Best New York hip-hop: The 50 greatest NYC hip-hop artists

New York is the home of hip-hop. We pay homage to the genre's brightest stars and biggest innovators.

0

Comments

Add +


New York is the hip-hop music capital of the world. You can argue with us all you like, but we will simply respond with geography and genius—the raw statistics that tell you everything you need to know about the city and its still-unfurling legacy. Namely? The Bronx: KRS-One, Big Pun, Slick Rick. Staten Island: Wu Tang Clan. Queens: LL Cool J, Run-D.M.C., A Tribe Called Quest, Nicki Minaj, Nas. Harlem: Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, Mase. Brooklyn: Busta Rhymes, Big Daddy Kane, Foxy Brown, Biggie.

Not only is New York the birthplace of hip-hop, it’s also home to the genre's biggest star today: Jay-Z, whose cultural and fiscal influence is evidenced by his financial investment in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, a venue/basketball team/mass-media enterprise that opened with an eight-night run of sold-out shows from the star.

Assembling this roster, we kept the big-business aspect of hip-hop in mind—so you’ll find such hefty quarterbacks as 50 Cent alongside art-world crazies like Rammellzee. Time Out Music writers voted on the list, and we invited some of our all-time favorite artists and tastemakers—such luminaries as Big Daddy Kane, De La Soul and Peter Rosenberg—to give us their personal picks. And you can listen to the greatest hip-hop songs on our Spotify playlist.

Did we argue over this list? Of course. Are we proud of it? As proud as we are of this city. Let us know what you think.—Edited by Sophie Harris


View the 50 greatest NYC hip-hop artists >>



Users say

45 comments
Carlos M
Carlos M

Finished the list only to talk more shit. and as far as I can see most people commenting are agreeing. this is such a bad list that the writers seriously appear to have no knowledge of hip hop. first 50 Cent doesn't belong in the top 50. most East Coast rappers would agree to that. and second. Jay Z the best rapper ever from New York? get the fuck out of here. it goes 1. Biggie 2. Nas .3 Wu Tang (collectively) 4. KRS _One 5. Rakim 6. Melle Mel. 7 Tribe Called Quest. 8. Jay Z.   

and last P diddy is a producer. not a rapper. 

Carlos M
Carlos M

This list is terrible. I stopped reading after I saw Nicky Minaj and Asap Rocky were ahead of Slick Rick. I think it's terrible that for the past 20 years the people who have written about Hip Hop have no clue about real hip hip. stick to your top 40 hits. 

Bee
Bee

did I miss Tupac? I'm not even a die hard Tupac fan but if he was here he wasn't close enough to the top. Love Jay too, but #1??? Yeah Lauryn Hill and EPMD...totally missed. This is a bit of a mess.

Ed
Ed

Jay Z? Lame - he's a businessman. Puff Whoever? For real? Agree with lots of the comments below, Nas, Rakim Q Tip, EPMD - the list goes on.. whoever put this together clearly missed the point. It's like saying David Beckham's the best footballer in the world - the most famous, yes..

Will
Will

Lauryn Hill??? EPMD??? Kool G Rap??? Where are they? EPMD had several number one albums on the rap charts. Did this person forget that Kool Moe D existed??? I am wondering if the person who made this list actually listens to rap...

Ragga Scum
Ragga Scum

The Father of Hiphop, DJ Kool Herc, is at #47? Without him there'd be no hiphop!

John G
John G

too bad LA is the hip-hop capital of the world. Way better artists in the west

Stephanie
Stephanie

This list is lame. Slick Rick # 49, behind Nicki Minaj and Lil Kim? That's embarrassing. Puff Daddy #7? That's preposterous. Biggie came out with 2 albums and he's # 2!? Ridiculous. Rakim is the greatest! #1. Whoever made this list please kill me for having to endure the pain of comprehending such blasphemy. Then kill yourself. Thank you! Lol

Stephanie
Stephanie

I despise this list. Rakim is #1. Puff Daddy? Nicki? What a joke!

