Finally, a definitive list of the best rappers of all time, ranked by fans all over the world. From old school to the current top rappers putting out today’s biggest hip hop hits, this list counts down rap’s best lyricists and game changers in history. Lil’ Wayne, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Eminem, Andre 3000, and Tupac are among the top hip-hop artists that appear on this amazing countdown. Famous rappers from all cities, dead or alive, and all races, from white and Black to Asian and Hispanic, are all vying to be crowned the greatest rapper ever.
What makes a rapper great? There are a number of differing good definitions and philosophies. Popular rapper J. Cole (who finds himself on the Ultimate List below) cites consistency as the most important attribute, and says it’s important to look both for the big humorous “punch” lines as well as the underlying message of the rapper’s songs. Nas (another iconic MC featured on the list) focuses as well on the meaning of the songs, as well as the scale and ambition of the rapper’s narratives and storytelling. (He has also gone on the record as saying that there is no such thing as the “best rapper” or “Greatest of All Time” aka “GOAT.” Including influential rappers and best-selling artists, this list features successful MCs who are still considered some of the hottest names in the game today.
Numerous different skills and attributes all must come together to make a truly legendary MC. Obviously, a good rapper must display a sense of rhythm and an ability to compliment the beat in unpredictable and exciting ways. A gift for lyricism and vocabulary is similarly essential – you can have the flow of the century, but if the words don’t come together to tell a compelling story or present a unique point of view, it’s still not going to translate into a great hip-hop song. But of course there’s also an intangible element that elevates some modern rappers into the ranks of the greatest of all time. Who are these rap legends who stand heads above the competition? Do you agree with the top 50 biggest rappers ever? You tell us, by voting for your favorites below or ranking your own list of top rappers of all time.