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 10. LL Cool J



 9. Eminem


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 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: 3

estimonial
The rule "nobody's perfect" didn't apply to Biggie: You'll be hard pressed to prove he wasn't the most skillful ever on the mic. His approach to rhyming was astounding. Lyrically he could kill you with some of the most cold-blooded pairings of words ever recorded, then charm you and then make you laugh — all in one verse. The way he rode the beat was so calculating and smooth — he had more flow than a singer. Big also had that intangible: his voice. So husky, so captivating it was, you could listen to his skits all day. Just how deep was his impact? He only made two albums while he was alive and yet, 10 years later, he's still the most quoted MC.

Co-Signer: The Game
"His flows and lyrics were ahead of their time. His stories about the streets was vivid — it made you feel like you was in Brooklyn seeing what he was spitting. It was almost like you could taste his lyrics. When he came on a track, his voice alone would capture you. In his short music career, he had so many classics. Biggie collaborated with everyone from Super Cat to Mary J. Blige and even Michael Jackson. Every verse — whether it was a feature or his own songs — was crazy. Rappers had to step their game up. ... Dudes had to really go hard in the studio to compete at what he did effortlessly. Life After Death had something for everyone on there. It was more universal and you could definitely hear the difference [from Ready to Die]. He was enjoying life more on this album. That album set a higher standard in the game forever."

100 Percent Proof
"I got that venom rhyme like Sprite got lemon-lime/ Donna Karan dime, keep her hair done all the time/ My rhyme, somewhat Shakespearean, blood I'm smearin' and/ Tongue-kissin' my lawyer at my hearin'/ In this day and age, my rap is like the plague/ I married this sh--, y'all n---as still engaged."

— from "Realms of Junior M.A.F.I.A." (from Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s Conspiracy, 1995)

Selected Catalog
*Ready to Die (1994), *Life After Death (1997), #Born Again (1999). #Duets: The Final Chapter (2005)

* = undeniable classic # = posthumous release

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NEXT: Scarface says, '[He] always told me you gotta get it across to the women, and [then] the homies will accept it. That was his secret.' ...
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