Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known by has stage name 2Pac, has sold more than 75 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. Violence, hardships in inner cities and racism are some of the main themes of his albums. 2Pac has been listed and ranked as one of the greatest artists of all time by many magazines, including Rolling Stone.
Best works: Keep Ya HeadUp, 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted, Temptations
The Notorious B.I.G.
Christopher George Latore Wallace, known as The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls, became a central figure in the East Coast hip hop scene with the release of his debut album “Ready to Die” in 1994. Wallace was known for his “easy flow,” dark lyrics and storytelling abilities through his music. He has sold more than 17 million records in the United States.
Best works: Kick in the Door, Hypnotize, Big Poppa
Andre Romelle Young or Dr. Dre, has produced albums for and overseen the careers of many rappers, including Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent. He is credited as a key figure in the popularization of West Coast G-funk. This style of rap is characterized aby synthesizer-based beats. With a net worth of $550 million, he was ranked as the second richest figure in the American hip hop scene by Forbes.
Best works: No Diggity, Let Me Ride, Himself
LL Cool J
James Todd Smith, better known as LL Cool J (short for Ladies Love Cool James), has released 13 studio albums and two greatest hits compilations. His second album, “Bigger and Deffer,” sold three million copies in the United States and spent 11 weeks as #1 on Billboard’s R&B albums.
Best works: Mama Said Knock You Out, I Can’t Live Without My Radio, I Need Love
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, better known as Nas, has released eight consecutive platinum albums and sold over 25 million records worldwide since 1994. His musical career began in 1991 when he was featured on Main Source’s track “Live at the Barbeque.” His debut album “Illmatic” initially received acclaim from the hip hop community. It is frequently ranked as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time and has made Nas internationally known.
Best works: Surviving the Times, Less Than an Hour, It Ain’t Hard to Tell
William Michael Griffin Jr. also known as Rakim, is widely regarded as one of the most influential and most skilled MCs of all time. His album “Paid in Full” was named the greatest hip hop album of all time by MTV in 2006. Known as a natural lyricist, Rakim set the blueprint for future rappers and helped to secure the reputation of the East Coast’s lyrical technique.
Best works: Paid in Full, Don’t Sweat the Technique, R.A.K.I.M
Shawn Corey Carter, known as Jay-Z, is one of the most financially successful artists and entrepreneurs in America. He was sold more than 75 million records and has won 19 Grammy Awards for his work. He holds the record for the most number one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200 with 13 albums.
Best works: Hard Knock Life, Ni**as in Paris feat. Kayne West, Empire State of Mind feat. Alicia Keys
Marshall Bruce Mathers III, better known as his stage name Eminem and his alter ego Slim Shady, has sold more than 155 million albums and singles. He is one of the world’s best-selling artists of all time. Eminem is praised for his complex rhyming schemes, ability to enunciate clearly and his syncopation.
Best works: Lose Yourself, My Name Is, Love the Way You Lie feat. Rihanna
Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. or Lil’ Wayne has recorded six albums, multiple mixed tapes and collaborations with other artists. His sixth album, “Tha Carter II” became his most successful album to date. Released in 2008, his first-week sales reached over one million copies in the United States. His defining trait as a rapper is his wit. Wayne has impressed listeners by crafting punchlines no matter how “out there” the logic is. Many of those lines have become iconic.
Best works: 6 Foot 7 Foot, How to Love, She Will feat. Drake
Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. or Snoop Dogg, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and later Snoop Lion, has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. His debut album “Doggystyle” became platinum in 1994. It included several hit singles like “What’s My Name” and “Gin & Juice.” No other rapper’s lexicon has made its way into mainstream speech. Words like “shizzel” can be attributed to Snoop’s force in the West Coast hip hop scene.
Best works: Drop it Like it’s Hot, Gin & Juice, Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang