The ten greatest Southern rappers of all time

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It took a long time for the South to be recognized as a major player in the hip-hop scene, and it still has a ways to go to be held in the same regard as the East and West coasts, but with the emergence of a new breed of countrified rappers such as Big K.R.I.T., Future, Yelawolf and 2 Chainz (and even hyper-influential artists like Harlem's A$AP Rocky, whose flow is reminiscent of the old Houston flow and whose style strongly evokes that of Three 6 Mafia by proxy of SpaceGhostPurrp), the Southern brand of hip-hop is clearly on the rise. They say that to understand where something's going, you need to understand where it came from. Continue on for the ten greatest Southern hip-hop rappers.

See also:
- The ten most enigmatic figures in hip-hop
- The 50 best rap lyrics of all time: Complete list
- The 50 worst rap lyrics: The complete list

10. Three 6 Mafia
Founded by Juicy J, Lord Infamous and DJ Paul, Three 6 Mafia cultivated one of hip-hop's most distinctive and alluring aesthetics -- dark and exciting, disturbing yet entrancing. Triple 6 has been making music almost as long as Southern hip-hop has been viable, but the crew didn't release an official studio album until 1995. Eventually, the group's image softened a bit, and it wasn't until 2000 that they blew up in a major way with "Sippin' on Some Syrup," which helped reignite hip-hop's on-again-off-again love affair with lean, coincidentally, just months before the death of DJ Screw. Three 6 also earned the respect of the most dignified of audiences by winning an Academy Award in 2006 for Best Original Song for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," from Hustle & Flow, which featured another Southern stalwart, Ludacris.

9. T.I.
T.I. might have the smoothest, most effortless flow in all of hip-hop: He sounds like he's just talking, but he's also rhyming and clowning his haters at the same damn time. The key is an almost imperceptible assonance that Tip uses to string out his thoughts, which indicates a tremendous amount of effort on his part. In other words, he works hard to make it look so easy. His sophomore effort, Trap Muzik, popularized the style that has now transcended rap and captured a large portion of the EDM market, and T.I., though his career was derailed by an eleven-month prison sentence in 2010, has been making stellar records ever since, with four going platinum. Last year's Trouble Man: Heavy Is the Head continues to be a fixture.


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23 comments
DocHollowDay
DocHollowDay

Lil Wayne should never be on any "greatest" list, unless its: "Top 10 Greatest Disgraces to rap and black people"

elbamito
elbamito

subjective but very satisfying overall, UGK, OutKast, Geto Boys, Lil Wayne in first 5! I'm proud of this!

John Dalby
John Dalby

There is such a thing as great southern rappers??? Or great rappers period??? Weird...

clos15
clos15

@guestoo  I would have to agree that DJ Screw isnt a rapper but he did do a huge part for southern rap. This list is missing Z-ro and Chamillionaire in my option way ahead of Missy Elliott. I also feel the rankings are out of order but its a great list and understand the changes @dave.herrera  had to make.

Sean McGuire
Sean McGuire

that list sucks. besides ugk, gheto boys, and some ti the rappers are mostly trash. where is slim thug or z-ro?

guestoo
guestoo

DJ Screw didn't even produce original music, much less rap. How about Z-Ro instead??? And no GUCCI????


ugh

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Remember kids -- Rap is Crap


Craig_Houston
Craig_Houston

DJ Screw isn't a rapper. Why is he on a rapper list? I don't see how Weezy isn't top 3. His music has fallen off drastically since he hit it big but prior to Carter 3 you could make the case he was juts as revolutionary as Outkast. 

Shae Cloud
Shae Cloud

the one on the left in the picture 3stacks

Paul Navarrete
Paul Navarrete

Right now its Rittz, all time... there is just too many good ones to pick.

Shep Hiphopmom
Shep Hiphopmom

Outkast-- in fact, Big Boi. Not what the crowd would say, but...

Ryan Estes
Ryan Estes

What no Bubba Sparxxx? You've lost all credibility to me...

dave.herrera
dave.herrera moderator editor

@k_laneaux Great point. I'll fall on the sword for this one. When Noah filed the original list, it was "ten most important southern hip-hop acts," and as editor, I changed the headline. So that's my bad. That caveat in mind, I think it's hard to argue that DJ Screw isn't one of the most important figures in southern hip-hop.

PimpC
PimpC

@dave.herreraDJ Screw did make like 2-3 songs so he is a rapper and he is a really big part of southern rap don't put yourself down because u got alot of faggots on here that don't know what there talking about im really big in southern rap just some people who came on here are just morons.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@dave.herrera ... helps if you knew the difference between HipHop and Rap ... which are both CRAP.

Clueless Editors are as Clueless Editors do.

hth.

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