Best 10 Rappers of All Time
Almost every rap fan has had this conversation…Who are the best 10 rappers of all time? it probably turned into a full-blown argument. “Which rapper makes the best list of all time?” Everyone has an opinion, and it’s usually based on popularity instead of skill. Tontimes.com brings to the list of the best rappers that ever existed.
This list is uninterested in who is popular. It does not give extra points to those who are old school. It makes no difference who calls themselves the G.O.A.T. We only care about pure technical skill levels, regardless of whether they’re on a major label or an independent outfit. They must have been on the scene long enough to demonstrate their ability to remain consistent.
This means looking at advanced rhyme schemes, multisyllabic rhyming, and keeping the lyrics sensible while balancing these technicalities, as well as being genuine and authentic.
Let’s start with the top 10 best rappers of all time, then we’ll move on to runners-up who are very close to breaking into the top 10. Finally, there are still more rappers who can do it, but their talents need to be refined and matured a bit more.
However, if you don’t find your favorite rapper on this page, you should explore some of the artists listed and see if they broaden your horizons and ideas about what’s possible and complex in rap music.
It will also be interesting to see if one of these artists makes the list of the richest rappers. Is it true that popularity equates to talent and vice versa? You might be surprised by the answer. But, in the meantime, let’s go through the list of the greatest rappers of all time.
Top 10 Best Rappers of All Time
Below is the list of the best 10 rappers of all time.
His top strength is charisma. Eminem, in my opinion, is getting worse with time as he “evolved” from shock rap to sing-song rap to attempting to sound like modern mumble rappers. But if you’ve heard his discography, particularly his early work and freestyles, it’s undeniable… he’s the king.
Eminem has elevated mastery to a new level. When he’s not concerned with mass appeal, his music is next-level in terms of complexity, vocabulary, rhyming phrases you’d never think to combine, and so on. His freestyle abilities are truly limitless, to the point of doing things that appear inhuman.
A little-known fact about him: He played the lead role in the drama film 8 Mile, themed around rap battles. Among many others, he has won 15 Grammys, 8 American Music Awards, and 17 Billboard Music Awards. He has had ten number-one albums on the Billboard 200, all debuting at number one. Until now, no other artist has had that much success.
#2: Tech N9ne
Flow-wise, Tech N9ne has the best of all time, with no questions. With his use of triplets, sixlets, complex rhyme schemes, multisyllabic rhymes, and strange time signatures, he’s almost at the top. Why isn’t he number one?
Because he refuses to break free from his complication. He adheres to the rules so rigidly that he occasionally invents words or phrases to fit into the multi. It’s not a big deal, but if he can overcome it and perhaps improve his storytelling, he can easily take the top spot.
Interesting facts: He’s one of the founders of Strange Music. Although he’s continued to remain independent rather than signing to a major label, he is still finding mainstream success without them.
#3. Chali 2na
Remember how I complained earlier about rappers who try to be complex and their lyrics suffer as a result? It’s not Chali 2na. He doesn’t miss a single opportunity to use internal or external rhyme with multi syllables, and his lyrics make perfect sense and are mature. His baritone voice is also very pleasant.
Mastery is sounded like Chali 2na. There is no room for improvement. The only issue is that he prefers to write more uplifting songs (which can get old) rather than pop hits. It’s one of Big Pun’s problems, chasing money with cheesy pop songs. In any case, Chali is at the pinnacle of the rap game in terms of refinement.
Interesting Facts About Chali 2na: He is a member of Jurassic 5 as well as Ozomatli. His stage name is derived from StarKist Tuna’s deep-voiced animated mascot. He’s well-known in the rap world, but many people first heard of him through a collaboration with Linkin Park.
Jay-Z, like Nas, is a rapper who is capable of being overly complex but chooses to be more casual with his style. This allows him to focus more on honing and sharing his message, which is his true strength. When you listen to Jay-Z, you hear a man who has been through a lot and has a lot of mature things to say.
Everyone enjoys it, which is why he is the richest American musician and the first rap billionaire. He is a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, has 22 Grammy Awards, and has sold over 50 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide. What else is there to say about Jay-Z after you’ve heard his music? Jay-Z top strength is authenticity.
