If there is one debate that we are sure will go on forever, it is about who are the best rappers of all time. There are so many lists for Top 10 rappers of all time, but who is to say which one of them is legit and not published by a fanboy. The biggest debates occur when someone claims a certain rapper to be the GOAT.
The reality is, there is NO objective way to settle these claims. There are a lot of different criterias that can impact this choice, and it is nearly impossible to put the weight in every such factor.
Some would argue that Tupac is the greatest to ever do it because of his impact on the culture, while others would say Eminem is the GOAT due to his reach and sales.
Regardless, in this article, we have set some parameters that we will follow to rank the rappers. Before going into further details of these criteria, we would like to make it clear that rap groups are not qualified to be considered here. This obviously bows out famous rap groups like N.W.A., Beastie Boys, and Outkast.
The parameters are as follows:
- Number-One Rap Songs (Number of songs on the top of the charts as lead or featured artist, on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts and Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs)
- Number-One Singles (On Hot 100 Billboard chart, as featured or lead artist)
- Number-One Albums (On Top 200 Billboard chart, only solo albums)
- Album Sales (On solo albums sale in the U.S.)
We have averaged out all of these parameters to come up with our list of top rappers of all time.
There are some really great new rappers that are forming their legacy in 2020 with back-to-back bangers. You can checkout our picks for the hottest new rappers in 2020 here.
So, without much ado, let’s get into it.
10. P. Diddy
№1 Hits (5), №1 Rap Songs (10), №1 Albums (2), Album Sales (9.1m)
P. Diddy really blew up in the calendar year 1997. With the release of his debut album “No Way Out,” he gained massive popularity, and the two songs from this album that were “I’ll be Missing You” and “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” also landed at the top of the charts.
Now one may argue that the debut album of Diddy was not really his debut album as it was a Bad Boy Compilation that also included stars like The L.O.X., Ma$e, and Biggie, but the truth is, P. Diddy outshone all of these artists.
№1 Hits (2), Album Sales (16.1m), №1 Rap Songs (2) №1 Albums (3)
The presence of Tupac on this list is mainly because of the massive success if his most iconic album, 1996’s “All Eyez On Me”.
This was not his first major project though, before even releasing this project, he had gained some public eye and commercial success with this most recent album 1995’s “Me Against The World”. The latter also landed at No.1 position that featured the “Dear Mama” which was Pac’s first platinum single.
8. Lil Wayne
№1 Hits (3), Album Sales (13.9m), №1 Rap Songs (12) №1 Albums (3)
Wayne’s way up was bumpy. His first three albums bombed and there was no hope left for him. However, after the release of two of his “The Carter” series albums, people really started taking him seriously and after the Carter III was dropped he became a legend.
№1 Hits (5), Album Sales (15.2m), №1 Rap Songs (6) №1 Albums (4)
Now this one is a bit of a shocker, I mean, Luda is a great rapper, no doubt, but is he qualified to be on a list of top rappers of all time? Well, the numbers agree.
From 2000 to 2006, Luda released the record 16 top-ten singles, which is more than any other rapper ever. Ludacris is the king of commercial music.
6. 50 Cent
№1 Hits (4), Album Sales (20.3m), №1 Rap Songs (7) №1 Albums (2)
Fiddy was almost unstoppable during his run from 2003 to 2005. His album “Get Rich or Die Tryin” peaked at number one position on Billboard’s Top 200. His initial two records (“21 Questions and “In Da Club”) hit No.1 on the Charts.
5. Kanye West
№1 Hits (4), Album Sales (16.3m), №1 Rap Songs (12) №1 Albums (7)
Kanye may not have a specific calendar year that represents his dominance, but he is surely one of the best rappers ever due to his consistency. Between 2004 and 2012, Kanye was on a roll.
He had at least song on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart Billboard Hot Rap Songs Billboard Hot 100.
№1 Hits (4), Album Sales (21.2m), №1 Rap Songs (7) №1 Albums (3)
Nelly’s career is somewhat similar to that of Drake, as he was known to transition between different genres. He started as a rapper and then branched out as Popstar, R&B artist, and country artist too.
№1 Hits (6), Album Sales (12.1m), №1 Rap Songs (26) №1 Albums (7)
Drake remains the fastest growing rapper of all time. By early 2012, the record for most number-ones on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (10) and Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs Charts (11 was already under his belt.
Truth be told, he is not the most lyrical rapper out there, but the numbers he is showing surely confirm his place in the top ten rappers of all time.
№1 Hits (4), Album Sales (30.6m), №1 Rap Songs (13) №1 Albums (11),
Jay-Z is the only artist in this list who has sold 11 consecutive number one albums and is only behind The Beatles. His Annie backed album “Hard Knock Life” changed his life forever, and he has not stopped dropping hits since then.
№1 Hits (5), Album Sales (49.1m), №1 Rap Songs (4) №1 Albums (9)
There are few artists in the world that have seen the success identical to Slim Shady. His success is partly because of the fact that he was a white kid in the field of blacks, and Eminem himself said he would have “sold half” if he black.
But, that takes nothing away from the guy, as we can only imagine how difficult it would have been for him to be considered genuine. His second album 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP sold 1.7m units in just one week, which set a record for the fastest-selling rap album ever that makes Eminem one of the top rappers of all time.
This album also featured some of his best songs of all time.
Final Takeaway and Disclaimer
The rappers mentioned above and their rankings as the Top 10 best rappers of all time are strictly according to the parameters specified at the beginning of the article.
You are more than welcome to drop your recommendations and thought on our picks using the comments section down below.