One of the most repeated, answered, and ongoing questions in music is ‘who are your favorite or greatest rappers of all time?’ Whilst personal preferences on rap music can vary vastly, we can also see some names reappearing in many answers to this question.
The definition of ‘greatest rapper’ can differ from person to person mostly dependent on their taste for music. So, there is no definitive answer to this question. Some could say the answer depends on the rappers’ lyricism, others could say it’s the rapper’s skill of spitting the lyrics. There is no limitation to the criteria that could be measured, such as most-selling, most awarded, the biggest vocabulary in the rapper’s discography, whether they use a ghostwriter or not, and so on.
Some of the best people to answer the question of ‘greatest rappers of all time’ are the people in the music industry itself. Artists and producers to be specific. And many artists have spoken out about their favorite or who they think are the greatest rappers of all time. So, this article is an attempt to gather up all such instances.
Musicians’ Name their Greatest Rappers of All Time
One name that usually makes the top 5 list of greatest rappers of all time and greatest rappers alive is Eminem. He has possibly had the best music career that any artist has ever had in rap/hip-hop or even in music. However, Eminem recently revealed his own favorite rappers list in response to a fan’s question.
For me, in no particular order… Toss up between wayne, pac, royce, jay, redman, treach, g. rap, biggie & king crook….
Plus redman, LL, nas, joyner, kendrick, cole, andre, rakim, kane…
This was Eminem’s selection of a long list of some of the biggest names in rap and hip-hop. The list includes some of the greatest lyricists, storytellers, singers, and some very underrated rappers in the game.
Eminem, being a G.O.A.T. in the game, paid respects to some of the other G.O.A.Ts of the game!
Lil Wayne is yet another artist who has been in the rap and hip-hop game for so long just like Eminem has. He dropped his top five favorite rappers of all time in a podcast with DJ Khaled.
– Missy Elliott
– Jay Z
“I was the hugest N.O.R.E. fan,” Wayne said in the podcast. “He had this thing about him where he could be from anywhere and you f*cked with him.”
One of the biggest producers and rappers in the game if Jay-Z and is often credited for his talent in discovering artists and producing killer beats. In 2017, Jay-Z was inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame for his contribution to music. He was the first rap artist to receive this honor. Even though Jay-Z was not present at the ceremony to accept the honor, he later went on Twitter to thank the artists who have inspired him. In over 10 consecutive Tweets, Jay-Z dropped names of close to 100 artists including;
Thank you to all the people that have inspired me. Rakim KANE KRS chuck cube Jaz Em Andre Nas big PAC cole kendrick chance jayE ..wait,
Lauryn Nicki lite latifah common ye drake and meek . Run caz LL chainz cam tip (both of them) thought pharaoh , face . De la . Ice T. Wait
G Rap .Mel . Kurupt . Lox. X . Q. Ab lupe. Mos. Foxy. Boss . Ross. Quavo Future Travis too many f*ck this. All you!T grizzley song best out
Sh*t did I say redman ? Ghost and Rae . Wu tang I beat Genius in a rap battle I think ha . Busta (him too) Treach . Thug . B a rapper too!
Sh*t …Wayne , Juve BG Nipsey . Kim . Slaughterhouse (yes mouse too ha) Folarin MC eiht . Short . 40 . Mac dre this sh*t hard .Never mind
F*ck ..50 cent big L sho ag nice and smooth Joe and pun . diggable butterfly esp…beanie young chris freeway SP okay for real this time .
I promise I’m not drunk . Lord Pusha . Carti (Magnolia incredible)ASAP Sean P , Mobb , cudi . Tyler , earl, Snoop!!( almost played myself)
Wait . Slick f*cking Rick . P*mp C and bun . Wow . I just realized how many fresh people the culture has . Big Sean . Sauce money.
Too many ..Fab , black people really magic . Mac Miller nice too though .
