Top Ten Hip-Hop Artists of the Last 20 Years

Collage of ghetto blasters

There has always been a debate about who the top ten Hip-Hop artist of all time is.
Well, I’m going to be a little different. I’ll list The Top Ten Hip-Hop Artist of The Last 20 Years, but that’s not it. This list will not include groups. Only solo artists and they also must have at least three studio albums, and I will not name Jay Z, Eminem, or Nas, as I feel they have already put themselves in the category with Pac and Biggie.

This top ten Hip-Hop list is not about who is the best lyricist/emcee but also takes into account everything that they have done in the 21st century, including sales, impact, influence, body of work, and yes mic skills. Rappers that debuted before 2000 are eligible, but I will not include their work from before 2000.

Who’s the best? Let’s find out.

10.)Rick Ross

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Port of Miami (2006)
Trilla (2008)
Deeper than Rap (2009)
Teflon Don (2010)
God Forgives, I Don’t (2012)
Mastermind (2014)
Hood Billionaire (2014)
Black Market (2015)
Rather You Than Me (2017)

Key tracks:
The Devil Is a Lie
B.M.F. (Blowin’ Money Fast)
Mafia Music
Idols Become Rivals

Rick Ross has probably faced more criticism than any other rapper over his past and still managed to stay on top of his game. Becoming one of the most consistent and hot rappers since his debut in 2006. Ross’ albums were hot in every way; he personified the current era of gangster rap. No matter if you love him or hate him, Ross has a resume that even 50 cant hate on.


Photo by Jason Campbell

Back for the First Time (2000)
Word of Mouf (2001)
Chicken-n-Beer (2003)
The Red Light District (2004)
Release Therapy (2006)
Theather of the Mind (2008)
Battle of the Sexes (2010)
Ludaversal (2015)

Key tracks:
Move B****.
Southern Hospitality
Roll Out (My Business)
Get Back
Diamond in the Back

The closest thing Ludacris had to a classic album was in 2003, and that was “Chicken-n-Beer.” But consider the fact that was just one in a streak of four multi-platinum albums in the early 2000s, and that made Ludacris one of the biggest music stars in the world. Along with Jeezy and T.I., Ludacris stayed in a fight for the title of “King of the South” and, at times, could lay claim to it. Rapping has taken a backseat because of acting, but Ludacris was an essential figure in southern Hip-Hop.

8.)Nicki Minaj

Photo By Philip Nelson

Pink Friday (2010)
Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012)
The Pinkprint (2014)
Queen (2018)

Key tracks:
Beez in the Trap
Stupid H**.
I’m the Best.
Did It On ‘Em

Depending on how you view Nicki’s career thus far, you’re either impressed or disappointed. Her early mixtapes suggested she might be considered the most celebrated female rapper of all time, and her studio albums haven’t lived up to the hype. Because that hype was kind of unreal anyway. Nicki was also a choice pick for features in the 2010s. The verse she spit on Kayne West’s “Monster” still, to this day, is one of the best rap performances of the generation.

7.)50 Cent

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Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003)
The Massacre (2005)
Curtis (2007)
Before I Self Destruct (2009)
Animal Ambition (2014)

Key tracks:
In Da Club
How We Do
Hustler’s Ambition
How to Rob
I Get Money

From a studio album standpoint. 50 Cent’s peak period lasted only two albums, and what a period it was no matter how short. Between 2003 and 2005, no rap artist was more prominent than 50 Cent, maybe ever. His impact also goes further than that before he signed to Shady/Aftermath, he helped revolutionize the hip-hop mixtape with the G-Unit releases, and that crowned him the underground king.



