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The Best Hip Hop Artists of All Time Ranked by Fans

Hip hop started small, but now it runs the world – clothes, movies, everything. We’ve seen so many dope MCs change the game, pushin’ boundaries with their lyrics, beats, and style. Some cats stay legendary for decades.

Think about Kanye and his crazy creativity, Queen Latifah rippin’ it for female MCs, or Ice Cube with raw gangsta rap in the ’90s. Then you got Missy Elliott’s wild videos and Jay-Z hustlin’ up to billionaire status. Kendrick’s new-school fire, Pac’s spirit, Pharrell’s unique style, Rakim droppin’ knowledge, Biggie with those stories… Legends, all of ’em.

These are the artists who flipped the script, the ones we still feel today, whether it’s the old school pioneers or cats droppin’ fresh heat now. This ain’t just a list, it’s the icons who made hip hop what it is and we have it ranked by votes from our fans – constantly evolving and changing.

Kanye West


Artistic peak: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

From his genre-shifting debut, The College Dropout, to his 2010 magnum opus My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and boundary-pushing Yeezus, Kanye’s catalog embodies a restless creativity that has consistently propelled the genre forward. An illustrious producer turned MC, Kanye has always navigated the hip-hop landscape with an unorthodox flair. His eclectic sample choices, innovative beat structures, and introspective, socially-conscious lyrics immediately set him apart from his contemporaries. From soulful reflections to Auto-Tune-infused emotionality, his stylistic evolution has been as diverse as it’s been influential. However, it’s not just Kanye’s musical prowess that cements him as one of hip-hop’s greatest. His ability to curate, bringing together a constellation of different artists and blending their strengths to create works of transcendent brilliance, has shaped some of the most memorable moments in hip-hop history. Some of the biggest and most important rappers in the game today — from Drake to Kendrick Lamar to Tyler, the Creator — can be traced back to Kanye’s lineage. At this point in his career, it’s simply undeniable — Kanye West is the greatest hip hop artist of all time.



Artistic peak: All Eyez on Me

2Pac was an artist in the truest sense of the word. A poet, an actor, a revolutionary, and of course, a phenomenal rapper, Pac’s passion, intensity, and rawness brought a depth to his music that resonated deeply with audiences. His lyrics addressed everything from societal injustices to gang violence to personal struggles, painting a vivid, visceral picture of life as a young Black male in America. But the late rapper was also a master at crafting emotionally charged songs about love, loss, and aspiration, showcasing the breadth of his artistic range. Pac’s life was tragically cut short, but his influence on hip-hop is immeasurable — his body of work, marked by its profound emotional depth and potent social commentary, has ensured his legacy as one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time.

Missy Elliott


Artistic peak: Miss E… So Addictive

Missy Elliott is a tour de force, a boundless creative spirit who helped redefine what it meant to be a female artist in hip-hop. Missy’s lyrical dexterity, coupled with her innovative, genre-bending production collaborations with Timbaland, changed the game. Whether she’s rapping or singing, her flow is unmistakable, bringing a vibrant, playful energy to even the most hard-hitting beats. Her visually stunning and avant-garde music videos broke barriers, proving that hip-hop could be as visually compelling as it is sonically. Missy Elliott’s refusal to fit into any preconceived box, and her continual pushing of artistic boundaries, cements her place as one of the most creative and innovative hip hop artists ever.



Artistic peak: The Blueprint

Emerging from Brooklyn’s Marcy projects, armed with a prodigious talent and an ice cold wit, Jay-Z would go on to epitomise the very idea of the American dream. One of the sharpest MCs to ever touch a mic, Hov’s wordplay, compelling storytelling and poignant insights into the street life helped set apart from the very competitive ’90s era. As he evolved as an artist, the Brooklyn rapper made sure to surround himself with top-shelf producers who helped him craft anthems that could shake the club floors while embedded with layers of lyrical depth. Jay-Z’s ability to evolve with the times while maintaining a distinct, authentic voice is one of the many hallmarks of what makes him one of the greatest rappers to ever do it, in his journey from a local hustler to billionaire mogul.

