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 10. LL Cool J



 9. Eminem


 8. Ice Cube



 7. Big Daddy Kane



 6. KRS-One



 5. Nas



 4. Rakim



 3. Notorious B.I.G.



 2. Tupac



 1. Jay-Z



  50 Cent, Nas, Mary J. Give Their 'Greatest MCs'



  MTV Hip-Hop Brain Trust 2006



  Honorable Mentions



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  The Greatest Hip-Hop Albums Of All Time



  The MTV Hip-Hop Brain Trust 2005




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Rank: 9

estimonial
Em hasn't been in the game half as long as some of the rappers on this list, but you can't deny the all-consuming whirlwind that has been Marshall Mathers' career since he debuted nearly a decade ago. He's sold more albums than any MC ever, and could become the most well-known performer on the globe since Michael Jackson. Success aside, Slim Shady has shown dexterity on the mic that even the most bitter old-school cat or angry young G would have to applaud — just listen to the lyrical creativity of "Stan" or the hypnotizing angst of "Cleaning Out My Closet." Maybe only Big and Jay have as many flows; there aren't too many more who can measure up to him lyrically.

Co-Signer: Common
"Eminem is the essence of an MC. He can get on any subject matter and rock it, and ... he's coming from his heart. He can get onstage and have a presence. His patterns are real good: He can flow like an instrument. He rides them beats right and says clever stuff. MCing, to me, is when you hear a dude say something and you tell your homie, 'You heard what he said?' Eminem has that 'Oooh, you heard what he said?' That's somebody you gotta step up with your game before [challenging]. He's an MC by heart. You know it. He's eating it, breathing it."

100 Percent Proof
"Maybe it's hatred I spew, maybe it's food for the spirit/ Maybe it's beautiful music I made for you to just cherish/ But I'm debated, disputed, hated and viewed in America/ As a mutha----in' drug addict, like you didn't experiment?/ Now now, that's when you start to stare at who's in the mirror/ And see yourself as a kid again, and you get embarrassed/ And I got nothin' to do but make you look stupid as parents/ You f---in' do-gooders, too bad you couldn't do good at marriage/ And do you have any clue what I had to do to get here?/ I don't think you do/ So stay tuned and keep your ears glued to the stereo."

— from "Renegade" (from Jay-Z's The Blueprint, 2001)

Selected Catalog
*The Slim Shady LP (1999), *The Marshall Mathers LP (2000), *The Eminem Show (2002), Encore (2004).

* = undeniable classic

You Tell Us
Have a problem with our choices? Got a better list? Let us know, and check back later for our readers' hip-hop top 10 lists.





NEXT: Snoop says of MC #8, 'He was representing West Coast gangsta music on every level of the game.' ...
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