Top 10 Best Rap Lyricists of All Time

Describing and honoring the most lyrical rappers of all time, focusing on the mastery of lyrical skills.
The Top Ten
1 Eminem Eminem, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is an American rapper, actor and music producer born on October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph, Missouri. Eminem has sold over 300 million records making him the bestselling hip-hop artist of all time. In addition to his solo career, he is a member of D12 and (with Royce... read more

It's not a surprise that he is my favorite rapper. Still, he is a shorty we kept telling he wouldn't make it because he is white. Yes, Biggie is great, yes Tupac is amazing, Nas is awesome, but imagine how good Eminem had to be just to sell albums like he did, have so many fans, and have the career he had. He could make an album just with freestyles! The words come naturally to him, no doubt. He is born to be the best. Both Slim Shady and Marshall Mathers have insane and shocking lyrics. He is definitely untouchable. I don't even think there is a single word in "Lose Yourself" that does not rhyme with something else. He is the only one that can make "sandwich rhymes" like he does.

2 Tupac Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known as 2Pac, was an American rapper and actor born on June 16, 1971 in East Harlem, New York. Tupac sold over 75 million records worldwide and has been referred to in multiple major publications such as Rolling Stone as one of the greatest music artists of all time. 2Pac was... read more

People say he is not lyrical. Meanwhile, he is the most quoted rapper of all time worldwide. His voice, flow, realness, direct delivery, beat choice, freestyle skills, and diss tracks are untouchable. This man was the whole package. He used rap music as a way to talk to people, and he did it better than anyone else. If he is not at least in your top 5 of all time, you better do your research on what this man did for the culture, hip hop, and black people. He is the most important figure in hip hop and the biggest influence in the genre, period. Ask your favorite rapper who influenced him the most. Nas, Eminem, Andre 3000, Kendrick, J. Cole, Cam'ron, 50 Cent, Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Big Pun, Big L, Mobb Deep... All of them are products of Tupac Amaru Shakur.

3 Nas Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, better known by his stage name Nas, is an American rapper and entrepreneur born on September 14, 1973 in New York City. His album, Illmatic, is considered to be one of the best rap albums of all time. He is also considered to be one of the best rappers of all time.

Nas is probably the second-best lyrical rapper of all time. The only rapper I would pick over him is Tupac. But Tupac and Nas are very much alike in the way they write their songs. I would not be surprised if they were very good friends. Eminem is good, but his songs are annoying to listen to. Listen to No Introduction by Nas, and you will see why he is great.

Nas is the greatest lyrical rapper of all time. Just listen to "It Ain't Hard to Tell," "Halftime," well, really the whole album of Illmatic. You will need no more proof after that. If you are really stubborn, just listen to his other albums. His flows and rhymes are untouchable. No question about it.

4 Hichkas Sorush Lashkary (born May 10, 1985) better known by his stage name Hichkas (Persian: Hiĉkas - هیچکس‎‎; meaning "Nobody") is an Iranian rapper from Tehran. Hichkas is considered as one of pioneers of "Persian Rap" and "Persian Urban music.

The godfather of rap. Persian language, such as English, is not widely known in the world because the rapper is low. Text and style, but she is amazing.

Hichkas is the best rapper in the world... Best, best, best.

Honestly, among all the Persian rappers, he is the best in both singing and lyrics writing. But I'm not sure how we can compare him with Eminem and other rappers with different native languages. Anyway, as a Persian, I definitely support Hichkas.
Persian Rap

5 The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie Smalls) Christopher George Latore Wallace, born May 21, 1972, better known by his stage name The Notorious B.I.G (sometimes Biggie Smalls or just simply Biggie), is an American rapper from Brooklyn, New York. On March 9, 1997, he was murdered in a drive by shooting in Los Angeles, California at the age of only... read more

Are you kidding? He is WAY better than Tupac, a founder of rap who wowed everyone with his storytelling. Enough with the Persians. They wouldn't be here without BIG.

Biggie is the best rapper of all time, and Eazy-E is second. I mean, they're complete opposites, but with their trademark and unique styles, you just can't beat them.

As much as I love Tupac, there's no way that Tupac is a better lyricist than Biggie.

