East Coast hip-hop has had a deep and lasting impact on the music scene. From the early days of the genre with acts like Grandmaster Flash, to the modern days of rap music, East Coast rappers have been at the forefront of the scene. From their unique style and sound to their lyrical prowess and wit, East Coast rappers have helped shape and define the genre as we know it today.
East Coast rappers are known for their lyrical content and hard-hitting beats. They have a distinct sound that is immediately recognizable, often incorporating samples from classic soul or funk records, along with heavy drums and bass. This sound has been the bedrock of East Coast hip-hop since its inception and is still evident today. East Coast rappers are also renowned for their clever and complex wordplay, often incorporating slang and double entendres.
The iconic figures of East Coast rap have become legends of the genre, with artists such as Notorious B.I.G, Nas, Jay-Z, and Wu-Tang Clan towering over the genre. These artists have had an immense influence on the rap music scene, and their influence can still be felt today.
In addition to the legendary figures of East Coast rap, there have also been a number of lesser-known acts that have made their mark in the genre. From underground acts like Mobb Deep and Big L to more mainstream rap acts like 50 Cent and Drake, East Coast rappers have been pushing boundaries and creating unique sounds for decades.
The influence of East Coast hip-hop is undeniable, and it will continue to be an integral part of the rap music scene. With the emergence of new acts like Lil Uzi Vert, Tekashi 6ix9ine, and Cardi B, East Coast hip-hop is still very much alive and thriving. As we look ahead to the future of rap music, there is no doubt that East Coast rappers will continue to be at the forefront of the scene.
Pioneers of East Coast Hip-Hop
1. Grandmaster Flash
Grandmaster Flash is a seminal figure within the East Coast hip-hop scene. He is credited as one of the pioneers of the genre and is renowned for his innovative use of samples and precise mixing techniques.
His influence can be heard in many contemporary hip-hop tracks, with many modern producers attempting to emulate the sound he pioneered.
His songs have been sampled by numerous artists, and his influence is still evident today in the East Coast hip-hop scene. Grandmaster Flash is a true innovator and one of the most important figures in East Coast hip-hop.
2. Afrika Bambaataa
Afrika Bambaataa is a world-renowned rapper and hip-hop artist from the South Bronx, New York.
He has been involved in the hip-hop scene since the early 1980s, and is credited with helping to introduce electro-funk and hip-hop music to the world.
He is also considered to be one of the founding fathers of the hip-hop genre.
Bambaataa is best known for his song “Planet Rock,” which was one of the first songs to popularize the electro-funk sound. He has since released multiple albums, including “Death Mix,” which featured the song “Renegades of Funk,” and “Looking for the Perfect Beat,” which won a Grammy in 1986.
Bambaataa is also an influential figure in the hip-hop community, and is a founding member of the Universal Zulu Nation, which is a cultural group that celebrates hip-hop culture and encourages community involvement.
He has been involved in numerous advocacy and educational initiatives, and has worked with numerous organizations to promote peace and understanding.
In addition to his work in hip-hop, Bambaataa has also been involved in the production of soundtracks for films such as “Fresh,” “Trespass,” and “The Terminator.” He has also been instrumental in the development of the electronic dance music genre.
Afrika Bambaataa is a highly respected figure in the hip-hop world and his influence is still felt in the industry today.
3. Kool Herc
Kool Herc, born Clive Campbell, is one of the most influential and pioneering American DJs of the rap and hip hop genre.
His work in the late 1970s and early 1980s helped to set the stage for the rise of rap and hip hop as a mainstream form of music.
Kool Herc is credited with helping to develop the breakbeat style of DJ-ing, which involved isolating and repeating rhythmic sections of music.
He is also credited with creating the popular call-and-response technique used in rap and hip hop.
Kool Herc was influential in developing graffiti as a legitimate form of expression and was also influential in the formation of b-boying, a type of breakdancing.
His influence is still felt today in the rap and hip hop scenes, and he is recognized as one of the godfathers of hip hop.
4. Big Daddy Kane
Big Daddy Kane is an American hip hop artist from Brooklyn, New York. He began his career as a member of the rap group, the Juice Crew, in the mid-1980s.
He has released six solo studio albums and has had several chart-topping singles. He is known for his skilled lyricism, complex flow and inventive use of metaphor and double entendres. He is also known for his smooth and soulful delivery style.
Big Daddy Kane has been referred to as one of hip hop’s most influential artists. He has been credited with pioneering the use of multi-syllabic rhymes and for changing the way MCs approached their craft.
His influence has been heard in the lyrics of some of today’s biggest names such as Kanye West and Jay Z.
Big Daddy Kane has been covered by many artists, most notably the Beastie Boys. He has also made appearances in movies such as Malcolm X and Belly.