Dr. Dre


Artistic peak: The Chronic

From his formative days with N.W.A to his solo superstardom, Dr. Dre has remained a towering figure in hip-hop for the past five decades. His signature production style – a potent mix of funk-infused rhythms, ominous synths, and crisp drum hits – birthed the G-Funk era and reshaped the sonic landscape of the genre. Dre is not just a rapper and a beatmaker, he’s a maestro conducting an orchestra of sound. Beyond his own lyrical prowess and innovative production, Dre’s Midas touch has launched careers of numerous icons like Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar, amplifying his influence and further solidifying his legacy as one of hip-hop’s all-time greats.

Andre 3000


Artistic peak: Aquemini

One-half of the legendary OutKast, Andre 3000 is widely recognized as one of hip-hop’s most innovative and eccentric voices. From the southern-fried funk of Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik to the genre-blending brilliance of Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, Stacks’ creativity knows no bounds. His lyrics, filled with introspective musings, socio-political commentary, and deep storytelling, are delivered with a distinctive flow that dances over beats with a jazz-like improvisation. Andre 3000’s refusal to conform to genre norms and his ability to push boundaries make him a vanguard of creative evolution in hip-hop.

Lauryn Hill


Artistic peak: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

With only a handful of albums to her name, there’s no denying that Lauryn Hill is a trailblazer who changed the course of hip-hop. The former Fugees rapper-singer’s blend of rap, soul, and reggae on the groundbreaking The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill brought a previously unseen level of depth, vulnerability, and honesty to the culture. The fact that it became the first rap album to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year certainly helps her legacy. Lauryn’s incredible vocal range coupled with her lyrical prowess and thought-provoking themes set a new standard, making her a beacon for women in a male-dominated industry. Though her discography is sparse, Hill’s profound impact remains undiminished, and her place amongst hip-hop’s greatest is undeniable.

Kendrick Lamar


Artistic peak: To Pimp a Butterfly

The Compton prodigy, Kendrick Lamar, has rightly earned his position among hip-hop’s greatest. He ascended from promising mixtape maestro to the defining artist of his generation, fearlessly tackling a myriad of themes from the streets to spirituality. His conceptually brilliant and critically acclaimed albums, notably good kid, m.A.A.d city and To Pimp a Butterfly, weave intricate narratives about personal struggle, societal issues, and black identity. Kendrick’s poetic lyricism, dynamic flow, and ambitious thematic concepts have culminated in making him one of the most influential and revered hip hop artists of the 21st century.



Artistic peak: It Was Written

Regarded as one of the greatest lyricists in hip-hop, Nas’s influence is nothing short of legendary. His debut album, Illmatic, is a blueprint for storytelling in rap, painting a vivid portrait of life in the Queensbridge projects. Nas’s intricate wordplay, incisive social commentary, and streetwise wisdom continue to resonate, influencing a whole generation of rappers during and after his time. As his recent albums have proved it, his ability to remain relevant and innovative in an ever-evolving rap culture speaks volumes about his artistry. Nas’ journey from a hungry street poet to a mature, reflective rap GOAT makes him one of hip-hop’s enduring icons and absolutely one of its greatest artists.



Artistic peak: Madvillainy

MF DOOM, the enigmatic figure with the trademark metal mask, left an indelible mark on hip-hop. His complex lyrical content, filled with intricate wordplay, clever metaphors and quirky pop culture references, made every verse an adventure. DOOM’s unique, sample-heavy production style created a world of its own, with albums like Madvillainy and MM..FOOD standing as high-water marks in experimental hip-hop. Though the man behind the mask has departed, the supervillain’s legacy will forever be etched in the annals of hip-hop history.