And the greatest rapper of all time OBAMA . Thank you 44
Not surprisingly, some familiar names appearing on the list are Biggie, Tupac, Lil Wayne, Eminem, Nas, Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent, Treach, Run DMC, Wu Tang Clan, Big Sean, Snoop Dogg, and so on.
The Canadian-native Drake is one of the most successful artists/rappers of our time. Almost every single song he puts out has been on top of music charts which speaks volumes to his reception. In an Instagram post, Drake listed his top 5 rappers list, and no, nobody asked him!
My top 5 is Biggie, Hov (Jay-Z), Wayne, Young Tony, and (Andre) 3000 since nobody asked.
Snoop Dogg is yet another OG rapper who has been in the game seemingly forever. In an Instagram post in 2020, Snoop Dogg went on to name his top 10 rappers.
A lot n*ggaz been cryin about me leaving people off my top 10 without. Even seeing my sh*t so here it is
1. Slick Rick
2. Ice Cube
3. L. L. Cool J.
6. Run from Run DMC
7. D. from DMC
8. Big Daddy Kane
9. Ice T
10. Too Short
Snoop Dogg’s exclusion of Eminem from his favorite list during an interview with The Breakfast Club in early 2020 sparked waves in the news. He explained; “Eminem, the great White hope. White rappers had zero respect in rap. Let’s keep that one thou-wow. None. He [Dr. Dre] has probably put Eminem in the position to where he could be one of the top 10 rappers ever. I don’t think so, but the game feels like he’s top 10 lyricists and all that that comes with it. But, that’s just because he’s with Dr. Dre and Dr. Dre helped him find the best Eminem that he could find.”
Rakim is a very familiar name in the rap and hip-hop game and probably one of the most underrated artists when it comes to mainstream media success. However, he has been appearing in the greatest rappers list continuously in this article. So, who do Rakim think are the greatest in the game?
In an interview with King Crooked, Rakim spoke about his favorite rappers;
“Gotta start from the beginning cause without them I would not be who I am. That’s Melle Mel, Kool Moe Dee, Grandmaster Caz.. That’s old school. And then you got Eminem, one of my favorite MCs, Jay Z another my favorite and few more cats. And one of the most underrated MCs is Black Thought.”
Kendrick Lamar is one of the most known names in rap right now. Forbes magazine once called Kendrick the “king” of hip hop right now. And he has been appearing in the lists of other artists’ lists of greatest rappers.
Kendrick Lamar had spoken about his influencers in music and named his top 5 favorite rappers in 2012;
1. Tupac Shakur
2. The Notorious B.I.G (Biggie)
However, in an interview with Power FM, Kendrick dropped Nas and replaced with Snoop Dogg in his top 5 list.
Nas is almost a household name in rap and hip-hop and yet another underrated artist in the game. Despite making it into almost everyone’s favorite list, Nas only won his first Grammy award in 2021 for his thirteenth studio album ‘King’s Disease.’
Nas sat down for an interview with ‘Music Talks‘ in 2016 and named his favorite MCs in the game right now. The list includes; “J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross.”
However, when Nas was asked to drop 45 of his favorite hip-hop songs of all time; some artists that came up were, Run DMC, Slick Rick, Eric B. & Rakim, and Public Enemy.
LL Cool J
LL Cool J is a household name in rap and hip-hop. He has inspired so many of the new school of rappers and their styles of music over the years.
During a podcast by HipHop Crown Nation, LL Cool J was asked to form a hip-hop supergroup with 5 artists whom he considers to be the best, including himself. LL Cool J responded;
Probably Andre 3000 because he is different. I’ll probably put Em (Eminem) in it just because it’ll just be aggressive and wild. I don’t know maybe, Biggie and G Rap. One more name, Big Pun, would be great for the group too.
Big Daddy Kane
Big Daddy Kane is another OG name that appeared repeatedly in many of the top 5, top 10, or all time favorite rappers lists. His iconic cadence inspired generations of artists to come since the 80s and 90s.
