Best Rappers Of All Time
When taking into account the best rappers of all time, it's not only about album sales. Sure, the best rappers of all time need to have reached enough of an audience to have a major influence, but topping the pop charts isn't all that defines a great rapper. Lyrical flow, creativity, and changing the game are all essential components of being one of the best rappers of all time. Opinions may differ on who's right at the top, but with any of these five choices for the best rappers of all time, it's hard to go wrong.
- Rakim. With his "Paid in Full" album, Rakim introduced true lyrical mastery to hip-hop. What had before been party music became music for not just the hips but for the mind. Rakim brought five-percenter philosophy, social commentary, and a mastery of language before unheard in hip-hop and that makes him one of the best rappers of all time.
- Notorious BIG. Biggie Smalls was cut down in his prime but the result of his output was two classic albums, "Ready to Die" and "Life After Death," and a number of great singles. He was not just a rapper, but a storyteller, a chronicler of New York ghetto life with both a hard edge and a conscience. He was also a big man who brought in the ladies, making him a renaissance rapper, a man of all seasons, and one of the best rappers of all time.
- 2Pac. Tupac Shakur was Biggie's west coast rival, and his style different, more violent, but no less powerful. He could be menacing, as on "Hit 'Em Up," or sensitive, as on "Brenda Got a Baby." He wasn't as clever as some other MCs, but he made up for it with a voice that was like a weapon. He too was cut down in his prime, so we may never know what he would have been capable of. But what he did produce ranks him with the best rappers of all time.
- Nas. West Coast hip-hop was taking over the game when Nas dropped the classic "Illmatic" album and rapped New York hard. A master of lyrical dexterity along the lines of Rakim, Nas changed the game by turning that quick and clever flow into popular success on the hit "If I Ruled the World." His street cred is shored up by his defeat of Jay-Z in a series of volleys back and forth on mixtapes and albums. A lyrical knockout on one of the other best rappers of all time is surely enough to rank Nas in the pantheon.
- Eminem. At one time, a white boy on the list of the best rappers of all time would have seemed like sacrilege, but Marshall Mathers truly changed the game. His demented, dark humor and amazing flow impressed Dr. Dre enough to produce his full-length debut, and since then he's made some stone classics, like "The Marshall Mathers LP," conquered the pop charts, and played a loose version of himself in the film "8 Mile." Eminem has conquered all, fallen, and come back, making him truly one of the best rappers of all time.