Artistic peak: The Marshall Mathers LP

Eminem’s place in hip-hop’s pantheon is firmly etched in stone. From his raw, visceral debut, The Slim Shady LP, to his magnum opus, The Marshall Mathers LP, his blend of intricate rhymes, dark humor, and brutally honest storytelling pushed boundaries and established him as one of the most innovative and controversial figures in the culture. He’s not only Dr. Dre’s greatest discovery but also one of the highest-selling artists in music history. Eminem’s technical proficiency, his ability to manipulate multi-syllabic rhyme schemes and internal rhymes with an unmatched dexterity, sets him apart as one of the best rappers ever.



Artistic peak: The Renaissance

With his high-pitched, nasally flow, Q-Tip remains one of hip-hop’s most distinctive voices. As the leading force of A Tribe Called Quest, he helped shape the sound of alternative hip-hop, blending jazz-infused samples with thoughtful, philosophical lyricism. The Abstract’s laid-back, introspective style presented a counterpoint to the dominant gangsta rap narrative of his time, and his influence is still felt in the culture today — rappers like Andre 3000, Kanye and Kendrick are obvious descendants from Tip’s style. Q-Tip’s contributions to hip-hop, marked by creativity, innovation and free-spirit, are indisputable, earning him a top spot among rap’s greatest artists.



Artistic peak: Wu-Tang Forever

As the de facto leader and main producer of the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA is arguably one of the top five most important artists in hip hop history. The Abbott’s innovative production style — gritty, off-kilter and cinematic, laced with samples from martial arts movies — defined the sound of an era and influenced countless others. His eerie yet soulful beats served as the perfect backdrop for Wu-Tang’s grimy lyricism. On the mic, RZA’s abstract verses and oft-times indecipherable delivery added another layer to Wu-Tang’s rich tapestry. His vision, both as a producer and an MC, was crucial in shaping one of the most iconic groups in hip-hop.

LL Cool J


Artistic peak: Mama Said Knock You Out

LL Cool J’s name stands for “Ladies Love Cool James,” and it couldn’t be more apt. His smooth, charismatic style coupled with his muscular, aggressive lyricism made him a bona fide superstar, and laid down the blueprint for future icons like Treach, 50 Cent and Drake. From his pioneering role in the Def Jam dynasty, to his work in films and television, LL’s influence spans across multiple aspects of entertainment. However, it’s his trailblazing in the rap game, delivering classics like “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” and “Mama Said Knock You Out,” that lands him among hip-hop’s greatest. His longevity in the game and continual ability to captivate audiences truly cements his legacy.



Artistic peak: Cancer 4 Cure

As a member of Company Flow, producer for Cannibal Ox, and later as one-half of Run the Jewels, El-P has carved out an enviable space in hip-hop with his experimental approach to production and densely packed verses. One of the culture’s foundational underground artists, his distinctive style — intricate, layered beats underpinning complex, often dystopian lyrical content — has marked him as a boundary pusher within the genre. The Definitive Jux founder’s work, whether as a rapper, producer, or label owner, is characterized by its progressive ethos, pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop can sound like.

DJ Quik


Artistic peak: Safe + Sound

DJ Quik is the epitome of West Coast G-funk — his music defined by laid-back grooves, silky melodies, and intricate lyrics. Known for his crisp production and precise, rhythmic flow, Quik’s catalogue spans decades, painting vivid pictures of life in Compton. He’s not just a skilled rapper, but a masterful producer and sound engineer whose talents behind the scenes have crafted many timeless records. The Compton artist’s unique ear for music and his ability to intertwine his smooth cadence with the rhythm of his beats has solidified his standing as a cornerstone of West Coast hip-hop.

Ice Cube


Artistic peak: Death Certificate

Arguably the most important rapper to emerge from the West Coast, Ice Cube’s impact on gangsta rap and the wider hip hop world is immeasurable. As a founding member of the seminal group N.W.A., he helped lay the blueprint for gangsta rap movement, with his gritty storytelling and visceral commentary on socio-political realities in urban America. His post-N.W.A. solo career took him even higher, delivering hits like “It Was a Good Day” and “No Vaseline” that showcased his unmistakable delivery, pristine storytelling, and brutal honesty. Cube’s lyrical acumen, combined with his biting social commentary, places him among the greatest MCs in hip-hop history, while his move to the big screen only underscores the vast influence of his larger-than-life persona.