Interesting Facts: Jay-Z founded Roc-A-Fella Records and Rocawear, a clothing retailer. He founded and owns the 40/40 Club, a luxury sports bar chain. He recently purchased the streaming service Tidal. Perhaps most notably, he is married to the well-known singer Beyonce.
#5. Sage Francis
Francis comes from the intellectual “backpacker” school of rap, which will never be mainstream but packs more value into each song than any other hip-hop sub-genre. Francis can do it all just as well as any other artist, but his true strength is in his storytelling and imagery.
Sage could easily be ranked higher, but his content is so dense with intellectual content that he falls short in terms of pure enjoyment. Listening to him can be difficult at times because you become engrossed in his complexities. I’m confident he’ll find a happy medium and advance.
Strange Famous Records is his company, and he is the founder and CEO. At the age of eight, he began practicing his craft while listening to Run DMC and Public Enemy. He has a background in both communications and journalism. He has won the Scribble Jam and Superbowl MC Battle tournaments.
Narratives are his best strength.
Nas possesses all of the skills of the others on this list, but he prefers to be less strict with the rules of technical rhyming. Because of his looseness, he is able to have far more involved lyrical content. He strikes a balance between annoying and preachy and casual, where you can actually learn by listening.
Nas is an example of someone who possesses just the right mix of skills from various genres to never get in the way of the lyrics (pretty much the opposite of Tech N9ne below). He’s on all of the top lists, thanks in part to learning from Kool G Rap and building on that foundation.
Nas has eight consecutive platinum and multi-platinum records to his credit. He was involved in a number of high-profile feuds, including those with Jay-Z, 2pac, Cam’ron, and Young Jeezy. Nas has 12 Grammy nominations, 5 MTV Video Music Award nominations, and some BET Hip Hop Awards wins. He has sold over 30 million records to date.
Best 10 Rappers of All Time #7. Kool G Rap
Kool G Rap is a favorite of many of the best rappers of all time. He was an early adopter of multisyllabic rhyming while retaining the smooth New York flow that inspired many others on this list. While G Rap’s lyrics are mafioso in nature, anyone who knows rap knows he’s a top rhymer.
His breath control, visual narratives, imagery, and flow are just a few of the qualities that have earned him a spot on every “best” list. If you’ve never heard or listened to him, he’ll sound very familiar because so many other artists have attempted to imitate him. G Rap, for example, influenced Big Pun’s mafia-like style.
He is literally your preferred rapper’s best-loved rapper. This pioneer began his career as a member of the Juice Crew and DJ Polo. He recently released a collaborative album with Necro, a runner-up from New York. Based on Sam Giancana, the “G” in his name stands for Giancana.
#8. Royce Da 5’9″
Royce has been around for a long time and has even been hired to ghostwrite for P. Diddy and Dr. Dre in the past. His most notable skill, which is less noticeable in his current, more pop-oriented sound, is his incredible rhyme schemes.
In a couplet, his first bar will be extremely short, allowing the second bar to be extremely long, and when it returns to the final multisyllabic rhyme, you will be astounded.
He’s also very good at internal rhymes, which can be stand-alone or part of an external rhyme. His lyrics became more authentic and mature over time, with the message fitting perfectly into the rhyming rather than suffering from it.
Facts: Royce collaborated with Eminem and even had a duo called Bad Meets Evil, which would eventually come to fruition nearly 20 years later. A series of unfortunate business events prevented him from rising to the top with his Detroit cohorts such as D12, but he eventually found success with the group Slaughterhouse.
Best Rappers of All Time #9. MF Doom
He does, in fact, wear a Doctor Doom mask. Yes, his lyrics are frequently amusing and humourous. And, yes, MF Doom is a more complex rapper than most. There are numerous videos on YouTube that attempt to dissect his rhyme schemes, and they all fall short. Good luck analyzing it while listening to it live.
MF Doom, like Kool G Rap, is highly regarded by other, far more popular rap artists but has never achieved superstar status. It hasn’t stopped him from achieving widespread success in the underground scene and even transitioning into voiceover work for cartoons.
MF Doom has released numerous group albums, the most notable of which was Danger Doom with Danger Mouse, which led to collaborations with voice actors from Adult Swim’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force. He’s been known to send imposters on stage to perform his songs while concealing themselves behind the mask.
