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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



  Back to Intro


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  The Greatest Hip-Hop Albums Of All Time



  The MTV Hip-Hop Brain Trust 2005




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Rank: 5

estimonial
When Nas debuted in 1994, he was quickly labeled the new Rakim. But he was a new kind of beast — try Rakim, Slick Rick, Kool G Rap and KRS-One wrapped into one MC. He was grungy and unrefined, but prolific. Although Wu-Tang Clan, Buckshot from Black Moon, Snoop and Tha Dogg Pound were spitting at the time, upon Nasir's arrival, it was clear that he was special. Unquestionably, Nas' gift has remained intact more than a decade later. He may get criticized for his beat selection, but if you just sit back and listen to his words, there's no disputing Queens' favorite son was, and still is, as ill as they come.

Co-Signer: Slick Rick
"I think Nas is a great MC because he's like a Tupac in a way: He doesn't waste a lot of time bragging. He comes with emotions, he speaks on positivity for the growth of kids and women. He pretty much tells his life in a humble way. I think that's a great thing that shows the variety rap has. When he came out, he made a hellafied impact. It's his God-given talent that stands out in the crowd. I thought he was an excellently skillful rapper. It was only a few skillful rappers: Kane, Rakim ... he was up there with them. He had raw talent. He was a child when he came out; now he's a married man. He's showing the streets can grow. He has the ability of giving you a vivid look in a new-generation way with that rugged rap skill. There aren't too many rappers who can compete with him."

100 Percent Proof
"…Live on the run, police paying me to give in my gun./ Trick my Wisdom, with the system that imprisoned my son./ Smoke a gold leaf I hold heat, nonchalantly./ I'm raunchy, but things I do is real it never haunts me./ While, funny style ni--as roll in the pile./ Booster heads profile on a bus to Riker's Isle./ Holdin weed inside they pu--y with they minds on the pretty things in life, props is a true thug's wife."

— from "Verbal Intercourse" (from Raekwon The Chef's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, 1995)

Selected Catalog
*Illmatic (1994), *It Was Written (1996), The Firm (1997, as part of the group the Firm), I Am ... The Autobiography (1999), Nastradamus (1999), *Stillmatic (2001), God's Son (2002), Street's Disciple (2004).

* = undeniable classic

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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: Fat Joe says, 'When everyone was bragging and boasting about material things, he was creating political and social awareness in the community while making you have fun.' ...
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