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Top 10 Rappers and Hip Hop Artists

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Hip hop has given birth to some of music's most memorable and accomplished acts. From Jay-Z to Eminem to Tupac to Biggie, there is no telling what the genre would have been like without these amazing artists. In this video, count downs our picks for the top 10 rap artists in history. Love it or hate it but there's no denying that every MC on this list has had a major contribution to rap and hip hop music. Be sure to check out our list of the top 10 rap groups of all time too!

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When it comes to hip hop, these MCs are at the top of their class. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 rap artists of all time.

#10 – Big Pun

Larger than life persona? Check. Razor sharp lyrics and slick flow? Check. First Latin to come home with a Platinum plaque? Check. Christopher Lee Rios paved the way for Latin rappers with the massive club anthem, “Still Not a Player.” And with two platinum albums, there's no telling how far Big Pun would've taken the rap game had he not succumbed to a heart-attack at age 28.

#9 – LL Cool J

It seems everyone, not just the ladies, love cool James. He began his multifaceted career as a teenager, and his musical evolution can be seen in hits like “Mama Said Knock You Out” and “Hey Lover.” Thanks to a successful acting career and multiple awards, LL Cool J has proven his longevity and why he's still the G.O.A.T.

#8 – Common

Common is the name and repping hip-hop is his game. On “I Used to Love H.E.R.” and “Love Of My Life,” it's clear that Ronnie Rashid Lynn Jr. has never been afraid to show his affection for hip hop – and his fans respect him all the more for it. Rapping with an eloquence and dignity that many of today's artists lack, Common is a true wordsmith who can flow with the best of them.

#7 – 50 Cent

Thanks to Get Rich or Die Tryin', 50 Cent had one of the biggest debut albums in rap history. Now, the record is often used as the standard by which new artists measure themselves, though few have even come close. As a solo artist and with his G-Unit crew in tow, Fiddy made hip hop interesting again and demonstrated his willingness to take on any opponent or challenge.

#6 – Eminem

Who can forget the first time they heard the words: “Hi, my name is Slim Shady”? Marshall Bruce Mathers III forever changed our ideas about rappers' looks and lyrical content. No subject, not even his personal life, was too taboo for Eminem. And with over 90 million albums sold, it's little wonder that he's been deemed one of the greatest artists ever.

#5 – Tupac

Despite being one half of the infamous '90s East Coast/West Coast feud, Tupac Shakur established himself as an insightful and poetic artist who could still maintain a party rocking, gangsta mentality. Though his star quickly rose, its light went dim way too soon: the Thug Life rapper's career came to a screeching halt when he was shot in 1996. Fortunately, Tupac left a legacy of socio-politically charged music that would forever alter the sound of hip hop.

#4 – The Notorious B.I.G.

All the teachers who told Christopher Wallace that he'd never amount to nothing were certainly wrong about Biggie Smalls. With his unique voice and delivery, Biggie was destined for greatness. Soon enough, this story-telling master put the East Coast hip hop scene on the map. Unfortunately, his participation in the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry led the Notorious B.I.G. to pay the ultimate price in 1997.

#3 – Nas

Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones came from the U.S.' largest housing project and rose to hip-hop royalty with his debut, Illmatic. Since then, Nas has given us hit after hit, has been awarded The Source Magazine's 5 Mic rating twice and has taken on one of rap's biggest stars, Jay-Z, in a high profile feud. Thanks to his unmatchable rapping skills, Nas has truly shown us why he's the Don.

#2 – Rakim

After beginning his career in the '80s with DJ Eric B, Rakim gave birth to a lyrical style that was all his own by approaching the mic with a laid back delivery. Thanks to his critically praised flow and lyrics, he's been consistently ranked among the best MCs in the game. Some have even called Rakim the greatest MC in history.

#1 – Jay-Z

Since the late '90s, Shawn Carter has been a fixture of the rap game. Reasonable Doubt and The Blueprint have been hailed as classics of the genre, while his lines, verses and songs have been studied by hip hop heads worldwide. With his empire state of mind, Jay-Z has sold millions of records, topped multiple charts and won many Grammys. In addition, he's transformed himself into one of the most successful businessmen America has ever seen.

Do you agree or disagree with our list? Who's in your top ten? Be sure to let us know and check out for more great top 10 lists!

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