The ten greatest East Coast rappers of all time

Categories: Lists

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Britt Chester

The East Coast, particularly New York, is the mecca of hip-hop. It is it's birthplace and still the most reliable source for pure, uncut, unadulterated rap music. Chronicling the great MCs from the region would result in a list of hundreds. Ranking the top ten proves somewhat limiting, but it's also an enjoyable task, comparing old with new and really weighing the merits and weaknesses of each. So while obviously there are more than ten East Coast rappers that deserve to be recognized, these are the ten greatest East Coast rappers of all time.

See also:
- The ten greatest Midwest rappers of all time
- The ten greatest West Coast rappers of all time
- The ten greatest Southern rappers of all time

10. DMX
DMX has a reputation for not being a super tactful guy, but his rhymes are just the opposite -- or even if they are a product of the impulsive, drug-fueled DMX that the media knows, they are still somehow laced with the focused sensibility of a true poet. With DMX, there's always that question of just how great he could have become had he stayed clean -- or at least kept his drug habits under control. As it stands, he's still one of the best-selling rappers of all time. His debut, It's Dark and Hell is Hot, showcased his talent for creating both hit singles like "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" and imaginative, compelling stories like "Damien."

9. Big L
Big L had an understated, dry sense of humor that pervaded his rhymes, even at their blackest -- if he seemed slightly bemused at the thought of death, it was because he was in a state of permanent shock, "Street Struck," as he termed it. Technically, he was a top-notch rhymer, especially apt at crafting multisyllabic punch lines that were actually funny, unlike the usually masturbatory punchlines of today. Big L's subject matter was not generally high-brow, but he had a very sharp intellect. Although he was murdered before the release of his second album, The Big Picture, his talent was already apparent.

8. Big Pun
Big Pun only got the chance to see one of his albums get released, Capital Punishment, but what a release it was, one of the best of the decade. His quick, agile lyrics belied the heavy frame that ultimately killed him. He moved skillfully between words English and Spanish with an ease that showed that he was an adept wordsmith no matter which words he chose.

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31 comments
Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

He's a pathetic aging little Internet dweeb trying to claim "street cred." LuLz.

Craig Maybell
Craig Maybell

Stop lying. You're a transplant from a poshy little Long Island burb.

Steve Madrid
Steve Madrid

That's a pretty good list except Big Pun and DMX. Don't get me wrong they are good but not top 10 worthy. KRS-One should have been in the top 5 in my opinion.

Chris Richards
Chris Richards

Hmm I'm gonna say grym reaper aka too poetic, Hussein fatal, rza, killah priest, inspecta deck, Ali bang, kadafi, Napoleon, 12 o clock, street life.

Samuel Walter
Samuel Walter

Lol dude I was born and raised in NY, and have lived in places that would make you cry. It's always some tough guy that runs his mouth on FB.

rodgersjfr
rodgersjfr

No KRS-One?  This list is a sham!

Stephen Dryver
Stephen Dryver

Sorry, but DMX is anything BUT "great." There isn't anything considered "legendary" about a body of work that consists mostly of third-rate "booty music" full of incoherent grunts and repeated animal-like chants. How in the fuck does this drug-fueled oaf ever get more accolades as opposed to more accomplished lyricists such as Q-Tip or the late, great Guru?

Stephen Dryver
Stephen Dryver

Of course, it would be some butthurt suburbanite white kid crying about the exclusion of teh Woo Thang. LuLz.

Samuel Walter
Samuel Walter

I believe some members of the Wu Tang Clan (RZA, Method Man, GZA/Genius) are missing from this list.

John Dalby
John Dalby

Um, is that even a viable music genre now???

Craig_Houston
Craig_Houston

Seriously. LL Cool J ahead of Big L? Come on now. I don't even know if I'd put LL Cool J on the list. Agree with a poster below about no KRS One either. Others not here: Guru (super underrated lyricist), AZ (another super underrated lyricist) and most of all -- CAM'RON. I wanna be nice, but how on God's green earth do you come up with an East Coast rap list and not have Cam'Ron on it?!?!

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Aerosmith's Steven Tyler,  is the best !

Who's sold more albums ?

joey murdah
joey murdah

haha at big L at #9. these lists are ridiculous

Mark Oinen
Mark Oinen

immortal technique, ghostface killah, etc . . . .

Mane Rok
Mane Rok

^^THAT. Rakim is #1 all time. You say less, you deserve death. Point. Blank. Period.

Ben Rodriguez
Ben Rodriguez

Rakim should be #1. What?! Not one member of Wu tang?!

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

@Kevin Isaacson  No Steven Tyler, either ...

dave.herrera
dave.herrera moderator editor

@Kevin Isaacson Beasties will be represented in the next list: Greatest groups of all time.

dave.herrera
dave.herrera moderator editor

@Paul KellyWu-Tang will most certainly be represented in the next list: Greatest rap groups of all time. Keep it locked. Forthcoming.

dave.herrera
dave.herrera moderator editor

@Ben Rodriguez Wu-Tang will most certainly be represented in the next list: Greatest rap groups of all time. Keep it locked. Forthcoming.

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