This conversation is common among rap fans. It’s likely that it has exploded into an argument. The question is “Who are the greatest rappers?” Everybody has an opinion, and they are often based on their popularity rather than their skill.
This list doesn’t care who’s most popular. It does not give extra respect points for those who are older school. It doesn’t really matter who is the G.O.A.T. We only care about their technical skills, regardless of whether they are on a major label, or an independent group. They must have been in the industry for a long time to be able to keep up with their peers.
This means that we analyze advanced rhyme schemes and multisyllabic Rhyming. We keep the lyrics sensible and dance through these technicalities while being authentic and genuine in their messaging.
The top 10 most influential rappers will be our starting point. Next, we’ll look at the runners-up who are very close to making it to the top. There are still many rappers out there who have the potential to succeed, but they need more time to mature and refine their skills.
If you can’t find your favorite rapper on this page, then you should look at some of these artists and see if you are able to expand your horizons or ideas about what’s possible in the rap world.
It’s interesting to see which of these artists make the list of wealthiest rappers. Is popularity the same as skill? You might be surprised at the answer. Let’s count down the top rap artists of all time….
#10 – Lil Wayne
TOP STRENGTH: WORDPLAY
While some may be offended at Lil Wayne’s inclusion on this list, it is a worthy one. You’ll be able to see a true skilled lyricist if you ignore his auto-tuned, sing-song-rapping in his radio-centric singles. He’s been perfecting his craft for decades, including multisyllabic rhyme schemes and clever rhyme schemes.
With his Young Money label mates, he actually invented the use of analogies instead of similes in his wordplay. It plays more like a joke with an ending than a joke. He never misses a beat. This is his greatest skill. These jokes are so fast that you won’t be able to take them all in one listen.
Trivia Facts – Wayne began his professional career when he was 13 years old, when Birdman signed him to Cash Money Records. Later, he joined the Hot Boys, which helped launch several top-selling artists such as Juvenile. He is the world’s most-sold musician, having sold more than 100 million records. He has 5 Grammys and 11 BET Awards.
#9 – MF Doom
TOP STRENGTH: MULTISYLLABIC RYMING
Yes, he does wear a Doctor Doom mask. Yes, his lyrics can be funny and silly. Yes, you will rarely find a more complex rapper than MF. YouTube has countless videos trying to decode his rhyme patterns, but they all fail. You’ll have to analyze it live while you listen.
Like Kool G Rap and MF Doom, MF Doom is respected by many other rap artists but has never achieved stardom. He has had a lot of success in underground rap and even made the transition to voiceover work on cartoons.
Trivia Facts – MF Doom is the author of numerous group albums. His most notable was Danger Doom with Danger Mouse. This led to collaborations between voice actors from Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Adult Swim. His songs are often performed by imposters, who hide behind the mask.
#8 – Royce Da 5.’9″
TOP STRENGTH: RHYME STUCTURE
Royce has been around for a long time, and was even ghostwritten for Dr. Dre and P. Diddy in the past. His unique rhyme schemes are his most distinctive skill. You don’t hear it in his pop-oriented sound. His first couplet bar will be very short. This allows the second bar to be very long. And when the last multisyllabic rhyme lands, it blows your mind.
He is also very skilled in internal rhymes, which can be used alone or as part of an external rhyme. His lyrics have become more genuine and mature over time, with the message fitting perfectly in the complex rhyming instead of being a distraction from it.
Trivia Facts Royce was the one who came up with Eminem. He even had a duo called Bad Meets Evil that would be able to perform almost 20 years later. He was unable to rise to the top of the Detroit music scene with his Detroit cohorts, D12, but eventually made it big with Slaughterhouse.
#7 – Kool G Rap
TOP STRENGTH FLOW
Kool G Rap is a favorite of many of the greatest rappers of all times. While he was an early adopter multisyllabic rhymes, he maintained a smooth New York style that inspired many others. G Rap’s mafioso lyrics didn’t make him popular, but anyone who has ever heard rap knows that he is a great rhymer.
His visual narratives, imagery, breath control, and flow are just a few of the reasons he is on so many “best” lists. He’ll sound very familiar to anyone who has ever heard him. This is due to the fact that many artists have attempted to imitate him. For example, Big Pun got his mafioso style via G Rap.
