What rapper would be the most difficult to beat in a Verzuz match?
Ever since Timbaland and Swizz Beatz began the battle series in early 2020, that’s been the question on everyone’s mind. Every few weeks, a new debate lights up social media about potential matchups. Just a couple of weeks ago, a cross-generational conversation about Jay-Z and Lil Wayne broke out online, and everyone argued about whether Hov is actually unbeatable or not.
Verzuz is a matchup-based series, and we all have dream battles we’d love to see, but it’s time to settle a debate about the best rappers who could participate in a match someday. Borrowing a page out of the book of the sports media world, the Complex Music team has put together a set of power rankings.
Let’s lay down some guidelines first. For the purposes of these rankings, we’re only considering the work of solo rappers (groups, producers, and songwriters don’t qualify for this specific list). For artists who rap and produce, like Kanye West or Dr. Dre, we’re only taking into account the songs they actually rapped on themselves. This decision was made in an effort to fairly compare everyone across the same categories, avoiding hypothetical situations where a rapper-producer like Kanye could play songs he produced for Jay-Z, against someone like Lil Wayne who could only play his own material.
As we ranked each artist, we took a few things into consideration. First, we looked at their catalog. How many hits do they have? How easily could they put together a 20-song Verzuz set? Numbers aren’t everything, though. Just because someone has more Hot 100 hits than another, it doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily be ranked higher. We considered how much range each artist has, and how well-suited their catalog is to the battle format. An artist who can only tap into one lane might not fare as well against an opponent with a more diverse catalog. The nostalgia factor of Verzuz is important, too, so we asked questions like: How has their music aged? How will their songs land when they’re played in a Verzuz setting in 2022? Finally, in the post-Jadakiss era of in-person battles that take place in front of live audiences, we also considered stage presence and imagined how each of these artists would actually approach a Verzuz match.
It’s important to note that this isn’t a ranking of the best rappers of all time. We’re specifically looking at living rappers who could participate in Verzuz, and ranking them based on how their career, catalog, and stage presence would translate to a battle. Without further ado, it’s time to get into the power rankings. Here are Complex’s picks for the top 30 rappers who could compete in Verzuz.