The Best Conscious Rappers

Over 7.6K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best Conscious Rappers

Update: Dive into the best new hip hop with our list of 2020's top rap songs.

This conscious rappers list ranks the best conscious hip hop artists and groups by votes. This list of good conscious rappers let’s you see who hip hop fans think are the best in conscious hip hop. Not to be confused with political hip hop, the best conscious rappers directly address the social, cultural, and political issues that will effect people in everyday life. The best conscious rappers have built a loyal following due to their ability to discuss the everyday struggles of normal people and the truths that go along with that. Many of the best rappers of all time started off as socially conscious rappers. Unlike other more politicized forms of music, conscious rappers try to present information through their rhymes so people can make informed decisions on the issues they rap about on their own.

So, who are the best conscious rappers? Any list has to have the likes of Mos Def, Immortal Technique, Common, Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, and Killer Mike on it. These rappers are certainly politically conscious, but the focus of much of their work is on the personal narrative that accompanies political and social strife. This is why, with their texturized beats and solid lyrics, they have remained some of the most popular, and thus, best conscious rappers of all time.


That said, it's up to you to determine who are the best conscious rappers. If you notice that a top artist is missing from this list and should be added, feel free to add them. This list answers the questions "who are the best conscious hip hop acts of all time?" and "who is the greatest conscious rapper ever?" If you know enough about the genre, please vote based on the quality of the band's music instead of just voting for the most popular conscious hip hop bands that you might've heard of. 

Most divisive: Eminem
Ranked by
  • Tupac Shakur
    2,619 votes

    A pioneer in addressing societal issues through his lyrics, Tupac Shakur's impact on the rap world remains unparalleled. His career, marred with controversy and tragedy, shone a spotlight on the harsh realities faced by African Americans in their everyday lives. From tackling topics of racism and police brutality in "Brenda's Got a Baby" to offering a scathing critique of America's political system in "Holler If Ya Hear Me," Shakur's work blazed a path for future generations to follow.

  • Nas


    364 votes

    Nas' legendary storytelling skills have been captivating audiences for decades, cementing his place among hip-hop's greats. Debuting with the groundbreaking album Illmatic, Nas showcased his ability to paint vivid pictures of life in underprivileged communities while simultaneously touching on themes of hope and perseverance. His intricate lyricism and thought-provoking subject matter continue to push the envelope, solidifying his status as a force to be reckoned with.

  • J. Cole
    2,446 votes

    J. Cole's insightful lyrics and ability to create deeply personal narratives make him an invaluable voice in today's hip-hop landscape. With a penchant for weaving stories that resonate with listeners, Cole's empathetic approach to discussing mental health, social inequality, and self-improvement sets him apart from his contemporaries. Albums like 2014 Forest Hills Drive and KOD stand as testaments to the transformative power of his music.

  • Mos Def
    1,556 votes

    Mos Def, now known as Yasiin Bey, has consistently used his platform to challenge the status quo and inspire change. As an actor, activist, and musician, he's made it his mission to address pressing social and political issues through his art. His work alongside Talib Kweli in the duo Black Star elevated him to the forefront of socially conscious hip-hop, while solo efforts like Black on Both Sides further solidified his legacy.

  • A Tribe Called Quest revolutionized hip-hop with their innovative blend of jazz-infused beats and thought-provoking lyrics. As pioneers of the "Native Tongues" movement, the group's focus on Afrocentric themes and social commentary set them apart from their peers. Their influential albums, such as The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders, continue to inspire future generations of conscious lyricists.

  • Kendrick Lamar
    3,002 votes

    Kendrick Lamar's undeniable talent and unwavering commitment to elevating social discourse have established him as a generational icon. His profound exploration of themes such as racial inequality, mental health, and self-empowerment resonates deeply with listeners, earning him accolades and legions of dedicated fans. With albums like good kid, m.A.A.d city and To Pimp a Butterfly, Lamar is the embodiment of what it means to be a powerful voice in modern hip-hop.