Trivia Facts He is literally your favorite rapper’s favourite rapper. He started his career with DJ Polo, and was a part of the Juice Crew. He recently released a group album together with Necro, another New Yorker. His name is spelled Giancana. It’s a tribute to Sam Giancana.
#6 – Nas
TOP STRENGTH: LYRICAL CONTENT
While Nas is a master of all the skills, he prefers to be looser with technical rhyming. He can have a lot more complex lyrical content because of this looseness. He bridges the gap between preachy and annoying, and allows you to learn by listening.
Nas is an example of someone who has enough skills from many different types of music but doesn’t let it get in the way lyrics. (Pretty much Tech N9ne at the opposite). Partly because he learned from Kool G Rap, and continues to grow from that foundation, he’s on all the top lists.
Trivia Facts – Nas has put out eight consecutive multi-platinum and platinum records. Many high-profile feuds occurred with Jay-Z and 2pac as well as Cam’ron and Young Jeezy. He is nominated for 12 Grammys and has received 5 MTV Video Music Award nominations. He has sold more than 30 million records.
#5 – Sage Francis
TOP STRENGTH: NARRATIVES
Sage Francis is an intellectual “backpacker” school rap artist. He will never be mainstream, but each song has more value than any other sub-genre. Francis is as talented as any artist, but his greatest strength lies in his storytelling and imagery.
Francis could easily be ranked higher on the list. However, his intellectual content limits his enjoyment of pure enjoyment. It can be difficult to listen to him, as you are easily sucked into his complexity. He will find the balance and rise quickly, I’m certain.
Trivia Facts He is the founder and CEO at Strange Famous Records. At age 8, he began to practice his craft while listening to Run DMC, Public Enemy and other music. He holds degrees in journalism and communications. He has won Scribble Jam as well as the Superbowl MC Battle tournaments.
#4 – Jay-Z
TOP STRENGTH – AUTHENTICITY
Jay-Z, like Nas, is a rapper who can be very complex but prefers to be looser with his music. Jay-Z has more freedom to share his message and hone his craft, which is his greatest strength. Jay-Z is a man who has lived many experiences and has plenty of mature thoughts to share.
It’s a universally loved song, and that is why he is the richest American musician and first rap billionaire. He is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and has won 22 Grammy Awards. His albums have sold more than 50 million and singles over 75 million. Jay-Z is a household name. You have heard his music.
Trivia Facts Jay-Z founded Roc-A-Fella Records, and the clothing retailer Rocawear. He also owns the luxury sports bar chain 40/40 Club. Recently, he bought streaming service Tidal. Most impressive of all, he is married to Beyonce.
#3 – Chali 2na
TOP STRENGTH: MULTISYLLABIC HYMES
Do you remember how I complained about rappers trying to be complex while their lyrics suffer? Chali 2na is different. His ability to use multiple syllables in an internal or exterior rhyme is not wasted. His lyrics are clear and mature. His baritone voice sounds so good.
Chali 2na sounds like mastery. There is no place to improve. He chooses to create more upbeat songs, which can get tedious, and tries to make pop hits. I have the same problem with Big Pun’s chasing after money through cheesy pop music. Chali is the best rapper in terms of refinement.
Trivia Facts He is a member both of Jurassic 5 (Ozomatli) and . StarKist Tuna’s animated mascot, Deep Voiced, gave him his stage name. Although he is well-known in the rap community, many people were first introduced to him through a Linkin Park collaboration.
#2 – Tech N9ne
FLOW is TOP STRENGTH
Tech N9ne is the most fluid person of all time. He is almost at the top of the heap for his use of sixlets, triplets and complex rhyme schemes, multisyllabic poetry, strange time signatures and other bizarre ways to express himself. His energy is unmatched. Why is he not number one?
Because he is stubborn about his complexity. He is so strict with the rules that he sometimes creates words and phrases to fit in the multi. He can overcome this and improve his storytelling skills, but it’s not too important.
Trivia Facts He is a co-founder at Strange Music. His music has been featured on TV, film, and video games. He has remained independent and not signed to any major labels, which has slowed him down but he is still finding mainstream success.
#1 – Eminem
TOP STRENGTH: CHARISMA
Eminem’s “evolution” from shock rap and sing-song rapper to trying to sound like modern mumble rappers is getting worse. It’s clear that Eminem holds the crown, judging by his discography and especially his early work.
Eminem is a master of his craft. His music is complex and full of rhyming phrases, vocabulary, and complexity that he doesn’t care about mass appeal. His freestyle abilities are limitless to the point that he can do things that seem impossible.
