What’s good, fam? Ya know we couldn’t talk about rap and hip-hop without rolling through Philly, right?
Yeah, that’s right. The City of Brotherly Love ain’t just about Liberty Bells and cheesesteaks – it’s a hub for some of the greatest spitters to ever grace the mic!
Philly’s rappers come from the heart, the street, and the soul, each one adding their own unique flavor to the mix.
From pioneers who laid down the foundation to the new school cats who’re reshaping the game, this list is a journey through Philly’s rich hip-hop legacy.
So buckle up, y’all, as we count down the top 10 best rappers from Philadelphia!
10. Beanie Sigel
Beanie Sigel, born Dwight Equan Grant, is a name that’s synonymous with Philly rap. Beanie came up under Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records, carving out a name for himself with his gritty lyricism and street tales.
His debut album, “The Truth,” was a commercial success and garnered him critical acclaim.
Beanie’s sound is unapologetically rough around the edges, reflecting the harsh realities of street life.
His impact on the Philly rap scene can’t be overstated; he’s been a guiding light for many coming up in the city.
Bahamadia, born Antonia Reed, is a true pioneer in Philly’s hip-hop scene.
Known for her smooth flow and conscious lyrics, Bahamadia’s been reppin’ Philly since the ’90s.
Her debut album, “Kollage,” is a classic, blending jazz-infused beats with her intricate wordplay. Tracks like “Uknowhowwedu” and “I Confess” showcase her unique style and ability to hold her own in a male-dominated scene.
Bahamadia continues to influence the Philly rap scene, paving the way for future female MCs.
Barry Adrian Reese, known to the world as Cassidy, is a heavy hitter in Philly’s rap scene.
Cassidy first gained fame in the early 2000s with hits like “Hotel” and “I’m a Hustla.”
Known for his complex rhyme schemes and impressive freestyling abilities, Cassidy is a true lyricist.
Whether he’s dropping bars in a battle rap or on a commercial track, Cassidy’s raw talent and passion for the craft shine through.
He’s a Philly legend, through and through.
Leslie Edward Pridgen, aka Freeway, is a fixture in Philly’s hip-hop scene. He emerged in the early 2000s under Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records alongside Beanie Sigel.
Freeway’s gruff voice and unflinching lyrics about street life quickly gained him recognition.
His debut album, “Philadelphia Freeway,” remains a classic, with tracks like “What We Do” solidifying his spot in the annals of hip-hop.
Freeway’s music is raw, authentic, and full of Philly pride.
6. Schoolly D
Known as the godfather of gangsta rap, Schoolly D, born Jesse Bonds Weaver Jr., has been repping Philly since the early ’80s.
His raw lyrics and minimalist production laid the groundwork for what would become a major subgenre of hip-hop.
Tracks like “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?” and “Gucci Time” introduced the world to a darker, more realistic side of street life, which was a departure from the party-centric rap of the time.
Schoolly D wasn’t just a rapper, he was a trailblazer who influenced many 80s and 90s rappers, from Ice-T to the Notorious B.I.G. Respect to the OG.
Grammy Award-winning artist Eve, born Eve Jihan Jeffers, the female rapper brought a fresh perspective to the male-dominated rap scene in the late ’90s.
From her start with the Ruff Ryders to her successful solo career, Eve’s clever lyricism and versatile style set her apart.
Her 1999 debut album “Let There Be Eve…Ruff Ryders’ First Lady” debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart, a testament to her skills on the mic.
Songs like “Who’s That Girl” and “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” showcased her unique blend of sass, class, and street. A Philly queen in her own right.
4. Black Thought
Born Tariq Luqmaan Trotter, Black Thought is best known as the frontman of The Roots, the legendary Philadelphia-based hip-hop group.
His complex, conscious lyrics and impeccable flow have solidified his status as one of the greatest MCs of all time.
Whether he’s spitting bars on a Roots’ track or delivering one of his epic freestyles, Black Thought’s genius is undeniable. Tracks like “You Got Me” and “The Seed (2.0)” showcase his deep lyrical prowess and distinctive sound.
Black Thought represents the soul and intellect of Philly rap.
3. Will Smith
Aight then, let’s kick it with the Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith! Born and raised in West Philadelphia (on the playground is where he spent most of his days), Smith started out as one half of the dynamic duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.
Their light-hearted bangers like “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and the unforgettable summertime anthem, you guessed it, “Summertime,” put Philly on the hip-hop map.
Smith’s rap wasn’t about guns and gangsters; nah, it was feel-good, family-friendly vibes that made you want to kick back and chill.
And people were vibin’ with it, so much so that DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince scooped up the first ever Grammy awarded in the Rap category. Not too shabby, right?
But Smith wasn’t content with just rockin’ the mic. As his rap career was skyrocketing, he landed a TV show based on his life, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” The show was a smash hit and catapulted Smith into a wildly successful acting career. But he never strayed too far from his rap roots, dropping tracks like “Men in Black” and “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” that dominated the charts.
Yeah, the Fresh Prince might not be your typical rapper, and some might even say his style is too pop. But this Philly native’s contribution to the rap game is undeniable.
He took hip-hop to the mainstream, broke down barriers, and did it all while staying true to himself – and becoming one of the best rappers who are also actors.
So, hats off to Will Smith, the third illest rapper to ever come out of Philadelphia!
2. Lil Uzi Vert
Symere Woods, known to the world as Lil Uzi Vert, represents a new generation of Philly rappers.
Since bursting onto the scene with his mixtape “Luv Is Rage,” Uzi’s genre-bending sound and flamboyant style have gained him a massive following.
With hits like “XO TOUR Llif3” and “Bad and Boujee,” his influence on modern hip-hop is indisputable.
Lil Uzi Vert isn’t just a rapper; he’s a rockstar in the rap world, constantly pushing boundaries and reinventing himself.
1. Meek Mill
Robert Rihmeek Williams, better known as Meek Mill, is at the top of Philly’s rap scene.
Known for his passionate delivery and gritty lyrics, Meek’s music is a testament to his resilience. From his early mixtapes to his well-received studio albums, Meek Mill has remained a constant force in the game.
Tracks like the motivational “Dreams and Nightmares” and “Going Bad” showcase his lyrical skills and undying ambition.
Beyond his music, Meek’s advocacy for criminal justice reform shows his commitment to giving back to the community that raised him. Meek Mill, a true embodiment of Philly’s spirit.
And there you have it, the cream of the crop when it comes to Philly rappers!
Each one of these spitters brings their own vibe, repping their city while adding to the rich tapestry of hip-hop.
From the raw, unfiltered street tales to the innovative, genre-bending sounds, these artists reflect the diversity and resilience of Philly.
Whether you’re an old school head or a new wave fan, one thing’s for sure: Philly’s got something for everyone.
So, next time you’re in the city, don’t just settle for a cheesesteak. Dig into Philly’s rap scene and feel the heartbeat of the city!