6 Jay-Z Shawn Corey Carter, known by his stage name JAY-Z, is an American rapper, record producer, entrepreneur and investor born on December 4, 1969 in Brooklyn, New York. He is best known for his albums Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint, and The Black Album. He is considered to be one of the best rappers of... read more

I thought of him as the enemy at first. Then I saw how Tupac was planning to end the West Coast/East Coast rivalry, and I started to listen to his lyrics. He seems to be a great person on the inside also! "Song Cry" is my favorite!

Jay's lyrics are laced with double entendres and metaphors. One verse can have meaning on the surface and on another layer. People who don't understand him can't appreciate him the same as those who do.

His style is unique, and words stay on point, with a different taste. Jay-Z can only deliver.

7 Rakim William Michael Griffin Jr. (born January 28, 1968), better known by his stage name Rakim Allah (or simply Rakim), is an American rapper and record producer. One half of golden age hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential and skilled MCs of all time... read more

Rakim is one of the most underrated mainstream rappers who ever picked up a mic. His multi-syllabic rhymes combined with his precise flow make him a treat to listen to. He has creative, storytelling lyrics, with strong beats, and a unique twist on words through most of his music. I am actually surprised he isn't in the top ten.

In terms of flow and revolution, Rakim is by far the greatest. The problem with doing a list like this is that different aspects need to be taken into consideration. I notice Busta Rhymes is not on any of these lists, and he is by far the most versatile rapper, able to emcee and rap convincingly across many genres, from rock to pop to house to EDM to ragga dancehall. His discography is impeccable, and not even 2pac comes close in that aspect.

LL Cool J is revolutionary in being able to go hard and then soft for the ladies. When people started dissing, he responded with Mama Said Knock You Out. Over 14 albums is astonishing and definitely puts him in the top 10 rappers. A top 10 rapper has to be revolutionary in some aspect of the game of hip hop. For example, 2pac was not known for his emcee prowess, so how can he be named among the top 10 greatest? He was the greatest hip hop icon, no doubt, and a fantastic studio writer.

KRS 1 is the greatest battle rapper, hands down. How many careers has he slaughtered, and with what authoritative voice does he back it up? Again, another top 10 rapper. Grandmaster Caz, Kool Moe Dee, Slick Rick, Melle Mel were revolutionary as they were the first, which should have more significance to these rappers today. Granted, Kendrick, Pusha T, Immortal Technique, Tech9ine, and J Cole are setting solid high standards.

8 Kendrick Lamar Kendrick Lamar Duckworth (born June 17, 1987) is an American rapper and songwriter. Raised in Compton, California, Lamar embarked on his musical career as a teenager under the stage name K-Dot, releasing a mixtape that garnered local attention and led to his signing with indie record label Top Dawg... read more

Lyrically, Kendrick obviously has competition, although I personally love his lyrics the most. One thing I think nobody can touch Kendrick on is his never-ending musical creativity. Nobody can mess with Kendrick on the way he can lead a song. In The Heart Part IV and on his album DAMN., there has never been such variance and originality. Truly a genius with the music that accompanies his words. All 14 tracks on the album DAMN. reached the top 100 leaderboard, and the album secured spots 1-9 on the top streamed songs for On-Demand. How many other rappers have put every single song onto the top 100? I mean, 14?! Like seriously, the average quality of his songs, I think, deserve to move him up on this list. I can pick up almost any Kendrick song and enjoy it.

9 Dr. Dre Andre Romelle Young (born February 18, 1965), known professionally as Dr. Dre, is an American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. He is the founder and CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics, and previously co-founded, co-owned, and was the president of Death Row Records. Dr. Dre... read more

A good rapper, a good person. He should be behind Eminem on this list.

10 Shahin Najafi

Lyrics of Pain. I can hear all his lyrics from everyone around me... He is the one and only Persian rapper who truly respects Rap. All his lyrics are about your life, in a way...

Perfect lyrics. He is the voice of Iranian fighters for freedom.

He is the voice of our generation. His poetry is a sentence for apostasy (execution)!

The Contenders
11 J Cole Jermaine Lamarr Cole is an American rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer. Born on a military base in Germany but raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, Cole initially gained recognition as a rapper following the release of his debut mixtape, The Come Up, in early-2007.

Flow and deepness in lyrics and meaning - this guy should be in the top ten. Are you guys thinking? Were you even living in the past seven years?!