He has won several awards over the years, including a Grammy Award in 1991 for the album It’s a Big Daddy Thing. In 2017, he was inducted into the prestigious Hip Hop Hall of Fame.
Rakim is an American rapper and songwriter from Long Island, New York City. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential and groundbreaking hip hop artists of all time.
Rakim began his career in 1986 as half of the iconic hip hop duo, Eric B. & Rakim, where he was known for his complex lyricism and innovative rhymes.
He has been praised for his intricate flows and incisive storytelling. Rakim has released four solo albums since 1997, in addition to his work with Eric B.
Rakim is credited with bringing a new level of lyrical sophistication to hip hop, and his influence can be seen in the work of many modern MCs.
He has been named the “God MC” by hip hop publications like The Source, and is widely respected in the hip hop community.
Rakim’s lyrics often focus on his personal struggles, spirituality, and his views on life. He has had a lasting impact on the culture, and his influence can be seen in the work of many modern rappers.
The Golden Age of East Coast Hip-Hop
6. A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest was an American hip-hop group from Queens, New York, formed in 1988. The group was composed of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White. They are credited with helping pioneer alternative hip hop music.
A Tribe Called Quest has released six studio albums and been praised for their jazzy, soulful sound and their thoughtful, socially conscious lyrics.
Their debut album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, was released in 1990 to critical acclaim. The album featured the hit single “Can I Kick It?”, which featured a sample from Lou Reed’s song “Walk on the Wild Side”.
The group’s second album, The Low End Theory (1991), was even more critically acclaimed and commercially successful, featuring soulful, jazz-influenced beats and socially conscious lyrics.
The album is widely considered to be one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time. The lead single, “Check the Rhime”, was a Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
A Tribe Called Quest continued their success with their third and fourth albums, Midnight Marauders (1993) and Beats, Rhymes, and Life (1996).
The albums did not reach the same level of critical and commercial success as their first two, but still received positive reviews and featured the hit singles “Award Tour” and “Electric Relaxation”.
The group disbanded in 1998, but reunited in 2006 for their fifth album, The Love Movement. The album was praised for its jazzy beats and conscious lyrics. Although it didn’t reach the same level of success as their earlier work, it was still well-received.
In 2016, A Tribe Called Quest released their sixth and final album, We Got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service, which received widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2017 Grammys. The album featured guest appearances from Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, and Andre 3000, and the single “We the People” peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100.
A Tribe Called Quest is widely regarded as one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time, and their contributions to the East Coast hip-hop scene during the Golden Age of the genre are immeasurable.
7. Public Enemy
Public Enemy is an old school hip hop group from the 1980s and 90s that is widely credited as a major influence in the development of the hip hop genre.
They are best known for their politically conscious lyrics and their use of samples from a variety of sources, such as James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic.
The group is composed of Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, and DJ Lord. Their most successful albums include It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Fear of a Black Planet, and Apocalypse ’91…
The Enemy Strikes Black. Public Enemy is also known for their activism and their commitment to social justice, and their influence can still be seen today in the world of hip hop.
8. LL Cool J
LL Cool J, born James Todd Smith, is one of the most iconic and recognizable hip-hop artists of all time. Born in 1968 in New York, LL Cool J enjoyed a successful career in rap and music that spanned more than three decades.
He is widely credited with helping to popularize hip-hop music around the world. Over the years, he has released several platinum-selling albums and earned numerous awards, including two Grammy Awards.
With his distinctive style and smooth, laid-back rap flow, LL Cool J is remembered as one of the greatest and most influential rappers in the history of the genre.
His skills as a lyricist and storyteller have helped to shape the sound of hip-hop and influenced generations of rappers and hip-hop fans worldwide.
9. Boogie Down Productions
Boogie Down Productions is a rap group from the South Bronx consisting of KRS-One, D-Nice, and DJ Scott La Rock.
The group was founded in 1985 and released their debut album Criminal Minded in 1987. They were one of the earliest and most influential groups in the history of hip hop, with lyrics that often tackled social issues such as poverty, racism, and police brutality.
Boogie Down Productions gained notoriety for their politically conscious and socially conscious lyrics, which are often seen as pioneering in the genre.
The group was especially known for their song “The Bridge is Over,” which addressed the rivalry between KRS-One’s group and Queens rap group Marley Marl.
Boogie Down Productions disbanded after the death of DJ Scott La Rock in 1987, but KRS-One continued the group’s legacy with his solo work and through collaborations with other artists.
Boogie Down Productions remains one of the most influential groups in hip hop and their influence can still be heard in the music of today.
EPMD is a renowned American hip-hop duo, consisting of two members, Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith, who are both producers and rappers.
Formed in 1988, EPMD is one of the most influential acts of the golden age of hip-hop and has consistently released high-quality material throughout their career.
They have been credited with pioneering the hip-hop sub-genre of funk-influenced hardcore rap, which has been a major influence on modern hip-hop music.
