Earlier this year there was some furore in the hip hop community as lists of the top 50 rappers of all time started doing the rounds. Before long every rapper and commentator in the industry was posting their own lists about who they thought held the title of number 1. Even in my office people were starting to write up their top 10s and my colleague Bharat Bhise and I even had a go ourselves. Something which me and Bharat quickly realized was that compiling a list such as this was nonsensical as they lack definition. The term rapper can cover many bases so we decided to break those definitions down, and come up with the best three in each class, not numbered, check it out.
Not all great lyricists are great rappers so it is important that we break down who has the best rhymes and the hardest bars. It is for this reason that we have decided to put the following 3 at the top of best lyricist of all time.
These 3 rappers don’t just make songs, they kick knowledge, they have clever word play and they make memorable poetry and lay it on a hip hop beat.
Much like the lyricists, having a great flow doesn’t always mean that you are the best rapper, but it is an essential ingredient in being the best. Here are our 3 picks for the nicest flow.
- Notorious BIG
- Andre 3000
When it comes to the hp hop industry it is numbers that matter most and there are some rappers who sit at the very top of the tree when it comes to commercial success and critical acclaim. Of course being the most successful doesn’t by virtue make you the best rapper of all time, but it is a strong indicator of just how good you are.
- Jay Z
This is a great indicator of why these lists don’t always make sense, in a world where we’ve seen the likes of Tupac, BIG, Nas, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Eazy E, Big Pun, Lil Wayne and DMX, it is Drake who gets on to this list because of the way in which hip hop is now digested. Nobody could say that Drake has a better flow, better lyricism or style than the rest of these legends.
Biggest Cultural Impact
Some rappers came out and completely changed the game, both for the fans and for the rappers that would come after them, let’s have a look at which rappers made the biggest impact on the game and why.
- Dr. Dre – Brought the world NWA, The Chronic, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, Eminem and many more
- Tupac – Everyone has been trying to make the impact that Pac made in his 5 short years in the game
- Eminem – Nobody did what Eminem did to the world of music, or the world in general, a global phenomenon.
As you can see, these lists are almost impossible to compile, and you may very well disagree with Bharat and I on every one of our picks.