Their contributions to the world of rap music have made these following names immortal. Since the beginning of rap music, many artists have come and gone and left their mark on the scene. However few of them have done credible work, and are still remembered with fond memories. Not many people know, but rap was not encouraged some years ago. Why? The reason is pretty simple: it defied the ideal world, the perfect government and made the future generations aware of the reality which no one talks about.
Rappers and their lyrics have faced criticism from almost every corner, but that didn’t stop rap music from achieving worldwide fame. The last decade saw some amazing albums from the legends of the rap music, but there were also some new names who deserve credit for adding some freshness to the rap genre.
Disclaimer: All names mentioned in this article are the author’s personal choice, and in no way are intended to hurt the sentiments of others.
Tupac Shakur aka
Dear MamaBest Album
All Eyes on Me
Shakur is not just a name or an artist, he is the reason rapping and hip-hop became main stream. His music is a journey of his life and thoughts. Almost every big name in the rap industry today has a Shakur in him/her somewhere. Hailed as a prophet, God and a leader his presence will always remain in the hearts of millions around the world. Known as one of the most influential rappers, his lyrics are still inspiring thousands of potential MCs’ around the globe. His heart wrenching songs not only described his inner struggles, but also the plight of those whom the world had forgotten. Although his untimely death was pretty unfortunate and disappointing, his songs and all the great work that he has done will always remain in the hearts of rap enthusiasts.
Nasir Dara Jones aka
Memory LaneBest Album
If you want to know why Nas is called the best lyricist, you need to listen and understand what he has to say. He is the creator of Illmatic, arguably the best rap album of the genre. The album is based on the rapper’s life experiences living in Queensbridge, New York. His ability to churn out great words and sync them with the brilliant music is the reason Illmatic still ranks in the top five in almost every list of great rap albums. In addition to his talent, the Nas vs Jay-Z feud also managed to gather international headlines and still remains the biggest battle of the rap industry. It was an epic battle and spawned the creation of his greatest LP Stillmatic which contained one of the greatest ‘diss’ tracks of all time, Ether. Ether was aimed at Jay-Z, and insulted the rap mogul like never before. Nas is one of the greatest rappers to ever set foot on the stage, and the world will always remain thankful for everything that he has done.
Christopher Wallace aka
The Notorious B.I.G.Best Song
Ready to Die
A true American original, Biggie aka Biggie Smalls aka Frank White was one of the few greats of the industry. Wallace’s debut album Ready to Die is credited for increasing New York’s visibility in the East Coast hip hop scene during times when artists from the west completely dominated the genre. Some might say that he wasn’t perfect, but his outstanding ability to rhyme and his amazing flow with lyrics were just magical. His pairing with words was so good, you could almost call him a literary genius. One of the most talented storytellers, Biggie was simple and pure perfection. His most famous album, Life after Death was released 15 days after he was fatally shot and killed in 1997.
Marshall Mathers III aka
Lose YourselfBest Album
Marshall Mathers LP
He is a favorite of millions of people all around. Marshall Mathers III a.k.a Eminem is one of the most famous rappers ever to step foot in the world of rap music. He features in the list of top 10 rappers because of his amazing mixing sense of lyrics and music. In a genre dominated by African-Americans, Eminem is probably the only white rapper that tasted insane success and has fans mobbing him everywhere he goes. His lyrics always contain instances from real life which makes it easier for fans and the common man to relate to him. His songs are often criticized for their violent content, but there is always a hidden message that is only visible for those who want to see it. The man has won 13 Grammy Awards, and is the only rapper in history to won an Academy for ‘Best Original Song’ for ‘Lose Yourself’ from the movie 8 Mile.
André Benjamin aka
André 3000Best Song
Hey YaBest Album
André 3000 tasted early success by forming the OutKast with Big Boi. They released their first album Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik which gained universal acclaim with the single, ‘Player’s Ball’. It was only after their fourth album Stankonia that Benjamin introduced his new alias, André 3000. He is known for being one of the most innovative storytellers of this generation and he just creates a different atmosphere every time he holds that mic. He is a gifted artist and is often praised for using his talents in hitting the right notes every time. His recent collaborations with Ke$ha, Beyonce and Lil Wayne’ shows the man still has the capability of making some amazing music even with artists of different genre.
