Music

The Greatest Rappers of All-Time  

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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.

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list ordered by
1
Eminem is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Marshall Bruce Mathers III, better known by his stage name Eminem, is an American rapper, record producer, songwriter, and actor. In addition to his solo career, he is a member of the group D12, ...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, better known by his stage names The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie or Biggie Smalls, was an American rapper. Wallace was raised in the Brooklyn borough of New York ...more
3
Tupac Shakur is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known by his stage names 2Pac and briefly as Makaveli, was an American rapper, songwriter, and actor. Shakur has sold over 75 million records worldwide, making him one ...more
4
Kendrick Lamar is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, better known as Kendrick Lamar, is an American hip hop recording artist from Compton, California. In 2004, Lamar signed to Carson-based independent record label, Top ...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, known by his stage name Dr. Dre, is an American record producer, rapper and entrepreneur. He is the founder and current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. ...more
7
Snoop Dogg is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr, best known by his stage name Snoop Dogg, is an American recording artist and actor from Long Beach, California. His music career began in 1992, when he was discovered ...more
8
Ice Cube is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
O'Shea Jackson, Sr., better known by his stage name Ice Cube, is an American rapper, record producer, actor, and filmmaker. He began his career as a member of the hip-hop group C.I.A. and later ...more
9
Jay-Z is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Shawn Corey Carter, known by his stage name Jay Z, is an American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. He is one of the most financially successful hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in ...more
10
50 Cent is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Curtis James Jackson III, better known by his stage name 50 Cent, is an American rapper, singer, entrepreneur investor and actor from New York City. Born in the South Jamaica neighborhood of the ...more
11
Kanye West is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Kanye Omari West is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, director, painter, entrepreneur, and fashion designer. West first gained prominence as a producer for Roc-A-Fella ...more
12
J. Cole is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Jermaine Lamarr Cole, better known by his stage name J. Cole, is an American hip hop recording artist, songwriter and record producer from Fayetteville, North Carolina. Cole first received ...more
13
André 3000 is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
André Lauren Benjamin, better known by his stage name André 3000, is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and actor, best known for being ...more
14
Eazy-E is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Eric Lynn Wright, better known by his stage name Eazy-E, was an American rapper who performed solo and in the hip hop group N.W.A. Wright is affectionately called "The Godfather of Gangsta ...more
15
Lil Wayne is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., known by his stage name Lil Wayne, is an American rapper, songwriter, and entrepreneur from New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1991, at the age of nine, Lil Wayne joined Cash ...more
16
Rakim is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
William Michael Griffin, Jr., 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 one of the most ...more
17
DMX is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Earl Simmons, better known by his stage names DMX and Dark Man X, is an American rapper and actor. In 1999, DMX released his best-selling album ...And Then There Was X, which featured the hit ...more
18
Busta Rhymes is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr., better known by his stage name Busta Rhymes, is an American rapper, producer, and actor from Brooklyn. Chuck D of Public Enemy gave him the moniker Busta Rhymes, after ...more
19
Method Man is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Clifford Smith, better known by the stage name Method Man, is an American rapper, record producer, and actor. He took his stage name from the 1979 film Method Man. He is perhaps best known as a ...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, also known by his stage name Childish Gambino, is an American actor, writer, comedian, rapper, singer, and producer. He first came to attention for his work with Derrick ...more
22
Nate Dogg is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Fendarr added
Nathaniel Dwayne Hale, better known by his stage name Nate Dogg, was an American singer, rapper, and actor. He was noted for his membership in rap trio 213 and his solo career in which he ...more
23
Joyner Lucas is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Gary Maurice "Joyner" Lucas, Jr. (born August 17, 1988) is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, poet, and actor from Worcester, Massachusetts. Lucas gained ...more
24
Logic is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, known by his stage name Logic, is an American rapper. He was born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He has amassed a large Internet following and is a member of ...more
25
The Game is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Rappers of All-Time
Jayceon Terrell Taylor, better known by his stage name The Game or simply Game, is an American rapper and actor. Game is best known as a rapper in the West Coast hip hop scene, and for being one ...more