When you’re talking about the best Louisiana rappers of all time, you’re talking about a city full of rich history and deep pedigree of hip hop talent.
Whether it’s No Limit Records changing the rap business in the late ’90s, Cash Money dominating the hip hop industry in the ’00s and ’10s, or NBA YoungBoy emerging as one of the hottest rappers in the game right now, Louisiana has never been short of dope hip hop artists.
On this list, we’re going to talk about the city’s best rap talents. From NBA YoungBoy to Juvenile, Kevin Gates to Lil Wayne, here are the top 10 best Louisiana rappers of all time.
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10. YoungBoy Never Broke Again
Discography:Until Death Call My Name (2018), Top (2020), Sincerely, Kentrell (2021), The Last Slimeto (2022)
Coming up in the mid-2010s, YoungBoy Never Broke Again aka NBA YoungBoy started out by dropping his first mixtape, Life Before Fame in 2015. It wasn’t long before his name started bubbling up in the rap game, first in his hometown with attention from fellow New Orleans rappers Boosie Badazz and Kevin Gates, before striking it big on the national stage.
Within a few years of debuting, YoungBoy had cultivated a rabid fanbase who were magnetised by his hypnotic melodies and high energy, aggressive raps. Over the past seven years, NBA YoungBoy has dropped dozens of releases, including four number one albums, and seven platinum projects. He hasn’t been around for as long as the other rappers on the list but NBA YoungBoy has secured his standing amongst the best Louisiana rappers of all time.
9. Boosie Badazz
Discography: Youngest of da Camp (2000), For My Thugz (2002), Bad Azz (2006), Superbad: The Return of Boosie Bad Azz (2009), Incarcerated (2010), Touch Down 2 Cause Hell (2015), BooPac (2017), Boosie Blues Cafe (2018), Badazz 3.5 (2019), Bad Azz Zay (2019), Talk Dat Sh*t (2019), Goat Talk (2019), In House (2020), Goat Talk 3 (2021), Heartfelt (2022)
Baton Rouge is a tough city, and Boosie Badazz came up in one of its roughest neighborhoods. He made a name for himself locally in the 1990s with a Dirty South vibe and hard lyrics reflecting the violence that ruled the streets of his youth. Throughout his early years the rapper clashed with local authorities, leading to multiple arrests, convictions and a five year prison sentence.
As a rapper, Boosie Badazz is known for smart, hard and insightful lyrics delivered with a sleepy lyrical flow. He colors his dark trap grooves with flashes of R&B-infused vocals. His rhymes frequently reference his many legal troubles. Boosie eventually relocated to Atlanta, Georgia to escape his many legal troubles with Baton Rouge officials and law enforcement.
8. Kevin Gates
Discography: Islah (2016), I’m Him (2019), Khaza (2022)
While J. Cole may have popularised the trend of going platinum with no features, Kevin Gates has been dropping albums with no guest verses for years now. The Baton Rouge rapper’s debut album, Islah, dropped in 2016 and powered by the addictive hit singles “Really Really”, “2 Phones” quickly hit platinum status. With the uncanny ability to seamlessly shift between singing and rapping, Gates has always been on to bare his heart in his raps.
In between street bars and trapping tales, the emotionally-charged rapper is also known for his confessional material, where he’s not afraid to talk about going through depression and experiencing poverty. It’s why Gates has managed to cultivate such a strong fanbase and hit commercial success without any help.
Discography: Mystikal (1994), Mind of Mystikal (1995), Unpredictable (1997), Ghetto Fabulous (1998), Let’s Get Ready (2000), Tarantula (2001)
New Orleans rapper Mystikal was a star in the Dirty South scene of the late 90s and early 2000s, signed to Master P’s No Limit label. His hard style combined the rapid-fire, gravel voiced chopping of Busta Rhymes with the wit and lyrical creativity of Ludacris. With elements of soul, funk and hip-hop, his music had all of the voodoo and comedy of his mystical hometown.