Their discography includes classic albums such as 1988’s Strictly Business, 1990’s Unfinished Business, and 1992’s Business as Usual, all of which have gained them critical acclaim and commercial success.
Over the years, EPMD has continued to remain relevant and their legacy continues to be celebrated by many of today’s hip-hop artists.
Notorious East Coast Rappers
11. The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G., real name Christopher Wallace, is one of the most celebrated and influential East Coast rappers of all time.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, he began his career in the early 1990s and quickly established himself as a major force in the hip hop scene.
His debut album, Ready to Die, was released in 1994 and was an instant success, selling over four million copies.
He was known for his storytelling lyricism, often using his life experiences as a way to draw listeners in and provide a distinct narrative.
His second album, Life After Death, was released just two weeks after his murder in 1997 and was an even bigger success, going on to be certified Diamond in the U.S. and was considered a landmark hip hop album.
His impact on the rap game continues to reverberate today, with many artists citing him as an influence.
Nas is a renowned rapper, songwriter, and entrepreneur from Queens, New York. He is considered one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time.
Nas has released over ten studio albums, and his classic Illmatic (1994) is generally regarded as one of the best rap albums of all time.
He has collaborated with a number of artists including Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, and Mobb Deep. In addition to his musical career, Nas is also an entrepreneur, having launched a record label, a clothing line, and a movie production company.
He is also an active philanthropist, donating to numerous charities and causes. Nas is a truly remarkable artist who has had a huge impact on hip-hop culture and continues to inspire the next generation of rappers.
Jay-Z is one of the most successful and influential rappers of all time. Born Shawn Carter in Brooklyn, New York, Jay-Z has earned numerous accolades in his career, including 21 Grammy awards, multiple Billboard Music Awards, and a BET Hip Hop Awards Icon Award.
He is also one of the world’s best selling music artists, having sold over 50 million albums worldwide. Throughout his lengthy career, Jay-Z has broken numerous records, including becoming the first rapper inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
His influence and success have seen him become an entrepreneur, launching a record label, fashion and sports management companies, and a media network.
He has also released several successful business ventures, including the streaming service Tidal. Jay-Z is widely considered one of the most accomplished and influential modern hip-hop musicians, and his legacy continues to be felt in the music industry today.
14. Wu-Tang Clan
The Wu-Tang Clan is one of the most legendary hip-hop groups of all time. Established in 1993 in Staten Island, New York, the group is composed of nine core members, all of whom have gone on to have successful solo careers.
The group rose to fame with the release of their debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The album was praised for its unique style, combining elements of traditional East Coast hip-hop with soul, jazz, and martial arts-themed lyrics.
Its members have released numerous classic solo and collaborative albums, as well as various compilations. The Wu-Tang Clan has been credited for revolutionizing the hip-hop genre and inspiring an entire generation of rappers and producers.
15. Mobb Deep
Mobb Deep is a rap duo from Queens, New York, consisting of Havoc and Prodigy. They are best known for their gritty street anthems and dark, hardcore lyrics that depict life in the New York City boroughs.
Mobb Deep gained notoriety in the mid-1990s with their classic single “Shook Ones Part II” and soon after released their debut album The Infamous (1995).
This critically acclaimed album further cemented their position in the rap game and made them one of the most influential and respected rap groups of all time.
Mobb Deep has continued to release albums throughout the years, including Murda Muzik (1999), Amerikaz Nightmare (2004), The Infamous Mobb Deep (2014), and The Infamous Mobb Deep: The Infamy (2015).
Their legacy has been recognized by many hip-hop artists and fans, and Mobb Deep’s influence continues to be felt in rap music today.
Female East Coast Rappers
16. MC Lyte
MC Lyte is an East Coast rapper hailing from Brooklyn, New York. Regarded as the first solo female rapper to make a major splash in the hip-hop industry, MC Lyte made her debut on the rap scene in 1988 with her debut album, Lyte as a Rock.
Her lyrical content focused heavily on female empowerment and rugged street stories, both of which earned her major respect from her peers and fans alike.
MC Lyte has released several more albums since her debut and has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the game, including Tupac Shakur, Missy Elliott, and Queen Latifah.
She was even the first female rapper to be nominated for a Grammy Award for her single “Ruffneck” in 1995 and has continued to be a major influence on female rappers throughout the East Coast and beyond.
17. Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah is an iconic American rapper, singer, songwriter, actress, record producer, and television star.
Throughout the 1990s, she rose to fame as one of the most successful female rappers of all time and is credited with paving the way for many female artists in the hip-hop and rap industry.
She has released nine studio albums throughout her career, earning five Grammy Award nominations in the process. She has also acted in numerous films and biopics, such as Set It Off, Chicago, and Living Out Loud.
