Let's talk about the best rap groups to ever do it. Rap music has continuously evolved since its roots in the 1970s, creating a potent form of expression that has captivated global audiences. One of the primary catalysts for this progression has been the collective talents of rap groups, each contributing unique stylistic elements and powerful narratives to the genre's rich tapestry. In celebration of these collective musical trailblazers, we've compiled a list of the 15 best rap groups that have left their mark on hip-hop culture.
The 23 Best Rap Groups to Ever Bless the Mic
Songs: "Sugar" & "Bleach"
Albums: Saturation, II & III (2017), Iridescence (2018), Ginger (2019), Roadrunner: New Light, New Machine (2021), The Family (2022)
Major Achievements: Reached No. 1 on Billboard 200
Often dubbed as "the internet's first boy band," Brockhampton, brought together a diverse set of talents from Texas. Their unique blend of alternative hip-hop, pop-rap, and R&B offers an unorthodox and refreshing take on the genre, with albums like Saturation III showcasing their eclectic style and bold lyricism.
22. City Girls
Songs: "Act Up," "Twerk" feat. Cardi B, "P*ssy Talk"
Albums: Girl Code (2018), City On Lock (2020)
The Miami-bred tandem of Yung Miami aka Caresha and JT have achieved a lot in their short career. They garnered gold and platinum plaques for songs like “Twerkulator,” "Act Up" and "Twerk." The City Girls’ influence has been felt throughout hip-hop. PERIOD!
21. Run The Jewels
Songs: "Legend Has It"
Albums: Run the Jewels (2013), Run the Jewels 2 (2014), Run the Jewels 3 (2016), RTJ4 (2020)
Run The Jewels, a duo comprised of Killer Mike and El-P, have consistently delivered socially conscious and sonically ambitious albums. Their projects can be characterized by their explosive beats and razor-sharp lyricism which have earned them a dedicated fanbase and critical acclaim.
20. Cypress Hill
Songs: "Insane in the Brain" and "How I Could Just Kill a Man”
Albums: Cypress Hill (1991) Black Sunday (1993) III: Temples of Boom (1995), IV (1998), Skull & Bones (2000), Stoned Raiders (2001), Till Death Do Us Part (2004), Rise Up (2010), Elephants on Acid (2018), Back in Black (2022)
Major Achievements: First Platinum &Multi-platinum Latino American Rap Group
Cypress Hill is one of the most iconic rap groups in history. Formed in South Gate, California, the group made up of rappers B-Real and Sen Dog and producer DJ Muggs, are a staple in West Coast rap. Cypress Hill has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide with albums such as Cypress Hill and Black Sunday receiving both critical acclaim and commercial success. The group behind the classics "Insane in the Brain" and "How I Could Just Kill a Man” also made history, as the first Latino American hip-hop group to go platinum.
19. Beastie Boys
Songs: "No Sleep till Brooklyn," "Brass Monkey," "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)"
Albums: Licensed to Ill (1986) Paul's Boutique (1989), Check Your Head (1992), Ill Communication (1994), Hello Nasty (1998), To the 5 Boroughs (2004), The Mix-Up (2007), Hot Sauce Committee Part Two (2011)
Major Achievements: First Hip-Hop Album to reach No. 1on Billboard 200, Licensed to Ill is certified diamond
The Beastie Boys brought a punk-infused energy to the hip-hop scene. The trio from New York City blended rock and rap in a unique way that resonated with listeners and opened up the genre to a broader audience.
18. De La Soul
Songs: "Me Myself and I"
Albums: 3 Feet High and Rising (1989) De La Soul Is Dead (1991) Buhloone Mindstate (1993) Stakes Is High (1996) Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump (2000), AOI: Bionix (2001), The Grind Date (2004), Plug 1 & Plug 2 Present... First Serve (2012), And the Anonymous Nobody... (2016)
Major Achievements: Influenced Kanye West & others; Grammy Winners
Another ambassador of the golden age hip-hop, De La Soul, secures a position on our list. Known for their whimsical style and conscious lyrics, their innovative use of sampling in albums like 3 Feet High and Rising has been inspirational for generations of artists.
17. Rae Sremmurd
Songs: "Black Beatles" feat. Gucci Mane, "No Flex Zone", "No Type"
Albums: SremmLife (2015), SremmLife 2 (2016), SR3MM (2018), Sremm 4 Life (2023)
Major Achievements: Reached No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100, Grammy nominated
With their unique sound and catchy lyrics, Rae Sremmurd proves to be a force to be reckoned with. Brothers Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee quickly became household names with early hits like "No Flex Zone" and "Throw Sum Mo." The group has been nominated for several awards including Grammys, BET Awards and MTV Video Music Awards. Rae Sremmurd has also collaborated with some of the biggest names in music such as Nicki Minaj, Gucci Mane and Juicy J.