J. Cole and Tupac are easily the two most lyrical rappers with the best flow of all time. He is easily top ten. 17!?!? Who votes on this? Listen to any of his songs where he talks about serious issues in society. 2014 Forest Hills Drive! 4 Your Eyez Only! Vote him up!

J. Cole deserves to be in the top 20 rappers without a doubt. The best storyteller and an absolute genius with putting his words together. Each of his albums and mixtapes connect deeply with anyone who listens, and he puts real time into each of his records.

12 50 Cent Curtis James Jackson III, better known by his stage name 50 Cent, is an American rapper, actor, entrepreneur, investor, record, film, and television producer.

Perfect lyrical connection, good beats, nice voice, what's not to like?

13 Ho3ein

In the name of Persian rap, which most of the Persian young people love.

I am proud of Ho3ein because he does the best Persian rap about lifestyle outside and inside Iran. He doesn't show off, nor does he share his photos anywhere with different girls. So, this is the time we all stand up for this young man and keep his flag on top of the pole as the best Persian rapper alive.

Kaqaz (Hossein and Sadegh) are the greatest rappers about the lyrical poet. I really dare to give him 10 out of 10.

He is the king of rap, with a good beat, good lyrics, great sound...

14 K-Rino Eric Kaiser (born 9 September 1970), better known by his stage name K-Rino, is an American rapper and record producer from Houston, Texas. He is a pioneer of the Southern hip hop scene, and has been rapping since 1983. K-Rino's first release was the single "rocking It" with his group Real Chill in 1986,... read more

I'm glad this guy is finally mentioned on a "best rapper list," even if it is one that is greatly biased due to popularity (which cannot be controlled and is understandable. I don't mean to complain too much). I believe he should at least be in the top 10, if not number 2. I think he's the best rapper alive or dead that I know of, because of his intelligent lyrics, diversity in flow and topics, and his passion for rapping. He put out 3 albums this year, and they were all of good quality. He has a total of around 20, and that means you have a lot of great songs to listen to if you enjoy K-Rino.

If you're looking for where to start, I would recommend his album "Annihilation of the Evil Machine." And if you don't like conspiracy theories in your rap, you do not have to worry too much with K-Rino. He has a few, which happen to be his highly viewed songs, but they make up a small minority of his songs. He has also been rapping since '88 or '83. He's been around for a while, and I hope he gets recognized for the quality I and many others have found in his music. One more thing, it's difficult to pirate his music because he is so unknown, so don't count on that.

15 MF DOOM Daniel Dumile (July 13, 1971 - October 31, 2020), also known as MF DOOM, was a British-born hip hop recording artist who spent most of his life in the United States. He died on October 31, 2020, however, his death wasn't revealed until December 31.

He has more complex type rhymes than Em. No disrespect, I love Em. He was the first rapper I binge-listened to. Though this guy is way better in terms of metaphors and rhyme schemes.

Trash. Em is a way better lyricist. I don't know what you guys are talking about.

Real hip-hop heads know that DOOM is the best there ever was. I doubt that even in 100 years we'll see someone close to him.

16 Aesop Rock Ian Matthias Bavitz, better known by his stage name Aesop Rock, is an American hip hop recording artist and producer residing in Portland, Oregon.

Crazy how far they put Aesop and MF DOOM on these lists, it seems mostly based on popularity, which is incredibly unfortunate. I recommend someone to listen to any song by Aesop, mainstream or not, and you will be impressed by his talent. Every sentence is a story.

I've never heard an emcee use such complex rhyme schemes and a wide vocabulary. I want to die a little simply because Lil Wayne is higher on this list. Aesop Rock was part of a study to find the most lyrically intricate rappers, and he topped the entire list. He used a wider vocabulary than Shakespeare in his own works. He was leagues ahead of Herman Melville (the writer of Moby Dick) and all of Wu-Tang, Eminem, Kendrick, etc. Keep in mind, Aesop Rock is far from my favourite rapper. I have fallen victim to the Top Dawg Ent. bandwagon as of late. But I cannot deny that Aesop Rock is the most lyrically intricate emcee I've ever heard.

17 Drake Aubrey Drake Graham, known professionally as Drake, is a Canadian rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer and actor, born on October 24, 1986 in Toronto, Canada. He started his career on Canadian reality show "Degrassi: The Next Generation".