Additionally, she hosts the popular television talk show The Queen Latifah Show, which has showcased some of the biggest names in hip-hop and rap alongside a variety of special guests.
Queen Latifah is a shining example of a successful female artist in the rap and hip-hop industry, and her influence continues to be felt within the industry even today.
18. Lil’ Kim
Lil’ Kim is an iconic rapper and hip-hop artist who has been at the forefront of the rap music scene since the mid-90s.
She quickly rose to fame with her debut album, Hard Core, and gained notoriety for her hard-hitting lyrics and her distinct style of dress, which has been often imitated by many rappers.
Throughout her career, Lil’ Kim has been both praised and criticized for her lyrics and her provocative behavior.
She has released numerous hit singles, including “No Time,” “Not Tonight,” and “Lighters Up.” Lil’ Kim has also collaborated with other prominent rap artists such as Biggie Smalls, Missy Elliott, and P. Diddy.
Her influence on other female rappers and her contribution to the rap industry have made her one of the most successful and influential female rappers of all time.
19. Foxy Brown
Foxy Brown is an American rapper from Brooklyn, New York. She is one of the most iconic and influential female rappers of the 1990s, having released a number of hit albums and singles that showcased her lyrical dexterity and hard-hitting delivery.
She is known for her vivid storytelling and frank lyrics, often discussing topics related to street culture, female empowerment, and personal struggles.
Her debut album, Ill Na Na, went platinum and spawned the hit single “I’ll Be” and earned her a Grammy nomination. Foxy Brown has since released several critically-acclaimed albums, including Chyna Doll and Broken Silence.
Throughout her career, she has collaborated with some of the top artists in the hip-hop industry, including Jay-Z and DMX.
She is credited with bringing female rap to the mainstream and continues to influence the hip-hop movement, having been a major figure in the genre for decades.
20. Remy Ma
Remy Ma is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and actress who first rose to fame in the mid-2000s.
Her debut album, There’s Something About Remy: Based On A True Story, was released in 2006 and was met with critical acclaim.
She has since released two other studio albums, and several mixtapes and singles. Her songs are known for their hard-hitting beats and her distinctive flow, which effortlessly shifts between rap and singing.
As a female rapper, she has been a trailblazer in an industry largely dominated by men, and her success has served as an inspiration to other female artists.
Her music is a powerful voice for women’s empowerment, and her lyrics often tackle social and political issues. Remy Ma is an important and influential artist, and her unique style continues to captivate audiences worldwide.
East Coast Rappers from the 2000s
21. 50 Cent
50 Cent is one of the most successful rappers of the 2000s. A native of Queens, New York, 50 Cent has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and has been nominated for thirteen Grammy awards.
50 Cent’s rise to fame began in 2003 with the release of his debut album Get Rich or Die Tryin’. The album was an instant success, with several hit singles, including the iconic “In da Club”, which topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for nine consecutive weeks and was certified triple platinum.
Following the success of Get Rich or Die Tryin’, 50 Cent released the highly acclaimed second album The Massacre in 2005, which was also a commercial success and featured the popular single “Candy Shop.”
Since then, 50 Cent has released several albums, including his sixth album Animal Ambition in 2014. He has also appeared in numerous films and television shows, further cementing his presence in pop culture.
Jadakiss is one of the most iconic rappers of all time. Hailing from Yonkers, New York, he rose to fame as a part of the legendary rap group The LOX and has since gone on to become one of the most prolific and successful solo artists in hip-hop.
His unique style and lyrical prowess have charmed fans for over two decades and he is considered one of the most influential rappers of his generation.
With an ear for production and a voice that can move an audience, Jadakiss is one of the greats that will never be forgotten.
Fabolous is an American rapper from Brooklyn, New York. He is one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful rappers of all time, having sold millions of albums worldwide.
His music is characterized by his hard-hitting lyrics and infectious flow. Fabolous has released six studio albums, which have all reached the top of the US Billboard 200 charts.
He is also known for his collaborations with other high-profile artists, such as Jay-Z, Ne-Yo, Akon, Justin Timberlake, and T.I.
His extensive fanbase has earned him numerous award nominations and wins, including four BET Awards, three Source Awards, and two Grammy nominations.
Fabolous is also the founder of Street Family Records, an independent record label. He is a trendsetter in hip hop culture, making him one of the most influential and respected rappers of all time.
Cam’ron, born Cameron Giles, is an American rapper, actor, and entrepreneur from Harlem, New York. He is best known for his work in the 2000s as a member of The Diplomats, a Harlem rap group.
He has released several platinum-selling albums and mixtapes throughout his career, including his debut studio album Confessions of Fire, and his Vibe cover story-worthy album Come Home With Me.
Cam’ron’s 2010 album, Crime Pays, became a hit, and spawned the singles “Hey Ma” and “I Hate My Job.” He was also featured on the hit single “Oh Boy” by fellow Harlem-native Juelz Santana.
