Every hip hop head has a top 5.
The list is interchangeable for me. Meaning the list I give today might be slightly different next week.
It’s challenging to limit the list of best emcees to only 5.
I have like 3 or 4 that are consistently in the list and 1 spot I change around. When I tell people I’m a rapper, they always ask who my favourite rappers are.
There are many different top 5’s, so let me be specific and state this list is Primitives top 5 rappers of all-time – in no particular order.
It’s no secret that Em has influenced my style immensely. I saw him live in 2019 with my girl and it was fucking dope. It only makes sense that Eminem is in my top 5.
For those that don’t know: Eminem was the 1st rap I heard. It was 2000 and my next door neighbor gave me a tape of The Slim Shady LP. That tape changed my life.
Hearing rap like that for my introduction to hip hop set the bar pretty high for me in terms of flow and lyricism. Eminem’s 1st 3 albums are the epitome of flow, punchlines and wordplay. For me anyway.
Infinite, The Slim Shady Lp and The Marshall Mathers LP solidified Eminem as one of the greatest emcees of all-time. His impact was felt throughout the world and he is considered by many to be the best rapper of all-time. One thing is for sure: he is an icon and always in my top 5.
The Notorious B.I.G.
Biggie is always in the top 5 conversation. His smooth flow and skills on the mic have inspired countless emcees and to this day he is considered by many to be the G.O.A.T.
I’m a lover of flow and wordplay and Biggie delivers these in abundance. Before his death, Biggie was one of the biggest names in hip hop – if not the biggest. He still is for that matter. Biggie is another icon that always stays in my top 5.
For someone from the 90’s it’s quite mind-blowing over 20 years later people still revere Biggie as the G.O.A.T. His impact in hip hop is felt to this day and a question I hear often is :
‘What would hip hop sound like today is Biggie was still alive?’
It was Written was the 1st album I ever bought – back in the early 2000’s when CD shops were still the rave. I remember I bought that album for $15.
I recall sitting in front of my old stereo with the lyric book listening to track 2 : The Message. Still one of my favourite tracks of all time. Nas’ rhyme patterns, story-telling and that dope beat make that track an absolute banger.
It was Written has to be up there as one of my favourite hip hop albums of all-time but that’s for another list.
Nas 1st album Illmattic is considered one of the greatest albums of all-time – if not the greatest. I prefer It was Written on the down-low.
Nas flow, lyricism and epic story-telling solidify his status as one of the dopest emcees of all-time and he is another that is always in my top 5
This one I’ve squeezed in 2 emcees to one spot but I’m going to allow it. Mos Def is an emcee that comes in and out of my top 5 while Talib Kweli doesn’t make the list for me.. Don’t get me wrong, Talib has dope tracks and albums but he just doesn’t make the list for me..
But together what they created was a one-album timeless masterpiece that captures the vibe of the New York underground in the late 90’s. Black Star only released one album but what an album.
Every track is a banger. The beats are classic East Coast sample heavy boom bap bangers. The album captures the vibe of the street and the underground, with subject matter from philosophy to pop-culture.
Mos Def spits some of the illest verses of all-time and Talib is at the top of his game. Lyricism, flow and subject matter backed by the classic boom bap beats make Black Star a staple in my top 5.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a whack verse from Black Thought. One of the most consistent emcees of all-time: Black Thought has built a legacy through his dope worldplay and lyricism.
With one of the best flows in the game, Black Thoughts’ G.O.AT-status is backed by an extensive catalog of content created as the front man of legendary hip hop band The Roots.
Black Thought is revered as one of the G.O.A.T’s from old heads but is criminally underrated.
His 10 minute masterclass of bars on Flex elevated his status but Black Thought has been rocking mics since the 80’s. Big ups Black Thought.
top 5 conclusion
It’s challenging to choose just 5.
Some others that make it into my top 5 are Method Man, Royce Da 5’9″, Jay Z, Big Pun, Mos Def, Rakim.. there are so many elite emcees that deserve the spot in my eyes.
Like I said:
Every head has a top 5. This is by no means the right list.. or wrong list for that matter. This is just my list.
As always thanks for rocking with ya boi Prim!