30 Best 2000s Rappers

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By 2000, rap music was already a mainstream industry with billions of dollars in revenue from album sales and advertisements. Artists like Eminem, Jay-Z, and 50 Cent dominated the charts, combining catchy hooks with introspective lyrics.

During the 2000s, the popularity of hip-hop expanded beyond its traditional urban audience as it attracted a diverse fan base from all over the US. The era also witnessed the emergence of influential sub-genres like crunk and snap music, with artists like Lil Jon and Soulja Boy gaining immense popularity. If you're curious about the best rappers who ruled the scene, we've got you covered with a list of 30 successful rap artists of the decade.

1. Eminem

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Eminem is considered the king of the 2000s hip-hop era due to his unparalleled success during the time. His albums like The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show topped the charts and sold millions of copies worldwide. 

Eminem's influence extended beyond music as he became a cultural icon, thanks to his provocative and controversial persona. As a white rapper in a predominantly black genre, he challenged stereotypes and broke barriers, opening doors for future artists. His success paved the way for a more diverse hip-hop industry and inspired countless aspiring musicians.

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2. Jay-Z

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Jay-Z is widely regarded as one of the best rappers of the 2000s due to his immense talent and influential impact. His lyrical prowess and storytelling abilities set him apart from his peers, allowing him to deliver thought-provoking and relatable verses.

Jay-Z's ability to seamlessly switch between different flows and styles showcased his versatility and kept his music fresh and relevant throughout the decade. With hit albums like The Blueprint and The Black Album, Jay-Z cemented his place among the greatest rappers of the era.

3. Kanye West

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Kanye West's success in the hip-hop industry during the 2000s is nothing short of meteoric. Although he entered the scene as a producer, West quickly secured a place with his innovative beats and unique production style.

In 2004, Kanye released his debut album "The College Dropout," which was met with critical acclaim and commercial success. The album showcased West's introspective lyrics, blending soulful samples with witty wordplay, and established him as a formidable rapper in his own right. Moreover, he continued to push boundaries with his subsequent albums Late Registration (2005) and Graduation (2007).

4. Lil Wayne

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Lil Wayne emerged as one of the best rappers of the 2000s due to his unique style and delivery. His distinctive voice and clever wordplay captivated listeners. Wayne released a series of highly successful mixtapes and albums during this period.

Additionally, Lil Wayne worked with the likes of Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Eminem, among others, which not only expanded his reach but also showcased his ability to hold his own. His ability to connect with a wide range of listeners through his relatable storytelling and introspective lyrics resonated deeply.

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5. 50 Cent

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50 Cent's success during the 2000s was nothing short of remarkable. His debut studio album Get Rich or Die Tryin (2003) was a monumental success, selling over 12 million copies in the US. The album featured chart-topping singles like In da Club and 21 Questions.

Subsequently, his second album The Massacre (2005), was also a commercial triumph, selling over 5 million copies in its first week of release. This album produced hit tracks like "Candy Shop" and "Just a Lil Bit," solidifying his status as a chart-topping artist.

6. T.I.

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T.I. is considered one of the best rappers of the 2000s due to his exceptional talent and consistent output. With a distinctive flow, captivating storytelling abilities, and versatile lyrical skills, he showcased his ability to deliver both introspective and club bangers throughout the decade. 

T.I.'s breakthrough album Trap Muzik (2003) established him as a pioneer of trap music. His subsequent albums Urban Legend (2004) and King (2006) solidified his position as a top-tier rapper. Moreover, his collaborations with other prominent artists further enhanced his reputation.

7. Outkast

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Outkast, consisting of Andre 3000 and Big Boi, became immensely popular during the 2000s. The duo stood out in the hip-hop scene with their ability to seamlessly fuse elements of funk, soul, R&B, and even rock into their music. Their album Stankonia (2000) featured the chart-topping single Ms. Jackson.

