24.9k voters

The Best Old School Hip Hop Groups/Rappers

Updated May 5, 2020 157.6k votes 24.9k voters 1.1m views173 items

List RulesShould be rappers and hip hop artists who rap in the style that emerged from New York in the late '70s to early '90s.

If you're a fan of rap music, you should have at minimum a base knowledge in old school rap. If not for old school rappers, it's highly unlikely that rap would have evolved into the popular artform that it is today. Many of old school rappers are widely respected by the artists repsonsible for today's biggest hip hop hits. For the sake of this list, all of the classic old school hip hop artists featured became popular during the rap's golden age, which occurred during the 1980s through the mid-1990s. The diversity, innovation and ultimately, the influence of of these old school rappers cannot be stated enough.

So, who are the best old school rappers? If you know old school rap, you know that the likes of Run DMC, De La Soul, Eric B & Rakim, Gang Starr, Grandmaster Flash and the Beastie Boys. These names are widely recognized as some of the best old school rappers. If not for the contributions of these artists, old school rap, and thus, good rap music would cease to exist.  Who are your favorite old school rap artists?

That said, it's to you to determine the best old school rap. If you are familiar with old school rap and old school rappers, feel free to chime in with your vote. If you notice someone isn't on this list and should be, feel free to add them. This list answers the questions "who are the best old school hip hop bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest old school hip hop musician 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 old school hip hop bands that you might've heard of.

  • 1

    More Tupac Shakur 

    11 Conspiracy Theories About The Murder Of Tupac Shakur#209 of 316 The Greatest Singers of the Past 30 Years

  • 2

    More The Notorious B.I.G. 

    A Timeline Of How Biggie And Tupac's Friendship Turned Into An Infamous Feud#2 of 235 The Greatest Rappers Of All Time

  • 3

    More N.W.A 

    #36 of 221 Bands/Artists With Only One Great Album#32 of 79 The Best Political Musicians

  • 4

    More Wu-Tang Clan 

    9 Stories That Led The FBI To Think The Wu Tang Clan Was An Organized Crime Syndicate#643 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

  • 5

    More Ice Cube 

    The Best Ice Cube Movies#858 of 1,017 The Best Actors In Film History

  • 6

    More Dr. Dre 

    Insane And Terrifying Stories From The Heyday Of N.W.A. And Dr. Dre#48 of 178 The Best Solo Artists Who Used to Front a Band

  • 7

    More Nas 

    The Best Nas Albums of All Time#45 of 84 The Best Rappers Of 2018, Ranked

  • 8

    More Snoop Dogg 

    Hilarious Snoop Dogg Interviews That Prove He Can Still Drop It Like It's Hot#58 of 70 The Complete List of Rappers Who've Been in Prison

  • 9

    More Eazy-E 

    #517 of 816 These Poetic Geniuses Wrote Your Favorite Songs of All Time#66 of 525 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song?

  • 10

    More Method Man 

    The Best Method Man Songs#12 of 113 The Funniest Rappers of All Time

  • 11

    More Run–DMC 

    #250 of 294 The Best Pop Artists of the 1980s#46 of 95 The Best Trios Of All Time

  • 12

    More A Tribe Called Quest 

    The Best A Tribe Called Quest Albums of All Time#1109 of 1,728 The Best Rock Bands of All Time

  • 13

    More Public Enemy 

    The Best Public Enemy Albums of All Time#221 of 265 Rank the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Inductees

  • 14

    More Mobb Deep 

    The Best Mobb Deep Albums of All Time#9 of 41 The Very Best Muslim Rappers

  • 15

    More DMX 

    The Best Songs Feat. DMX#1780 of 1,883 The Greatest Actors & Actresses in Entertainment History

  • 16

    More Eric B. & Rakim 

    #28 of 106 The Best Musical Duos#6 of 167 The Best East Coast Rappers of All Time

  • 17

    More Outkast 

    #283 of 297 The Best Duos of All Time#155 of 279 The Greatest American Rock Bands

  • 18

    More LL Cool J 

    The Best Songs Feat. LL Cool J#232 of 465 The Greatest Musical Artists of the '80s

  • 19

    More Bone Thugs-N-Harmony 

    The Best Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Albums of All Time#11 of 20 20 Otherworldly Curses in the Music Industry

  • 20

    More Busta Rhymes 

    The Best Songs Feat. Busta Rhymes#16 of 136 The Dopest Rappers of the '90s

  • 21

    More KRS-One 

    #9 of 200 The Best Underground Rappers#25 of 195 The Best Rap Lyricists of All Time

  • 22

    More Ice-T 

    19 Ice-T Tweets For When You Just Need To Smile#778 of 904 Celebrity Death Pool 2021

  • 23

    More Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five 

    #115 of 356 Musicians Who Belong In The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame#7 of 418 The Most Influential DJs of All Time

  • 24

    More Naughty by Nature 

    The Best Naughty By Nature Songs#7 of 19 The Best Hip Hop Logos Of All Time

  • 25

    More Beastie Boys 

    The Best Beastie Boys Songs#43 of 66 The Strangest Opening Act Bookings Ever