Top 12 The Greatest Rapper Of All Time

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Who is the best rapper ever? This question has been asked for years. There are so many different opinions on the subject that it would be impossible to list all of them. However, we here at HHDX have done the next best thing and compiled a list of what we think are the top hip hop artists of all time, although it isn’t in any particular order.

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12- Andre 3000 ( Outkast )

Andre was one half of arguably one of the greatest duos in hip hop history with Big Boi . His unique style and flow combined with Big Boi’s dirty south lyrics makes Outkast truly unique to this day. Even after they went their separate ways, Andre still sets himself apart from anyone within his genre. Whether it be his rapping or his dress sense, he is always one step ahead of the game.

11-AZ

Another talented rapper from the dirty south era. He was known for his deep toned voice and laid back style. AZ had notable guest appearances with Nas , Foxy Brown and Nature to name a few. His album “Doe or Die” featured such hits as “Sugar Hill” and “Mo Money Mo Murder”. However since then, AZ has been in and out of jail and has yet to release an album in 13 years (other than compilations). Nevertheless, we still look forward to hearing more from him when he finally gets himself together.

10-50 Cent

He’s done good things, he’s done bad things…but most importantly, he is still here! Whether you love him or hate him, 50 has made a name for himself in this industry. From his impeccable business skills to his incredible rapping ability, it’s hard to deny that 50 is a force to be reckoned with. Even when he tried going away from the gangster rap persona and went more mainstream pop with “Get Rich or Die Trying”, people were still talking about him. Then the whole Eminem debacle happened upon the release of “Not Afraid” and ever since then it seems as if 50 has been hated on by everyone even those within hip hop. Regardless, we look forward to hearing what else 50 has up his sleeve as well as seeing what he does to continue re-writing his own history.

9- Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls)

The late, great Christopher Wallace AKA The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie or Biggie Smalls was without a doubt one of the greatest rappers we will ever see live on this earth. His smooth flow and unbelievable lyrical ability made him one best selling rappers of all time as well as what many people consider the greatest rapper that has ever lived (many even say he is better than 2Pac). He began his career with “Ready To Die” and blew up almost overnight due to songs like “Juicy”, “Big Poppa”, and “One More Chance”. Because of this, he was everywhere from magazines to movies. Unfortunately, Biggie Smalls was gunned down in 1997 and is still considered a hip hop martyr to this day. 11- 2Pac (Tupac Amaru Shakur)

Although he only lived for roughly 25 years before being gunned down in Las Vegas, Tupac has done enough during his career to be known as one of the most influential rappers of all time. His work ethic alone proved that 3 albums a year wasn’t too much for him even when it seemed like he was going through hell on earth with lawsuits and jail time. His impact on not just rap but music in general will not soon be forgotten albeit posthumously or otherwise. From inspiring people like Lil’ Wayne and J Cole to his much talked about influence upon the likes of 50 Cent and Eminem , Tupac truly was a once in a lifetime figure.

8-Jay-Z (Shawn Carter)

Since he first burst onto the scene in 1996, Jay has gone on to become one the most successful rappers ever . He has sold over 100 million records worldwide which is no easy feat by anyone’s standards. Not only this but he also owns part of the 40/40 club as well as being CEO of Def Jam South, not too bad for someone who used to sell cocaine back in the day. In addition, his rapping ability is almost unmatched among many of today’s young rappers let alone legend status ones such as himself. His collaborations with R Kelly and Beyonce as well as his own critically acclaimed albums such as “Reasonable Doubt” and “The Blueprint” attest to this. However, Jay has recently been known more for his keen business sense and billion dollar empire than the music which is a true shame considering how talented of an emcee he truly is.

7-Kanye West (Kanyeezy)

Once again we find ourselves talking about another incredibly gifted producer turned rapper. However unlike Dr Dre or Timbaland, Kanye’s rapping ability stands out as being better than some of those who can actually rap . His contributions to various GOOD Friday tracks such as “Looking For Trouble”, his remix of Common’s classic single “Be”, and collaborations with Talib Kweli such as “Get Em High” illustrate that Kanye is probably the best producer turned rapper since Andre from Outkast. Anyone who has seen him live or at least heard about it can attest to his amazing talent and energy he brings to his shows, and judging by the reception of his albums (especially Dark Twisted Fantasy ) people eagerly await what he has next in store for them.