Artistic peak: Charity Starts at Home

Phonte is a rapper’s rapper, a singer’s singer, an artist’s artist. As part of Little Brother and the Foreign Exchange, he has consistently delivered thoughtful, witty, and highly relatable verses wrapped up in some of the smoothest melodies ever delivered by an MC. Phonte’s down-to-earth persona and everyman lyricism made him a breath of fresh air in an era where excess was the norm. From rapping about maintaining relationships in the face of stardom on The Minstrel Show to navigating adulthood and mortality on his solo work, the Little Brother rapper’s honesty and introspection stand out. With his precise flow and razor-sharp wordplay, Phonte’s technical abilities are top-notch, making him a shining example of skill meeting substance in hip-hop.

Pimp C


Artistic peak: Ridin’ Dirty

Half of the legendary duo UGK, Pimp C is a critical figure in the Southern hip-hop canon. His inimitable style – a syrupy drawl over funk-infused beats (most of which he produced) – helped define the sound of the Dirty South during a critical time. Pimp’s lyrics, filled with unfiltered views of street life and frank discussions about the trials and tribulations of the hustle, were as real as they were raw. The UGK rapper’s ability to convey the allure and dangers of the street life with equal candor gave his narratives an added layer of depth. Even though he was taken from us way too soon, Pimp C’s influence remains palpable, underscoring his lasting legacy as a Southern rap icon.

Queen Latifah


Artistic peak: Black Reign

Rap royalty, Queen Latifah, is one of hip-hop’s trailblazing pioneers, breaking barriers for women and shaping the landscape of the genre. Emerging in the late 1980s, Latifah quickly became a leading figure in socially conscious hip-hop. Her lyrical prowess and penchant for tackling issues like gender equality, racial identity, and social injustice, embodied in classics like “U.N.I.T.Y,” left an indelible mark on hip-hop culture. Her effortless flow, strong, charismatic delivery, and powerful lyrics resonate, ensuring that her voice continues to be heard loud and clear. Latifah’s influence extends beyond music into acting and activism, cementing her position as a figure of immense importance in the hip-hop world and beyond.



Artistic peak: The Fix

Hailing from Houston, Texas, Scarface is a pillar in Southern hip-hop. As a member of the Geto Boys and through his extensive solo work, he has proven himself to be a master storyteller, painting visceral pictures of life in the inner city. Known for his gruff delivery and candid lyricism, the Houston rapper explores themes of mental health, poverty, and violence with unflinching honesty. His powerful narratives, often laced with poignant social commentary, have earned him respect far beyond the borders of the Dirty South. Scarface’s profound influence and exceptional talent affirm his status as one of hip-hop’s all-time great artists.

Lupe Fiasco


Artistic peak: The Cool

From the jump, Lupe Fiasco’s lyrical prowess was unquestionable. His early works, Food & Liquor and The Cool, showcased a unique blend of conscious lyricism, intricate wordplay, and complex narratives that quickly established him as a force in hip-hop. The Chi-town MC’s ability to dissect social and political issues with both sensitivity and depth is a testament to his remarkable skills as a lyricist. Whether it’s his 2015 magnum opus Tetsuo & Youth or his deeply introspective Drogas Wave, Lupe continues to push the boundaries of what hip-hop can be, proving time and again that his pen game is amongst the culture’s elite.



Artistic peak: Fly or Die

A paragon of innovation and artistic versatility, Pharrell has rocked many hats — whether as a rapper, singer, songwriter or producer — and carved out one of the most impressive catalogues in music history. Bursting onto the scene as one-half of The Neptunes, alongside Chad Hugo, Pharrell quickly gained recognition for his distinctive production style—minimalist, yet deeply infectious, teeming with funky grooves and forward-thinking soundscapes. As a songwriter, Skateboard P has played an integral role in some of rap’s most iconic tracks — from Jay-Z’s “Excuse Me Miss” and Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” to Busta Rhymes’ “Pass the Courvoisier, Part II” and Clipse’s “Grindin’.” From music to fashion, entrepreneurship to culture-shaper, Pharrell’s impact on the artistry of hip hop is undoubtedly profound and enduring.