I’m serious (2001)
Trap Musik (2003)
Urban Legend (2004)
King (2006)
T.I. vs. T.I.P. (2007)
Paper Trail (2008)
No Mercy (2010)
Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head (2012)
Paperwork (2014)
Dime Trap (2018)

Key tracks:
U Don’t Know Me.
What You Know
About the MOney
Whatever You Line
Top Back
Rubberband Man

You could argue all day about who “invented” trap music, me I say Gucci Mane gets that credit. T.I. was the first to perfect it, and there hasn’t been anyone to do it better since. His debut album “I’m Serious” was Kind of a disappointment. He made up for it in 2003 with “Trap Musik” and never looked back. What came next was seven platinum and gold albums, six top-10 hits two number 1 hits along with a stable movie career. Furthermore, T.I. was the king of the south when the south had it for the Hip-Hop universe.

5.)Kendrick Lamar

Aftermath/Interscope Records

Section.80 (2011)
Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012)
To Pimp A butterfly (2015)
Damn (2017)

Key tracks:
m.A.A.d City.
Backseat Freestyle
King Kunta

Kendrick Lamar is one of the greatest rappers alive, and you can’t deny that. What keeps him from the top of this list is TIME. Since 2011, he has released four brilliant studio albums, and three of those are considered by many to be instant classics. It seems like he is just getting started because “Damn” became the first album that wasn’t classical or jazz to earn a Pulitzer Prize.


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Cole World: The Sideline Story (2011)
Born Sinner (2013)
2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014)
4 Your Eyes Only (2016)
KOD (2018)

Key tracks:
Lights Please
I Get Up
Lost Ones
Return of Simba
Cole Summer

J. Cole, just like Kendrick is also top-five in Hip-Hop at the moment, and his studio albums haven’t always lived up to that moniker. Cole marches to the beat of his drum, all but shunning collaborations on his work in recent years, and that might be a good thing because he would outshine most rappers. He also has done just fine all on his own, while releasing his best album in 2018 “KOD.”


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So Far Gone (2009)
Thank Me Later (2010)
Take Care (2011)
Nothing Was the Same (2013)
Views (2016)
Scorpion (2018)

Key tracks:
God’s Plan
Nice For What
Started From the Bottom
Tuscan Leather
AM in Toronto
Back to Back

Like it or not, Drake has been the face of Hip-Hop for the majority of the past decade. With a hybrid of rap trends and styles. You could also easily say that Drake should be at the top of this list. That depends on how much weight you put on the fact that he hasn’t released a classic album. Drake is one of the biggest pop stars during a singles era driven by steaming services. Plus, he’s also still rising.

2.)Kanye West

The College Dropout (2004)
Late Registration (2005)
Graduation (2007)
808’s & Heartbreak (2008)
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
Yeezus (2013)
The Life of Pablo (2016)
Ye (2018)

Key tracks:
Jesus Walks
Through the Wire
All Falls Down
n***** in Paris

Mic skills aren’t the only thing needed when it comes to this list. But that is one thing that kept him from the top of the list. There is also another thing, And I will speak on that later. He’s number two because he has one of the most exceptional rap catalogs in the history of Hip-Hop. Kaynes’ worst album was 808’s and heartbreak, and yet was the most influential hip-hop album of the last 15 years.

1.) Lil Wayne

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Lights Out (2000)
500 Degreez (2002)
Tha Carter (2004)
Tha Carter 2 (2005)
Tha Carter 3 (2008)
Rebirth (2010)
I Am Not a Human Being (2010)
The Carter 4 (2011)
I Am Not a Human Being 2 (2013)
Free Weezy Album (2015)
Tha Carter 5 (2018)

Kay tracks:
A Milli
6 Foot 7 Foot
Right Above It
Let the Beat Build
Do Is What We Got

We still take the mentor over the pupil. It wasn’t long after Wayne began shouting “Best Rapper Alive” in his songs that he lived up to the moniker. The streak that he put on from 2003 to 2008- fueled by he “Tha Carter” series and a collection of classic mixtapes – is one of the most amazing things to marvels at in Hip-Hop history. I mean, his body of work is just outstanding and unmatched. Just about any mainstream rapper, you will come across will also tell you that Wayne is one of their Idols.

This list is just my opinion I would love to know what everyone thing and if you have any input anyone you would have added. Thank you for reading, Also check out KGSS live online radio on the social site and also the spreaker app.