Trivia Facts He was the main character of the drama 8 Mile. It is based on rap battles. He has won 15 Grammys and 8 American Music Awards as well as 17 Billboard Music Awards. He has 10 Billboard 200 number-one albums, with all of them debuting at #1. This is his only achievement.
Runners up: Who’s almost a best rapper?
Although there is only room for ten artists, there are many in the industry that could be able to take a few of the top rappers off the list. Some are more established than others, while some are relatively new to the scene.
TOP STRENGTH – LONG MULTISYLLABIC HYMES
Fabolous, a respected emcee, has the same problems as everyone else. Instead of showing his crazy skills, he tries to sound like a pop star and dumbs down. It’s okay. Fabolous can return to the limelight with a darker image if he continues to use his long, external rhymes.
Fab enjoyed a brief moment at the top and spent it singing love songs with R&B singers. While he might have made a lot of money in the short-term, I believe it was a mistake that cost him his long-term financial health. He should get back to the basics and use his technical skills.
Trivia Facts Fabolous founded Street Family Records after a long struggle with several major labels and signed four artists. In 2017, he released a horror-themed album with Jadakiss.
TOP STRENGTH FLOW
Kendrick has many things going for him. His voice, flow and lyrical content are perfect for the jazz-inspired instrumentals on his three first albums. He is showing that he can learn and grow over the course of his discography.
When someone gets tapped to ghostwrite for Dr. Dre you know they are on the right track. This has been the case for the past few years. RBX is an exception to this rule, and he’s still one my favorite artists. Kendrick, who is already being called “the new king of hip-hop”, is at a different level.
Trivia Facts He is part of the supergroup Black Hippy, which includes Jay Rock, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul. He has already won Grammy Awards and received 11 nominations at the 58th ceremony. In 2016, the mayor presented him with the key to Compton.
TOP STRENGTH: RHYME STUCTURE
Necro is not for you if you aren’t into horror movies or the occult. If you can look past the topic he raps about you will hear an intelligent rapper who has an amazing command of multis and rhyme schemes.
Necro is also a talented producer. He makes all his beats and some for Non-Phixion which includes his brother Ill Bill. He lists Kool G Rap, Big Daddy Kane and KRS-One as his greatest influences.
Trivia Facts His musical style is a mix of heavy metal and rap, but lyrically, you could call him horrorcore. He founded Psycho+Logical-Records, which has released over 40 albums to date. He has opened for Run DMC and Sepultura as well as Insane Clown Posse and Biohazard.
Who else is climbing the list of greatest rappers of all time?
A few rappers are “next up” in terms skill. While all have achieved and will continue to achieve underground success, few will be mainstream-friendly. It’s okay because it doesn’t have anything to do with our list. These artists are:
- Hopsin is a multiskilled musician with the structure, flow and energy. But he still loves horrorcore like so many other greats.
- Canibus is a great rapper with a lot of things, but he has a very appealing flow. He’s too intelligent, rapping about Physics and other things that I like but not many others.
- Aesop Rock has a similarity to Sage Francis. Although he’s capable of doing anything, he is far too lofty to be useful for most. He is difficult to listen to.
- Vinnie Paz is a mature and well-respected stylist, but sometimes it can become repetitive. He will fix it and continue to grow, I’m certain.
- Chino XL a veteran rhymer who uses advanced techniques to create strong flows.
- Sean Price has passed away, but his latest rhymes are still very much in line with Chali 2na. He was ready to make it big.
- A$AP Rocky has a unique style that is both modern and edgy. He bends rap rules, but never breaks them. He should be more focused on the meaning of words and not how they sound.
- Drakeneeds not be introduced, a rap superstar already featured on the most selling artists lists and richest rapperslists.
There are many others I think deserve to be included on this list. This is why arguments always ensue from this discussion. It’s impossible to include everyone and it all comes down to individual tastes. These are my opinions and tastes. If you feel someone should be on the list, let me know.
Top 10 Most Influential Rappers of All Time
This table lists the top 10 most popular rappers worldwide. It includes their names and highest strength.
|3||Chali 2na||Multisyllabic Rhymes|
|7||Kool G Rap||Flow|
|8||Royce Da 5’9”||Rhyme Structure|
|9||MF Doom||Multisyllabic Rhyming|