The best MC's

Edgar López By Edgar López, 15th Oct 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Music>Hip-Hop & Rap

My list of the best Hip-Hop MC's of all time in my opinion.

10 - 6

10. Big L
Born, Lamont Coleman, Better known for his stage name "Big L", on May 30, 1974 & passed away February 15, 1999 due to a drive-by shooting. He started writing rhymes in 1990 and recorded various demos in 1991, some of which were featured on his debut album "Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous." One of the best MC's because he was one of the most auspicious storytellers in hip hop history.

9. RA The Rugged Man
Born Richard Andrew Thorburn, better known by his stage name "R.A. the Rugged Man." Started his career at the age of 12. Building a reputation locally for his lyrical skills. At age 18 he signed with Jive Records but eventually parted ways, and due to that, his first album titled "Night Of The Bloody Apes" was never released. By combining the authenticity of his undeniably rugged life with his undisputed mic skills and understanding of the genre as a Hip-Hop historian, his music has both survived and thrived off the strength of bootlegs and word of mouth through high profile collaborations and high quality official releases made him one the the best. Setting a standard for “Real MCs” that few have ever attempted to match. Frequent collaborator "The Notorious B.I.G." was once quoted in reference to R.A. by stating “And I thought I was the illest.”

8. NAS
Born Nasir Bin Olu Dara Jones on September 14, 1973. Better known for his stage name "Nas," started his musical career in 1991 when he was featured on Main Source's track "Live at the Barbeque". Nas has been praised for his ability to create a devastating match between lyrics and production, as well as creating a potent evocation of life on the street, and he has even been compared to Rakim for his lyrical technique. Nas created a style of rapping that was more conversational than ever before.

7. Canibus
Born Germaine Williams on December 9, 1974. He began rhyming in the early-'90s under the name Canibus Sativa. Canibus has been credited with being one of the best lyrical freestyle rappers and has few equals in that area of rapping. In fact many rap magazine say the only rapper that could compete with Canibus in a freestyle battle is Eminem. Mostly known for his lyrical prowess and his raspy voice. Through the early 2010s, he retained a cultish following and continued to release albums independently of the majors, occasionally firing off more of the battle raps for which he is most well-known.

6. GZA
Born Gary Grice on August 22, 1966. Better known by his stage name, "GZA" is a founding member of the hip hop group, the Wu-Tang Clan. He is mostly known as the group's "spiritual head", being both the oldest and the first within the group to receive a record deal. His lyrics are found to be the second largest vocabulary in hip hop music. Grice developed an interest in hip-hop by attending block parties as a child in the early 1970s. GZA is currently working to improve science education in New York City through a partnership with Teachers College, Columbia University Professor, Christopher Emdin and website, Rap Genius. This initiative motivates young people to learn science through creating raps and engaging in a rap competition.

5 - 1

5. Krs-One
Born Lawrence "Krisna" Parker on August 20, 1965. Better known for his stage name, Krs-One is one of the most influential artist, he is also a politically active musician having started the "Stop the Violence Movement", after the death of Scott La Rock, and the Temple of Hip Hop, as well as addressing political issues in his music. Krs left home at the age of 16 to become an MC, living in a homeless shelter, where he met Scott Sterling. Together with Sterling, they created "Boogie Down Productions." KRS One has also founded two other Hip Hop activist non-profit organizations including Human Education Against Lies (1991) and The Temple of Hip-hop (1996). The Temple of Hip Hop is a ministry, archive, School, and Society (M.A.S.S.) founded by KRS-One. Its goal is to maintain and promote Hiphop Culture. The Temple of Hip Hop maintains that Hip Hop is a genuine political movement, religion, and culture, as it has been accepted by the United Nations as a religion.

4. Big Daddy Kane
Born Antonio Hardy on September 10, 1968 in Brooklyn, New York. He started his career in 1986 as a member of the rap group the "Juice Crew." He undisputedly defined the term “lyricist” in the world of hip-hop. Along with the lyrical ingenuity he brought to the genre, he also introduced innovative live performances as well, he is also widely considered to be one of the most influential and skilled MCs in hip hop. Widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers during the "golden age" of hip hop (1986–1997), Kane's experimentation with R&B beats and his alignment to the Five Percent Nation drew criticism. Kane revolutionized hip-hop fashion and the way hip-hop shows were performed.

3. Kool Moe Dee
Born Mohandas Dewese on August 8, 1962 in Manhattan, New York City, New York. He was one of the first rappers to earn a Grammy Award and was the first rapper to perform at the Grammys. Participated in the first "battle rap" of all time in 1982 at The Harlem World in Manhattan, when he and fellow Treacherous Three member L.A. Sunshine went on stage after rapper Busy Bee had finished, and verbally attacked Busy Bee. He also participated in The Stop The Violence Movement single “Self Destruction.” In addition, he was part of the Quincy Jones project, “Back on the Block.”

2. Kool G Rap
Born, Nathaniel Thomas Wilson on July 20, 1968. Nathaniel began his career in the mid-1980s as one half of the group "Kool G Rap & DJ Polo" and as a member of the "Juice Crew." He is often cited as one of the most influential and skilled MCs of all time, and a pioneer of mafioso rap/street/hardcore content and multisyllabic rhyming. He has also been cited as a major influence to some of hip-hop's most critically acclaimed figures such as The Notorious B.I.G. & Nas, as well as many underground rappers. MTV describes Kool G Rap as a "hip-hop godfather", adding that he paved the way for a lot of MCs who we would not have heard of otherwise.

1. Rakim
Born, William Michael Griffin, Jr. on January 28, 1968. He is One half of the golden age of hip hop, he is widely regarded the most influential and most skilled MCs of all time. Rakim, then known as Kid Wizard, was initially introduced to the Nation of Islam in 1986, and later joined The Nation of Gods and Earths, and took the name Rakim Allah. Rakim's rhyming deviated from the simple rhyme patterns of early 1980s hip hop. His free-rhythm style ignored bar lines and had earned comparisons to Thelonious Monk. Rakim was one of the first to demonstrate advantages of a writerly style, as with for instance his pioneering use of internal rhymes and multisyllabic rhymes. Not only did he making it as a Solo artist, he was also part of, one of the best Duo's in History, Eric B & Rakim. In 1985, he met Queens "DJ Eric B", whose intricately constructed soundscapes made an excellent match for Rakim's more cerebral presence on the mic. With the release of their debut single, "Eric B. Is President," in 1986, Eric B. & Rakim became a sensation in the hip-hop community, and their reputation kept growing as they issued classic tracks like "I Ain't No Joke" and "Paid in Full." Thus making numer one on my list.

Some of my Honorable mentions would be Tupac, Eminem, Biggie, King Los & Andree 3000


Hip-Hop, Rap

Meet the author

author avatar Edgar López
I'm a random person with my writing. So, yeah.

Share this page

moderator Mark Gordon Brown moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar Jeramey
16th Oct 2015 (#)

Excellent List! While I also love East Coast golden age rap above all else, I do have to say your list is a little too NYC-heavy. I don't have a problem with it, but you may catch some heat from it!
Personally, I think KRS and Kool Moe Dee are a little too high, and there are some other names I would throw in (Big Pun, Black Thought, Last Emperor, Mos Def, Guru) but all in all a very tight list! Thanks for the article!

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?