11
Kanye West is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Kanye Omari West (; born June 8, 1977) is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and fashion designer. His musical career has been marked by dramatic changes in ...more
12
J. Cole is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Jermaine Lamarr Cole (born January 28, 1985) is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Born on a military base in Germany but raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Cole ...more
13
André 3000 is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
André Lauren Benjamin (born May 27, 1975), better known by his stage name André 3000 (formerly Dre), is an American musician and actor best known for being part of hip hop duo ...more
14
Eazy-E is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Eric Lynn Wright (September 7, 1964 – March 26, 1995), known professionally as Eazy-E, was an American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. Dubbed the "Godfather of Gangsta Rap", ...more
15
Lil Wayne is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. (born September 27, 1982), known professionally as Lil Wayne, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record executive, entrepreneur, and actor. His career began in ...more
16
Rakim is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
William Michael Griffin Jr. (born January 28, 1968), better known by his stage name Rakim, is an American rapper. One half of golden age hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, he is widely regarded as ...more
17
DMX is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Earl Simmons (born December 18, 1970), known professionally as DMX, is an American rapper and actor. He began rapping in the early 1990s, and released his debut album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot ...more
18
Busta Rhymes is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Trevor George Smith Jr. (born May 20, 1972), known professionally as Busta Rhymes, is an American rapper, singer, musician, record producer, record executive, and actor. Chuck D of Public Enemy ...more
19
Method Man is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Clifford M. Smith Jr. (born March 2, 1971), better known by his stage name Method Man, is an American rapper, record producer and actor. He is known as a member of the East Coast hip hop ...more
20
Drake is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Subhan Sheikh added
Aubrey Drake Graham, who records under the mononym Drake, is a Canadian singer, songwriter, and actor. He was born in Toronto, Ontario. He first garnered recognition for his role as Jimmy Brooks ...more
21
Donald Glover is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Leajey added
Donald McKinley Glover Jr. (born September 25, 1983) is an American actor, comedian, writer, producer, director, musician, and DJ. He performs music under the stage name Childish Gambino and as ...more
22
ASAP Rocky is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Rakim Mayers (born October 3, 1988), better known by his stage name ASAP Rocky (stylized as A$AP Rocky), is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, and actor. He is a member of the hip ...more
23
Nate Dogg is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Fendarr added
Nathaniel Dwayne Hale (August 19, 1969 – March 15, 2011), known professionally as Nate Dogg, was an American singer, rapper, songwriter, and actor. Hale began his career as a member of the ...more
24
Ghostface Killah is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Dennis Coles (born May 9, 1970), better known by his stage name Ghostface Killah, is an American rapper, songwriter and actor and member of the Wu-Tang Clan. After the group achieved ...more
25
The Game is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Jayceon Terrell Taylor (born November 29, 1979), better known by his stage name The Game (or simply Game), is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer and actor. He is best known as a ...more