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Who Is the Best Rapper? Top 10 of All Time

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Who Is the Best Rapper
03 May, 2024

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In the realm of rap, your lyrical expression defines your stance. When it comes to rap, this genre comes from the raw energy of the underground, shaped by culture, society, and individual life experiences.

In this blog, we find out who is the best rapper. From the East to the West Coast, we will cover the top 10 best rappers of all time, their accolades, and talk about the path that they have taken here.

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Top 10 rappers of all time

Jay-Z

Jay-Z
An image credit example from The Hollywood Reporter

Full name: Shawn Corey Carter

Date of birth and place: December 4, 1969, in Brooklyn, New York City.

Best hits: Run This Town (feat. Rihanna & Kanye West)”, “No Church in the Wild (feat. Frank Ocean)”, “Big Pimpin’ / Papercut,” “Young Forever (feat. Mr. Hudson)”

Awards: 24 Grammy Awards, 25 B.E.T. Hip Hop Awards, 6 Billboard Music Awards, 2 NAACP Image Awards, 2 Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Sports Emmy Award.

About life journey: Jay-Z grew up in Brooklyn’s often dangerous Marcy Projects, where his mother raised him mainly. His firsthand experience inspired his lyrics about illicit drug dealing. He began rapping under the stage name Jazzy, but soon he shortened to Jay-Z. Jay-Z and his two friends founded their company, Roc-A-Fella Records, to release his debut album, Reasonable Doubt (1996). This album sold a million copies in the United States. A string of successful albums followed, making him top the list of who is the best rapper.

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar
An image credit example from Billboard

Full name: Kendrick Lamar Duckworth

Date of birth and place: June 17, 1987, in Compton, California, U.S.

Best hits: “HUMBLE,” “Alright,” “Swimming Pools (Drank),” “Poetic Justice,” and “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe.”

Awards: 17 Grammy Awards, 1 Primetime Emmy Award, 1 Brit Award, 4 American Music Awards, 6 Billboard Music Awards, 11 MTV Video Music Awards, and 29 B.E.T. Hip Hop Awards (the most won by any artist).

About life journey: Kendrick Lamar grew up in a disturbed neighborhood, but it feels like Lamar was more influenced than harmed by it. When he was a young teenager, he started penning rhymes. He began his musical journey by recording mixtapes under the pseudonym K-Dot. Lamar signed his first musical contract at sixteen with the record label Top Dawg Entertainment. His first mixtape, the Youngest Head Nigga in Charge (2003), was released under the name K.Dot. From K.Dot to Lamar, his journey has made him rank second in the list of who is the best rapper.

Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne
An image credit example from Rolling Stone

Full name: Dwayne Michael Carter Jr

Date of birth and place: September 27, 1982, in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Best hits: “Lollipop (feat. Static Major)”, “6 Foot 7 Foot (feat. Cory Gunz)”, “Get Off the Corner,” “Presha,” “What’s Wrong With Them (feat. Nicki Minaj)”, “How We Roll (Remix),” “Seeing Green,” and “4 My Town (Play Ball).”

Awards: 5 Grammy Awards, 11 B.E.T. Awards, 4 Billboard Music Awards, 2 MTV Video Music Awards, and 8 NAACP Image Awards.

About life journey: Lil Wayne grew up in New Orleans’s impoverished 17th Ward. There, Bryan Williams, the head of Cash Money Records, noticed him. Wayne soon became a member—with Juvenile, B.G., and Turk—of the label’s all-star group Hot Boys and won notice for the albums Get It How U Live! (1997) and Guerrilla Warfare (1999). Lil Wayne’s first solo L.P., Tha Block Is Hot, arrived in 1999 and sold over a million copies.

J. Cole

J. Cole
An image credit example from US Weekly

Full name: Jermaine Lamarr Cole

Date of birth and place: January 28, 1985, in Frankfurt, West Germany.

Best hits: “MIDDLE CHILD,” “Power Trip (feat. Miguel)”, “Work Out,” “Love Yourz,” “No Role Modelz,” and “Deja Vu.”

Awards: rds: 2 Grammy Awards, 1 Billboard Music Award, 3 Soul Train Music Awards, and 8 B.E.T. Hip Hop Awards.

About life journey: It was when J. Cole heard the music of 2Pac via his stepfather that changed everything. At age 15, music became a lifestyle for teen Cole. He joined a local rap group called Bomm Sheltuh (Bomb Shelter), with “Blaza” as his stage name. After juggling a few names, he settled on the J moniker. Cole released his mixtape, The Come Up, on May 4, 2007. In pursuit of a better chance, he moved to New York City after graduating high school. From his humble beginnings as a young aspiring artist in North Carolina to becoming a renowned figure in the hip-hop industry, J. Cole’s path to success has brought him in the top 5 list of who is the best rapper.

Tupac

Tupac
An image credit example from Rolling Stone

Full name: Lesane Parish Crooks

Date of birth and place: June 16, 1971, in East Harlem, New York23.

Best hits: “Runnin’ (Dying to Live),” “I Ain’t Mad At Cha,” “All Eyez On Me,” “Me Against the World,” and “Dear Mama.”

Awards: 1 American Music Award, 2 Soul Train Awards, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 and a Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2023.

About life journey: Tupac Shakur was born in New York City and later relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1988. He began rapping when he joined Digital Underground, an Oakland-based rap group, in 1990. He continued performing in two Digital Underground albums in 1991, namely, This Is an E.P. Release and Sons of the P. Later, in 1991, Shakur released his solo, 2Pacalypse Now. This album kickstarter his journey in West Coast hip-hop, and now he is in the top 5 of the Who is the best rapper list.