Tyler, the Creator


Artistic peak: Call Me If You Get Lost

Tyler, the Creator, emerged as a breath of fresh air in the late 2000s with his innovative approach to hip-hop. A figurehead of the Odd Future collective, Tyler’s early work was marked by its audacity, irreverence, and creativity. Over the years, his evolution as an artist has been nothing short of astounding, moving from the raucous rebellion of his early days to the introspective, mature sounds of albums like Flower Boy and IGOR. Tyler’s narratives often defy traditional rap topics, focusing instead on personal experiences and emotions. His distinctive voice, clever lyricism, and eclectic production continue to push boundaries, establishing him as a trailblazer and arguably greatest artist of his era.

The Notorious B.I.G.


Artistic peak: Life After Death

Biggie’s contribution to hip-hop is immeasurable, his life tragically cut short, but his impact enduring. From the grimy streets of Brooklyn, he painted vivid pictures of urban life with a detail and dexterity that few have matched. Known for his remarkable storytelling, effortless flow, and charismatic presence, Biggie was a master of the art form. The Brooklyn MC’s two albums, Ready to Die and Life After Death, are both highly regarded as seminal works that helped shape the direction of hip-hop, while his lyricism, marked by a lyrical sophistication and unparalleled flow, resonates powerfully, marking him as one of the greatest MCs to ever grace the mic.

J Dilla


Artistic peak: Donuts

Known primarily for his work behind the scenes, J Dilla has left an indelible imprint on the landscape of hip-hop. His revolutionary production techniques, often characterized by his innovative use of sampling and unique drum programming, have influenced a multitude of artists across genres. However, Dilla’s skills extended to the microphone as well. Tracks like “Fuck the Police” and his posthumously released album The Shining showcase his adept lyrical skills and thoughtful delivery. Dilla’s contributions to hip-hop, both as a producer and a rapper, continue to resonate, solidifying his legacy as a truly pivotal figure.

Lil Wayne


Artistic peak: Tha Carter II

From his early days as a Hot Boys member to his meteoric rise as a solo artist, Lil Wayne’s influence on the hip-hop landscape is profound. He transformed mixtape culture with his prolific output and inventive approach to annihilating popular beats and claiming them as his own. Weezy’s distinct, raspy voice coupled with his unconventional metaphors and witty punchlines make him an unparalleled figure in the industry. His magnum opus, Tha Carter II, encapsulates his game-changing style and technical skills, while the 2008 follow-up cemented Lil Wayne as arguably the most important rapper of his generation.

Ghostface Killah


Artistic peak: Supreme Clientele

The best rapper in the Wu-Tang Clan, Ghostface Killah’s approach to hip-hop is as unique as his moniker. Known for his intricate storytelling and abstract lyrics, Ghost consistently pushes the envelope with his surreal and vivid narratives. His stream-of-consciousness rap style often defies traditional song structures, and has influenced other legends like MF DOOM. Albums like Ironman and Supreme Clientele are hailed as classics, rightly so, reflecting Ghostface’s creative versatility and establishing him as a pioneer in the evolution of hip-hop’s lyrical sophistication.



Artistic peak: Return of the Boom Bap

A titan of golden age hip-hop, KRS-One is an artist whose career is marked by fiercely intelligent lyricism and an unwavering commitment to social activism. His work with Boogie Down Productions and his subsequent solo projects have cemented his reputation as a master storyteller, a blistering battle MC and one of the most thoughtful rappers in the game. The Blastermaster’s rhymes often focus on socio-political issues, blending the lines between education and entertainment, while his intense, no-nonsense delivery and use of complex metaphors have influenced a generation of MC, earning him a spot amongst hip-hop’s elite.