Best Rappers of All Time #10. Lil Wayne
Some may simply laugh at Lil Wayne’s inclusion on the list, but he deserves it. Ignore his silly auto-tuned sing-song rapping in his radio-centric singles, and you’ll find a true lyricist. He’s been honing his craft for decades, and it now includes multisyllabic rhyming, clever rhyme schemes, and tons of wordplay.
Lil’s top strength is wordplay.
Along with his Young Money label mates, he popularized, and some might argue invented, the use of analogies, rather than similes in his wordplay, which plays out more like a joke with a punchline than anything else. His unique ability is that he never wastes a line. They’re jam-packed with jokes that happen so fast that you can’t even take them all in with a single listen.
Facts: Wayne began his professional career at the age of 13 when Birdman signed him to Cash Money Records. He later became a member of the Hot Boys, who launched several successful artists, including Juvenile. He’s sold over 100 million records, making him the best-selling musician in the world. He’s won 5 Grammys, 11 BET Awards, and a slew of other honors.
Best 10 Rappers of All Time Runners Up
#1. Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick has a lot of things going for him. His voice, flow, and lyrical content complemented the jazz-inspired instrumentals on his first three albums perfectly. He’s also demonstrating that he can grow and evolve throughout his discography.
When someone is tapped to ghostwrite for Dr. Dre, you know they’re on their way, and it appears that’s been the case in the last few years. RBX, who is still one of my favorites, is an exception to this rule. Kendrick Lamar has already been dubbed the “new king of hip hop.”
Interesting Facts: He is a member of the Black Hippy supergroup, which also includes Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, and Ab-Soul. He’s already won Grammys, and he received 11 nominations in a single night at the 58th ceremony. In 2016, the mayor of Compton presented him with the key to the city.
Fabolous is a respected MC who, like others, suffers from the same issues, where instead of flexing his insane skills, he dumbs it down and attempts to score pop singles. So be it. Fabolous can re-enter the spotlight with a different, darker image if he continues to use his incredibly long external rhymes and maintains his smooth swagger.
Fab had a high point, and he spent it singing love songs with R&B singers on the chorus. That may have earned him a lot of money in the short term, but I believe it harmed him in the long run. He needs to get back to the meat of the matter and show off his technical prowess.
FACTS: Fabolous founded his own label, Street Family Records, after working with several major labels. He has signed four other artists to the label. In 2017, he collaborated with Jadakiss on a horror-themed album.
Let me state right away that unless you’re a huge fan of horror films and the occult, you’re not going to enjoy Necro. If you can get past the topics he raps about, you’ll hear an extremely intelligent rapper with a fantastic command of rhyme schemes and multis, as well as an insane vocabulary.
Necro is also a skilled producer, creating all of his own beats as well as some for the band Non-Phixion, which includes his brother Ill Bill. Like many others, he cites Kool G Rap as a major influence, as well as Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, Rakim, and LL Cool J.
Facts: His musical style is a blend of rap and heavy metal, though lyrically he could be labeled as horrorcore. Psycho+Logical-Records, which he founded, has released over 40 albums to date. He has performed as an opener for Run DMC, Sepultura, Insane Clown Posse, and Biohazard.
Other Rappers That Deserves A Chance In the Best Rapper Of All Times
In terms of skill, there are a few rappers who stand out as the obvious “next up to bat.” All have had and will continue to have underground success, but only a few will have mainstream appeal. That’s fine; it has nothing to do with our list of the most skilled. These are the artists:
- Hopsin has the multis, the structure, the flow, and the energy, but he, like many other all-time greats, is still too focused on horrorcore.
- Aesop Rock is comparable to Sage Francis. He’s capable of anything, but his lyrics are too lofty for most people. Listening to him takes effort.
- Canibus has it all, particularly an enticing flow. The only problem is that he’s too intellectual, rapping about physics and other topics that I enjoy but that many others do not.
- Vinnie Paz: His style has matured and refined to perfection, but it can become stylistically repetitive. He’ll be able to fix that and grow, even more, I’m confident.
- Chino XL: Is a seasoned rhymer with a strong flow who employs all of the other advanced techniques.
I’m sure there are others who deserve to be mentioned somewhere on this list, which is why this topic always sparks debate. There’s never enough room or time to mention everyone, and it all comes down to personal preferences. These are my preferences and opinions.
However, if you believe someone else should be included on this list of the best rappers of all time, please let me know in the comment box.