White MCs haven’t had the easiest time in hip hop. For every step forward that white rappers were able to take in hip hop culture, there was usually a culture vulture waiting in the wings ready to exploit the music.
For every Beastie Boys, or Aesop Rock, or Eminem pushing hip hop music forward, there was usually a Vanilla Ice, Iggy Azalea or Riff Raff dragging shit down. But that’s all good, over the long-run, real recognises real, and there have been enough great white rappers throughout history to validate their standing in the culture.
From Eminem, El-P and Paul Wall, to Aesop Rock, Sage Francis and Mac Miller, there are top 25 best white rappers of all time.
25. R.A. the Rugged Man
Discography: Die, Rugged Man, Die (2004), Legends Never Die (2013), All My Heroes Are Dead (2020)
R.A. the Rugged Man never fails to impress, with an otherworldly rhyming ability which makes for some of the most complex and dense verses in hip hop. Although he has a small catalogue, he’s well-respected for his longevity as an MC, maintaining his keen sense of lyricism and drive to create colourful and unique hip hop from the ‘90s to today.
Discography: Moments (2010), Mansion (2015), Therapy Session (2016), Perception (2017), The Search (2019)
NF wears his influences on his sleeves – most notably Eminem – but that’s not to say he doesn’t have his own sound. He’s a rapper whose strongest attribute is his lyricism, telling vivid and brutally honest stories about his life with a snappy and aggressive delivery that makes him the focus of any track. With multiple songs topping the charts, he’s a rapper whose honesty has never limited his success.
23. Bubba Sparxxx
Discography: Dark Days, Bright Nights (2001), Deliverance (2003), The Charm (2006), Pain Management (2013), Made on McCosh Mill Road (2014), Rapper From the Country (2018), King of Crap (2020), Life Is Serious (2022)
Bubba Sparxxx embraces the funk and country influences of the South. While many white rappers follow the same route as Eminem, Bubba is in his own lane, with a nonchalant style of rapping which adapts well to all sounds from country-rap fusions to club bangers. His versatility, coupled with his Southern influences, make for a refreshing sound seldom heard in white rappers.
22. Asher Roth
Discography: Asleep in the Bread Aisle (2009), RetroHash (2014), Flowers on the Weekend (2020)
Asher Roth debuted in 2009 with his hit single, “I Love College”. With that introduction, it displays what makes Asher’s music unique. He fully embraces his out-of-place nature in hip hop, using his music to highlight his playful personality and describe his life rather than to latch onto a popular sound for the money. It’s that authenticity and genuineness that makes his music worthwhile, and cements him as one of the greatest white rappers to ever do it.
Discography: The Epidemic LP (2008), Must Be Nice (2012), These Things Happen (2014), When It’s Dark Out (2015), The Beautiful & Damned (2017), These Things Happen Too (2021)
G-Eazy is a rapper who has drifted away from hip hop over time towards a more poppy sound. When it comes to his hip hop origins, however, it’s easy to see why he topped the charts. With a slick delivery and lyrics about sex, drugs, and partying, his music is made for the club, with irresistibly likable hooks and an ear for catchy beats.
20. Machine Gun Kelly
Discography: Lace Up (2012), General Admission (2015), Bloom (2017), Hotel Diablo (2019), Tickets to My Downfall (2020), Mainstream Sellout (2022)
More recently, Machine Gun Kelly has transitioned from hip hop to pop-punk, but he still maintains a core fanbase for his take on emo rap. He’s got a rugged energy to his voice, complementing his abrasive, rock-inspired production. Hopping from gritty emo rap to melodic pop rap, he’s versatile, adapting well to all types of sounds.
Discography: There’s Really a Wolf (2017), Zoo (2018), Shake the Snow Globe (2020), Chomp 2 (2021)
Russ has a laidback and melodic style, making his music instantly catchy. While he may not have the most diverse flows or the hardest beats, he thrives on the melancholic and poppy sound he’s forged for himself. Rapping over stripped back and poignant production, his brand of moody pop-rap allows him to show off his effortless fusion of rapping and singing.
