Who are the top rappers of all time? This question has been asked for years, and there is no easy answer. However, we have compiled a comprehensive guide to the greatest rappers of all time based on their impact on the hip-hop industry, lyrical prowess, and overall influence.
Born in New York City in 1971, the legend 2PAC grew up with his mother in Queens after she left his father. He began writing poetry as a child and went on to attend the Baltimore School for the Arts.
Shakur’s solo career started with his 1993 debut album 2Pacalypse Now—which showcased his socially conscious side—and continued with a string of successful albums, including All Eyez On Me (1996), The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996), Me Against The World (1995), Makaveli/The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theor
He released four more albums before being shot and killed in Las Vegas at age 25.
Tupac influenced many other rappers with his outspoken lyrics and revolutionary ideas about racial equality in America. His songs also touched on topics ranging from police brutality to gang violence to sexual assault—all of which he experienced firsthand growing up in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in New York City. His music has sold over 75 million albums worldwide since his death in 1996.
The Notorious B.I.G.
Born May 21, 1972, in New York City, Christopher George Latore Wallace – The Notorious B.I.G. gifted the world with his legacy and just like Pac, cemented his legendary status in rap music forever.
Biggie debuted in 1994 with the multi-platinum tape “Ready To Die” and changed the game. His second studio project “Life After Death” was released 6 days after his death in 1997 and it is certified 11 times platinum by RIAA.
Following his remarkable career and the big list of prestigious awards for so short period of time, in 2020 Biggie was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.
Eminem is a rapper, producer, and actor born in St. Joseph, Missouri, to Marshall Mathers Sr. and Deborah R. Nelson. He grew up in a poor household with his mother and her family and moved to Detroit as a teenager. There, he became part of a group called D12 (the name comes from the fact that they all had Detroit area codes).
He began rapping at age 14 under the name “M&M” but changed his name to Eminem when Dr. Dre signed him to Aftermath Entertainment in 1996. His first album, The Slim Shady LP, was released in 1999 and won a Grammy for Best Rap Album. The album charted number on the U.S. Billboard TOP 200 and was certified triple platinum.
He has since gone on to release eight more albums, including three more Grammy winners: The Marshall Mathers LP (2000), The Eminem Show (2002), and Recovery (2010).
He has won countless awards, including an Academy Award for Best Song for ‘Lose Yourself’ for the movie 8 Mile.
Nowadays, despite being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, he is in the TOP 20 best-selling artists of all time and N1 in the rap industry.
Lil Wayne was born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., on September 27, 1982. His parents were both from the projects in New Orleans, Louisiana.
He began writing lyrics at the age of 12 and rapping at 14 years old. Lil Wayne is known for his unique voice and his ability to freestyle rap. In 1997 he formed a group called Hot Boys with Juvenile, Turk and B.G.; however, Juvenile and B.G. left the group to pursue solo careers in 1999, but DJ Khaled stayed with Lil Wayne as an artist manager for Cash Money Records.
In 2001 Lil Wayne released his debut album Tha Block Is Hot which featured many popular singles such as “Bling Bling” and “Wanna Be A Baller.” The album went double platinum and earned him two Grammy Awards for Best Rap Solo Performance (“Fireman”) and Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group (“1st Of Tha Month”).
He has sold more than 120 million copies worldwide, making him one of the most successful rappers.
Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, is a rapper and actor born in Long Beach, California. He got his start in music at the age of six, when he joined the group called the “Snoop Sisters.”
He started his career as a member of group 213, which released their debut album “Ain’t No Fun” in 1991. Snoop Dogg’s solo debut came two years later with “Doggystyle,” which included the hit singles “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?)” and “Gin & Juice.” The album went platinum within six months and stayed on Billboard’s Top 200 chart.
Snoop Dogg has also explored other avenues of entertainment, including acting. In 2002 he appeared alongside Jennifer Lopez in the film “The Wash.” In 2008 he starred alongside Eion Bailey in the drama “Soul Plane.” The following year Snoop Dogg appeared alongside Jamie Kennedy in the comedy film “Malibu’s Most Wanted.”
He is one of the most influential artists in the rap industry, with more than 77 million followers on IG., he even runs a successful clothing line called “Snoopy’s Clothing.”
With multiple awards and nominations, he def deserves a place in the TOP 10 rap artists of all time.
Ye (Kanye West)
Ye (Kanye West) was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 8, 1977. He attended art school in Chicago and studied painting at the American Academy of Art. His first taste of success came as a producer for other artists, including Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
His first taste of success came as a producer for other artists, including Jay-Z and Alicia Keys.