William Griffin Jr. aka
Move The CrowdBest Album
Paid in Full
If millions look up to Rakim as God, there is some plausible explanation behind it. No one does it better than Rakim. Also known as the first original gangsta rapper, Rakim has been an inspiration to all the great names in rap at some point in their lives. If you have a favorite rapper, Rakim is somewhere in him/her. A true star from the golden age of hip-hop, Rakim is known to create music and lyrics that were far ahead of its time. His partnership with Eric B. resulted in some groundbreaking albums like Paid in Full and Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em. After going solo, he created another critical masterpiece, The 18th Letter. He is the pioneer of multi-syllabic lyricism, and is often lauded for his genius rapping which is still extremely hard to rival.
Brad Jordan aka
Mary JaneBest Album
The World is Yours
Another true legend, Scarface started his career by being a part of the Geto Boys and tasted success with Grip It! On That Other Level. However it was his solo work, Mr. Scarface is Back that showed his true genius. Hailed as the ‘King of the South’, Scarface is one of the most talented and underrated rappers of all time. His rhyming is known all over the circuit for its raunchiness. He is one of the few MC’s that knows how to paint a great picture by using only his words. Although he has been criticized for his flow, he is one of the most fascinating storytellers of the generation. In addition to being a great artist, Scarface has been the President of Def Jam South where he has overseen the career of the popular Ludacris.
Felipe Coronel aka
Immortal TechniqueBest Song
Dance with the DevilBest Album
Revolutionary Vol. 2
Another great name in the list of top 10 rappers, Immortal Technique believes in telling truth and only the truth. He loves doing his job and won’t let anyone stand in his way. The man is known for his enthralling song writing technique, and is perhaps one of the few artists who have gained popularity without the help of a music label. His first album Revolutionary Vol. 1 was launched without a bar code and it was sold by the artist on the streets and on his shows. Although its best known single “Dance with the Devil” was criticized for its content, it made Immortal Technique an icon.
Lawrence Parker aka
My PhilosophyBest Album
KRS-One has one of hip-hip’s most successful careers, one that spans almost 20 years, filled with some of rap’s most exemplary work. Kris (as he was know as, his middle name being Krisna) met with DJ Scott La Rock in 1985, with whom he formed Boogie Down Productions. Scott was fatally shot in 1987, which spurred Kris’ need to be heard on a bigger stage. He is influenced by the words of not only other hip-hop artists like Afrika Bambaataa, but also old-school scholars like Carter Woodson. He hit the big time in 1997, when his song “Step Into A World (Rapture’s Delight)” reached #3 on Billboard.
Wasalu Jaco aka
Lupe FiascoBest Song
Show Goes OnBest Album
The kind of artist like Lupe Fiasco, comes only once in a few decades. The man is so profound and independent, that he definitely deserves a rank of his own. When Lupe started out with rapping, he didn’t really take a liking to imbuing profanity or the gangsta way of life into his music. By the time he became an Internet phenomenon, he was spotted by Fort Minor and then Jay-Z. The latter offered him a place in his Roc-A-Fella record label. But Lupe had generated enough fame and money by that time, so he started his own label, 1st and 15th Entertainment, turning down Jay-Z’s offer. He then made his first solo album “Food and Liquor”, which gave him his shot to the big time.
In addition to the above names, popular names such as Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne’, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Drake, Jadakiss, Young Jeezy, Method Man, Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg are credited for making rap a worldwide phenomena.
It is quite obvious that these choices will draw its fair amount of criticism, some will find the names that they were looking for and some won’t. However, I have tried to list out almost every important name in the rap genre and the above list is not written by just keeping in mind the popularity of these rap artists; they have been enlisted on the basis of the lyrical content, word flow, concepts, rhyme scheme of their music, and the adaptability and persona of the rap artist.