Top 5 Most Influential Rappers - Let's agree to disagree.
No matter who makes it into my Top 5 Most Influential Rappers list, not everyone will agree, but that’s absolutely fine, because we’re not always meant to agree with one another, which is what makes us individuals, yet having the ability to share thoughts, have conversations and debate not only makes us better human beings, it also maintains and encourages that connection we all already have.
For this list I will go in ascending order, so that means I will save, in my opinion, the most influential rapper till last.
5.) Eminem - Slim Shady simply had to be in this top 5 list, as he really did take over the world of rap once he set foot onto the scene.
Marshall Mathers’ music transcended into the music that we still have and hear to this day. The speed he delivered his vocals in combination with his intricate word play was second to none & given the fact he was light skinned (I try not to use colours when describing people), everything was seemingly against him, or, perhaps it would be better to say the odds weren’t in his favour. However, when you have a former N.W.A. member backing you, it instantly adds weight and credibility, but given how naturally skilled Eminem was, it only propelled him even further into the limelight, which he was always going to end up.
Eminem not only paved the way for himself and his affiliate acts, he also paved the way for rappers who weren’t particularly confident performing in this genre due to the amount of rappers in America who were primarily from an African-American background. I think, overall, there were a few more points at play, resulting in why things, such as peoples attitudes, were the way they came to be, but we’ll save that story for another post. The point is, Eminem showed everyone that it doesn’t matter what skin tone you have, as it’s what you say and do that matters most.
4.) Lil Wayne - Let’s face it, between Lil Wayne and Eminem, it was always going to be a close one. The only reason I’ve put Lil Wayne in fourth position is due to his ongoing input/contribution towards music, which is still at an extraordinarily high level considering how many years of service he’s given to the rap industry. You could argue that although Eminem may not have had the consistency/input till this very day in comparison to Lil Wayne, he had a greater impact over a shorter amount of time. However, I believe Lil Wayne’s longevity, in addition to his flawless hit record list, very slightly nudges himself in front.
Now that’s out of the way, I think a lot of people can agree Lil Wayne is an unbelievable talent. When I first learnt that he never writes anything down, in terms of his lyrics, because when he raps in the recording booth it comes straight from the top of his head, I was blown away. In fact, I couldn’t quite get my head around it. Perhaps this is nothing new for you & I’m probably now coming across as a ‘no writing raps down newbie’, but somehow I don’t think I’m alone on this one.
There is no doubt that Lil Wayne is heralded the greatest rapper of all time by a considerable amount of people. And, although I may not agree, I can see where those people are coming from. His style is usually very calm, yet incredibly vivacious & he always paints a humourous picture when he’s, somehow, connecting dots where you didn’t think possible.
Lil Wayne has been through thick and thin & still continues to produce some of the best music this genre has ever had. His countless awards and accolades speak for themselves, the biggest artists of the past 20 years have collaborated with him in some way or form and most importantly, his ability to remain relevant is outrageously impressive.
3.) Dr. Dre - The name says it all folks.. imagine if that’s all I wrote!? Yet, the name does say it all. Dr. Dre is a household name even my Nan is aware of.
Dre. Dre started his career with World Class Wreckin’ Cru, but more notably and widespread was when he was in N.W.A. The group were active until 1991, then in 1992, under Death Row records, The Chronic was released, which made him one of the best selling American artists of the following year. He helped produce Snoop Dogg’s multi platinum album Doggystyle & has been accredited in mentoring other artists at that time, such as Warren G and Daz Dillinger. Soon after those accolades, he left his record label, formed his own & released the infamous album 2001, but it didn’t stop there for Dr. Dre. He then went on to sign and produce music for two of the biggest names in rap, Eminem and 50 cent. He has also produced for 2Pac, Xzibit, The Game and Kendrick Lamar. Dr. Dre has also had some roles in movies & of course, created Beats by Dre. If that’s not enough, then I’m not sure what else will cut the mustard..?
Dr. Dre is a pillar within the rap industry. Regardless of the effect of his 2015 album Compton had, or, shall I say, didn’t have & the fact that he doesn’t write his own lyrics is irrelevant at this point. Dr. Dre has proven he is an immensely talented producer, working with some of the biggest artists, who clearly also has an eye for detail and talent. Dr. Dre doesn’t just solely think about the construct of music, though, as starting his own record label, becoming an actor and creating Beats Electronics has proven he is also an entrepreneur, thus, inspiring an entire generation.
2.) The Notorious B.I.G. - Biggie Smalls may be a sore subject for some, due to his early demise, but he’s my number 2 on this list, so I have to do him justice by telling all that reads this post just how influential this man truly was, especially given the short amount of time he had on this earth.
The Notorious B.I.G. represented East Coast rap more than anybody ever has. He brought his borough, Brooklyn, where he was born and raised, onto the map & highlighted New York’s music scene in this genre when West Coast rap was in full effect and the dominant force.
In 1994 Biggie Smalls released Ready to Die, which became an instant classic and is still highly respected 25 years later. Tragically, The Notorious B.I.G. was murdered whilst in Los Angeles in 1997. His new album, Life After Death, was imminent and was released shortly after the shooting. Again, this album, just like the prior, was loved by nearly all & became the holy grail for some.
Biggie Smalls’ style was smooth, yet blunt. He possessed the quality by where he could still retain his integrity in the midst of whatever message he was trying to convey, especially those were he felt most passionate. Telling a story like most other people can’t is what all great rappers do best & The Notorious B.I.G. was no exception. When you’re sitting at a table with, in my opinion, the godfather of rap, 2pac, taking it in turns to rap with one another not only cements the level of skill one possesses, it also confirms the unquestionable character and soul of said person. Biggie Smalls belonged among the stars & in the stars is where he remains to this day.
1.) 2Pac - The rapper, activist, revolutionary and legend is my number 1 most influential rapper & I think my support for him will be heavily backed.
In my eyes and mind there is no other rapper that comes close to 2Pac. He was a man of many talents and had the spirit of a true leader. His music not only addressed corruption, police brutality, poverty and racial inequality, but he also looked and spoke to his own people, people of similar ethnic backgrounds & has even connected with people who were born on the other side of the world, at a completely different era, reaching out to them like no other musician has ever done.
2Pac was also a supremely talented actor, yet it was his ability to emote and how he got his point across was what made him so special. When we talk about rappers and the influence they’ve had, most of the time it’s associated with developing new and/or current artists for musical purposes, or, sometimes it’s to ignite the flame of entrepreneurship. In the ultra rare occasion, you have someone like 2Pac, which I like to refer to as ‘the modern day Malcolm X’, who comes along and completely alters the balance and shakes things up from, not only a musical standpoint, but a social level as well.
I could write about all the different and unbelievably good albums, songs, awards & achievements 2Pac had, but you could easily search that for yourself. I could describe his style, but by listening to his songs or watching him perform will tell you everything you need to know. 2Pac’s impact and legacy far surpasses any rapper that has ever lived. He remains and will continue to remain a fond memory for many people around the world & will, of course, continue to live on through his music.
Did my top 5 match with yours? If not, comment down below who your top 5 are & the reasons why!
Also, what list do you want to see next?? Put it in the comments section & I’ll see what I can do!
Thank you for reading & I’ll see you on the next.