Shut Up & Listen – MCs You Like Mostly For Tha Voice

A few weeks back I wrote A Letter to Guru as part of my blog week. It was soon after the legendary MC had suffered a heart attack and slipped into a coma. While a few folks thought it was a premature tribute, most got what I was trying to do. And for those that missed the memo, I basically flipped the song titles of almost every Gang Starr record and used them to compile the letter.

While going through Guru and Premiere’s catalog, one song title in particular stood out to me—“Mostly Tha Voice.” In addition to an MC’s ability to put words together, his/her greatest tool is actually their voice.

Guru said it himself…

It’s mostly tha voice, that gets you up
It’s mostly tha voice, that makes you buck
A lot of rappers got flavor, and some got skills
But if your voice ain’t dope then you need to [chill... chill...]

When I came across that particular song I started thinking about artists with notable voices. You know, that person that has a voice that just seemed destined for the microphone. I’m not talking about the Rakim’s or Snoop’s of the world. Yeah, you could pick them out of a chorus of MCs with your eyes closed, but there are some cats that are blessed with extremely unique vocal chords.

Some rappers use hooks to this shit
But if you took that shit out
And you took all the music out
What would remain? The voice no doubt

I initially planned to follow-up my letter to Guru with a post about MCs with the best voices but I got caught up in a hectic workweek and never got to it. Being that Guru was my initial inspiration and the brother passed away earlier this week (R.I.P.), I felt it only right I revisit the idea to list some of my personal picks for rappers with standout voices.

For clarity’s sake, I’m not saying these cats are the best on the mic or got crazy flow; they’re just a bunch of MCs I like mostly (and in some cases only) for tha voice.

I know I missed some key people but it’s my list and this is who resonates with me. Besides, now it’s your turn to voice your opinion. —Anslem Samuel


Pretty much the only thing I know about the former Flipmoder is that he had a crazy voice. His intros to Busta Rhymes’ albums back in the day were epic. I don’t recall him rhyming that much, but whenever he spoke I listened… But maybe that’s just me.

Only a deaf person couldn’t appreciate Rock’s gravely pitch. During my high school days, it was this brother’s voice that flooded my headphones during those long commutes. I love BCC to death, but when Rock left; the fold didn’t it feel like something was sonically missing? #NoShots. Glad the gang’s back together now.

Hands down, if I had to choose one rapper to feature on a record strictly for their voice it’d have to be Bun B. That’s probably why he gets so many guest spots in the first place.

A lot of people sleep on Nappy Roots but I’m not one of them; those boys got something to say. I was listening to one of their tracks the other day and Big V’s voice (he’s the big guy in the group by the way) just stood out. Not for nothing, is it just me or does he sound a little like Scarface?

Speaking of ’Face, the O.G. is not only one of the best with words, he got a voice to match. ’Nuff said.

Grrrr. X and his rabid fans would probably bark on me if I didn’t include him on this list. Moving right along…

Technically, he was more of the Lost Boyz hypeman than a rapper (although Tah was known to spit a few bars from time to time) but he truly was the voice of the group. In fact, the LB Fam was never truly the same after he passed. That right there alone makes him worthy of being one of hip-hop’s best voices.

The idea of a hardcore rapper having a lisp sounds like the makings of a Living Color comedy skit, but much like Mike Tyson, G. Rap is a knockout in his field. Not for nothing, his voice probably gave him an edge over his peers in that he had to go twice as hard.

When Big spoke cats listened. His flow was crazy, his rhymes were tight and they were all backed by an impeccable voice that just caught your ear. Am I lying?

It’s hard to standout in a crew of nine MCs, but Meth did for one clear reason—his voice. While Wu made many classics over the years, Meth was responsible for a lot of their classic hooks. From “C.R.E.A.M” to “Ice Cream,” and even his own joints (“Method Man”) his vocals added that extra magic to their records.

Say what you will about Po (now) but no other rapper’s career was so closely tied to his voice. People thought he sounded like Biggie (I guess but not really) and with Big Poppa gone, a bidding war started for the Brooklyn (by way of Belize) rapper. He could spit crazy, but you gotta agree, it was mostly tha voice.

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  • Lunatikstwocents

    I def agree with this, thats why theres so many rappers on the underground I cant listen to no matter how good they are lyrically because i just dont like how their voice sounds.

    • joe p

      DOOM !!!!

  • KSA1001

    No Chali 2na?

