Who is the best rapper of all time?
As hip-hop celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Billboard and Vibe are counting down the greatest MCs to ever grace the mic. Over the past month, the magazine has been rolling out its list of the Top 50 Greatest Rappers of All Time before revealing the final top 10.
The editorial staff determined the rankings based on the following criteria: body of work/achievements (charted singles/albums, gold/platinum certifications), cultural impact/influence (how the artist’s work fostered the genre’s evolution), longevity (years at the mic), lyrics (storytelling skills), and flow (vocal prowess).
While the list includes female MCs like Lil’ Kim (No. 31), Lauryn Hill (No. 30), and Missy Elliott (No. 19), Nicki Minaj is the only woman in the top 10. “She’s undeniably blazed the trail for the next generation of female MCs, while at the same time, building a legacy whose impact is hardly limited to the hip-hop world,” writes Billboard.
At 36, Drake is the youngest rapper in the top 50 at No. 8. As one of the “most gifted and accomplished artists to ever touch down in music,” he remains a certified hitmaker whose “Midas touch” has earned him nearly 300 entries on the Billboard Hot 100.
The man behind both Drake and Nicki, Lil Wayne, takes his rightful throne at No. 7, followed by a pair of late legends, The Notorious B.I.G. (No. 6) and Tupac Shakur (No. 4).
With 15 Grammys and 10 No. 1 albums, the “Rap God” Eminem has earned his top 5 status. His “unprecedented commercial success” and “peerless technical skills” lands him in the “upper echelon of GOAT rappers.”
Nas rounds out the top 3, followed by Kendrick Lamar at No. 2. The Compton rapper’s “lyrical prowess, classic albums, and envelope-pushing evolution” have afforded him a reputation as the “best rapper of his generation.”
With a career that spans three decades, no one can knock JAY-Z’s hustle. When it comes to “longevity, the breadth of his accomplishments, and what he’s meant to hip-hop,” Hov remains the true GOAT.
See the top 10 below and the full list here.
Billboard’s Top 10 Greatest Rappers of All Time
2. Kendrick Lamar
4. Tupac Shakur
6. The Notorious B.I.G.
7. Lil Wayne
9. Snoop Dogg
10. Nicki Minaj