Monday, September 25, 2017
(Part 2) Hip – Hop Legends: Top 25 Rap Stars of All Time
By Brandon I. Brooks (Entertainment Editor)
Published April 29, 2010

Hip – Hop Legends (Part II): Top 25 Rap Stars of All Time

By Brandon I. Brooks
Sentinel Entertainment Editor

Last week the Sentinel put together a list of the ‘Top 10 Rap Stars of All-Time.’ Recap (visit for article titled “Hip-Hop Legends: Top 10 Rap Stars of All-Time”)

1.) 2Pac

2.) Notorious B.I.G.

3.) Jay-Z

4.) Ice Cube

5.) LL Cool J

6.) Snoop Dogg

7.) NAS

8.) Eminem

9.) 50 Cent

10.) Lil Wayne

This week the Sentinel will continue the “hip-hop water-cooler debate” by completing the top 25 list (11-25). To recap, the Sentinel’s top list was compiled with five categories in mind:

1.) Lyrical Content

2.) Popularity

3.) Swagger

4.) Sales (Sound Scan)

5.) Legacy

I know many of you hip-hop junkies are angry that certain names didn’t make the first cut so I would urge you to comment on our website ( and let us know what your top 25 list would be.

This week, the Sentinel (Entertainment section) website will feature special hip-hop polls based upon the current debate so I would urge you to vote log on and compare your answers with the Sentinel community.

The “Hip Hop Legends” series will continue next week as the Sentinel will compile a list of the ‘Top 10 Rap Groups of All-Time,’ along with the ‘Top 10 Hip-Hop Producers of All-Time.”

In the meantime, let us complete the hip-hop legends debates about who are the greatest rap stars of all-time. Let the arguments begin!

Top 25 Rap Stars of All-Time (11 -25)

11.) Will Smith “The Fresh Prince”


– Partnering with his childhood friend DJ Jazzy Jeff, the Fresh Prince took “crossing-over” to another level when he landed the hit sit-com “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. No one could have dreamt that a friendly rapper from West Philadelphia would become the biggest and most sought after star in Hollywood.

12.) Eazy – E

Eazy E

– Regardless if Eazy -E wrote his lyrics or not, he was the voice to get the point across. His legacy is defined as being the first true record executive and entrepreneur of hip-hop. Many critics forget that Eazy-E was the driving force behind Ruthless Records and the success of Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony. And don’t forget he was the creative mind behind N.W.A., the greatest hip-hop group of all-time. Eazy went from Compton to the White House and never switched up. Who else could pull off a jerry-curl? I wish I could have seen Ronald Reagan’S face when Eazy came to the White House with his locs on. PRICELESS!

13.) Dr. Dre


– Who else can put out an album every 10 years and receive the same hype as though he were fresh out of high school. Dr. Dre is to rap music as Mozart is to classical music. Every genre has its composer and Dr. Dre is hip-hop’s orchestra. Who makes more timely and relevant records than Dr. Dre? He might not write all of his lyrics or compose every beat he co-sings, but the respect comes from the ear and the perfection a Dre song receives.

14.) Queen Latifah


– Many people forget that Queen Latifah started as an emcee. It’s funny because if you ask someone that doesn’t know about her for her rap career, they would swear Queen Latifah was her actual government name. At age nineteen, Latifah hit the scene with her first album “All Hail the Queen” and gained national notoriety with her third album “Black Reign,” which ultimately went gold. Representing for the ladies, Latifah became a force to be reckoned with as she started her own company Flavor Unit and is credited with discovering Naughty By Nature. She is an accomplished actor and public figure as she is a great role model for women of all colors. I mean who else could be the “face” of Cover Girl cosmetics and garner an Oscar nomination (Chicago) on her spare time. Respect the Queen!

15.) Master P


– P’s label name, “No Limit” proved to be more than just a slogan. Master P took a vision of an independent record label and turned a $10,000 investment into a multi-million dollar empire. At one point, Master P was putting out a new album every month and each project would go at least gold. The record deal P cut with Priority Records will never be given to an independent label owner because of how successful Master P became. He took the Scarface, Rap-A-Lot Records motto and made it make more CENT$!

16.) Scarface


– Scarface is “The Godfather of Rap” if there was ever one. You can thank Scarface for the birth of southern hip-hop as he was the driving force behind one of the greatest rap groups of all time – Geto Boys. He is vital to hip-hop history because his label Rap-A-Lot Records proved to the industry that Independent rap labels can succeed with hip-hop music.

