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 hip-hop 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