Outkast's charismatic personalities and eclectic fashion sense further contributed to their appeal. They were not afraid to take risks and constantly experimented with different genres. Their continued success with the album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below and the hit "Hey Ya!" solidified Outkast's popularity during the 2000s.

8. Nas

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New York rapper Nas experienced significant success in the 2000s music scene. Despite facing criticism and controversies, his album sales remained strong throughout the decade. His 2001 album Stillmatic sold over 1.6 million copies in the US alone. The album's lead single Ether became an instant classic and ignited a highly publicized feud with fellow rapper Jay-Z.

Nas continued his momentum with his 2002 release God's Son, which debuted at number 18 on the Billboard 200. His 2006 album Hip Hop Is Dead also performed well, selling over 764,000 copies in its first week.

9. Snoop Dogg

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Snoop Dogg is undeniably one of the most influential rappers of the 2000s. With his unique blend of laid-back flow, West Coast gangsta rap, and iconic persona, he has left an indelible mark on the genre. Besides music, Snoop also successfully transitioned into other forms of media, including acting and entrepreneurship.

Snoop Dogg's 2004 album R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece solidified his status as a rap legend. He collaborated with numerous artists, such as Pharrell Williams, producing chart-topping hits like Drop It Like It's Hot. Moreover, Snoop's affiliation with Dr. Dre and his appearance on Dre's iconic album "2001" helped elevate his reputation.

10. Ludacris

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Ludacris experienced tremendous mainstream success in hip-hop during the 2000s, setting himself as one of the era's most influential artists. Known for his energetic and witty delivery, he released several popular songs that resonated with audiences worldwide.

His chart-topping hits included Stand Up, which showcased his charismatic flow and infectious hooks. What's Your Fantasy and Move B***h became anthems for partygoers and showcased his ability to create catchy and provocative tracks. Ludacris also collaborated with artists like Usher and Missy Elliott, further amplifying his presence in the music industry.

11. The Notorious B.I.G.

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The Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls, experienced posthumous success during the 2000s. Despite his untimely death in 1997, his influence and lyrical prowess continued to resonate with audiences. This success can be attributed to the release of two posthumous albums: Born Again (1999) and Duets: The Final Chapter (2005).

Additionally, Biggie's iconic impact on the hip-hop genre solidified his position as one of the greatest rappers of all time. His distinctive flow, storytelling abilities, and introspective lyrics captivated fans, ensuring his enduring legacy.

12. Missy Elliott

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Missy Elliott revolutionized the rap game with her distinctive flow, catchy hooks, and boundary-pushing music videos. Her ability to seamlessly blend genres like hip-hop, R&B, and electronic music set her apart from her peers. Her tracks were lyrically powerful and sonically captivating, showcasing her versatility as an artist.

During the 2000s, Elliott gave hits like Get Ur Freak On, Work It, and Lose Control. Moreover, her eccentric and visually stunning music videos pushed the boundaries of creativity.

13. Nelly

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Nelly was incredibly successful and influential during the 2000s. His debut album Country Grammar sold over 10 million copies in the US. This album produced hit singles like Ride wit Me and Hot in Herre, which topped the charts and became anthems of the era.

Nelly's unique blend of rap and pop appealed to a wide audience and helped bridge the gap between mainstream pop music and hip-hop. His catchy hooks, infectious beats, and relatable lyrics resonated with fans from various backgrounds.

14. Drake

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Drake is widely regarded as one of the best rappers of the 21st century. His unique ability to seamlessly blend various genres such as hip-hop, R&B, and pop has contributed to his massive popularity and influence.

Drake's best-selling albums include Views, which produced hit singles like One Dance and Hotline Bling. Take Care is another critically acclaimed album, known for its introspective lyrics and successful collaborations. These albums showcase Drake's lyrical prowess, catchy hooks, and ability to resonate with listeners on a deep emotional level.

15. Ja Rule

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Ja Rule garnered huge critical and commercial success during the 2000s. Known for his distinctive gravelly voice, he released several hit songs that topped the charts and resonated with audiences worldwide.

