Rap is the most hostile genre in all of music. Before a king of rap is claimed let me explain why this is a discussion. Rap is built around competitiveness un-like pop, whose king is widely acclaimed as Michael Jackson, or rock, where Elvis Presley is appointed king. There is still not a definitive king of rap.
There are up to twenty good candidates for this position. Nas, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and Kanye West are some of the most popular options. Tupac is obviously in the conversation so he will not be brought up. But is there really a greatest rapper of all-time? With so many accomplishments and so much variety in one genre, it’s impossible. Here’s some examples.
Nas’ career starts off with a humongous bang, Illmatic. This album is said to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, album of all time. It Was Written is his second album. While it does not match up with Illmatic, it does not disappoint. Nas has never really fell off skill wise and remains in the talk for the greatest ever.
Kendrick Lamar released ‘Section.80’ in 2011, but it was his Good Kid m.A.A.d City (GKMC) that made him famous. GKMC is also in the debate for the greatest album ever. He then came out with a second classic in 2015, To Pimp a Butterfly. A very jazz-filled, lyrical, amazing album that is just as good as GKMC. Then, in 2017, he did it again with D*MN. Another classic. Kendrick has also won eleven grammys in his career and he’s still going. A legacy that is still growing.
Eminem’s first album with Dr. Dre, the Slim Shady LP, is considered a classic. But it’s his Marshall Mathers LP(MMLP) that most of hip-hop agrees is his best album. The MMLP is also in the conversation of the greatest album ever. He totals three classics and a possible fourth. Fifteen grammy awards have his name on them, he is the first rapper to win one. Eminem is also said to have “broke” raps color barrier. Connecting everybody and putting rap on a larger scale.
Kanye West is not mentioned to be the greatest ever too often. But he pops up seldomly for good reason. He arguably has four classics. Four very good classics. All of which are placed among the greatest albums ever. Those being The College Dropout, Late Registration, Graduation, and 808s & Heartbreak. He also totals a stunning Twenty-One grammy wins. The problem with Kanye West is the fall off. It is widely agreed he hasn’t put out another album of great caliber.
There are so many awards, great albums, and good cases for each rap legend. If the argument about the king of rap is still intense today, there is not a king of rap yet. Only greats. A king is yet to be appointed.