16. Mobb Deep
Songs: "Shook Ones (Part II)", "Survival of the Fittest", "Quiet Storm"
Albums: Juvenile Hell (1993), The Infamous (1995), Hell on Earth (1996), Murda Muzik (1999), Infamy (2001), Amerikaz Nightmare (2004), Blood Money (2006), The Infamous Mobb Deep (2014)
Major Achievements: Platinum plaques, cult classics,
Mobb Deep is one of the greatest rap groups of all time. They are considered pioneers of East Coast hardcore rap. Prodigy was known for his lyrical prowess while Havoc is one of hip-hop's greatest producers. Mobb Deep has also been credited with influencing many other successful rappers such as 50 Cent, Eminem and others.
15. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Songs: "Thuggish Ruggish Bone", "1st of tha Month", "I Tried", "Tha Crossroads"
Albums: Faces of Death (1993) E. 1999 Eternal (1995) The Art of War (1997) BTNHResurrection (2000), Thug World Order (2002), Thug Stories (2006), Strength & Loyalty (2007), Uni5: The World's Enemy (2010), The Art of War: World War III (2013)
Major Achievements: "Tha Crossroads" was the highest-debuting rap single premiered at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100
Next, we have Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, the Cleveland rap group whose harmonious blend of melody and rap, along with their spiritual and occasionally thuggish themes, earned them a unique place in the rap pantheon. Their track "Tha Crossroads" remains a quintessential hip-hop anthem to this day.
14. 2 Live Crew
Songs: "Banned in the U.S.A.", "Me So Horny", "Pop That Coochie"
Albums: The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are (1986) Move Somethin' (1988) As Nasty as They Wanna Be (1989) Banned in the U.S.A. (1990), Sports Weekend: As Nasty as They Wanna Be, Pt. 2 (1991), Back at Your Ass for the Nine-4 (1994), Shake a Lil' Somethin' (1996), The Real One (1998)
Major Achievements: Fought for Free Speech
13. The Roots
Songs: "You Got Me" feat. Erykah Badu and Eve, "Break You Off" feat. Musiq Soulchild
Albums: Organix (1993) Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995) Illadelph Halflife (1996) Things Fall Apart (1999) Phrenology (2002), The Tipping Point (2004), Game Theory (2006), Rising Down (2008), How I Got Over (2010), Undun (2011), …And Then You Shoot Your Cousin (2014)
The Roots are acclaimed for their fusion of jazz, funk, and soul with hip-hop, all accompanied by live instrumentation - a rarity in the genre. Tracks like "You Got Me" exhibit their musical prowess and thoughtful lyricism.
12. The Lox
Songs: "Money, Power & Respect" feat. DMX and Lil' Kim, "Wild Out"
Albums: Money, Power & Respect (1998), We Are the Streets (2000), Filthy America… It's Beautiful (2016), Living Off Xperience (2020)
Major Achievements: Grammy nominated
Composed of Sheek Louch, Styles P and Jadakiss, The Lox is one of the most respected groups in hip-hop.
Songs: "International Players Anthem (I Choose You)" feat. OutKast, "Pocket Full of Stones", "Front, Back, Side to Side"
Albums: Too Hard to Swallow (1992), Super Tight (1994), Ridin' Dirty (1996), Dirty Money (2001), Underground Kingz (2007), UGK 4 Life (2009)
Major Achievements: Forefathers of Southern rap
10. A Tribe Called Quest
Songs: "Bonita Applebum", "Can I Kick It?", "Scenario"
Albums: People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990) The Low End Theory (1991), Midnight Marauders (1993), Beats, Rhymes and Life (1996), The Love Movement (1998), We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service (2016)
Major Achievements: Dr. Dre's The Chronic was inspired by The Low End Theory
Occupying the 10th spot, A Tribe Called Quest, spearheaded the jazz rap movement of the '90s. Their intellectual lyricism, combined with their seamless blend of jazz and hip-hop elements, created a distinctive sound that pushed the genre's boundaries.
