Paying Homage – 50 of the Greatest Lyricists in Rap

Rap/Hip-Hop often catches flack for stereotypical misogynistic lyrics and profanity, intertwined with obnoxius materialism. As a thought experiment if your not already a Hip Hop head, hooked on clever bars, what if you disregard the preconceived notions and take a different perspective…

For me, the attraction has always the craftsmanship (aka pen game) and the competitive nature underlying a braggadocio style. Rappers are essentially modern evolved poets, spewing the realism of their environments. Waxing poetic with enough rhetorical devices to make an English Teacher quit their job and hop in cipher.

The spitters, the wordsmiths, the OGs, the poets and the verbal assassins: I give you 50 of the Greatest Lyricists in Rap.

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1. Nas

Nasty Nas aka Escobar

Widley regarded, considered a G.O.A.T. by many.

[Verse 1]
Rappers, I monkey flip ’em, with the funky rhythm I be kickin’
Musician, inflictin’ composition of pain
I’m like Scarface sniffin’ cocaine
Holdin’ an M16, see with the pen I’m extreme

Image result for Aesop Rock

2. Aesop Rock

[Verse 1]
Used to draw
Hard to admit that I used to draw
Portraiture and the human form
Doodle of a two-headed unicorn
It was soothin’, 
movin’ his arm in a fusion
Of man-made tools and a muse from beyond
Even if it went beautifully wrong
It was tangible truth for a youth who refused to belong

A study conducted (By Data Scientist Matt Daniels) crowned Aesop Rock with the largest vocabulary in Hip-Hop, even surpassing the works of Shakespeare.

3. Royce Da 5’9″

They say misery loves company, no, I don’t
Ain’t got no time for you to try on no Manolo Blahniks
All I got time to do is go back in time and pose with the Unabomber
Just so I can go back in time a second time to photobomb it

I live by a code of demonic, Illuminati, Obama, Hovanomics
Hold up, hurdles in life, I hop in a Turbo and roll around ’em

4. KXNG Crooked

All the fallen rap gods, that’s the influence I’m under
My shit hit the streets hard as a suicide jumper
So you and I be different, I’m do or die

If you not Mahatma Gandhi you don’t know what to do with my hunger

Image result for Andre 30005. André 3000

I don’t budge, don’t want much, just a roof and a porch
And a Porsche, and a horse and unfortunately
But of course an assortment of torches that scorches the skin, when they enter
Intruders, whose tutors did a lousy job

How’s he God if he lets Lucifer let loose on us?
That noose on us won’t loosen up, but loose enough to juice us up
Make us think we do so much and do it big
Like they don’t let us win, I can’t pretend
But I do admit, it feel good when the hood pseudo-celebrate

Hence, why every time we dine we eat until our belly ache

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6. Eminem

Although Mr. Mathers dropped out in 9th grade, he has a Phd in multisyllabic compound rhyme scheme composition.

[Verse 1: Eminem]
I wanted the fame but not the cover of Newsweek
Oh well, guess beggars can’t be choosey

Wanted to receive attention for my music
Wanted to be left alone in public, excuse me
For wantin’ my cake, and eat it too, and wantin’ it both ways
Fame made me a balloon ‘cause my ego inflated
When I blew, see,
 but it was confusing
‘Cause all I wanted to do’s be the Bruce Lee of loose leaf
Abused ink, used it as a tool when I blew steam
Ooh! Hit the lottery, ooh-wee!

But with what I gave up to get it was bittersweet
It was like winnin’ a used mink
Ironic ‘cause I think I’m gettin’ so huge I need a shrink
I’m beginnin’ to lose sleep: one sheep, two sheep
Going coo-coo and kooky as Kool Keith
But I’m actually weirder than you think, ‘cause I’m—

Image result for mf doom

7. MF Doom

[Verse 1: MF DOOM]
I used to cop a lot but never copped no drop
Hold mics like pony tails tied in bobbalobs
Stop and stick aroundcome through and dig the sound
Of the fly brown 6-0 sicko psycho who throws his dick around
Bound to go three-plat, came to destroy rap
It’s a intricate plot of a b-boy strap
Femstat cats get kidnapped
Then release a statement to the press, let the rest know who did that
Metal Fist terrorists claim responsibility
Broken household name usually said in hostility
Um… what is MF? You silly

