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Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

According to the AM rankings, here are the ten best rap artists ever:
1. Public Enemy
2. Beastie Boys
3. OutKast
4. Eminem
5. Kanye West (pre-MBDTF)
6. Run-D.M.C.
7. Jay-Z
8. Missy Elliott
9. Grandmaster Flash
10. M.I.A.

This is nothing like what I think the rap community would have its top ten like. In my head, I'd guess that it looks like

Kanye West
Lil Wayne
LL Cool J
Notorious B.I.G.

In some order. I'm curious, especially after looking at the 2010 EOY spreadsheet, whether non-U.S. publications held these artists back, or whether the list in my head is based more on reputation. Really, I'm wondering which list ends up looking closer to the overall AM beliefs.

I'll start:
1. Lupe Fiasco
2. Jay-Z
3. Kanye West
4. J. Cole
5. Eminem
6. Nas
7. 2Pac
8. Notorious B.I.G.
9. OutKast
10. Ghostface Killah

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

There does seem to be something of an interesting dichotomy here. I don't follow the collective wisdom of the rap community very closely, so I don't know how accurate that top-10 list is. (And I hesitate to even put a personal top-10 out there, since I simply have not listened to enough different hip-hop artists.)

One thing that jumps out at me, though, is that your guess at a consensus rap community top-10 seems to be a list of the best rappers (although I wonder about whether West is as admired as a rapper). Hence listing Rakim instead of Eric B. and Rakim, and KRS-One instead of Boogie Down Production. And my sense is that 2Pac and Biggie are possibly overrated in light of their early and tragic deaths (in the same way that I pesonally think Morrison and Cobain are overrated in the rock community). Of course that also means that they would be underrated in the AM rankings, because of their limited output.

The AM rankings are strictly about albums and singles. Mix tapes and live performances, which certainly seem to be part of the equation among hip hop heads, are not considered.

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

1. Kanye West
2. Beastie Boys
3. OutKast
4. Public Enemy
5. Jay-Z
6. M.I.A.
7. The Notorious B.I.G.
8. Eminem
9. The Streets
10. De La Soul

Also, does Gorillaz count? If so, they'd be in my top 10.

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

I think there's some truth in your comment, drewcannon3. Maybe it has something to do with the assumption that the AM rank is assembled from lists mainly made by white middle-class people, and those don't have much affinity with artists like 2Pac or Lil' Wayne. To tell you the truth, I'm white & middle-class as well and yes, that AM list appeals more to me than the one from the Hiphop community (that is to say...where's the Wu-Tang Clan, Gang Starr, Dr. Dre and A Tribe Called Quest?).

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

1. Nas
2. Eminem
3. Kool Keith/Dr. Octagon/Dr. Dooom
4. Wu-Tang Clan
5. Gang Starr
6. Notorious B.I.G.
7. Ghostface Killah
8. Ice Cube
9. Dr. Dre
10. Raekwon
11. Kanye West
12. Jay Dee/J. Dilla
13. OutKast
14. EPMD
15. Kool G Rap

or something like that

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

1. A Tribe Called Quest
2. OutKast
3. Public Enemy
4. Beastie Boys
5. The Roots
6. De La Soul
7. Digable Planets
8. Arrested Development
9. Eric B. & Rakim
10. Cypress Hill
11. Pete Rock & CL Smooth
12. Run DMC
13. Common
14. Lupe Fiasco
15. EPMD

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

I think that most of the rap community has a love for Biggie and Tupac that critics don't have. A lot of rappers were on VH1's updated list (12, to be exact). They were:
Beastie Boys
Public Enemy
LL Cool J
VH1 claimed there wer 12, I could only find 10 on the list. I don't know if they counted Justin Timberlake and Beyonce as rap or I just misheard them when I was watching the show.

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

There also has to be a distinction between merely "rappers" and "hip-hop artists". If you take the sum of Dr. Dre's career, production and rapping, does he eclipse Biggie? Hip-hop also has a different emphasis on the individual role in a collective than rock, so do you count solo careers the same as part of a group?