Songs: "Push It", "Let's Talk About Sex", "Shoop", "Whatta Man" feat. En Vogue
Albums: Hot, Cool & Vicious (1986), A Salt with a Deadly Pepa (1988), Blacks' Magic (1990), Very Necessary (1993), Brand New (1997)
Major Achievements: The first female rappers to go gold and platinum
8. Three 6 Mafia
Songs: "Tear da Club Up", "Who Run It", "Sippin' on Some Syrup" feat. UGK and Project Pat, "Stay Fly", "Poppin' My Collar"
Albums: Mystic Stylez (1995) Chapter 1: The End (1996) Chapter 2: World Domination (1997) When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1 (2000), Choices (2001), Da Unbreakables (2003), Choices II: The Setup (2005), Most Known Unknown (2005), Last 2 Walk (2008)
Major Achievements: Forefathers of Memphis Rap & the sound of trap music
7. Public Enemy
Songs: "He Got Game", "Fight the Power", "Bring the Noise"
Albums: Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987), It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988), Fear of a Black Planet (1990), Apocalypse 91… The Enemy Strikes Black (1991), Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age (1994), There's a Poison Goin' On (1999), Revolverlution (2002), New Whirl Odor (2005), How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? (2007), Most of My Heroes Still Don't Appear on No Stamp (2012), The Evil Empire of Everything (2012), Man Plans God Laughs (2015), Nothing Is Quick in the Desert (2017), Loud Is Not Enough (2020), What You Gonna Do When the Grid Goes Down? (2020)
Major Achievements: Helped make politically charged hip-hop mainstream
Public Enemy, were the trailblazers of politically charged rap. Their fearless social commentary, backed by Bomb Squad's innovative production, has produced seminal works like "Fight the Power," cementing their legacy in the annals of hip-hop.
Songs: "Walk This Way" with Aerosmith, "My Adidas", "King of Rock"
Albums: Run-D.M.C. (1984), King of Rock (1985), Raising Hell (1986), Tougher Than Leather (1988), Back from Hell (1990), Down with the King (1993), Crown Royal (2001)
Major Achievements: Helped take hip-hop global
Run-DMC were essentially hip-hop’s first superstars. Hailing from Holis, Queens, the trio of Run, DMC and Jam Master Jay helped rap music crossover. They were responsible for several history-making moments like being the first rap group with a top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, being the first rap group with a top 10 album on Billboard’s pop album chart, being the first rap group on a Rolling Stone cover, being the first rap group on MTV AND of course being the first rap group with a major endorsement deal. Shout out to Adidas.
Songs: "Versace", "Bad and Boujee" feat. Lil Uzi Vert, "MotorSport" feat. Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, "Stir Fry", "Walk It Talk It"
Albums: Yung Rich Nation (2015), Culture (2017), Culture II (2018), Culture III (2021)
Major Achievements: The Migo flow
At number 5, Migos, hailing from Atlanta, took the trap scene by storm with their energetic flows and catchy ad-libs. Their cultural influence was pervasive, and tracks like "Bad and Boujee" demonstrated their undeniable capacity to create chart-topping hits.
4. Wu-Tang Clan
Songs: "C.R.E.A.M.", "Protect Ya Neck", "Method Man"
Albums: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) (1993) Wu-Tang Forever (1997) The W (2000) Iron Flag (2001) 8 Diagrams (2007) A Better Tomorrow (2014) Once Upon a Time in Shaolin (2015)
Major Achievements: Created one of hip-hop's greatest albums of all time
Hands down, Wu-Tang Clan is one of the best rap groups we've got. Wu-Tang Clan revolutionized hip-hop with their gritty East Coast sound and larger-than-life personas. Their debut album "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)" is considered one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.
3. The Fugees
Songs: "Ready or Not", "Killing Me Softly", "Fu-Gee-La"
Albums: Blunted on Reality (1994), The Score (1996)
Major Achievements: Considered one of the most influential groups of the 1990s
At number 3, The Fugees were the torchbearers for socio-political commentary in the '90s. Consisting of Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Pras Michel, they skillfully intertwined elements of reggae, soul, and R&B into their rap, producing timeless classics like "The Score."
Songs: "Straight Outta Compton", "Express Yourself"
Albums: Straight Outta Compton (1988, Niggaz4Life (1991)
Major Achievements: Made "gangsta rap" mainstream; Went platinum without radio play
N.W.A., at number 2, was the progenitor of gangsta rap. Their provocative lyrics and raw narratives about life in Compton shed light on the harsh realities of inner-city life, profoundly influencing the genre and the music industry at large.
Songs: "Hey Ya!", "Ms. Jackson", "The Way You Move"
Albums: Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994), ATLiens (1996), Aquemini (1998), Stankonia (2000), Speakerboxxx/The Love Below (2003), Idlewild (2006)
Claiming the top spot for best rap group is Outkast, who redefined Southern hip-hop with their innovative soundscapes and eclectic style. Andre 3000 and Big Boi's contrasting yet complementary rap styles have produced masterpieces like "Hey Ya!" and Aquemini, affirming their position as hip-hop pioneers.
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