The ten greatest Midwest rappers of all time

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The Midwest is the bastard child of the American rap scene at large -- unsung and independent, with a massive chip on its shoulder. The most talented artists from the Midwest have succeeded each with their own unique style and flavor, regardless of what was making money elsewhere in the country at any particular time, so it's not surprising that areas like Minneapolis, Detroit and Chicago have become breeding grounds for new, innovative alternative rappers like Dessa, Danny Brown and Chance the Rapper. But those names are new and still relatively unproven. The following artists have been battle tested and have not only survived, but thrived. Continue reading for the ten greatest Midwest rappers of all time.

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

10. Twista
Granted, if Twista had never come up with his rapid-fire delivery, he most likely wouldn't have made as much noise. But it's not only his fast tongue and incredible breath control that make him notable, it's his originality and deep understanding of individual phonemes and how they flow together. You can't just say anything fast and have it sound good, you have to write the verse to be fast-adaptable, and that's a skill that Twista has mastered.

9. Atmosphere
Atmosphere has had an immeasurable influence on independent hip-hop. Slug may not have the cleanest, most pleasing flow around, but alternative white rappers from here to Timbuktu have been jacking his swagger for years. His melancholy lyrics resonate powerfully with the growing pains of an angst-ridden young adult. And the importance of Ant's production cannot be understated; without his ambivalent, moody, but ultimately catchy beats, Slug could never have gained traction because, let's face it, with an MC as inwardly focused as Slug, somebody else has to provide the access point.

8. Royce da 5'9
Royce came up with Eminem in the Detroit duo Bad Meets Evil (Royce is Bad and Eminem is Evil), known mostly for their self-titled song on Eminem's major debut, The Slim Shady LP, as well as their EP, Hell: The Sequel, released in 2011. Now, Royce is best known for his role in Slaughterhouse, the Shady outfit with Joe Budden, Joell Ortiz and Crooked I. Though his work in groups has received a lot of attention, his best, most consistent work has probably come as a solo artist.


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15 comments
benjamin.davis
benjamin.davis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMyZrTltZgg I'll just leave this here since you have forgotten about EYEDEA!!!!! seriously kanye #2? He shouldnt even be on the list.   Atmosphere should be way higher than 9th.  Slug has been doing his thing in MPLS since the early 90's and crafted an entire label and scene in the midwest. go listen to "Overcast!" fool.  

RickOshea
RickOshea

Why the fuck is gay-fish Kanye ranked above Tech N9ne? Fail. I honestly prefer Tech over Eminem by a long way but would say they're definitely both the greatest.

Hova
Hova

It says Bone has sold 16 million units... You're off by a mile. Bone Thugs have sold 30-40 million. The fact that they were the ones who put the Midwest on the map back when records labels were ignoring the entire region is enough to earn them a higher spot then that, not too mention the fact that they broadened hip hop's horizons and changed the the concept of rap (flow, especially) MULTIPLE times with every album they released in the 90's. And Kanye at #2...?


Clearly, you don't know much about Midwest hip hop.

Ric Gonzalez
Ric Gonzalez

How the FUCK is Kanye ahead of Tech N9ne?? Tech and Eminem are two of the greatest lyricist to walk the earth, kanyes a bitch

Chris Parente
Chris Parente

i would definitely add eyedea, blueprint, black milk, and guilty simpson to the list. i would not include kanye, lupe fiasco or bone thugs.

Øbserve Gnarly
Øbserve Gnarly

Eyedea? Seriously... Eyedea should have been #1, hes not even on the list... do your homework westword...

Marcos Martinez
Marcos Martinez

Common has always been in my top three in the world !!!

David Gingrich
David Gingrich

Above Common too. SMH. Top ten lists with music is so hard to get right.

Scott Cannon
Scott Cannon

Tech 9, Bone, and Twista above Atmosphere?......Im disappointed in you Westword. You are better than that!

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