As someone who fell in love with hip-hop at an early age, it is fair to say that I have read, listened to and discovered a good chunk of the history of the genre. This is why I always have difficulty when people ask me who I think the best rapper is of all time. I was asked this question last week by my good friend Janet Pribanic, so I decided that I would sit down once and for all, and put together my top 5 rappers. If you love hip-hop, check out my list and let me know what you think.
5 – Notorious B.I.G.
The story of the death of Biggie Smalls is of course a sad one, and despite being killed at such a young age, the rapper put together a great collection of work. The slow flow and killer delivery which B.I.G. had personified the New York rap scene and between him and Puff Daddy, they brought the funk back to hip-hop. From Juicy to Who Shot Ya, Biggie’s work will love long in the memory.
4 – Tupac Shakur
Often cited as the most legendary rapper, but not necessarily the best, a sentiment which I wholly disagree with. Shakur went beyond rap with his music and laced it with street poetry which resonated with a generation. Pac’s style with aggressive and heart stomping, yet he could also switch to heartfelt and hopeful. Without Tupac there are so many rappers who simply wouldn’t exist.
3 – Black Thought
A surprise selection at number three is the vocal powerhouse of the Roots band, Black Thought. Thought is a forestalling genius which has been cemented recently after his 10 minute plus showcase on Funkmaster Flex’s radio station, all off the dome. Thought may not go down as one of the greatest rappers in the way that he should, but his electric lyrics, smooth flow and rampant style will inspire many a rapper in the generations to come.
2 – Nas
If Nas were able to recreate the flavor which he showed on his debut album Illmatic, there would be absolutely no doubt as to the fact that he was truly the greatest of all time. Unfortunately however, Nas never could rediscover what made that first album so special. in spite of this, Illmatic was still his album, and the best rap album of all time, from there Nas went on to create a brand of street knowledge which nobody else was doing at the time, and is considered to be something of the rap Shakespeare, high praise for a kid from the tough streets of Queens.
1 – Eminem
There is a reason that few rappers beef with Eminem, the fact that they know that the ‘white boy from Detroit’ will destroy your career. Eminem’s style is outrageous, infectious and crafted in the most bizarre yet powerful way. Em’s word play is like no other, he talks about things nobody else will and most importantly, he does so in a style which blows the minds of the listeners, combing shock and outrage, with sick flows and aggressive verses.
Who are you top rappers of all time and why? We’d love to hear what your thoughts are.