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14 Best Rappers of All Time

best rappers of all time
Photo taken by Harry Swales.

Rap, the dominant popular music of our time, first gained popularity during the 1970s and has been going strong ever since. Whether you are new to rap or have a passing interest in the genre, it’s important to know the best rappers of all time. Our post takes a close look at the most popular rappers.

 

Dr. Dre

When it comes to the most popular rappers, Dr. Dre is often thought of right away, even though he’s arguably better known for his producing. His rap style is characterized by slow, heavy, synthesized beats. His first two albums, The Chronic and Chronic 2001, are legendary. “Let Me Ride,” from the former, won him a Grammy in 1992, one of six that he’s won. He has worked with some of the most well-known rappers of all time, such as Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, The Game, 50 Cent, and Eminem. 

 

Wiz Khalifa

Wiz Khalifa’s debut album Show and Prove got him signed by Warner Bros. Records. The song “Say Yeah” was influenced by Eurodance and charted in the top 40 in 2008. He has released some of the most successful mixtapes, including Cabin FeverStar Power, and Kush & Orange Juice, and his albums Rolling Papers 2Blacc Hollywood, and Rolling Papers also show the immensity of his talent.

 

Ice Cube

Ice Cube began his career with L.A. rap group CIA, which managed to gain some success in 1984 just before the group disbanded. He then formed N.W.A. with Eazy E and Dr. Dre, which allowed him to put his songwriting and performance skills to the test. Ice Cube is one of the founding artists of gangsta rap and has pushed the limits of the industry through his lyrics. The visual imagery of his music videos is just as impressive. He is undoubtedly among the best rappers of all time.

 

Eminem

When it comes to rap, Eminem, real name Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is one of the biggest legends in the game. He initially started his career in Detroit as an underground battle rapper. It was only in 1997 that Eminem got his big break during the Rap Olympics Competition. Despite only coming in second place, he managed to impress the management of Interscope Records, who told Dr. Dre about him. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

2Pac

Considered to be the greatest rapper of all time, Tupac was shot four times after he attended the MGM Grand to watch Mike Tyson and Bruce Seldon battle it out. He was attacked by an unknown assailant in Las Vegas and died six days later. His music mostly covered conflicts with rappers, violence, and racism in inner cities. His albums Me Against the World and All Eyez on Me are among the best in the genre. Gone too soon, but still one of the best rappers of all time.

 

Notorious B.I.G.

Even decades after his untimely murder, there are few rappers in the world as popular as the Notorious B.I.G. His debut album Ready to Die is among the classics of the genre. His free-flowing style, humor, and acerbic wit set him apart from his peers.

 

Jay-Z

If there is one rapper who has managed to make a fortune throughout his career, it is none other than Jay-Z. Hailing from Brooklyn, he has managed to make billions, in addition to marrying Beyonce, which might be an even greater achievement. His classic albums include The Black Album and Blueprint.

The New York rapper continues to take on new projects and is passionate about the genre. 

 

Nas

Nas, who has eight platinum and multi-platinum albums under his belt, is a popular rapper and songwriter. He is the son of Olu Dara, a renowned jazz musician. His album Illmatic is possibly the greatest album to have been crafted by a rapper.

 

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar has already established himself as one of the best rappers of all time. His hit albums include Good Kid, M.A.A.D. CityTo Pimp a Buttery, and Damn. He’s also won an astounding 13 Grammys.

 

Lil Wayne

Starting out in Southern hip-hop, Lil Wayne is known for his slow and witty lines, which are often interpreted as metaphorical jokes. Having produced a number of mixtapes and albums, including The Carter series, he has consistently delivered phenomenal work. His albums have gone on to become platinum hits. There is no denying that he is one of the best rappers of all time.

 

50 Cent

50 Cent rose to prominence worldwide during the early 2000s. His album Get Rich or Die Trying helped him become a household name in 2004, managing to sell over 872,000 copies in four days. The RIAA even certified it 8x platinum. Having sold more than 30 million albums, 50 Cent has won countless awards, including a Grammy, three American Music Awards, four BET awards, six World Music Awards, and 13 American Music awards. 

 

Kanye West

Kanye West is always in the news. He started a cultural movement with his groundbreaking music and forays into business. Previously married to Kim Kardashian, he is a hip-hop beatmaker who has worked with Jay-Z and produced many classic solo albums, including College Dropout and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Every one of his albums has found commercial success. To leave him of a list of the best rappers of all time would be goofy.

 

J. Cole

The release of The Come Up in 2007 helped establish J. Cole as a rapper to be reckoned with Jay-Z heard his song “Lights Please” and decided to work with him on his record label, Roc Nation. Representing the new school era, he has four platinum albums. J. Cole has played a huge role in promoting a different kind of rap. His placement in the list of the best rappers of all time is controversial, but we stick by it.

 

Logic

Before Logic signed a deal with Def Jam, he used to upload mixtapes to build his reputation. He became extremely popular during the 2010s. His mixtape Young, Broke, and Infamous helped get him signed with Visionary Music Group. Many of his hit singles cover heavy topics like mental health. Logic has also been nominated for a Grammy. 

 

Snoop Dogg

Who doesn’t love Snoop Dogg? He’s a national treasure, undoubtedly belonging on the list of the best rappers of all time. 

Snoop began is career in 1993. Dr. Dre helped discover him and included him on his debut album The Chronic

The popular rapper is known for his unique style. A pioneer of the G-Funk era, he has sold more than 35 million albums across the globe. Snoop Dogg has also dabbled in the world of television.

 

Drake

Drake started out with internet mixtapes before attracting the attention of Lil Wayne. He went on to produce So Far Gone, a critically acclaimed mixtape that pushed the limits of the genre. Then he released a debut album, Thank Me Later, which debuted at number one in 2010 and quickly became platinum certified. 

Drake’s career has flourished since then. His album Scorpion broke all records on Spotify and Apple Music when it was released in 2018. His longevity and ability to produce hit after hit has landed him on the list of the best rappers of all time. Fun fact: the Canadian rapper found initial success by appearing on the TV teenage drama series Degrassi: The Next Generation.

There You Have It

From Dr. Dre to Drake, each of the rappers mentioned above has proven the world just how diverse the rap genre is. Rap artists continue to amaze us with their work. 

Who did we miss? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014

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