Since hip hops birth, there have been thousands of gifted MCs. Despite the large amount, only a handful have been able to stay relevant and refined through multiple decades. Today we will be going over the ten best rappers who have withstood the test of time.
10. Royce Da 5’9
Years In The Game: 21
Despite being around for over two decades now, Royce Da 5’9 has never slowed down as an mc. He is always pushing his artistic boundaries forward as each album he releases gets conceptually stronger than its predecessor. Lyrically, Royce has never taken a day off as he brings heat to whatever track he hops on. With classics spanning from 2003s Build & Destroy to 2018s Book Of Ryan, it is clear Detroit-born mc has aged like wine.
9. Killer Mike
Years In The Game: 20
After emerging from the dungeon family, Killer Mike became known for his show-stealing features on Outkast tracks. Since then, Mike has spent the next two decades building a legendary resume filled with classics. Whether it’s his acclaimed, I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind series or his abstract sounding Run The Jewels albums, this mc keeps reinventing himself.
8. Ghostface Killah
Years In The Game: 27
While not being as good as he once was, Ghostface Killah has still been able to put out classic albums in three decades. From his standout performance on Enter The 36 Chambers to his legendary magnum opus Supreme Clientele, all the way to 2015s Sour Soul Tony Starks is in the rare company of rappers have withstood father time. The only reason he’s not higher on the list is because he has started to decline with poor releases such as 2019s Ghostface Killahs.
7. Kanye West
Years In The Game: 16
Despite being the youngest on the list, Kanye West has more classic albums than almost everyone else here. He has continuously been able to reinvent himself with records such as 808s & Heartbreaks, Yeezus, and Kids See Ghosts. The only reason he’s not any higher on the list is that he has already started to take a bit of a decline with his most recent LP, Jesus Is King.
Years In The Game: 30
No one has been able to stay around as long and also be as dominant as Q-Tip has. In the 90s, He made multiple classics with A Tribe Called Quest following it up, with a successful solo run in the late 2000s, which would ultimately be wrapped up with a phenomenal Tribe reunion album. The only thing which halts Q-Tip from being any higher is the number of years off he took between releases after the 90s.
5. Pusha T
Years In The Game: 18
Eighteen years later and Pusha T is more refined than ever! Starting with his brother No Malice as Clipse, the duo would go on to make a pair of classics in Lord Willin’ and their magnum opus Hell Hath No Fury. After the group’s premature split, Pusha managed to keep himself relevant by becoming Kanye West’s right-hand man alongside being one of the best feature artists in the game. After establishing his name as a solo artist, Push would go on to further his reign with the phenomenal releases of My Name Is My Name, King Push and Daytona.
4. Andre 3000
Years In The Game: 26
Andre 3000 is probably the only musician ever who could be on a list like this despite 15+ years without dropping an album. After putting out three of the best hip hop albums ever in ATLiens, Aquemini and Stankonia 3 stacks was seen as one of the best to ever do at such a young age. As the hype around him was building up, Andre would release his long-awaited solo album, The Love Below. After the project, Andre would stay away from releasing his own material, but he remained relevant by giving his name to artists he supported via features. For the next 17 years, he would build up the best feature catalog ever, which he is still growing to this day.
3. Black Thought
Years In The Game 27
There’s not much to say about Black Thought that hasn’t been said already. He has a near-flawless discography, along with being one of the best lyricists ever. He has put out a handful of classics with The Roots ranging from 1996s Illadelph Halfife to their 2011 magnum opus Undun. Along with his success in The Roots, Thought has further proven his greatness with his amazing feature catalog and his 2018 Streams Of Thought Series.
Years In The Game 24
Since his 1996 debut, Jay-Z has stayed amongst hip hops elite. Constantly reinventing himself with decade-defining classics such as Vol 2, The Blueprint, The Black Album, and American Gangster kept Hov loved and respected by fans and critics alike. After starting to fall off in the mid-2010s, Hov reclaimed his throne with 2017s 4:44. After this album’s success, Jay has kept his hot streak going with amazing features and even a full collaboration with Jay Electronica in A Written Testimony. It doesn’t seem like Hov will stop dominating hip hop anytime soon.
Years In The Game 23
EL-P may be the most consistent rapper of all time. He is the only rapper that has put out classics in four different decades in 1997s Funcrusher Plus, 2002s Fantastic Damage, 2014s Run The Jewels 2 and 2020s RTJ4. The previously listed albums scratch the surface of what he’s achieved as albums like I’ll Sleep When Your Dead and Cancer 4 Cure are phenomenal as well. He is so unique with his abstract sound and complex lyricism. I have no doubts he will hold this title for a while as he is still reaching new artistic and commercial heights.