In addition to his music, Cam’ron has also made a name for himself as a businessman, launching the Dipset clothing line, as well as his own sneaker line, “Cam’ron for Reebok.”
He is highly respected in the rap community and has been featured on tracks with other well-known artists from the likes of Jay-Z and Dipset member Jim Jones.
He is a living example of the power of hard work, dedication, and ambition, rising from a difficult start to become a rap icon.
25. Juelz Santana
Juelz Santana, real name LaRon Louis James, is an American rapper from New York City. He is best known for his 2003 single “There It Go (The Whistle Song)” and his 2004 debut album From Me To U.
Since then, he has released a number of successful mixtapes, collaborated with numerous other artists, and is a member of the rap collective Dipset.
He has a distinctive style of quick-fire lyrics, often discussing street culture and the hustle of day-to-day life in his songs.
Santana has also been featured in popular films and television shows, including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Wild ‘n Out.
His music often reflects his struggles growing up in the rough neighborhood of Harlem, and his dedication to his craft has garnered him respect and admiration from hip-hop fans all over the world.
East Coast Rappers with Lyrical Prowess
26. Talib Kweli
Talib Kweli is an acclaimed East Coast rapper known for his lyrically dense and conscious rhymes. His roots in the East Coast hip hop scene can be traced back to the late 1990s, when he was part of the duo Black Star alongside the late artist Mos Def.
Kweli has since become one of the most respected and sought-after rappers of his generation, delivering powerful flows and thought-provoking lyrics in a wide range of styles.
His body of work is an impressive catalog of the New York hip hop sound, blending elements of jazz, soul, and funk to create a unique and captivating soundscape.
Kweli has collaborated with a multitude of big-name artists throughout his career, including Kanye West, Jay-Z, Mos Def, Pharrell, and many more.
He is an artist with an incredible sense of lyricism and delivery, and his skillful rhymes continue to captivate listeners around the world.
27. Mos Def
Mos Def, also known by his stage name Yasiin Bey, is an American rapper, actor, and activist. He is known for his politically conscious lyrics that incorporate elements of Hip Hop, jazz, and soul.
His socially conscious style has resonated with audiences since the release of his debut album Back in 1999, and has continued to do so through his subsequent releases.
Mos Def’s lyrics often touch on topics of racism, poverty, and injustice, and he is considered a voice of the modern black experience in America.
He has collaborated with numerous influential musicians over the years, including Talib Kweli, Kanye West, and Erykah Badu.
Mos Def is not only a talented rapper, but also a powerful advocate for social change. His work is a testament to the power of Hip Hop to speak out against injustice and to make a difference in the world.
Common is an American rapper, actor, and activist who has been in the music industry for over two decades. He is one of the most respected rappers in the industry, having won multiple Grammy awards and producing hit after hit.
His lyrical style often features socially conscious messages that are thought-provoking and memorable.
Common has also been involved in various philanthropic and activist initiatives, such as creating the Common Ground Foundation and The Speak My Name campaign.
His messages of positivity, self-confidence, and cultural pride resonate with listeners all over the world. Common is recognized as one of the greatest rappers of all time and his influence in the hip hop community is undeniable.
29. Busta Rhymes
Busta Rhymes is one of the most successful and respected rappers of the 1990s and 2000s. He is well known for his energetic performances and unique delivery, which sets him apart from many other MCs.
Busta has released numerous albums, mixtapes and singles over the years, each of which has become a success due to its unique sound and signature flow.
His latest album, Extinction Level Event 2: Armageddon, won critical acclaim and featured collaborations with artists such as Missy Elliott, Eminem, and Mariah Carey.
Busta has also been recognized for his work in films and television, appearing in films such as Shaft and The Rugrats Movie, and making guest appearances on shows such as Entourage and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Busta’s work has been praised by fans and critics alike, earning him numerous awards and nominations. He is also highly regarded for his philanthropic work, having established the Busta Rhymes Foundation in 2004 to help young people in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York.
Canibus is a Jamaican-American rapper from The Bronx, New York. He is known for his intricate wordplay and battle raps as well as his lyrical ability to take on complex topics.
He has been successful on the independent and mainstream levels, with several albums reaching the Billboard charts. He has collaborated with a range of artists including The Roots, KRS-One, and EPMD.
In addition to his solo career, Canibus is also the founder of the rap group Army of the Pharaohs. He has also received critical acclaim for his battle rap performances, and is considered one of the best battle rappers in the game.
Canibus has been an important influence on many upcoming hip-hop artists, and his influence will continue to shape the future of the genre.
East Coast Rappers with a Conscious Message
31. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill is an iconic East Coast rapper with a conscious message. She was born in South Orange, New Jersey and first emerged as a member of the Fugees.