Artistic peak: Nothing Was the Same

One of the most influential forces in hip-hop over the past decade, Drake, with his mix of sensitive introspection and boastful bravado, has pushed the boundaries of what’s traditionally expected of a rapper. With an incredible ability to craft timeless hooks, coupled with his signature style of rapping-singing, the Toronto superstar has helped redefine hip hop’s relationship with melody. Not only is Drake one of the most commercially successful rappers ever, he’s currently one of the most culturally significant artists in the world.



Artistic peak: Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood

At his peak, DMX was the embodiment of raw, unfiltered energy in hip-hop. The Yonkers MC’s gritty lyricism and distinctive gruff delivery made him a figurehead in the late ’90s rap scene, helping shift the culture’s focus away from Puffy’s champagne-soaked parties and back to the streets. On albums like It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, DMX showcased his powerful storytelling, evoking the harsh realities of life in urban America. One of the most iconic rappers to ever grip a mic, DMX’s music resonated with authenticity, and his legacy, marked by his visceral performances and compelling narratives, cements him as a towering figure in hip-hop history.

J. Cole


Artistic peak: 2014 Forest Hills Drive

J. Cole is a rapper’s rapper – a potent lyricist with a knack for spinning compelling stories and thought-provoking social commentary. From his debut mixtape, The Come Up, to his chart-topping albums like 2014 Forest Hills Drive and The Off-Season, the Fayetteville MC has continually demonstrated his technical prowess and a keen ear for beats that complement his introspective rhymes. Alongside his production skills, Cole’s ability to merge relatable narratives with top-notch wordplay, all while maintaining commercial appeal, is a testament to his skill and versatility as an artist.



Artistic peak: The Unseen

Madlib might be best known as a producer, but his work as a rapper is equally deserving of praise. Whether he’s rapping under his own name or as his alter ego Quasimoto, Madlib’s rhymes are as innovative and unpredictable as his beats. As a producer, his projects like Madvillainy, a collaboration with MF DOOM, and Piñata with Freddie Gibbs, have cemented his position as one of the greatest beat-makers in hip hop history. A certified triple threat, Madlib’s ability to create timeless music, whether as a collaborator, producer or rapper solidifies his claim to being one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time.

Kid Cudi


Artistic peak: Man on the Moon: The End of Day

Kid Cudi has undoubtedly changed the face of hip-hop with his unique blend of rap, rock, and electronic music. Known for his introspective and often melancholic lyrics, Cudi has never shied away from discussing mental health, a subject often untouched in hip-hop. His influential debut, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, set a new precedent for genre-blending and emotive storytelling. With his distinctive aesthetic and explorative approach to music, Kid Cudi has crafted a sound that’s uniquely his own, paving the way for a generation of genre-bending artists.

Masta Ace


Artistic peak: A Long Hot Summer

Often celebrated as an unsung hip hop hero, Masta Ace is rap storytelling maven, with an incredible ability to transform the mundane into the magnificent through his vivid wordplay and seamless flow. His cleverly structured narratives and concept albums, like Disposable Arts and A Long Hot Summer, stand as enduring examples of his unique knack for storytelling. Though he may not always have occupied the mainstream limelight, Masta Ace’s influence resonates through the many MCs he’s inspired, including Eminem, who has regularly brought up the rap legend’s names in conversations.

Lil’ Kim


Artistic peak: Hard Core

Lil’ Kim broke barriers in the male-dominated rap industry with her audacious lyrics and unabashed sexuality. As a member of Junior M.A.F.I.A and a close associate of The Notorious B.I.G., she quickly established herself as a formidable solo artist with her debut album, Hard Core. Kim’s provocative style and assertive lyricism, coupled with her ability to deliver intricate rhymes with an infectious flow, revolutionized the portrayal of women in hip-hop. The impact of her trailblazing career continues to resonate, as she paved the way for numerous female artists — from Nicki Minaj to Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B — to express themselves freely in the culture.