Shooting for a middle-of-the-road list that would satisfy AM critics and rap fans, I came up with:

1. Outkast
2. Notorious B.I.G.
3. Beastie Boys
4. Tupac Shakur
5. Kanye West
6. Dr. Dre
7. Public Enemy
8. Nas
9. Wu-Tang Clan (I have no idea how to classify all its offshoots)
10. Eminem

Biggie at 2 seems high though, and he's inextricably linked to 2Pac so that raises him up too. OutKast is the only act I could think of that could top that list undisputedly.

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

I'm not going to claim to know who these are as I haven't heard nearly enough hip hop to speculate on this but I will say my favorite album is Wu-Tang Clan's 36 Chambers and I will say that Organized Konfusion is really underrated, check out Stress: The Extinction Agenda and a solo album by Pharoah Monch called Internal Affairs. Both are incredible.


Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

01. Public Enemy
02. Wu-Tang Clan (+ offshoots)
03. Outkast
04. Kanye West
05. Beastie Boys
06. Dr. Dre
07. Missy Elliott
08. Gang Starr/Guru
09. Madlib
10. A Tribe Called Quest
11. Ultramagnetic MC's/Kool Keith (Dr. Octagon)
12. EPMD
13. Fugees/Lauryn Hill
14. N.W.A./Ice Cube
15. Mobb Deep
16. Run DMC
17. Timbaland
18. Boogie Down Production/KRS One
19. Arrested Development
20. De La Soul
21. Anti-Pop Consortium
22. Stetsasonic/Prince Paul
23. Eric B. & Rakim
24. Jeru The Damaja
25. LL Cool J
26. Mos Def
27. Mantronix
28. Nas
29. Grandmaster Flash
30. Ice T.

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

fuk RZA. fuk Biggie. Fu-Schnickens grilld daht rllz sun rite outta me befuh it all gon'b off da hizzle... and sense wenn is M.I.A. considered hip hop n ewayz (lik-a-lowllz-wut?)?

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

fuk RZA. fuk Biggie. Fu-Schnickens grilld daht rllz sun rite outta me befuh it all gon'b off da hizzle... and sense wenn is M.I.A. considered hip hop n ewayz (lik-a-lowllz-wut?)?

This, except for the "fuk Biggie" part.

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

LOOOOLLLLZ... now get da fuk outa here, u blu eyed devil

n stop gamin un me, pigpic

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

Well, the 'pop community', the 'metal community' and the 'jazz community' (to name a few) would have their top 10s different from the AM rankings as well.

There has always been a clear distinction between popularity and critical acclaim on this site.

Re: Greatest Hip Hop Artists of All Time

I think one has to look only as far as 2Pac and Biggie to know what the difference is. They were both excellent MCs, flawless technique and wonderful poetry, and any self respecting rap fan would list them as favorites based on rapping talent ALONE. In that respect, they aren't overrated at all. Their flows are still beautiful to listen to. However, they won't be big on this site because 2Pac was very inconsistent album-wise. He had great technique but didn't create a masterpiece up there with the best rap albums. I'm thinking part of this was his turbulent life (he was in jail for a little there). He was just hitting his stride with Me Against The World and All Eyez On Me (which just happen to be the two that are on AM), but then he died. As for Biggie, he put out two bonafide masterpieces, including a 2-disc opus that is simply astounding for a 24 year old. But he also died too young. Their skills are legend but you could only make so many albums in 2 and half decades of life.

And that's it right there. The rap community will give props for your talent on the mic, even if your discography is lacking. So Rakim, who only has two albums on AM, will always be one of the best to ever live if you ask a rap fan. For straight skill, they'd be right. In the same vein, you probably won't hear a Beastie Boy's name in a hardcore rap discussion. They've made quite a few amazing albums, but admittedly I listen to them more for their sonics.