Let’s start with the old-school hip-hop titans that paved the way for the new-school rappers to do their thing. Following is a list of rap’s “godfathers,” all of whom boast that they are guaranteed a spot at the very top.
As we can see now, the popularity of rap music continues to rise across the globe.
- This list honors the most influential and groundbreaking Black rappers of all time.
- The musicians on the list range from the early days of hip-hop to the present.
- According to the ranking, Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., and Jay-Z are among the top three greatest Black rappers of all time.
- Other legendary rappers on the list include Nas, Rakim, and KRS-One.
- The list recognizes female Black rappers such as Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliott, and Queen Latifah.
- The list acknowledges the influence of regional genres, such as Outkast’s Dirty South sound and Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s West Coast G-funk.
- With artists like Kendrick Lamar and Public Enemy on the list, the list emphasizes the significance of storytelling and social criticism in Black rap.
- The list exemplifies the diversity of Black rap, with musicians like Tyler, the Creator and Childish Gambino defying hip-hop conventions.
- The list recognizes the impact of Black rap on other genres such as pop, rock, and techno music.
- The list serves as a reminder of Black art and culture’s ability to inspire change and affect the world in which we live.
The top 20 black rap artists of all time are listed below:
Canibus is the stage name of Jamaican-American rapper and actress Germaine Williams. Canibus started his mic career in the early ’90s, as the rap music trend took off among young people.
Canibus has made a name for itself through high-profile collaborations with established artists like Slick Rick, The Firm, and Common.
2. Ice Cube
O’Shea Jackson Sr. (born June 15, 1969), better known by the stage name Ice Cube, is an American rapper and actor. Ice Cube is one of the founding artists of gangsta rap, he initially received recognition as the main songwriter and member of the popular hip hop group C.I.A. and N.W.A, where the latter has become wildly popular for pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music, as well as visual effects in music videos.
3. Rick Ross
An American rapper by the name of Rick Ross, whose real name is William Leonard Roberts II, was born on January 28, 1976. The rapper adopted the name of a notorious “highway” drug dealer with whom he had no affiliation (Ricky Ross sued him for $10 million for appropriating his name; for more on this controversy, see Ricky Ross’s lawsuit).
In addition to releasing his studio albums Deeper Than Rap and Don Teflon on his own Maybach Music Group label, Ross also formed the Maybach Music Group. After launching the Maybach Music Group label in 2012, he rose to prominence by releasing his album Deeper Than Rap and was named MTV’s Hottest MC in Games that same year.
4. Gucci Mane
Radric Delantic Davis is better known for his stage moniker Gucci Mane. Trap House (2005), Hard to Kill (2007), Trap-A-Thon (2007), and Back to the Trap House (2007) were the four albums released by Gucci Mane between 2005 and 2007. In addition, his CD “The Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted” topped the charts in 2010.
Gucci Mane’s first number-one record on the Billboard Hot 100 was a collaboration with Rae Sremmurd in 2016 called “Black Beatles.” He also started the Billboard Hot 100 and runs it now. President/C.E.O. of 1017 Discs.
Treach’s birthplace is specified as East Orange City in New Jersey. Treach is 669th on the list of Top Rap Artists by popularity and 22424th overall. Approximately 205,052,174 people called the United States home in 1970.
6. Freddie Gibbs
Gary City, Indiana, U.S.A. native Freddie Gibbs is a multi-talented rapper best known for his albums on urban life in Gary, Indiana, such as ESGN 2013, which reached #17 on the U.S. Rap chart. His underground mixtape releases and honest raps about surviving on the streets won him a devoted following.
Rapper, record producer, performer, actor, and D.J. Q-Tip (born Jonathan William Davis on April 10, 1970) hails from the United States. Q-Tip is widely regarded as a pioneer in hip hop’s history. He collaborated with the duo The Chemical Brothers on the dance track “plating,” which was nominated for a Grammy in 2006.
Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest headlines on The Castle Stage during Day 3 of Bestival at Lulworth Castle on September 9, 2017 in Wareham, England
Cam’ron’s birth date is February 4, 1976, and he was born in New York City, New York (U.S.A.). He was a member of the rap group Children of the Corn before he became renowned. Two of his albums, Confessions of Fire and S.D.E., were released in 1998 and 2000, respectively. In 2004, Purple Haze was released to widespread praise and economic success, eventually certified gold by the RIAA.
Az’s birthday is March 9. Thus he is 47 years old. He was born in Brooklyn, New York. In 1995, with his debut solo album “Doe or die,” he hit the top spot on Billboard’s R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart in the United States. AZ made his debut on Nas’s groundbreaking 1994 album Illmatic when he contributed to the tracks “Life’s a Bitch” and “The Genesis.”
In 2003, AZ had a single from his album “The Essence” nominated for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the Grammys. Nas was a featured artist on the track.
Rapper Danny Brown performs at the Lost Lake Music Festival on October 22, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona.
10. Snoop Dogg
Long Beach, California, United States, is the place of origin for Snoop Dogg, the whose given name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. While being a gifted artist in his own right, Snoop Dogg also possesses a strong business, production, and other related skills, making him a formidable competitor in the rap industry. Snoop Dogg has amassed enough trophies to fund the Construction of a museum to house all of his achievements.
Music by Snoop Dogg, Rhythm & Ganysta, No Limit, Tha Doggfather, and more. Snoop Dogg has reaped several benefits from all of these. Furthermore, working with other well-known artists contributes to the success of his songs.
11. Lauryn Hill
In the United States, Lauryn Hill entered this world on May 26, 1975, in East Orange. When she first started performing, she often sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” Lauryn Hill’s debut album, has sold over 10 million copies in the United States, earning it a diamond certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In doing so, the singer of “Everything Is Everything” made history as the first female rapper to top the charts with a single song.