Discography: The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant (2013), Next to Nothing (2014), Top of the Line (2016), Last Call (2017), Put a Crown on It (2019), Picture Perfect (2020), Rittzmas (2020), S.O.S. (2021)
Since his 2013 debut The Life and Times of Jonny Valiant, Rittz has embraced the glamorous sound of trap music. He’s no stranger to autotune, often using it to give his voice a metallic quality as he raps over chattering hi-hats and looping samples. When he isn’t using autotune, he sounds determined and cold, creating an intriguing contrast between his poppy hits and hard-hitting deep cuts.
Discography: I Need Drugs (2000), Gory Days (2001), The Pre-Fix for Death (2004), The Sexorcist (2005), Death Rap (2007), Die (2010), Murder Murder Kill Kill (2012), The Notorious Goriest (2018)
Necro has one of the most unique sounds in hip hop, having coined the term “Death Rap” to describe his blend of horrorcore rap and death metal. His gruesome lyrics of murder and death may not appeal to everyone, but nobody can deny the effort he puts in, with a lengthy catalogue of horrorcore albums and a ruthless style he’s maintained for upwards of twenty years.
16. Lil Peep
Discography: Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 1 (2017), Come Over When You’re Sober, Pt. 2 (2018)
Lil Peep embodied emo rap, putting a dark twist on melodic hip hop. What made his music so captivating was his vulnerability, being unafraid to speak at length about his struggles with depression and addiction. Peep was never afraid to sing either, with a moody tone that encapsulated all the pain and struggle in his life. Highly influential in his own unique way, Peep is cemented as one of the best white rappers of all time.
Discography: The Language of My World (2005), The Heist (with Ryan Lewis) (2012), This Unruly Mess I’ve Made (with Ryan Lewis) (2016), Gemini (2017)
Macklemore dominated the last decade with hits like “Thrift Shop”, “Can’t Hold Us”, and “Glorious”, defining the sound of mainstream hip hop in the early 2010s. He’s a smooth rapper with enough confidence to make any track a hit, but his real talent is in his hook-making ability and artist curation, bringing together talents to make some of the most famous and memorable songs in recent history. While some critics may deride him for his over-the-top earnestness, it’s very clear that Seattle rapper has a deep love for hip hop culture, and no-one can ever take that away from him.
Discography: Creek Water (2005), Radioactive (2011), Love Story (2015), Trial by Fire (2017), Trunk Muzik III (2019), Ghetto Cowboy (2019), Mud Mouth (2021)
Born in Alabama and raised in Tennessee, Yelawolf embodies the swagger of the South, incorporating the flashy sound of trap into his projects while maintaining a high standard of technical ability. On top of his high energy, Yelawolf has an effortless flow, switching it up on every track as he raps over bombastic, Bling Era-esque production. He knows how to make a crowd move, and that confidence is never missing in his braggadocious music.
Discography: Movies for the Blind (2002), Hell’s Winter (2005), Depart from Me (2009), Kill the Architect (2013), Book ov Sam: Infernal Depths (2018), Infernal Depths (2019), Death Miracles (2020)
After a childhood of abuse and trauma, hip hop has become a form of therapy for Cage. He uses his music to speak his mind and reflect on his troubled past, making for some of the most heart-wrenching music in the genre. As part of the Definitive Jux label, he helped push a wave of innovative and introspective hip hop, showcased in his vicious and grimy debut, Movies For The Blind.
12. Sage Francis
Discography: Voice Mail Bomb Threat with Art Official Intelligence (1998), Personal Journals (2002), Hope (with Joe Beats, as Non-Prophets) (2003), A Healthy Distrust (2005), Human the Death Dance (2007), Life (2010), Copper Gone (2014), Season 1 (with B. Dolan, as Epic Beard Men) (2018), This Was Supposed To Be Fun (with B. Dolan, as Epic Beard Men) (2019)
Sage Francis is difficult to compare to any other rapper, with a theatrical flare to his style where he shifts from rapping to singing over a range of lush and serene beats. His biggest strength is his lyricism, with the remarkable ability to articulate his problems with himself and society with such creative wordplay and effortless rhymes.