At the peak of his popularity in 2004 Mystikal was imprisoned for six years on a sexual battery conviction. Upon his release he hit the studio. A decade of moderately successful singles followed, however the rapper was never able to regain his earlier platinum status. His legal troubles continued. In August of 2022 he was accused of raping and choking a woman in his Louisiana home.
6. Soulja Slim
Discography: Give It 2 ‘Em Raw (1998), The Streets Made Me (2001), Years Later (2002), Years Later…A Few Months After (2003)
Soulja Slim might not be one of those names that appear on the greatest rappers of all time list, or even amongst the the best southern rappers ever, but when it comes to New Orleans, Louisiana, and more specifically, the Magnolia Projects, the late rapper is an icon. Jay Z and Jay Electronica recently paid homage to the slain New Orleans legend on “Ghost of Soulja Slim” off A Written Testimony.
It’s a shame that Soulja Slim’s never really took off and he was unable to fulfil the immense potential he showed us. After dropping his debut album, Give It 2 ‘Em Raw, via No Limit Records, Slim served a three-year stint for armed robbery and came out to drop his sophomore release, The Streets Made Me. But perhaps the rapper’s best-known song is his collaboration with Cash Money’s Juvenile on the number-one single “Slow Motion.” The hit song topped the charts shortly after Soulja Slim was murdered on November 26, 2003, making him the sixth artist in history to have a posthumous number one single.
5. Master P
Discography: Get Away Clean (1991), Mama’s Bad Boy (1992), The Ghettos Tryin to Kill Me! (1994), 99 Ways to Die (1995), Ice Cream Man (1996), Ghetto D (1997), MP da Last Don (1998), Only God Can Judge Me (1999), Ghetto Postage (2000), Game Face (2001), Good Side, Bad Side (2004), Ghetto Bill (2005), The Gift (2013), Empire, from the Hood to Hollywood (2015), Louisiana Hot Sauce (2016)
While Master P will never go down as one of the greatest rappers of all time or receive any lyricist awards anytime soon, he will forever be a hip hop icon and one of the most influential Southern rappers ever. Born and raised in Central City in the Third Ward of Uptown New Orleans, Master P would go on to open up a record store in Richmond, California called No Limit Records And Tapes, setting the foundation for his future record label.
After a few years of learning the music business and opening up for established rap acts like 2Pac and Spice 1, he officially launched No Limit Records and began putting out local rappers like Mystikal, Mia X, Kane & Abel, Fiend, and Mr. Serv-On. By 1997, Master P and No Limit was a recognised brand down south and he began dominating the Billboard charts with albums like Ghetto D and MP da Last Don along with hit singles like “Make ‘Em Say Uhh!”. Talk to any rapper-turned-entrepreneur and they’ll tell you just how influential Master P was to their own business moves. Not only is he a legend in the music business, he’s one of the greatest Louisiana rappers of all time.
4. Jay Electronica
Discography: A Written Testimony (2020), Act II: The Patents of Nobility (The Turn) (2020)
Even though his catalogue is severely lacking relative to his incredible rapping talent, Jay Electronica has put out enough great music to cement his place amongst some of the best Louisiana rappers of all time. Inspired by LL Cool J to start rapping while he was growing up in the Magnolia Projects, the enigmatic artist released his first mixtape, Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge), via MySpace in 2007 and the buzz was instantaneous. Then he dropped the Just Blaze-produced classic “Exhibit C,” and suddenly it seemed like we were witnessing the next all-time great rapper emerge right in front of us.
After a bidding war involving Puffy and Jay-Z, Jay Electronica eventually signed to Roc Nation and got to working on his debut album. But the years passed and the album never dropped. Meanwhile, his peers like Drake, Kendrick and J. Cole were releasing albums left, right and centre while claiming their stake to the throne. Jay Electronica never seemed interested in any of that, and was content to reveal glimpses of his brilliance on feature appearances every now and then – Reflection Eternal’s “Just Begun”, Currensy’s “The Day”, Mac Miller’s “Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes”, and PRhyme’s “To Me, To You.” Then in 2020, he unveiled A Written Testimony, an album purportedly recorded in 40 days, then leaked his long-awaited project, Act II: The Patents of Nobility (The Turn).