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Drake

Drake
An image credit example from Variety

Full name: Aubrey Drake Graham

Date of birth and place: October 24, 1986, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Best hits: God’s Plan”, “Virginia Beach,” “Sticky,” “Flight’s Booked,” “Intro,” “Take Care (feat. Rihanna)”, and “Headlines.”

Awards: 5 Grammy Awards, 6 American Music Awards, 39 Billboard Music Awards, 2 Brit Awards, and 3 Juno Awards.

About life journey: Drake grew up with music in his blood, along with his drummer father and bass player uncle. In 2001, Drake was cast as a basketball star, Jimmy Brooks, on Degrassi. But his true interest was music. So he began rapping during that time, using his middle name for his “nom de hip-hop.” He self-published his first mixtape, Room for Improvement, in 2006. In 2008, he departed from Degrassi to focus entirely on his music career.

Kanye West

Kanye West
An image credit example from Billboard

Full name: Kanye Omari West or Ye.

Date of birth and place: June 8, 1977, in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

Best hits: Gold Digger (feat. Jamie Foxx)”, “Stronger,” “Power,” “Good Morning,” and “No Church in the Wild (feat. Frank Ocean).”

Awards: 24 Grammy Awards, 3 American Music Awards, 18 Billboard Music Awards, 3 Brit Awards, and 1 NAACP Image Award.

About his life journey: Kanye West was raised in a middle-class background in Chicago by his highly educated mother, Donda West. He was creative and poetic from childhood. He started rapping at seven and told his mother he wanted to make music. He quit college at 20 to pursue music professionally. He was a small-time producer before he met Jay-Z and worked with him to create The Blueprint. Since then, West has been providing the entertainment industry with hip-hop music.

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj
An image credit example from Billboard

Full name: Onika Tanya Maraj

Date of birth and place: December 8, 1982, in St. James, Trinidad and Tobago.

The best hits are “Anaconda,” “Tusa,” “Say So (Remix)” with Doja Cat, “Trollz” with 6ix9ine, “Super Freaky Girl,” and “Only (feat. Drake, Lil Wayne & Chris Brown).”

Awards: 9 American Music Awards, 8 MTV Video Music Awards, 12 B.E.T. Awards, 5 Billboard Music Awards, a Brit Award, and 3 Guinness World Records.

About life journey: From childhood, Nicki created fantasies that inspired her to write her first rap song when she was 12, pursue acting, and adopt a new name, Nicki Minaj. Minaj entered the music business as a backup singer for local aspiring rap singers in New York City. She included videos of her work on her Myspace page, which was seen by a local record label. Minaj eventually collaborated with artists such as Lil Wayne and grew her exposure. She is now one of the world’s best-selling music artists, with over 100 million records sold. Billboard ranked her as the top-selling female rapper of the 2010s and one of the greatest rappers ever.

Nas

Nas
An image credit example from The Guardian

Full name: Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones

Date of birth and place: September 14, 1973, in Queens, New York City, U.S.A.

Best hits: “King’s Disease III,” “N.Y. Se Mumbai (feat. Divine, Naezy & Ranveer Singh)”, “Patience,” “One Mic, One Gun,” and “Death Row East,” “Motion.”

Awards: A Grammy Award in 2021

About life journey: Rooted in East Coast hip hop, Nas ranks in the top 10 list of who is the best rappers of all time. The son of jazz musician Olu Dara, Nas began his musical career in 1989 under the “Nasty Nas” name and recorded demos for fellow East Coast rapper Large Professor. Later, his group featured him on the 1991 song “Live at the Barbeque” by Main Source. Nas’s albums have sold millions, propelling him into mainstream success.

Eminem

Eminem
An image credit example from Variety

Full name: Marshall Bruce Mathers III

Date of birth and place: October 17, 1972, in St. Joseph, Missouri, U.S.A.

Best hits: Without Me”, “Godzilla (feat. Juice WORLD)”, “Mockingbird,” “Beautiful Pain (feat. Sia)”, “Rap God,” and “The Real Slim Shady,”

Awards: 15 Grammy Awards, an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, 8 American Music Awards, 17 Billboard Music Awards, and an MTV Europe Music Global Icon Award.

About life journey: The Slim Shady, aka Eminem, is credited with popularizing hip hop in Middle America and thus is a part of the top 10 who is the best rapper list. Eminem faced numerous obstacles on his path to success, such as poverty, allegations of abuse, and menial jobs. At age 14, he began rapping in clubs in Detroit, Michigan. After that, Eminem quit school to become a big star in hip-hop music. When he ranked second in the freestyle category at the 1997 Rap Olympics in Los Angeles, he came to the attention of Dr. Dre, founding member of pioneering rappers N.W.A. and the head of Aftermath Entertainment. And the rest is history!

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FAQs

Who are the top 10 best rappers of all time?

The top 10 best rappers of all time:

  1. Jay Z
  2. Kendrick Lamar
  3. Lil Wayne
  4. J. Cole
  5. Tupac Shakur
  6. Drake
  7. Kanye West
  8. Nicki Minaj
  9. Nas
  10. Eminem

Who is the greatest male rapper of all time?

Jay Z is titled as the greatest male rapper of all time, as per Billboard. With 140 million record sales, Jay Z has earned 24 GRAMMYs and a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Who is the greatest female rapper of all time?

According to Billboard, Nicki Minaj is the greatest female rapper ever. She is among only a dozen artists with over 100 Billboard Hot 100 entries.

What are the top hits of Jay-Z?

Some of Jay-Z’s songs are Run This Town, No Church in the Wild, and Young Forever.

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