She then released her debut solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, in 1998. The album was a huge success, winning 5 Grammy awards and selling over 8 million copies.
It featured iconic songs like “Doo Wop (That Thing)”, “Ex-Factor”, and “Lost Ones” which all tackled issues of identity, self-expression, and social justice.
Her conscious message also shines through in her live performances, which often revolve around topics of racial discrimination and inequality. Hill has continued to be a strong voice in hip-hop culture and a powerful force of inspiration for many artists and fans.
32. Dead Prez
Dead Prez, consisting of rapper/activists M-1 and stic.man, are known for their revolutionary and socially conscious lyrics.
Their albums, such as Let’s Get Free (2000) and RBG: Revolutionary But Gangsta (2004), address important social issues such as police brutality, poverty, and racism.
The group is associated with the Black Panther Party and the Five Percent Nation, and they often use their music as a platform to spread their message of black empowerment.
Dead Prez is considered one of the most influential and important hip-hop groups of their generation, and their lyrics still resonate with many people today.
33. Immortal Technique
Immortal Technique is an internationally renowned rapper from the South Bronx, New York. He is known for his politically charged and socially conscious lyricism, and is considered one of the most important voices in underground hip-hop.
His music tackles a wide range of topics, such as politics, poverty, and struggles of the oppressed. He has released four studio albums, most notably the critically acclaimed Revolutionary Vol. 1 and Revolutionary Vol. 2.
Immortal Technique remains an influential figure in the hip-hop community, and his music has inspired countless other artists. He continues to tour and perform live shows, and his presence is universally felt in the rap game.
34. Black Star
Black Star is a hip-hop duo that consists of two of the most influential MCs of all time: Mos Def and Talib Kweli. Their self-titled debut album, released in 1998, earned them critical acclaim and is still considered a classic in the hip-hop genre.
The duo’s unique combination of conscious lyricism, jazz-influenced production, and deft wordplay sets them apart from other rap acts of the era.
Black Star is also known for their socially conscious and politically charged lyrics, which often tackle issues such as racism, inequality, and civil rights. Their music continues to be relevant and has inspired many other artists in the hip-hop and rap communities.
KRS-One, also known as Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone, is a pioneering American hip-hop artist and rapper.
Born in 1965 in The Bronx, New York, KRS-One has been a major influence in the rap and hip-hop scene since the late 1980s, when he first came to prominence as a member of the influential rap group Boogie Down Productions.
His solo work throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s saw KRS-One become one of the most successful and highly respected hip-hop artists of all time.
His music, which often touches on themes of political activism, is highly acclaimed both for its musicality and its lyrical content.
KRS-One has also been an important figure in the promotion of hip-hop culture, co-founding the Stop the Violence Movement with other prominent hip-hop artists in 1989 and the Temple of Hip Hop in 1996.
He continues to tour and perform and is widely respected as one of the most important figures in hip-hop.
Contemporary East Coast Rappers
36. Joey Bada$$
Joey Bada$$ is an East Coast rapper from Brooklyn, New York. He is one of the leading figures in the resurgence of East Coast rap that has taken place in the last few years.
His music combines elements of classic 90s boom-bap hip-hop with more modern styles of production.
His lyrical content often focuses on themes of social and political injustice as well as his own experiences growing up in Brooklyn.
His debut studio album, 1999, was released in 2012 and was an instant hit with both critics and fans alike.
Since then, he’s gone on to release two further albums, B4.DA.$$ and All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, and has become one of the most respected and renowned East Coast rappers in the game.
37. A$AP Rocky
Rapper A$AP Rocky, born Rakim Mayers, is a renowned recording artist, music producer, and fashion icon from Harlem, New York.
He has achieved a great deal of success in the hip-hop world, with two albums reaching the top 10 of the Billboard 200 chart and his single “F*ckin’ Problems” reaching number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Aside from a successful music career, Rocky has also been involved in fashion, launching his own clothing line called AWGE and collaborating with labels such as Guess and Dior.
He has also featured in several films, including the 2019 movie “Dope”. He has also been involved in activism, advocating for criminal justice reform and giving back to his community through his A$AP Foundation.
A$AP Rocky is a powerful figure in the hip-hop world and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
38. Dave East
Dave East is an American rapper and actor from Harlem, New York. As a rapper, he is known for his storytelling style and lyrical content that reflects his hometown roots.
His debut studio album, Kairi Chanel, was released in 2016 and earned him a nomination for Best Mixtape at the BET Hip Hop Awards.
He has since released four more studio albums, Paranoia: A True Story, Paranoia 2, Karma, and Survival.
He has collaborated with a number of artists including Jadakiss, Fabolous, 2 Chainz, Lil Durk, French Montana, and G-Eazy. He has also appeared in films such as The After Party and Brother’s Blood.
He has earned acclaim from both critics and fans for his unique style and consistently great songwriting. He is considered one of the more promising and exciting young artists in hip-hop today.
39. Action Bronson
Action Bronson is a popular rapper from Flushing, Queens, in New York City, New York. Originally known as Arian Asllani, he adopted his stage name in 2008.
As a rapper, he is known for his unique style that blends elements of New York hip hop with influences from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures.
His lyrics often focus on his own life experiences, and he has collaborated with many well-known artists such as Ghostface Killah, The Alchemist, and Chance the Rapper.
Action Bronson has released several studio albums and mixtapes, including Mr. Wonderful, which debuted at number 7 on the Billboard 200 chart.
He has also appeared on television programs such as The Eric Andre Show and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. His fanbase continues to grow as more people discover his unique and entertaining sound.
40. A Boogie wit da Hoodie
A Boogie wit da Hoodie is an American rapper and singer from The Bronx, New York. He is best known for his catchy melodies and slick lyrics paired with modern trap beats.
His debut studio album, The Bigger Artist (2017), debuted at number four on the Billboard 200, and included the hit single “Drowning”.
His most recent project, Hoodie SZN (2019), became his first number-one album on the Billboard 200 chart. He has worked with a number of high-profile artists, such as Chance the Rapper, Lil Uzi Vert and Kodak Black.
His music often touches on themes of heartbreak, depression, and love. A Boogie wit da Hoodie also has an active presence on social media, often offering fans a glimpse into his personal life.
He has become one of the most successful and influential figures in the hip-hop and R&B scenes.
East Coast Rappers with a Unique Style
41. MF DOOM
MF DOOM is an East Coast rapper who is best known for his unique style. He is a British-born, New York-based rapper, producer, and songwriter who is known for his intricate and abstract rhymes.
DOOM has been a part of the hip-hop scene since the 90s, and he is considered a pioneer in the underground hip-hop movement.
His work is heavily influenced by comic books, and his beats are characterized by off-kilter sampling and creative production techniques. He often uses characters and personas in his music, such as the titular character in his 1999 album Operation Doomsday.
He is well known for his collaborations with various artists such as Danger Mouse, Madlib, and Bishop Nehru, as well as his production for the acclaimed hip-hop group Madvillain.
His music has been praised by critics and fans alike for its creative and innovative nature. MF DOOM is a perfect example of an East Coast rapper with a unique style.
42. Ghostface Killah
Ghostface Killah is an iconic American rapper and a prominent member of the Wu-Tang Clan. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential rappers of all time and has released 11 studio albums to date.
Over the course of his career, Ghostface Killah has collaborated with some of the biggest names in hip-hop, including Dr. Dre, Kanye West, and The Roots. His music has been praised for its raw energy, intricate wordplay, and masterful storytelling.
Through his music, Ghostface Killah has painted a vivid picture of life on the gritty streets of New York City and has become an important voice in the hip-hop community. His music continues to be highly regarded and celebrated by the hip-hop and rap community today.
Redman is a legendary American rapper from Newark, New Jersey. He is widely known for his unique flow, clever wordplay, and clever rhymes.
Redman has been a major influence in the hip-hop community for the past two decades, with hits like “Tonight’s Da Night” and “Let’s Get Dirty” bringing his style to the mainstream.
Redman is also known for his collaborations with other influential hip-hop artists including Method Man, Busta Rhymes, and LL Cool J.
In addition to his solo career, Redman has performed with rap groups like Def Squad and Gilla House. Redman has been nominated for multiple Grammy Awards and has won multiple awards, including the American Music Award for Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist in 2001.
Redman continues to make music to this day, and is an inspiration to up and coming rappers all over the world.
44. Method Man
Method Man is a renowned rapper, producer and actor who has been active in the music industry since 1992. The Wu-Tang Clan member first gained recognition with the group’s 1993 breakout single, “Protect Ya Neck.”
He has since become one of the most successful solo artists to emerge from the East Coast hip hop scene, with tracks such as “Bring the Pain” and “Release Yo’delf.”
His success extends beyond his music career; having appeared in films such as “How High,” “Soul Plane,” and “Garden State.”
He has also found success as an actor, starring in the HBO series “The Wire” and the Netflix show, “The Deuce.” His iconic status in hip hop has earned him a reputation as one of the most influential rappers of all time.
45. Ol’ Dirty Bastard
Ol’ Dirty Bastard, also known as ODB or Dirt McGirt, was an American rapper and founding member of the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan.
He was known for his outlandish style and outrageous lyrics, which often contained references to drugs, sex, and crime. He was also a highly influential producer and collaborator, working with a variety of artists on numerous projects, including his own solo albums.
His unique and energetic performances made him a beloved figure in hip-hop culture, and his songs remain popular today. Despite his legal and health struggles, Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s musical legacy will live on forever.