HIP HOP CULTURE WARRIOR
HIP HOP CULTURE WARRIOR

THE DEATH OF ANOTHER ART FORM, PROMPTED BY THE CULTURAL IGNORANCE AND HEGEMONIC CONTROL OF YOUNG WHITE URBAN PROFESSIONALS (YUPPIES), WHO HAVE NEITHER LIVED NOR STUDIED THE TRUE ORIGINS OF THE ART. A DISGRACE..... BE PROUD, FOR YOU HAVE USHERED IN THE DEMISE OF YET ANOTHER BLACK ART FORM.

Marcus
Marcus

Yea whoever made this list can drop dead

RobThom
RobThom

What a joke. This is the media that killed rap music.

Jose
Jose

Makes sense that a this publication would put what he knows at the top. Everyone in Brooklyn knows, BIG over Jay-Z. And Nas is the King of NY. Where is EPMD? #7 should have been Sean Comb's ghost writers and ghost producers. No BIG L??????!!!! No AZ????!!!!!!!

Frank Wright
Frank Wright

Is puffy daddy really number 7 on this list as a rapper?

DJ OFFICER BAD GUY(Twitter @OFFICER_BAD_GUY
DJ OFFICER BAD GUY(Twitter @OFFICER_BAD_GUY

This may dissappoint some of y'all, but this list has a shocking accuracy level that is 'Revenue Realistic'. I am a hardcore Philly Backpacker DJ, fan of lyricists, & underground, & I promise you, this list is jaw-dropping accurate, however, there is a margin of error. I'd give it 3 out of 5 stars. Hip Hop is so Big, a list of 50 doesn't cover an inclusive range of relevant artists, so some will be left out that shouldn't be. I know where you all are coming from. I think the same. You're talking about 'Lyrical skills, flow, lyrical shock value'. That list would include sharp with the skills greats old and new,like Nas, Gza, Vast Aire, Immortal Technique, etc. They mentioned 'Business Stats' which is sales, plus the opinions of some artists. That considered, 'Sales', is where Popular artists with laughable lack of lyrical skills will make the list. That said, if you exclude them, as well as deceased or disbanded artists and artists whose's careers are over, you get this list based on sales and skills of who is still in the game. 1. Jay-Z-Collective Sales 2. Wu-Tang Clan-Collective Sales 3. Nas-Collective Sales 4. KRS-1-Collective Sales 5. Mos Def-Collective Sales 6. Busta Rhymes-Collective Sales 7. Raekwon The Chef-Collective Sales solo career 8. Genius/Gza-Collective sales solo career 9. Mobb Deep-Collective sales 10. Boot Camp Clik(Duck Down Records)-Collective Sales 11. Kool Keith-Collective Sales 12. Talib Kweli 13. Ghostface Killah-solo career collective sales 14. El-P(MC/Producer & Owner of Definitive Jux label-Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock, etc)-collective sales solo career 15. Jean Grae. I made this list of artists based on the first. Go to wiki artist by artist and check their chart placement. I'm not saying this is 100% accurate but its close to how much these artists CDs have sold in sales total so far, with or without radio play. FYI, Tupac was from New York but he marketed himself as a West Coast Artist. This is not a 'Shock value lyricist list.' It's sort of, a how many CDs have they sold so far in total sales. Trust me. This is VERY accurate. Rare.

suggittttttt
suggittttttt

is this guy from New York? single-handedly the most amazing list I've seen. didn't bother reading the reasons for each pick in fear of actually disliking this list anymore. good job homey. lovely job. one suggestion for next time though, Rakim was a better MC than BDK. just saying. suggmahnutzzzzz

Whiterthanmost
Whiterthanmost

This list is quite possibly the worst I've ever seen. To place Slick Rick and Rakim where you did is criminal. ASAP Rocky? Nicki? Good lord. And Puffy in the top ten?! Check please...

Ethan
Ethan

No immortal technique? And nas is G.O.A.T

George
George

Reasonable doubt dropped in 1996....