6-Nas (Nasir Jones)

Since his 1994 debut, “Illmatic” , there is no doubt that Nas ‘ career has been nothing short of amazing. His impact upon hip hop as an emcee is undeniable and he can rap circles around most without even trying . Although he may be far from what many consider to be his prime nowadays, we feel that it’s wrong to write someone off just because they’ve fallen off a bit (see Jay-Z). After all people like Jay and Nas don’t come around twice do they? We know for a fact that the only rappers who may have had more influence than him since Tupac are Kanye West and Lil’ Wayne , those two go hand in hand now don’t they? Not only this but Nas has one of the best track records when it comes to critically acclaimed albums (something G.O.O.D music could learn a thing or two about). The only arguable exception is “I Am…” which was far from bad by any standards but still many people would agree that his albums since then have all been great listens.

5-Common (Sensei)

For some reason, Common always seemed like one of those rappers who never gained the praise he deserved until after he had already fallen off . However everyone needs to realise that Common ‘s longevity in rap should perhaps be considered just as much, if not more so than other rappers on this list . After all how many others do you know who are still relevant enough today to release a new album that doesn’t sound out of place? The answer is not many. Common now is just as important to hip hop now as he was when he first started rapping with “Can I Borrow A Dollar?” back in 1992 , and probably even more so considering his recent activity on the political scene . His impact upon rap is undeniable regardless, being one of the only rappers today who can have a critically acclaimed album without any radio play whatsoever.

4-Jay Z (Shawn Carter)

We’re sure this will come as no surprise to anyone reading this seeing as Jay has been considered a legend for quite some time now, but then again there are still those out there who need convincing nonetheless . Not only is Jay the most commercially successful rapper of all time , he is also one of the most talented rappers to ever do it (see “Takeover” for example). This is not an opinion either, this comes straight from the horses mouth . Not only this but Jay-Z knows his hip hop history more than most. You may not know this judging by his recent album release “Magna Carta Holy Grail” but Jay has consistently released great albums (minus “Kingdom Come”) since his career started in 1996 . His impact upon rap today is undeniable and although he may be getting slightly long in the tooth now, there’s no doubt that Jay Z still has a lot left to say within the world of hip hop.

3-Tupac Shakur

Tupac is one of the only rappers who will never die as long as rap still exists . Although he was shot dead in 1996 , his impact upon rap and hip hop as a whole has been so massive that we doubt it will ever be forgotten. The thing about Tupac was that whether you liked him or not, there’s no denying the power and emotion behind every verse he wrote . Whether it be “Dear Mama” or “Changes”, Tupac had an ability to make you feel what he was rapping about . Not only this but he also managed to break down social barriers within the world of music which wasn’t seen before with his song “Keep Ya Head Up”.

We can’t for one second imagine where rap would be today if Tupac hadn’t existed, because let’s be honest his music would still be influencing rappers today who are just entering their prime. Everyone knows the impact Tupac had on rap , after all you don’t get named after him for nothing . It’s no wonder then that nearly every rapper since Tupac has used one of his songs in some way or another.

2-Notorious BIG (Biggie Smalls)

Granted Biggie Smalls aka The Notorious BIG was shot dead just as his career hit the mainstream, but still to this day he remains one of the most influential rappers ever . His flow has been replicated , his style imitated and still today no rapper sounds quite like him which is a testament in the itself. In fact it’s pretty much impossible for anyone under 25 to have not heard at least one Biggie song during their lifetime, after all even if you live under a rock chances are you’ve heard “Hypnotize” or “Mo Money Mo Problems”. As well as being a great rapper in general though, Biggie also became famous for his storytelling abilities with songs such as “I Got A Story To Tell” and “Unbelievable”.

1-Eminem (Marshal Mathers)

We only have one question after finishing writing this list, how the hell has Eminem not made number 1?!?

Granted Slim Shady himself would probably be the first to admit that he doesn’t just deserve to be ranked at 2nd place on this list but instead should sit firmly at the top . After all for any other rapper it would be an achievement just to release 5 studio albums , let alone 5 critically acclaimed studio albums . To put this into perspective though, Eminem first entered the rap game with “Infinite” in 1996 but was largely ignored until 1999 when “The Slim Shady LP” was. Since then all his work has been critically acclaimed, commercially successful and features in practically every “greatest albums” list that you can think of .

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