One of Ja Rule's most successful songs was Always on Time featuring Ashanti, which reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2002. Another notable hit was "Livin' It Up" featuring Case. Likewise, his 2004 song Wonderful, featuring R. Kelly and Ashanti, became another chart-topping success.

16. Fabolous

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Fabolous emerged as a prominent figure in the rap industry during the 2000s. He achieved mainstream success with his debut album Ghetto Fabolous (2001). The album peaked at number four on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified platinum. It featured hit singles like Can't Deny It and Young'n (Holla Back).

His following albums Street Dreams (2003) and Real Talk (2004) also performed well commercially. Street Dreams reached number three on the Billboard 200 and was certified platinum, while the gold-certified Real Talk peaked at number six.

17. Rick Ross

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Rick Ross' talent, dedication, and larger-than-life persona made him one of the most iconic rappers of the 2000s. His rise to prominence began with his debut album Port of Miami in 2006. This album spawned hit singles like Hustlin and Push It.

Ross's success can also be attributed to his prolific work ethic. He consistently released albums, mixtapes, and collaborations, keeping his name relevant in the industry. His albums like Trilla and Deeper Than Rap have also contributed to his career.

18. DMX

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DMX, born Earl Simmons, was a highly distinctive rapper of the 2000s. He had a unique ability to channel his emotions, often expressing pain, aggression, and vulnerability in his music. His growling voice and energetic performances created a captivating and powerful presence that was hard to ignore.

Moreover, DMX's lyrical content was deeply personal and introspective. He openly discussed his struggles with addiction, his troubled childhood, and his inner demons. Unlike many rappers of the time who focused on materialistic and hedonistic themes, DMX's music had a raw honesty and authenticity that resonated with audiences.

19. Common

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Common enjoyed significant success during the 2000s, securing his spot as one of hip-hop's most respected artists. His breakthrough album Like Water for Chocolate (2000) showcased his lyrical prowess and socially conscious messages. The album's lead single The Light became a hit and further established Common as an introspective lyricist.

In 2005, Common released Be, produced by Kanye West, which became his highest-charting album to date. The record showcased a more accessible and soulful sound, attracting a wider audience. The lead single Go, featuring Kanye West and John Mayer, became a radio hit.

20. Cam'ron

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Cam'ron, whose real name is Cameron Ezike Giles, is an American rapper, actor, and entrepreneur. The New York artist gained prominence in the rap industry during the 2000s. His popularity soared with the release of his third studio album Come Home with Me in 2002.

During the 2000s, Cam'ron was a prominent member of the hip-hop collective The Diplomats, also known as Dipset. The group's collaborations and mixtapes further propelled his popularity.

21. Young Jeezy

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Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Young Jeezy began his career as a member of the rap group Boyz n da Hood before pursuing a solo career. His mixtapes gained attention in the underground hip-hop circuit, attracting a loyal fan base.

In 2005, Jeezy released his debut studio album Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, which became a commercial success. The album's lead single Soul Survivor, featuring Akon, received significant radio airplay. His unique raspy voice, captivating delivery, and raw lyrics about street life resonated with audiences.

22. Lupe Fiasco

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Lupe Fiasco experienced moderate commercial success with his album sales during the 2000s. His first album Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor (2006) achieved critical acclaim and popularity, selling over 81,000 copies in its first week and eventually reaching platinum certification.

Following this triumph, Lupe Fiasco's second studio album Lupe Fiasco's The Cool was released in 2007. It debuted at number 15 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold over 143,000 copies in its first week. The album's lead single Superstar became one of Lupe Fiasco's biggest hits, reaching the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

23. Lil Kim

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Lil Kim is widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers of the 2000s. She has made an immense impact on the hip-hop industry and her contribution to the genre is groundbreaking.