Big Daddy Kane listed his top 3 favorite rappers of all time and nodded a few others in an interview with VLAD TV. Big Daddy Kane ranked rappers KRS-One and Rakim as his peers, which is likely the highest honor he could give. Next, he listed Nas, Hov (Jay-Z), and Big Pun as his top 3 favorites MCs of the game. He also shouted out to Kool G Rap as a legend of the game. Also in the same interview, he nodded to Eminem, Jay-Z, and Big Pun as “lyrical geniuses.”
50 Cent is one of the biggest names in rap and hip-hop and a close associate of Eminem. He had one of the most explosive entrances to the music scene and hence diverted into businesses and acting too.
Sitting in an interview with Larry King Live, 50 Cent named his favorite list;
For me it’ll be artists like KRS-One, Rakim, Biggie, Tupac, one of my favorites Nas.
Hopsin is one of the new-school rappers in the game right now, and one of the better ones at it. A fan NoLifeShaq DMd Hopsin on Instagram asking his favorite rapper of all time and Hopsin replied ‘Slim Shady’ one of the many aliases of Eminem. He also went on to name Tupac as one of the greatest when considering the impact on music and culture. He namedropped rapper Malcolm X as one of his favorites from the new school of rappers.
Joyner Lucas is yet another popular name in rap and hip-hop right now. NoLifeShaq‘s DM to Joyner Lucas asking his favorite rapper resulted in the following response;
Depends. Becuz there’s two in my opinion. One for both cultures. HOV (Jay-Z) for the black culture. Marshall (Eminem) for the white culture but is accepted by black culture. Those are my two.
Rapper Tech N9ne came to light as one of the fastest and aggressive rappers of our time. NoLifeShaq asked Tech N9ne his favorite rapper in Instagram DMs and Tech replied;
THE D.O.C. (Dr. Dre)
More would agree if the wreck never happened but I could tell from the skill level back then that he was a monster and he continued to let us know when he wrote hits for the legendary CHRONIC LP.
In a recent video, Fat Joe revealed his top 5 rappers right now! Needless to say, some big names made the cut; Drake, Lil Baby, Cardi B, Roddy Ricch, and Benny The Butcher. He further explained;
“Lil Baby, bar for bar he’s the best. Drake is just king of the sh-t. But if you asked me who’s the best guy spitting right now? It’s Lil Baby.”
Conway The Machine
In an interview with REVOLT, the Buffalo artist named his four rappers on Mount Rushmore (top 4);
Jay-Z, Eminem, Nas Escobar, Christopher Wallas (Notorious B.I.G.)
He also gave props to Andre 3000, DMX, Black Thought, and Scarface as his personal inspirations.
Ice Cube was presented with the question to name his top 5 rappers of all time in a podcast and he replied that doing top 5 is too tough and named his top 15;
D*mn … Top 5. It’s difficult. I have a top 15. I have to start with the guys who set the bar. One of my first greats is Mell Mel. Another great rapper that I suppose thought everyone else could use to bring more style into their rhymes is KRS-One. Another guy, my all time favorite, he brought another level of consciousness into rap and never hesitated – I call it Chuck Dee. Another trendsetter and one of my favorites who helped get the West Coast on the map is Ice-T. After them … D*mn … Snoop is one of my favorite rappers of all time. Like Biggie, like Jay-Z, like Nas. We have rappers like Ras Kass on the West Coast, it’s just tough. Eminem, one of the best who has ever touched a microphone. Lil Wayne, d*mn it, Lil Wayne is a killer! Someone else is there. Oh Black Thought, monster! My God, I would not want to leave anyone without attention. I called Jay-Z? Let me go back, I have a couple more. I want to name Slick Rick. You know, I’ll just leave the last line for everyone whose music I like. It’s not just that, you know. There are so many great rappers out there. These ratings don’t mean anything. To be honest, there are too many of them to name them all. “
We will keep on updating the list with more favorite rappers lists as and when we come by. Help us find more sources and newer sources as well.
Drop down your favorite top 5 or 10 rappers of all time in the comments below.