His flow is flawless, and he is able to tell a story within the opening of the song. He is intelligent and uses smart wordplay, which is very impressive. He can make you laugh, cry, and feel the emotions he feels while rapping. That's a good rapper right there. Don't just push him to the side because he's signed with YMCMB. Honestly, that label is doing no good for him. He is much more smart and witty than anybody out there.

Drake is alright, and he deserves to be higher, but I don't think he deserves to be in the top ten. His lyrics are mediocre, but he does have an impressive flow.

18 Big Pun Christopher Lee Rios, better known by his stage name Big Pun, was an American rapper. Emerging from the underground hip hop scene in The Bronx borough of New York City, in the early 1990s, he was the first Latino rapper to have an album certified platinum as a solo act... read more

He isn't my favorite rapper because Eminem is, but he is the most lyrical one I can think of off the top of my head.

This is just disrespectful! Pun is a top 5, top 10 lyricist of all time! Capital Punishment is an untouchable classic. End of discussion.

Big Pun. I never heard anyone play with words like him. And his flow is unmatched to this day. He should be at the top of this list. R.I.P., Big Punisher.

19 Hishaam Honzo
20 Mehrad Hidden Mehrad Hidden is a Iranian singer, rapper, and producer. He grew up listening and composing rock songs. At age 18, He formed the group Zedbazi with Saman Wilson.

The best in the world, he is god of rappers and has a special style, vocal, and lyrics.

Mehrad is a genius. I used to listen to other rappers out here, but right now, I'm thinking of giving a chance to Mehrad and his great abilities.

Master in all music fields, especially rock and rock & roll, and his perfect voice with marvelous style...! He's the best!

21 Lil Wayne Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. is an American rapper from New Orleans, Louisiana. He was discovered by Brian "Baby" "Birdman" Williams at a very young age, and was signed to Cash Money Records, where he would be one quarter of the rap group Hot Boys. In the years to follow, he would go on to find his own... read more

You don't understand, Lil Wayne isn't "trash." There are several types of raps today, including lyrical, partying, dance rap, and even rap that simply is catchy. He may not be a lyrical genius, but he does make rap that appeals to others, and clearly, he is doing something right with a net worth of over $140 million dollars.

Don't listen to Carter 3. Listen to Krazy, 6 Foot 7 Foot, Glory, etc. He is the only rapper who can throw out 4 minutes of ILL punchlines on a track with an insane flow. His wordplay is one of the best in the game. The only thing bad about him is that his voice is wack.

22 Ben Sharpa

This guy is truly one of the most prolific hip-hop artists to come out of South Africa. His content and delivery are second to none.

23 Yas Yaser Bakhtiari, better known by his stage name Yas, is an Iranian rapper. Yas is one of the most popular rappers in Iran and Middle East. He is also known for his Faravahar pedant, a symbol of Iranian nationalism and Zoroastrianism, that he wears most of the time.

He is like the 2Pac of Persian rap. His lyrics are raw, real, and dark, but always carry a positive message at the end of the day.

24 Lupe Fiasco Wasalu Muhammad Jaco (born February 16, 1982), better known by his stage name Lupe Fiasco, is an American rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur. He rose to fame in 2006 following the success of his debut album, Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor. He also performs as the frontman of rock band Japanese Cartoon... read more

I am a huge fan and have a lot of respect for rappers like Em, Jay, Nas, Dre, Rakim, etc. But as far as pure lyricism goes (discounting everything else like flow, production, rhyme scheme, etc.), Lupe takes the top spot easily. With tracks like Around My Way, Words I Never Said, and American Terrorist, to all the symbolism and complexity in The Cool saga, there is no competition for him!

Lupe Fiasco is a wizard with words. His lyrics are deeper than the Marianas Trench, he is so inspirational, and his songs have an incredible flow. He is the most unique rapper I have ever witnessed. Even though I acknowledge that Eminem, Nas, and a few other rappers are also rap geniuses, the true lyrical king is definitely Lupe Fiasco.

25 Proverb

He is one of the greatest rappers in S.A. He is doing his numbers out there. I'm being for real. If you don't believe me, it means that you've never heard him or you don't know how to rate Proverb.

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