Kanye released his first studio album, “The College Dropout.” It debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart and sold over 400,000 copies in its first week. In 2005 Kanye released his second album, “Late Registration,” which earned him three Grammy Awards.
West’s music spans multiple genres, including hip-hop, R&B, soul, and gospel, in addition to producing records for other artists. He has also written songs for several movies, including “The Pursuit of Happyness” and “The College Dropout.”
He has been nominated for 21 Grammy Awards and has won 21 BET Awards, 3 MTV Video Music Awards, 4 Billboard Music Awards, and 2 American Music Awards.
In addition to his music career, Kanye has launched multiple clothing lines with Adidas and an interior design company called DONDA. He has also designed lighting fixtures for Louis Vuitton’s S/S 17 runway show at Paris Fashion Week.
Even though nowadays there is a “mixed -feeling” regarding his media personality, his achievements make him one of the industry’s most influential and successful people.
Jay-Z, born Shawn Corey Carter, is a hip-hop artist and entrepreneur. He’s been a trendsetter in the music industry for over twenty years and has inspired many other artists to follow their dreams.
His earliest musical influences came from his parents, who were both musicians: his father was a jazz musician, and his mother was an R&B singer. In 1984, he found himself drawn to the emerging hip-hop scene in New York City, where he began rapping under the name Jazzy Bunch.
Hov has been nominated for 21 Grammy Awards and won 13 of them, 4 Billboard Music Awards, and 5 American Music Awards; he is also one of only four people ever inducted into both the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame (2010) and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (2018).
He has also sold over 100 million albums worldwide.
His songs are about love, religion, and social issues such as racism and poverty have won the hearts of millions of people all over the world, and now he is one of the most important figures in the hip-hop industry.
Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones, better known by his stage name Nas, was born September 14, 1973, in the jazz musician Olu Dara family.
He is known for his unique style and lyrical ability, which can be heard in some of his most famous songs like “Ether.”
His 1994 debut album Illmatic has been named one of the best albums in hip-hop history by many publications, including Rolling Stone Magazine.
Nas has won three Grammy Awards for Best Rap Performance (1997), Best Rap Song (2001), and Best Rap Album (2002). He also won two MTV Video Music Awards for Best Rap Video (1998) and Best Direction (2000) with The Firm’s “Firm Biz.”
In addition to his musical career, Nas has also acted in films such as Belly (1998), Street Dreams (2009), and The Land (2012). In 2015, he appeared in the HBO series The Newsroom.
Nas has sold over 15 million records in the USA, making him one of the most successful rappers in history.
Kendrick Lamar is a rapper and songwriter born in Compton, California. His early life was shaped mainly by the gang violence that plagued the area. He is known for his introspective, storytelling lyrics and complex compositions.
Lamar started as an artist at age 16, when he released his first mixtape under the name K-Dot. His 2009 mixtape Overly Dedicated got him noticed by Top Dawg Entertainment, and in 2010 he signed with them.
In 2015 Kendrick released a third album called To Pimp A Butterfly, which won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. The album also won Album Of The Year at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony in 2016—making Kendrick the first non-classical or jazz artist to win this prestigious award twice in one night!
He has collaborated with artists including Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, been featured on songs by Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, and Lady Gaga, and performed at festivals including Coachella and Bonnaroo.
Kendrick Lamar is considered one of the most influential artists in hip-hop today because of his unique style and ability to stay relevant with younger audiences while maintaining a large fan base among older listeners who grew up with his music.
Rakim was born William Michael Griffin Jr. on January 28, 1968, in Long Island, New York, and moved to Mount Vernon at age 12 after his father died in a car accident. He attended Mount Vernon High School, where he met Eric B., who would become his D.J. and producer for most of his career.
Rakim began his career writing rhymes while still a teenager at Brooklyn Technical High School. His first single, 1987’s “Eric B. Is President,” was released by Island Records; it brought him fame but not commercial success. He signed with Uni Records in 1989 and released his debut album, Paid in Full, the following year; it peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart and #16 on the overall Billboard 200. It also made history as it was one of the first albums ever released that contained no samples from other artists’ songs or recordings (all the music came from live instruments).
Rakim has also influenced many artists outside of rap music during his career. His style has been copied by singers such as Michael Jackson and Jay-Z and even bands like The Gorillaz.
Let us know in the comments which are your favorites and what your personal TOP 10 will look like.