Watrboi
Watrboi

This list is a funny joke. Nicki Minaj on this list makes it all irrelevant.

Mfuraz
Mfuraz

List might be messed up.But Hov deserves that spot.

Mfuraz
Mfuraz

Best rapper alive........ Best rapper alive........ You better get that dirt of you shoulders. Holla HOVITO

B@SICS
B@SICS

Whoever did this list needs to stick to whatever their primary music genre is because it clearly isn't Hip-Hop or "Rap" as they'd like to coin it. This list is all kinds of f*cked up.

Elias
Elias

Seriously this list is so flawed, Nicki manj but no big l , Rakim Kane but no kool g rap, nas ethered J so how's he higher on the list.

SJG
SJG

Bogus!!! Nas should be # 1. Where is AZ, Fabolous, MC Lyte, Big L? Honestly, I don't think Jay should be in top 5.

SJG
SJG

This list is garbage!!! NAS should be #1. Honestly, I don't even know if Jay should be in top 5. Where is AZ, Special ED, MC Lyte, and Fabolous? Bogus!

Jcon
Jcon

Reasonable Doubt came 1996. Just a heads up.

Fuckthislist
Fuckthislist

Big l nas cormega gunit the firm the lox the list goes on but they got ASAP and Nicky manaj on there lol? Really? This is a bootleg list if you ask me...PAC was fron ny as well.

Coroner
Coroner

Horibble list. Jay-Z shouldn't even be in the top 10. He's maybe the most successful businessman, but not the best rapper from NY.

Jake
Jake

Wow no L....

BIG_G
BIG_G

Excuse my typo. meant to say.... next to each other on that 'LIST"

BIG_G
BIG_G

The Thing i dont understand........ why isnt Slick Rick and Doug E Fresh next to each other on that last. SMH. MAKES NO SENSE. Another thing..... Hip Hop is VERY HARD to judge who is the best. U can "NEVER" say who is the Best of ALL TIME. u "CAN" say who is the best in their era. Record sales DONT make u the Dopest!!! This Subject will alllllways be debatable. Bottom line...... your List SUCKS!!!!

CJ
CJ

Two words about this list: Negro Please. lol.

R2D2
R2D2

Wtf 2Pac wasn't on there and Rakim and Krs-one didn't make the top 10! This is list is a Sin!!!

TZ
TZ

Big Pun in there! YES!!!! & u guyz, stop h8ting on Nicki - u kno u sing her songz when no1s looking!!

kev
kev

horrible list don't ever make a music ranking again in ur life u clearly don't kno anything about ny hiphop

David Vargas
David Vargas

Lil Kim ranked higher than Kool Herc.... your list lost credibility right there. Tuned out shortly after.

Manny Faces
Manny Faces

To be honest, for the most part, this is simply a list of 50 great NYC hip hop artists. While lists are ALWAYS subjective, and NO list can or should be argued, it's pretty clear that this list is more arbitrary than carefully constructed. It's a great list that pays tribute to a great history of artistry from our area, but it is not fully accurate, nor properly indicative of a true hierarchy, and should not have been presented as such.

Enrique
Enrique

This list lost all credibility when Nicky Minaj was on it and placed higher than Salt-n-Peppa, Slick Rick, Sugarhill Gang and Dj Kool Herc. And not to mention that Kool G Rap and Big L didn't make the cut. FAIL!!!!

Enrique
Enrique

This list lost all credibility when Nicky Minaj was on it and placed higher than Salt-n-Peppa, Slick Rick, Sugarhill Gang and Dj Kool Herc. And not to mention that Kool G Rap and Big L didn't make the cut. FAIL!!!!

Nick
Nick

Kool G Rap doesn't crack the Top 50? Pfffffff....

areal
areal

This is what happens when people who don't understand real rap and just look at charts and sales do "rap" list they pick the most popular person Nas is No.1 and Big is No. 2 Jay-z is third at best knock it off

TONY NYC hip-hop artists playlist on Spotify

Tweets by Time Out NY Music