East Coast Rappers with a Cult Following
46. Big L
Big L was a rapper from Harlem in New York City who tragically passed away at a young age. However, before his untimely demise, he had already begun to make waves in the East Coast rap scene.
As a lyrical genius, his intricate wordplay and sharp delivery made him a favorite in underground circles. With his first major release, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, he gained a loyal cult following.
The album, which was released in 1995, was critically acclaimed and included some of his most iconic tracks like “Put It On” and “M.V.P.”
He was also known for his mixtapes, The Big Picture and Return of the Devil’s Son, and his collaborative projects with fellow East Coast rappers such as Jay-Z and Cam’ron.
To this day, Big L’s legacy remains strong in the hip-hop community, and his influence can still be heard in many of today’s rap stars.
47. Big Pun
Big Pun, real name Christopher Lee Rios, was a rapper from beloved Bronx borough of New York City who was active in the mid-to-late 1990s.
His debut studio album, Capital Punishment, was released in 1998 and was met with critical acclaim. His style of rap was defined by his intricate and often humorous wordplay and sharp lyricism.
He was extremely successful, being named the Best New Artist at the 1999 Source Awards and becoming the first solo Latino rapper to go Platinum, selling over 1 million copies. Sadly, Big Pun died in 2000 at the age of 28 due to a heart attack.
Despite his short career, Big Pun had an immense influence on hip-hop culture and remains an iconic figure in rap music. His legacy was kept alive by his wife, who founded The Chris Rios Foundation to support single mothers pursuing higher education.
GZA is an American rapper from Brooklyn, New York and is a part of the Wu-Tang Clan. He is considered one of the most influential MCs of all time and is widely regarded as a lyrical genius, as his cleverly crafted rhymes and complex wordplay have become the model for many of today’s rappers.
He is also an accomplished producer, having worked with some of the biggest names in the industry.
GZA has released numerous albums as a solo artist as well as with the Wu-Tang Clan over the years, and his discography boasts some of the greatest hip-hop albums ever made. He is a true master of the art form and continues to influence the rap game to this day.
Prodigy is a renowned rapper from New York City. He is best known as a member of the hip-hop duo Mobb Deep, alongside his longtime friend Havoc.
He was an incredibly influential figure in the hip-hop world, with many modern hip-hop artists citing him as an influence. Prodigy was known for his hard-hitting and often controversial lyrics, which often dealt with themes such as crime, poverty, and the harsh realities of the streets.
He also had a unique flow that many rappers of his time and after he sought to emulate. As a solo artist, he released several albums over the years, featuring some of his most powerful work.
Prodigy was a passionate artist who put his heart into every track he created, and his influence will continue to live on in hip-hop culture.
Raekwon is an American rapper and songwriter who emerged during the mid-1990s as a member of the Wu-Tang Clan. Since then, he has gone on to release critically-acclaimed solo albums, including Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… and The Lex Diamond Story.
His unique flow, innovative production, and lyrical talent have made him one of the most respected and influential MCs in hip-hop.
In addition to his solo efforts, Raekwon has collaborated with numerous artists, including Nas, Eminem, Dr. Dre, and Kanye West.
He has also been featured on tracks by other members of the Wu-Tang Clan, as well as on songs by modern hip-hop acts like A$AP Rocky and Drake. Raekwon’s influence on hip-hop cannot be understated, and he continues to be a major voice in the genre.
In conclusion, East Coast rap has been a major force in shaping the rap music industry. From groundbreaking acts like Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five to modern day icons like Kendrick Lamar, East Coast rappers have played an important role in the evolution of hip-hop culture.
Their songs reflect their hometowns and regional experiences, allowing listeners a glimpse into the lives of people who come from such diverse backgrounds.
With its unique soundscapes and lyrical content, East Coast rap continues to be a significant part of the rap landscape today.
Who is the most popular East Coast Rapper?
It can be difficult to pinpoint the most popular East Coast rapper as there are a number of talented artists who have achieved success in the rap music industry. Some of the most well-known East Coast rappers include Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie Smalls, Busta Rhymes, and Wu-Tang Clan.
What is the East Coast rap sound?
The East Coast rap sound is characterized by hard-hitting beats, sampled music, and rhymes that often have political and social messages. It is also distinguished by its aggressive approach to lyrical delivery and use of street language.
Who are some of the most influential East Coast rappers?
The most influential East Coast rappers are arguably those who helped to popularize the genre, such as Jay-Z, Nas, Biggie Smalls, and Wu-Tang Clan. All of these artists have proven to be hugely influential in the hip-hop culture, with their albums and tracks inspiring new generations of artists.
Is East Coast rap still popular today?
Yes, East Coast rap remains popular today with a number of up-and-coming artists continuing to embrace the genre. While there have been changes in the sound and style of rap music since it first originated, the East Coast rap sound is still alive and continues to be a highly influential part of the hip-hop genre.