I’d like to take “Means to the End” for two milli’
“Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo!” That’s a audio daily double
Rappers need to fall off just to save me the trouble, yo
Watch your own back came in and go out alone, black
Stay in the zone—turn H2O to Cognac

8. Notorious B.I.G. (RIP)

[Verse 1: The Notorious B.I.G.]
It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! magazine
Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine
Hangin’ pictures on my wall
Every Saturday Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl
I let my tape rock ’til my tape popped
Smokin’ weed on Bambu, sippin’ on Private Stock
Way back, when I had the red and black lumberjack
With the hat to match

Remember Rappin’ Duke? Duh-ha, duh-ha
You never thought that hip hop would take it this far

Now I’m in the limelight ’cause I rhyme tight
Time to get paid, blow up like the World Trade
Born sinner, the opposite of a winner
Remember when I used to eat sardines for dinner
Peace to Ron G, Brucie B, Kid Capri
Funkmaster Flex, Lovebug Starski

I’m blowin’ up like you thought I would
Call the crib, same number, same hood
It’s all good (It’s all good)

Image result for jay z lyricist9. Jay-Z

If skills sold, truth be told, I’d probably be lyrically Talib Kweli
Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common Sense
But I did 5 mill’ – I ain’t been rhyming like Common since”

If you question Jay-Z’s lyricist status, read Decoded.


“As an MC I still loved rhyming for the sake of rhyming,

purely for the aesthetics of the rhyme itself – the

challenge of moving around couplets and triplets,

stacking double entendres, speed rapping. If it hadn’t

been for hustling, I would’ve been working on being the

best MC, technically, to ever touch a mic” – Jay – Z

10. Big Daddy Kane

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Image result for mickey factz11. Mickey Factz

Image result for Black Thought12. Black Thought

Black Thought is in a class of his own.

Image result for Tech N9ne13. Tech N9ne

Image result for planet tech n9ne

Tech N9ne’s 20th studio album, Planet is a solid body of work. Talk about longevity and getting better with time.

Related image14. Del The Funky Homosapien

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Del was innovative with his 2000 release of “Deltron 3030”. One of the first full length, science fiction concept albums.

15. Big L (RIP)       

Image result for RZA16. RZA

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17. Lupe Fiasco

We’re all chemicals, vitamins and minerals
Vicodin with inner tubes, wrapped around the arm
To see the vein like a chicken on the barn

Top Cat chat, let’s begin another yarn
That’s flying saucer cheese, or is it chicken parm’?
But roosters don’t fly like boosters don’t buy
So what powers cowards to get them to the top

Just to fall asleep listening to Bach?
The ribbon in the sky is the riddim that I drop

Image result for kendrick lamar pulitzer prize

18. Kendrick Lamar

Image result for pharoahe monch19. Pharoahe Monch

 “Pharoahe is incredible, and has always been ahead of his time since he came out.” – Eminem

Image result for Elzhi

20. Elzhi

Image result for Ice Cube

21. Ice Cube

Image result for Jay Electronica22. Jay Electronica

Image result for Proof Rapper23. Proof (RIP)

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24. Rakim

25. Saul Williams

Image result for cassidy

26. Cassidy

Image result for Immortal Technique27. Immortal Technique

Image result for Talib Kweli
courtesy of

28. Talib Kweli

Image result for joyner lucas29. Joyner Lucas

Related image30. Rass Kass

Image result for Big Pun31. Big Pun (RIP)

Image result for kool keith32. Kool Keith

Image result for busta rhymes33. Busta Rhymes

Image result for token rapper34. Token

Image result for joell ortiz35. Joell Ortiz

Image result for Kool G Rap36. Kool G Rap

Image result for ghostface killah37. Ghostface Killah

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38. Hopsin

Image result for krs one rapper39. KRS-One

Image result for redman rapper40. Redman

Image result for Scarface rapper41. Scarface

Image result for joey badass42. Joey Bada$$

Image result for canibus43. Canibus

Related image44. AZ

Image result for earl sweatshirt45. Earl Sweatshirt

Image result for Common47. Common

Image result for guru rap48. Guru (R.I.P.)

Image result for Papoose

49. Papoose

Image result for raekwon50. Raekwon



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