50 Best New York Rappers of All Time, Ranked

From Jim Jones to Jay-Z and more, here is our ranking of the 50 best rappers from New York.

Complex Original

In the ever-evolving landscape of hip-hop, few places have played a more pivotal role in the genre’s legacy than New York. Thousands of rappers have grown from hip-hop’s birthplace throughout the course of its 50-year history. From Big L, whose gritty bars echoed through Harlem’s streets to the meteoric rise of Pop Smoke that electrified Brooklyn’s drill scene, New York’s rap scene boasts a wide array of voices that have been instrumental to the genre’s evolution and dominance throughout the decades. Others like Nicki Minaj shattered gender norms and redefined female empowerment, while Jay-Z, a self-made artist who elevated himself from Brooklyn’s Marcy Projects to a global mogul, has cemented his name in the history books forever. 

In homage to New York’s impact on hip-hop, the Complex Music team has curated a list ranking 50 of the greatest rappers from the city (and its surrounding areas)—from some of its founding fathers and mothers to young bloods who have injected new energy into the city’s sound in the last five years. Skill, lyrical ability, and impact on the genre and culture in New York and beyond, were key factors in determining who made the cut. There are a few names on this list who may not have originated from New York, but their formative years were spent within the city, and their music certainly channels the essence of New York’s culture and sound. 

Here are our picks for the best New York rappers of all time, so far:

50. Ice Spice

49. Pharoahe Monch

48. Diddy

47. Biz Markie

46. Styles P

45. Jim Jones

44. Grand Puba

43. Melle Mel

42. Sean Price

41. ASAP Rocky

40. Kool Moe Dee

39. N.O.R.E.

38. MC Lyte

37. Ja Rule

36. Kool Keith

35. Ol' Dirty Bastard

34. Foxy Brown

33. GZA

32. Fabolous

31. Fat Joe

30. Kool G Rap

29. Big L

28. Mase

27. Pop Smoke

26. Raekwon

25. Cardi B

24. Q-Tip

23. Run

22. Chuck D

21. Method Man

20. Slick Rick

19. Big Daddy Kane

18. Yasiin Bey

17. Cam'ron

16. Jadakiss

15. Big Pun


13. Ghostface Killah

12. Lil' Kim

11. Prodigy

10. KRS-One

9. Busta Rhymes

8. DMX

7. Nicki Minaj

6. 50 Cent

5. LL Cool J

4. Rakim

3. Nas

2. Notorious B.I.G.

1. Jay-Z

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