Artistic peak: Naughty by Nature 

A true cornerstone of the ’90s rap game, Treach emerged from East Orange, New Jersey and rose to prominence as the lead MC of Naught by Nature. Recognized for his aggressive, pinpoint lyrical delivery, Treach brought a street-poet’s sensibility to his verses, pairing pristine lyricism with unforgettable hooks. His songwriting on timeless ’90s tracks like “O.P.P.” and “Hip Hop Hooray” set the blueprint of hip hop artists moving forward, making him a trendsetter in a rapidly evolving hip-hop landscape.



Artistic peak: Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1

Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal, better known as Guru, was a true pioneer of hip-hop and one of the most important East Coast hip hop artists. As one-half of the influential duo Gang Starr, alongside DJ Premier, Guru helped define the ’90s New York sound, with jazz-infused beats and deep knowledge dropping. While sporting a low-key monotone delivery, the Boston-born MC’s lyricism was deceptively complex, his rhyming acumen often hidden behind a veneer of cool detachment. Outside of his work with Gang Starr, Guru’s Jazzmatazz helped transform him into arguably the greatest jazz rap artist ever.

Danny Brown


Artistic peak: Atrocity Exhibition

Hailing from Detroit, where some of the finest rappers have come from, Danny Brown is an artist who is as eccentric as he is talented. The Bruiser Brigade MC’s unorthodox style, characterized by high-energy performances, an unpredictable flow, and a distinctive, high-pitched vocal delivery, has made him a unique figure in the hip-hop community. Whether it’s on classic albums like XXX or Atrocity Exhibition, Danny’s artistry treads the line between humorous and deeply poignant, offering an unfiltered and brutally honest exploration of his experiences.

Del the Funky Homosapien


Artistic peak: Deltron 3030

One of the most underrated rappers of all time, Del the Funky Homosapien is a prime example of the innovative spirit at the heart of hip-hop. Emerging from the vibrant alternative West Coast scene, Del’s style is marked by abstract lyricism, witty social commentary, and an unabashedly offbeat aesthetic. Albums like I Wish My Brother George Was Here and Deltron 3030 see Del pushing boundaries, both lyrically and sonically. His wordplay and flow are at once unconventional and engaging, marking him as a distinctive voice that has left an enduring impact on the landscape of underground hip-hop.

Busta Rhymes


Artistic peak: When Disaster Strikes…

Bursting onto the scene with Leaders of the New School, Busta Rhymes has gone on on to build a prosperous solo career marked by rapid-fire delivery, energetic performances, and a distinctive style. Known for his creative, visually stunning music videos and his dynamic lyrical dexterity, Busta has consistently shown a knack for pushing the envelope while maintaining a foothold in the mainstream. His ability to seamlessly weave intricate, multi-syllabic rhymes into crowd-pleasing hits like “Break Ya Neck” and “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See” has solidified him as one of the most technically proficient and charismatic performers in the history of hip-hop.

Aesop Rock


Artistic peak: Labor Days

A stalwart of the underground hip-hop scene, Aesop Rock is often hailed as one of the most lyrically dense and thought-provoking artists in rap history. His complex, multi-layered rhymes, rich with allusions and metaphors, demand close attention and repeated listens. Aesop’s unconventional approach to hip-hop is underscored by his intricate, sometimes abstract narratives and his distinctive, gravelly voice. Albums like Labor Days and The Impossible Kid showcase his unique rhyming style and thematic depth, cementing his reputation as a wordsmith par excellence. While his work may stray from mainstream norms, Aesop Rock’s contributions to pushing the envelope of lyrical complexity place him among hip-hop’s greatest artists.



Artistic peak: Be

Debuting in the early ’90s with Can I Borrow a Dollar?, Common has remained a mainstay in conscious hip-hop for decades, balancing commercial success with artistic integrity. Emerging from the vibrant Chicago hip-hop scene, Common’s thoughtful lyricism and conscious messages have earned him widespread acclaim. With albums like Be and Like Water for Chocolate, the Chi-town MC combines poetic prowess with soulful production to create timeless pieces of art.

Nicki Minaj


Artistic peak: Queen

Born in Trinidad and raised in Queens, New York, Nicki Minaj has been breaking barriers and shattering records since her 2010 mainstream debut. Known for her brash lyricism, theatrical delivery, and chameleon-like ability to adapt to different styles, Nicki has become an emblem of female empowerment in the male-dominated genre. From her witty punchlines to her rapid-fire flow, her technical prowess in rap is undeniable. Nicki’s robust discography, featuring diverse hits from the playful “Super Bass” to the aggressive “Chun-Li” and confrontational “Lookin Ass”, cement her legacy as one of hip-hop’s most influential and successful artists.

Travis Scott


Artistic peak: Astroworld

Over the past 10 years, Travis Scott has carved out an impressive space for himself in the hip-hop industry with his cinematic, larger-than-life soundscapes. Hailing from Houston, Texas, Travis’ music incorporates elements of trap, ambient, and psychedelic music, creating an immersive, high-energy sonic experience. Whether we’re talking hits like “SICKO MODE” or “Goosebumps”, La Flame’s distinctive auto-tuned vocals, complex production, and knack for crafting unforgettable hooks have helped cement him at the forefront of hip hop. Beyond his music, Travis’ dynamic live performances and astute branding make him a cultural icon in today’s rap game, solidifying his spot among the culture’s elite.

Kool Keith


Artistic peak: Dr. Octagonecologyst

One of the most eccentric and innovative figures in hip-hop, Kool Keith Thornton has consistently pushed the boundaries of lyrical content and stylistic delivery ever since the ’80s. His outlandish personas, including Dr. Octagon and Black Elvis, have allowed him to explore a wide range of themes, from surreal sci-fi narratives to biting social commentary. As a founding member of the Ultramagnetic MCs and through his diverse solo discography, Kool Keith has challenged hip-hop conventions with his unpredictable flows and abstract lyricism. His daring approach to the art of rapping has set a standard for individuality in the culture, making him one of the greatest and most influential underground rappers of all time.

Mac Miller


Artistic peak: Circles

Mac Miller is a name that resonates deeply within the hip-hop world, and not just for his unfortunate and untimely passing. The Pittsburgh native was known for his playful yet introspective lyrics and innovative production style, often merging traditional hip-hop with elements of jazz, funk, and soul. Mac’s discography, which ranges from the playful bravado of Blue Slide Park to the profound introspection of Swimming, demonstrated his artistic growth and his skill to navigate complex emotions through his music. His impactful, albeit short-lived career, left a lasting impression in the culture, and his musical influence continues to reverberate in the industry.



Artistic peak: Hndrxx

Hailing from the heart of Atlanta, Georgia, Future has emerged as a titan in the hip-hop industry. Even Kanye had to concede that the legendary trap rapper was the most influential rapper of the past decade. As one of the forefathers to many of the rappers running around today, Future has crafted an extensive catalogue that blends booming trap anthems with deep, psychological rumination. From Pluto and DS2 to Hndrxx and The Wizrd, every Future album has seen the Atlanta artist continue to evolve and shape the sound of contemporary hip hop.



Artistic peak: When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1

As a co-founder of the legendary group Three 6 Mafia, Juicy J helped shape the gritty, hard-hitting style that would become synonymous with the Memphis sound. Known for his exceptional production ability and a knack for crafting catchy hooks, Juicy J has proven his longevity with a successful solo career highlighted by classic albums like Stay Trippy. His raucous energy and unfiltered, often hedonistic lyrics represent a unique facet of the multifaceted hip-hop diamond, underscoring the genre’s diversity and reach.



Artistic peak: Scaring the Hoes (with Danny Brown)

One of the most interesting hip hop artists in the game today, JPEGMafia is one of the modern vanguards of experimental hip-hop. Fusing industrial sounds, glitchy electronics, and a collage of samples, his music is as unpredictable as it is compelling. As a rapper, Peggy’s lyricism ranges from biting social commentary to vulnerable introspection, delivered with a dynamic flow that veers between agitated screams and soulful crooning. Albums like Veteran and All My Heroes Are Cornballs showcase a daring artist unafraid to challenge conventions, marking JPEGMafia as a key figure in the future evolution of hip-hop.

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