As hip-hop continues to expand worldwide, sometimes new artists stray away from the art form’s scholarly roots. Here is a list of five of the best rap lyricists of all time.
1. Kendrick Lamar, Representing Compton in Greatness
Eminem recently declared Kendrick to be “the very top, top tier of lyricists.” With songs like “Blacker the Berry” off of the epic album, To Pimp A Butterfly, it is difficult not to agree.
2. MF Doom, “Mad Hymn Hidden Gems”
Vox analyzed why MF Doom is spoken of so highly for his skills as a lyricist. When it comes to rhymes, idiosyncrasy, and firm narrative structure; this great is in a mad villainous league all to his own. He has also inspired many other great lyricists like Mos Def.
3. 2Pac, The Rose That Grew From Concrete
2Pac commands language to suit his needs. He is a poet. In his book of poetry (published posthumously), The Rose that grew From Concrete (1999), Tupac writes, “How can I be in the depths of solitude/when there R 2 inside of me/This Duo within me causes/the perfect opportunity/2 learn and live twice as fast/as those who accept simplicity.” His confidence as a poet is apparent in songs like “How Do U Want It” and “Ratha Be Ya N****”.
4. Slick Rick, OG Master Wordsmith
Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story“ is a narrative masterpiece. “Sirens sounded, he seemed astounded/Before long the lil’ boy got surrounded/He dropped the gun, so went the glory/And this is the way I have to end this story.” Slick Rick knows hip-hop has conscience and purpose.
5. A Tribe Called Quest, Relax Yourself
ATCQ has thoughtful lyrics that fit every soulful mood. The introduction to “Bonita Applebum” reveals the various dimensions of their lyrical landscape. “Do I love you? Do I lust for you? Am I a sinner because I do the two?”
Did your favorite hip-hop lyricists make the top five? What do you think makes for a good rap song? Let us know in the comments!