by Calvin Holmes
This list has been determined by impact, influence, accolades, classic albums, public consensus and more. These artist have released classic projects, have won Grammys and more, have impacted the rap community, have influenced their peers, and are people the generally public knows and understands.
Starting off this list is Jay Z. He has three cemented albums, and many would argue that every album is a classic. He also has 21 Grammy awards and 74 nominations. He was snubbed recently at the 2017 Grammys — he was nominated eight times and didn’t win.
Jay Z has impacted the rap community in a wild way. He was a part of one of the most iconic rap beefs ever. His peers adore, or at least respect, him. Also, he has contributed to many rappers’ careers including Kanye West, Rihanna, J. Cole, Cam’ron and more.
The general public knows, respects, and would agree Jay Z is one of the greatest rappers ever.
Second is Kanye West, he has five cemented classics, and some would argue that out of his eight albums, six are classics. These only count for his individual albums but his collaborations (“Watch the Throne,” “Kids See Ghost”) are also debated classics.
West has won 21 Grammy awards and has been nominated for 68. He is recognized as a musical genius by his peers and has influenced arguably every artist of this generation with his project “808s & Heartbreak” where he pretty much invented the sound that’s being displayed by his peers today.
He has also produced Big Sean, as well as brought Travis Scott and Kid Cudi to a broader audience. His artistry is truly gorgeous and unprecedented in hip-hop.
Third, we have Eminem. He’s by far the best technical and lyrical rapper on this list. He has 15 Grammys and 43 nominations. He has rapped beside the likes of Biggie Smalls and showed him up, as well as Jay Z.
Eminem’s impact in the industry is very evident. He is the only rapper on the list with an Oscar Award. He also is the only rapper to win Best Rap Album for three consecutive LPs. He is lyrically ahead of his peers. He has three debated classics and possibly one that’s cemented. He brought 50 Cent to fruition, as well as other artists.
Coming in fourth is Lil Wayne. He’s an insanely great lyricist and better than the majority of his peers lyrically. He has a huge discography of mixtapes that could be considered classics.
But for the sake of this piece, let’s stick to albums. Wayne has two cemented classics and will forever be perceived as a legend. This runs perfectly into my next spot, which is occupied by two artists.
Coming in fifth are Kendrick Lamar and Drake. Both of these artists have at least two classic albums.
Drake’s mixture of R&B and Rap influenced the culture of rap music in America, while Kendrick’s chants of freedom influenced black minds and his lyrical prowess is unmatched by his peers. Drake currently has a plethora of awards which include three Grammys, and he has one classic album and multiple other projects that are considered great pieces. Kendrick has 12 Grammys and one Pulitzer Prize. He is the only rapper to get this award.
Kendrick also has three classic albums. Kendrick and Drake have been praised by their peers and are very much so respected as artist and even more so creative geniuses. It has been a toss-up between who truly deserves this final spot so it’s only fair I let the reader decide.