11. Your Old Droog
Discography: Your Old Droog (2014), Packs (2017), It Wasn’t Even Close (2019), Transportation (2019), Jewelry (2019), Dump YOD: Krutoy Edition (2020), TIME (2021), Space Bar (2021), Tha Wolf on Wall St. (with Tha God Fahim) (2021), Tha YOD Fahim (with Tha God Fahim) (2021), Tha Wolf on Wall St. 2: The American Dream (with Tha God Fahim) (2022)
Your Old Droog has more output each year than some rappers could hope to release in a decade. While his voice is often compared to Nas, the music itself is far different. Droog has a witty pen, balancing comedy with incredible wordplay over gritty and cold production. With the number of projects he has, it’s admirable how consistent Droog remains. Over the past few years, the Brooklyn rapper has significantly amped up his output, determined to get his respect in this rap game.
10. Action Bronson
Discography: Dr. Lecter (2011), Well-Done (2011) (with Statik Selektah), Mr. Wonderful (2015), Blue Chips 7000 (2017), White Bronco (2018), Only for Dolphins (2020), Cocodrillo Turbo (2022)
Hailing from Flushing, Queens, deep in the heart of New York, Action Bronson exudes the confidence and lyrical skillset of a ’90s rap legend. While comparisons have been done to death about the similarities between Action and Ghostface’s voice, it’s actually in their absurdist flow and rewind-worthy delivery that really sets them apart from everyone else. Action’s presence on the mic is second to none, and that’s one of the many reasons that make him amongst the best white rappers ever.
9. Brother Ali
Discography: Rites of Passage (2000), Shadows on the Sun (2003), The Undisputed Truth (2007), Us (2009), Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color (2012), All the Beauty in This Whole Life (2017), Secrets & Escapes (2019)
From Rites of Passage in 2000 to Brother Minutester, Vol. 1 in 2021, Brother Ali’s longevity is remarkable. Ali is a known activist for racial equality and change, and those politics bleed into his lyrics and make for some powerful and hopeful hip hop. With his upbeat tone and delivery, he’s a rapper unafraid to tackle controversial subjects, but he always does so with humour and charisma.
Discography: Overcast! (1997), God Loves Ugly (2002), Seven’s Travels (2003), You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having (2005), When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold (2008), The Family Sign (2011), Southsiders (2014), Fishing Blues (2016), Mi Vida Local (2018), Whenever (2019), The Day Before Halloween (2020), WORD? (2021)
Slug is a master of storytelling, rapping through a number of different personas and often using metaphor to describe past relationships and struggles with love. It’s this imaginative sense of writing that makes him stand out from other rappers, using his pen to the fullest in the group Atmosphere who dropped quality records like God Loves Ugly and, as recent as 2021, WORD?.
7. Vinnie Paz
Discography: The Psycho-Social, Chemical, Biological & Electro-Magnetic Manipulation of Human Consciousness (1997), Violent by Design (2000), Visions of Gandhi (2003), Legacy of Blood (2004), Servants in Heaven, Kings in Hell (2006), A History of Violence (2008), Season of the Assassin (2010), Violence Begets Violence (2011), God of the Serengeti (2012), The Thief and the Fallen (2015), The Bridge and the Abyss (2018), The Cornerstone of the Corner Store (2016), The Pain Collector (2018), As Above So Below (2020), The Funeral and the Raven (2021), Burn Everything That Bears Your Name (2021), Tortured In The Name of God’s Unconditional Love (2022)
Vinnie Paz has a raspy voice, always performing with a rage in his tone that dominates every track he’s featured on. His subject matter is diverse, but most notable are his tracks about gruesome violence, where Paz describes vividly the way he will torture his victims. The sheer amount of anger he conveys is amplified by the abrasive hardcore production he uses, making for an unforgettable performance.