Discography: Being Myself (1995), Solja Rags (1997), 400 Degreez (1998), Tha G-Code (1999), Project English (2001), Juve the Great (2003), Reality Check (2006), Cocky & Confident (2009), Beast Mode (2010), Rejuvenation (2012), The Fundamentals (2014)
Before Lil Wayne, and later Drake and Nicki Minaj, became the superstars of Cash Money, Juvenile was the label’s flagship artist. Raised in the Magnolia Projects of Uptown New Orleans, Louisiana’s 3rd Ward, Juvenile dropped his debut album, Being Myself, in 1995 via Warlock Records. While the album didn’t do much commercially, it put his name on the map and he ended up signing with Cash Money not long afterwards. It was at Cash Money that he had the opportunity to work with Mannie Fresh, one of the greatest hip hop producers of all time, as well as join B.G., Turk, and Lil Wayne to form the Hoy Boys.
Within a few years of joining Cash Money, Juvenile would achieve national success with the release of 400 Degreez. Fully produced by Mannie Fresh and featuring hit singles like “Ha” and “Back That Thang Up,” the album’s success put Juvenile’s face in front of every rap fan in America. The New Orleans rapper would continue to put out more successful releases over the next few years, culminating in “Slow Motion,” his number one smash hit featuring the late Soulja Slim. Not only is Juvenile one of the biggest stars the South has ever seen, he’s one of the best Louisiana rappers ever.
Discography: This Ain’t No Mixtape (2009), Jet Files (2009), Pilot Talk (2010), Pilot Talk II (2010), Weekend at Burnie’s (2011), The Stoned Immaculate (2012), Pilot Talk III (2015), Canal Street Confidential (2015), Back at Burnie’s (2019), Collection Agency (2021), Still Stoned on Ocean (2021), Pilot Talk IV (2021)
The hardest working rapper in the game, who never sounds like he’s working hard. Currensy is a one-of-a-kind artist in the rap business. After spending time at both No Limit and Cash Money, Currensy was able to take lessons from both camps – Master P’s business hustle and Lil Wayne’s work ethic – and apply it to his own career as an independent. After years of grinding away and developing his sound, Currensy is in a rare space of his own.
The Louisiana rapper talks about just a handful of subjects in all his music, but he never sounds repetitive. He flows consistently over a variety of production – whether it’s Harry Fraud, The Alchemist or Cookin’ Soul – but all his tapes have a similar vibe. He floats around the independent circuit, but probably has made more money than 90% of these major label artists. Suffice to say, there’s no other rapper quite like him.
1. Lil Wayne
Discography: Tha Block Is Hot (1999), Lights Out (2000), 500 Degreez (2002), Tha Carter (2004), Tha Carter II (2005), Tha Carter III (2008), Rebirth (2010), I Am Not a Human Being (2010), Tha Carter IV (2011), I Am Not a Human Being II (2013), Free Weezy Album (2015), Tha Carter V (2018), Funeral (2020)
This isn’t even a discussion. There’s no one even close to Lil Wayne when you’re talking about the best rappers from Louisiana, especially when this is someone who is in the running for quite possibly the best rapper of all time. And you know the most amazing thing about Lil Wayne is? Over 20 years in the rap game, he’s still going hard – it’s why we put him on the list of the best rappers doing it right now.
Making his debut in 1997 as the Hot Boys along with Juvenile, B.G., and Turk, it was evident from early on that Lil Wayne was a unique talent. After years of grinding in the late ’90s and early ’20s, Weezy’s rap career caught rocket fuel as he doubled down on his craft and went on a legend mixtape run, peppered with extraordinary feature appearances, that hasn’t been replicated to this day. After achieving biggest and best rapper alive status in 2008, he quickly handed off the baton to Drake but has never left the scene. Whether it’s dropping a mixtape with Rich the Kid or going on another fire feature run like he did in 2021, Weezy F. Baby is forever.