Yo, what’s good! We ’bout to take a wild ride down memory lane, back to the turn of the millennium when the rap game was turnin’ heads, breakin’ records, and redefining what hip-hop was all about.
The 2000s was a time when emcees from different coasts and different walks of life were steppin’ up to the mic, bringin’ their unique styles and reppin’ their cities, givin’ us some of the dopest, rawest, and most game-changing rhymes ever heard.
This ain’t just a list, fam, it’s a time capsule of the decade that shaped hip-hop and pushed the culture to new heights.
We talkin’ about the top dogs, the cream of the crop, the 10 best rappers of the 2000s.
Hold on tight, ’cause this journey is gonna be lit!
Nelly shot to fame in the 2000s and instantly became one of the era’s defining stars.
Hailing from St. Louis, Nelly’s Midwest twang mixed with his catchy hooks and charismatic personality made him a favorite among rap and pop fans alike.
His debut album “Country Grammar” (2000) was a commercial success, certified Diamond in the U.S., making him one of the best-selling rap artists of the decade.
Hits like “Ride Wit Me,” “Hot in Herre,” and “Dilemma” featuring Kelly Rowland solidified Nelly’s status as a hitmaker.
His sing-songy flow was inescapable and his knack for crafting catchy hooks made his music accessible to a broad audience.
Nelly’s ability to crossover into pop territory while maintaining his hip-hop cred is what makes him a standout of the 2000s era.
With his unique delivery, hilarious punchlines, and compelling storytelling, Ludacris became one of the most memorable rappers of the 2000s.
His album “Word of Mouf” (2001) was a commercial and critical success, with hits like “Rollout (My Business)” and “Area Codes.”
What sets Ludacris apart is his larger-than-life personality and his ability to craft songs that are both comical and thought-provoking.
His animated delivery and undeniable charisma are often imitated, but his distinct style is hard to duplicate.
Throughout the decade, Ludacris consistently delivered albums that were both commercially successful and critically acclaimed, solidifying his place as one of the top rappers of the 2000s.
8. 50 Cent
In the early 2000s, 50 Cent was ubiquitous. With the backing of Dr. Dre and Eminem, 50 Cent’s debut album “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” (2003) was a monumental success.
His raw storytelling coupled with his knack for writing catchy hooks made 50 Cent an instant sensation.
Hits like “In Da Club,” “21 Questions,” and “Many Men (Wish Death)” showcased 50 Cent’s ability to balance hard-hitting street narratives with radio-friendly hits.
His impact was also felt in his entrepreneurial endeavors, as he became a successful businessman with ventures in clothing, beverages, and entertainment.
50 Cent’s success story and relentless work ethic make him one of the defining rappers of the 2000s.
7. Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott redefined what it meant to be a female rapper in the 2000s.
Her innovative music videos, distinctive style, and genre-bending music made her a trailblazer in the industry.
Working closely with producer Timbaland, Missy Elliott crafted a sound that was futuristic, funky, and wholly her own.
Her hits like “Get Ur Freak On,” “Work It,” and “Lose Control” pushed the boundaries of hip-hop and pop, making her a critical darling and commercial success.
She’s been a champion for body positivity and women empowerment, making her influence felt beyond just music.
Her fearlessness in pushing the boundaries of rap music makes Missy Elliott one of the best rappers of the 2000s.
T.I. was instrumental in popularizing trap music, a sub-genre of hip hop that originated in the Southern United States.
His second album, “Trap Muzik” (2003), is often credited as being one of the first mainstream records to popularize the genre.
Hits like “Rubber Band Man” and “24’s” helped to define the sound of 2000s Southern hip-hop.
Known as the “King of the South,” T.I.’s flow and delivery set him apart, while his lyrical content ranged from street life to politics.
His later hits, including “Live Your Life” and “Whatever You Like,” showed his versatility as an artist and his ability to create both hard-hitting anthems and melodic, pop-friendly tunes.
With his significant impact on the music scene, T.I. was undoubtedly one of the standout rappers of the 2000s.
5. Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne’s impact on 2000s hip-hop is undeniable. With his prolific output and unique delivery, Lil Wayne ascended to the top of the rap game and stayed there.
He released “Tha Carter” series, which became one of the most acclaimed album series in hip-hop. Songs like “Go DJ,” “A Milli,” and “Lollipop” showcased Wayne’s clever wordplay, his creative metaphors, and his knack for catchy hooks.
Lil Wayne’s ‘mixtape Weezy’ phase, which culminated with the release of “Da Drought 3” and “No Ceilings,” showed his work ethic and solidified his spot as one of the most innovative rappers of the 2000s.
His distinctive voice, unconventional lyrical themes, and groundbreaking approach to hip-hop music make him an essential figure of the decade.
OutKast, composed of Andre 3000 and Big Boi, have been pioneering forces in the rap industry since their debut, but it was in the 2000s that their influence truly peaked.
Their genre-defying album “Stankonia” (2000) and the diamond-selling double album “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” (2003) have made them one of the most successful and critically acclaimed duos in rap history.
From the raw funk of “B.O.B” to the smooth charm of “The Way You Move” and the global hit “Hey Ya!,” OutKast demonstrated a range and versatility that was unmatched.
Their creativity, lyricism, and boundary-pushing music solidify them as one of the best acts of the 2000s.
3. Kanye West
Kanye West, in many ways, is the embodiment of 2000s hip-hop.
From his soulful beats on “The College Dropout” (2004) to the electronic influences on “808s & Heartbreak” (2008), Kanye consistently pushed the envelope and redefined the sound of hip-hop.
The Chicago rapper’s clever wordplay and willingness to address topics outside of the typical hip-hop sphere made his music feel refreshing and new.
Kanye’s influence goes beyond just his music; his sense of style, his music videos, and his outspoken personality all contributed to his status as a cultural icon.
His albums are often hailed as classics and his impact on the genre is still felt today.
Jay-Z started his career in the late ’90s but truly dominated the 2000s.
With his unique flow and intricate wordplay, Jay-Z was able to craft songs that were both commercially successful and critically acclaimed.
The New York rapper’s ability to tell compelling stories through his lyrics is what sets him apart.
From the autobiographical “The Blueprint” (2001) to the concept album “American Gangster” (2007), Jay-Z has shown his range and versatility as an artist.
His impact goes beyond music, with his business ventures making him a significant cultural figure.
Eminem was a game changer in the 2000s.
His raw storytelling, intricate rhyme schemes, and willingness to address personal issues made him one of the most compelling artists of the era.
His albums “The Marshall Mathers LP” (2000) and “The Eminem Show” (2002) are considered some of the best rap albums ever.
Eminem’s impact was felt not only in his music but also in his influence on culture at large.
His film “8 Mile” and the accompanying single “Lose Yourself” further solidified his place in popular culture.
His ability to balance commercial success with critical acclaim makes Eminem one of the defining artists of the 2000s.
And there you have it, fam! Those were the cats who were movin’ and shakin’ the 2000s, givin’ us hit after hit and setting the bar for the next generation.
Each one of ’em had their own flavor, their own style, but all of ’em were true to the game, always bringin’ their A-game and never compromisin’ on their art.
From street anthems to club bangers, from introspective verses to battle raps, these artists embodied the essence of the 2000s.
They showed us what hip-hop was capable of, and for that, we salute ’em.
The game wouldn’t be what it is today without these 10 rap legends who laid it down in the 2000s!