17.) DMX


– DMX came in the rap game and left an imprint that will never be forgotten. His debut album “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot” went four times platinum and paved the way for the Ruff Ryder crew. DMX like many great rappers was also a great actor and performer. The X-man crossed over to film and is best known in the hip-hop world for his role in the cult classic film “Belly,” which also co-starred rapper NAS.

18.) Kanye West


– Have you ever head of the “It” factor. Well, Kanye West has the “It” factor because all eyes are on him when he enters the room. This producer turned rapper has become one of the most well-known entertainers in any genre of music. He is most known for his outlandish public outcries, none more famous than the famous Taylor Swift award interruption. He has a unique fashion sense and continues to push the envelope for a culture that spreads beyond music.

19.) Busta Rhymes

– Busta Rhymes is hands down the best live performer in rap history. If you haven’t seen Busta Rhymes on stage than you haven’t been to a rap concert. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool to see someone like Jay-Z live and witness his professionalism but sometimes you just have to rock out. Busta Rhymes live, is constant pandemonium. There is nothing like witnessing Busta on-stage rocking out with his side-kick Spliff Star.  Even if you don’t like mosh-pit atmosphere, you will feel Busta Rhymes energy after listening to him spit a verse.

20.) T.I.


– Sometimes it just your time to shine. T.I. is arguably one of the greatest rap stars of all-time because he calls himself “King” and no one has yet to challenge his statement. T.I. became nationally known with his second project “Trap Muzik” followed by “Urban Legend” which instantly put T.I. in the ranks with the greats. His slow flow and delivery are well received by fans and critics as he is coined as the “Jay-Z of the South.” To further his assault on popular culture, T.I. has successfully crossed over to film. He is most known for his role in the Hollywood Blockbuster “American Gangster.”

21.) Method Man


– If there was ever a rap artist to appear in the dictionary next to the word “rapper,” Method Man would be the logo for the sport. I feel like Method Man is to rap music, what Jerry West is to basketball. You always want to know what Method Man is up too or what he thinks. His opinion is validated by his rap career and his affiliation with the Wu Tang Clan. That’s why Biggie Smalls and 2Pac both featured Method Man on their albums because Method Man validates the next rapper. That’s how “real” he is in the rap world. Just ask Redman who made a career as Method Man’s rap partner. The dynamic duo has become the “black Cheech and Chong.”

22.) Too Short


– If you are a true hip-hop junkie then you most definitely have some Too Short in your collection. Just ask Kendra, the PlayGirl from the hit series “The Girl Next Door.” She even asked the legendary raunchy rapper to supply her with the introduction song to her hit reality series “Kendra.” Too Short is most known for his raunchy and sexual lyrics. No word is known more from Too Short than the explicit word, “B****.” He continues to be featured with the in-crowd of rap music and has basically become the “Pimp and Hoe Delegate”.

23.) E-40


– E-40 is the most underrated rap star of all-time. No one truly understands how relevant he is and will always be to the culture. E-40 is THE SWAGGER of rap music. Many critics don’t recognize that Notorious B.I.G. took his whole persona from E-40. His unique talk and terminology has spread around the world and back and affected all cultures. I mean who else can write their own dictionary (E-40’s Book of Slang) and have it published.

24.) Big Pun


– Big Punisher was the first Latino rapper to go Platinum (Capital Punishment). I still argue in many circles that Big Pun is the greatest lyricist to ever touch a microphone. His word play and cleverness were ahead of the rap game by 20 years. If you go back and listen to his classic album “Capital Punishment,” you will hear a raw emcee with so much untapped talent. I hate to hate on Fat Joe but his career has been based on is the legacy of Big Pun (similar to Puff Daddy making a living on Notorious B.I.G.). Pun was raw with his delivery and unlike any rapper we ever heard or will ever hear in history.

25.) Ludacris


– The best way to describe Ludacris is he is the “rappers, rapper.” Luda is the guy that everybody loves to “bump.” He can out rap the best of the best. I always tell people during hip-hop debates that Ludacris arguably has the best “delivery” of any rapper. Similar to Biggie Smalls delivery but with a Southern appeal, Ludacris has a way of rapping over any style of beat. His voice demands your attention and it’s easy to remember his verses. Ludacris’ cadence and style are beyond comparison for that reason alone. You remember his words. Ludacris is the only rapper who can be featured on an R&B song and sound better than the singer. He just knows how to blend-in.


Categories: Music

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