The Greatest Rappers Of All Time

Over 599.8K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Greatest Rappers Of All Time
Voting 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 old school to the current top rappers putting out today's biggest hip hop hits, this list counts down rap's best lyricists and game changers in history. Lil' Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Eminem, Andre 3000, and Tupac are among the top hip-hop artists that appear on this amazing countdown. Famous rappers from all cities, dead or alive, and all races, from white and Black to Asian and Hispanic, are all vying to be crowned the greatest rapper ever.

What makes a rapper great? There are a number of differing good definitions and philosophies. Popular 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 iconic 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" aka "GOAT." Including influential rappers and best-selling artists, this list features successful MCs who are still considered some of the hottest names in the game today. 

Numerous different skills and attributes all must come together to make a truly legendary MC. Obviously, a good 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 modern rappers into the ranks of the greatest of all time. Who are these rap legends who stand heads above the competition? Do you agree with the top 50 biggest rappers ever? You tell us, by voting for your favorites below or ranking your own list of top rappers of all time.

Most divisive: Drake
Ranked by
  • The Notorious B.I.G.

    Famed for his powerful storytelling and unparalleled flow, this legendary figure undoubtedly changed the landscape of East Coast hip-hop in the '90s. Not only did he personify the grit and glamour of New York City, but his effortless ability to switch between different cadences and rhyme schemes earned him widespread commercial success and critical acclaim. Sadly, his untimely death cut short his meteoric rise, but his music continues to inspire generations of artists and fans alike.

  • Tupac
    304,948 votes

    As one of the most influential rappers in history, this iconic West Coast artist's profound lyrics and unapologetic delivery challenged social norms and captivated audiences worldwide. Effortlessly blending introspective lyricism with raw street tales, he became a central figure in the '90s gangsta rap scene and remains a symbol of resistance and unity. His extensive discography, including posthumous releases, has sold over 75 million records, making him one of the best-selling rappers of all time.

  • Eminem
    375,844 votes

    Hailing from Detroit, this groundbreaking artist shattered barriers and defied expectations with his unparalleled technical skills, clever wordplay, and controversial subject matter. Regarded as one of the greatest emcees ever, his rapid-fire delivery and intricate rhyme schemes have earned him numerous accolades, including 15 Grammy Awards and an Oscar. With over 220 million records sold, he stands as not only one of the best-selling rap artists but also one of the most successful musicians in history.

  • Kendrick Lamar
    234,938 votes

    Renowned for his thought-provoking lyrics and impeccable storytelling abilities, this Compton-bred rapper has consistently pushed the boundaries of hip-hop since his emergence in the late 2000s. His impressive discography includes critically acclaimed albums that tackle themes of race, spirituality, and personal growth, earning him 13 Grammy Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. With a knack for marrying complex social commentary with infectious beats, he has cemented his status as one of the most important voices in modern hip-hop.

  • Nas
    204,896 votes

    Widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers in history, this Queensbridge native made a colossal impact on the hip-hop scene with his seminal debut album, which showcased his vivid storytelling and cunning wordplay. His intricate rhyme schemes and thought-provoking subject matter have garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success over a career spanning more than two decades. As a respected lyricist and key influencer in the genre, his continued relevance speaks to his enduring impact on hip-hop culture.

  • Ice Cube
    185,244 votes

    Initially gaining fame as a founding member of the influential gangsta rap group N.W.A., this West Coast rapper's hard-hitting rhymes and social commentary shed light on the harsh realities of inner-city life in America. His strikingly honest lyrics and commanding delivery captured the attention of fans and critics alike, earning him widespread success as both an artist and an actor. Throughout his illustrious career, he has remained committed to addressing social injustices and challenging the status quo through his music.