Kim emerged as a prominent figure in the early 2000s with her distinctive style, explicit lyrics, and fearless attitude. She became a trailblazer for female rappers, challenging gender norms and empowering women in a male-dominated industry.

Kim's influential album The Notorious K.I.M. showcased her versatility and lyrical prowess. Moreover, she has collaborated with several renowned artists, including Missy Elliott and Christina Aguilera.

24. Fat Joe

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Fat Joe was a highly popular and influential figure in the 2000s. He rose to prominence with his hit single Lean Back in 2004. The artist's unique blend of hardcore rap and catchy hooks became a hit with audiences.

During the peak of his career, Fat Joe collaborated with several prominent artists, including Remy Ma, Ashanti, and Lil Wayne. Additionally, he was a mentor to rising stars like Big Pun and Remy Ma.

Joe's record label Terror Squad Entertainment played a significant role in shaping the sound of hip-hop in the 2000s. He was instrumental in promoting Latinx artists, breaking down barriers, and paving the way for future generations.

25. Busta Rhymes

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Busta Rhymes' unique rapping style catapulted him to fame during the 2000s. Known for his lightning-fast delivery, intricate wordplay, and animated flow, the artist captivated audiences with his energy and charisma. His rapid-fire rhymes showcased his exceptional breath control and technical prowess.

Busta Rhymes also had an uncanny ability to seamlessly switch between different cadences and vocal tones, effortlessly adapting to various beats and styles. Moreover, his larger-than-life personality and dynamic stage presence further elevated his performances, making him a force to be reckoned with in the rap scene.

26. Method Man

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Method Man, a member of the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, experienced notable success in the 2000s. Renowned for his lyrical brilliance and charismatic delivery, the NY rapper gained mainstream recognition from his solo album Tical 2000: Judgement Day.

In 2004, Method Man collaborated with R&B superstar Mary J. Blige on the Grammy-winning single, I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By. This collaboration earned him a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

27. Ghostface Killah

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Ghostface Killah is considered one of the best rappers of the 2000s due to his unique style and consistent output. As a member of the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan, he gained recognition for his distinctive voice and vivid storytelling abilities.

Killah has released several commercially successful albums like Supreme Clientele (2000) and Fishscale (2006). His vivid and gritty descriptions of street life, struggles, and triumphs resonated with audiences, making him an iconic figure in the rap genre.

28. R. Kelly

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R. Kelly experienced significant fame in the 2000s, establishing him as a talented R&B artist. He released successful albums like TP-2.com (2000) and Chocolate Factory" (2003). These albums spawned numerous chart-topping singles like I Wish, Ignition (Remix), and Step in the Name of Love.

R. Kelly's music was popular for its smooth melodies, seductive lyrics, and his signature falsetto. His engaging performances and energetic stage presence further contributed to his popularity. Additionally, his collaborations with other prominent artists, such as Jay-Z.

29. Kendrick Lamar

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Kendrick Lamar is undeniably one of the best rappers of the 2000s. His ability to combine various genres, such as jazz, funk, and soul, with traditional hip-hop elements has set him apart from other rappers.

Moreover, Lamar can convey complex emotions and societal issues through his lyrics. His albums Good Kid, M.A.A.D City and To Pimp a Butterfly tackle themes of race, identity, and socioeconomic struggles,  Lamar's introspective and socially conscious approach to his music has resonated with fans worldwide, earning him critical acclaim and numerous awards.

30. Gucci Mane

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Gucci Mane, born Radric Davis, is an iconic figure in the rap industry. His influence can be seen through his distinct style, unique flow, and ability to consistently release hit songs and albums. 

Commercially, Mane experienced significant success throughout the decade. He released numerous mixtapes and albums, collaborating with both established and up-and-coming artists. His mixtape series, Trap House and Gangsta Grillz garnered a dedicated fan base and helped him establish himself as a trap music pioneer. Mane's signature sound, characterized by heavy bass, catchy hooks, and his charismatic delivery, became highly influential in shaping the trap subgenre.

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