The male rapper’s middle name is Drake, not his given name. Specifically, his full name is Aubrey Draka Graham. “Drizzy” and “Champagne Papi” are well-known monikers for male rapper. Drake grew up in Toronto, Ontario, as a Canadian of Arab descent.
Drake is a frontrunner in the battle for the top spot in the global hip-hop and R&B music scene. Drake has accomplished several musically horrible feats that impress. The album “Thank Me Later” is his first release. Drake’s meteoric rise to fame and the creation of his record label, O.V.O. Sound, followed his signing with Lil Wayne.
Also, in 2016, Drake dropped One Dance, which went on to become a global phenomenon and one of the best-selling songs in history. Drake has accomplished not only those as mentioned earlier but also many other musical milestones.
13. Styles P
Styles P. entered the world on this planet on November 28, 1974, in New York City, New York State, United States. As a youngster, he began rapping alongside Jadakiss and Sheek Louch, which led to a meeting with Mary J. Blige, who delivered a demo of the trio to Sean “Diddy” Combs, catapulting their careers.
Former member of The L.O.X. and creator of D-Block Recording America, as well as a talented rapper and author. His 2010 novel, Invincible, was published by Random House.
14. Missy Elliott
Melissa Arnette Elliott, better known as Missy Elliott, has won five Grammys and is responsible for classics including “Sock it two me,” “Get ur freak on,” and “Work it” from the early 2000s. Elliott, an American singer, rapper, songwriter, and record producer is the only female rapper to have six studio albums certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
Under Construction was one of her most successful albums, peaking at #3 on the U.S. Billboard 200. Furthermore, the album was nominated for a Grammy.
15. Mos Def
Mos Def entered the world on this planet on December 11, 1973, in the borough of Brooklyn, New York. He co-founded the rap duo Black Star with Talib Kweli and has starred in numerous films and T.V. episodes, such as Dexter, Be Kind Rewind, and The Job of the Italian.
Mos Def’s fourth album, 2009’s “The Ecstatic,” included the funny combination of tracks like “Life in Marvelous Times” and “History,” earning him considerable accolades from the music community. Combination of socially conscious themes and lyrical depth with singalong hooks and professional sound design. Ultimately, Ecstatic was nominated for a Grammy in 2010 for Best Rap Album.
16. Killer Mike
Rapper Killer Mike (real name Michael Render), born on April 20, 1975, in Atlanta, Georgia, is a member of the influential group OutKast. On Jay-The Z’s Blueprint 2 album from 2002, he contributed to the track “Poppin ‘Tags.”
Mike made his first appearance on Outkast’s 2000 LP Stankonia and later performed on the Grammy Award-winning single “The Whole World” from the group’s smash album Big Boi and Dr. Dre Present…Outkast (2001). He has since gone on to release five studio albums under his name.
On November 23, 1972, Kurupt entered this world. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. American rapper and ex-Vice President of Death Row Records, born Ricardo Brown. The Dogg Pound was a rap group in which he participated. Doggystyle, Snoop Dogg’s first album, featured him.
18. Busta Rhymes
American rapper, musician, record producer, actor, and record executive Trevor George Smith Jr., better known by his stage name Busta Rhymes. He became well-known thanks to his song “Woo Hah!” and his ability to rhyme quickly. Not only that, but he also helped establish the Conglomerate label. His work has been nominated for eleven Grammys.
The Coming (1996), When Disaster Strikes… (1997), E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front (1998), and Genesis (2001) are just a few of Busta Rhymes’ excellent albums (2001).
On May 27, 1975, in Yonkers City, New York, United States, Jadakiss entered this world. He was one of the original members of the legendary rap group The Warlock. New York native and rapper Jason Phillips has had three albums debut in the top five. Kiss of Death, his lone studio album, was released in 2004.
When his song “Why?” implied that George W. Bush was at fault for the September 11 assaults on the World Trade Center, he sparked controversy and earned the wrath of Bill O’Reilly.
20. Lupe Fiasco
Chicago native Lupe Fiasco (born February 16, 1982) got his start as the lead singer for a Japanese band called Cartoon. The U.S. top 10 featured his song “Show Goes On,” which reached number nine.
Only a select few rappers, Lupe Fiasco, included, can create complex meanings with their words. It’s pretty challenging to reach the third or fourth layer of meaning in the music of competent rappers because only two layers of meaning occur in the music of rappers in general. He’s a pioneer of the sociopolitical hip hop scene, with a distinctive sound shaped by his early life experiences.
What regional styles of Black rap are represented on the list?
The list covers performers from the East Coast (Notorious B.I.G., Nas), West Coast (Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre), and South Coast (Outkast, Scarface).
How has Black rap influenced other genres of music?
Artists such as Run-DMC and Public Enemy have collaborated with rock bands, and producers such as Kanye West and Pharrell Williams have collaborated with pop and electronic acts.
What role did storytelling play in Black rap?
Artists such as Nas and Kendrick Lamar are recognized for their vivid and dramatic narratives about life in the inner city, and storytelling has long been an integral aspect of Black rap.
How did Black rap evolve over time?
From its inception in the 1970s, black rap has changed substantially, with new styles and subgenres emerging and artists experimenting with new sounds and approaches.
What was the cultural impact of Black rap?
Black rap has had a significant impact on American society, affecting fashion, language, and politics while also giving marginalized people a voice.
What is the significance of Black rap in the music industry?
With artists like Jay-Z and Dr. Dre becoming billionaires and hip-hop topping the charts, black rap has become one of the most popular and commercially successful genres of music.