6. Paul Wall
Discography: Get Ya Mind Correct (with Chamillionaire) (2002), Chick Magnet (2004), The Peoples Champ (2005), Controversy Sells (with Chamillionaire) (2005), Get Money, Stay True (2007), Fast Life (2009), Heart of a Champion (2010), #Checkseason (2013), The Po-Up Poet (2014), Slab God (2015), Houston Oiler (2016), The Legalizers: Legalize or Die, Vol. 1 (with Baby Bash) (2016), Diamond Boyz (with C Stone) (2017), Bounce Backs over Setbacks (2018), The Legalizers, Vol. 2: Indoor Grow (with Baby Bash) (2018), Give Thanks (with Statik Selektah) (2019), Mind over Matter (2020), Slab Talk (with Lil’ Keke) (2020), Subculture (2020), Hall of Fame Hustler (2021), Start 2 Finish (with Termanology) (2022)
Paul Wall debuted in the chopped and screwed scene, inspired by DJ Screw to push the sound forward for the Swishahouse label. In his solo work, Paul fuses the chopped and screwed sound with the party anthem glamour of Southern hip hop, making for a strange but hard-hitting blend of styles. With his nonchalant tone, he contrasts well against his warped choice of production. While he came up in the mid-2000s as part of the Houston takeover, it’s Paul Wall’s consistency and longevity that really puts him in the upper echelon of white rappers.
5. Mac Miller
Discography: Blue Slide Park (2011), Watching Movies with the Sound Off (2013), GO:OD AM (2015), The Divine, Feminine (2016), Swimming (2018), Circles (2020)
The late, great Mac Miller had a witty sense of writing coupled with a relaxed style of delivery, making for a cryptic yet accessible sound few could resist. The Pittsburgh’s rapper blend of hip hop, soul, and jazz was incredible, with albums like Swimming and Faces containing some of the most soothing and beautiful songs to ever grace hip hop. Gone too soon, Mac’s skills and achievements continue to be celebrated.
4. Beastie Boys
Discography: Licensed to Ill (1986), Paul’s Boutique (1989), Check Your Head (1992), Ill Communication (1994), Hello Nasty (1998), To the 5 Boroughs (2004), The Mix-Up (2007), Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (2011)
Beastie Boys are among the most important groups in hip hop history. Their brash and carefree rap rock sound is instantly recognisable – even in their deep cuts – because no band quite had the same charisma and explosive sound as them. The chemistry between each member – hyping each other up and chanting about partying – is legendary and has yet to be replicated in any other hip hop act. The youth and passion resonates in every single track, even on their 2011 album.
3. Aesop Rock
Discography: Music for Earthworms (1997), Float (2000), Labor Days (2001), Bazooka Tooth (2003), None Shall Pass (2007), Skelethon (2012), The Impossible Kid (2016), Spirit World Field Guide (2020), Garbology (with Blockhead) (2021)
One of the greatest underground rappers of all time, Aesop Rock has a one-of-a-kind sense of lyricism, boasting one of the biggest vocabularies in hip hop which make his cryptic verses so impressive. He’s a natural creative, from his masterful storytelling on Labor Days to his otherworldly concept album Spirit World Field Guide. With his wild imagination and incredible pen to articulate it, Aesop is a master at his craft.
Discography: Funcrusher (1996), Funcrusher Plus (1997), Fantastic Damage (2002), High Water (2004), I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead (2007), Cancer 4 Cure (2012), Run the Jewels (2013), Run the Jewels 2 (2014), Run the Jewels 3 (2016), RTJ4 (2020)
El-P is an underground GOAT contender. From his start in Company Flow to his modern work in Run the Jewels, the quality of his work has never wavered. He’s an MC with a fierce flow and poignant lyricism, never afraid to get personal about his past while maintaining a charm and sense of humour, making his music equally fun and emotional. Brooklyn as fuck in attitude and a lyrical marvel on the mic, El-P is without doubt one of the greatest white rappers ever.
Discography: Infinite (1996), The Slim Shady LP (1999), The Marshall Mathers LP (2000), The Eminem Show (2002), Encore (2004), Relapse (2009), Recovery (2010), The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013), Revival (2017), Kamikaze (2018), Music to Be Murdered By (2020)
There should simply be no debate about Eminem being one of the greatest rappers of all time, let alone the best white rapper ever. With a knack for rhyming, limitless flows, and one of the most bombastic and rageful deliveries in rap music, he’s an incredibly well-rounded rapper. From his early classics The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP to his work today, he’s proven himself a legend with the skill to justify his incredible success.