    • Anonymous

      word! “the brother with the monster voice”

  • Moving Sideways

    Top 5 Voices

    Scarface – Big and booming
    Sonny Cheeba (Camp Lo) – On that smooth out shit
    Freeway – Frantic and tense
    Busta Rhymes – Wylin’
    Juvenile – Reminds me of a grizzled blues singer

    • Lowedwn

      co-sign ur list, but I’d have to throw in Cee-Lo at #2 and make Sonny Cheeba an honorable mention

    • Deadly MIME

      I’ve just read all these comments and everyone forgot one MC that in my opinion had the best flow, not the best lyrics but the best voice ever: OLE DIRTY BASTARD!!!!!!!!

  • rek



  • rek

    on some real shit though..

    b real, gza, sadat x, pharoah monch get my votes for most interesting voices.

    out of the new generations Guilty simpson and Nipsey hussle got great voices

  • Anonymous


  • Kenny D

    Maybe Jeezy, but Wayne doesn’t have a dope voice. He just talks like a baby and every idiot thinks it sounds good. What bout Snoop though?

  • Kenny D

    Shyne used to have a dope voice, no it just sounds like shit lol.

  • T.McGrady

    Where’s my man Game ? He got pretty dope voice ….

  • Rugulose

    How is Cube the face of this posting, but he’s not even mentioned?

    • Anslem

      Easy, I wanted an image of an MC using his voice, Voila!

      Wasn’t about Cube but the picture.

      And like I wrote, the list could go on forever and I wasn’t talking about the Snoops, Rakims of the rap world, just SOME cats i thought had ill voices regardless of their skill level thus explaining Lord Have Mercy being on list

  • Wallman

    Yall forgetting about Pac..

  • SuperN**a

    @Anonymous, No.
    @Wallman, Yes.

  • HU

    How the fuck has no one mentioned Mystikal?! It goes BIG then Mystikal.

  • George Clooney

    Best voices while not necessarily the best lyricists = 2Pac, Eazy E, and Dr Dre. Hands down.

    Best voices period would be, DMC, Chuck D, D.O.C., Meth, Slick Rick, Rakim, Kane, PMD, MC Ren, and Nas.

    Worst voices for legendary rappers would include KRS, Jay-Z, and Big L.

    Gayest voices ever = Drake, Gucci Mane, OJ, Bushwick Bill, Joell Ortiz, and Chino XL.

    My opinion, of course.

    • Anslem

      LOLz at gayest voices ever. no comment

    • rek

      lol cosign the worst voices for legendary rappers save for krs – he got an ill voice

    • El Tico Loco

      Can you replace KRS with Sadat X?

    • Travis

      George Clooney forgot Lil Waynes Mumbling Mush Mouthed Ass To The Gayiest Voice List. U Cant Even Understand half the Sh!t He Says. But WHAT ABOUT MYSTIKAL AND BIZZY BONES HIGH PITCHED ALMOST WHINE??

  • Jesus Martinez

    Whateva happened to Lord Have Mercy?

    Anyway, Pimp C has the best voice in hip hop. Even moreso than Nate Dogg, he’s always my favorite to hear on the hooks. R.I.P.

    • Reddie

      Co-Muthafuckin Sign. Pimp C’s voice is legendary.

    • 619

      Kokane got that melody too. Closest anybody come to soundin’ as funky as George Clinton.

  • George Clooney

    And Gayme is wack as fuck, but his voice is definitely his best asset.

    And yeah, Jeezy definitely has a dope voice.

    Can’t forget about SNOOP

  • Pierzy

    I always said DMX only got on because of his voice. If a dude that sounded like early Freeway started barking and growling, no one would care.

    • George Clooney

      Cosign this shit to the fullest.

      • LEO

        Eeeeeyoooo bitch!!! let me some water and some lemon!!! bark bark bark!!! The Dog has the most distinct voice in the game…

  • bkgohard

    no jadakiss

  • kdub

    No Q-Tip are you serious! No Snoop! Booty Brown from Pharcyde.Slick Rick, Sticky Fingaz. And I ain’t even really thinkin’ about it yet……. Cube,Busta…. Kind of crappy list duke, no offense

    • Anslem

      It’s personal opinion and a shortened list. Busta is an obvious choice. Q-Tip is a legend but do I like his voice personally? Nah. Same for Eminem, dope lyricist but voice could be annoying, as with B-real. So IMHO choice some voices I personally like/d.

  • mrLex

    Y’all forgot Gza, Ice Cube and 2Pac.

  • enzo

    Gayest voices ever = Drake, Gucci Mane, OJ, Bushwick Bill, Joell Ortiz, and Chino XL.

    My opinion, of course.

    how you gonna hate on bushwick bill’s voice?

  • TonyStakz

    Chace Infinite
    Phil Da Agony
    Sick Jacken
    Xzibit (96-00 Sounded way more RAW to me!)
    Inspectah Deck (Specially in the 90′s)
    Big L
    Bizzy Bone
    Dat Nigga Daz(Early Death Row Daz)
    Bad Azz
    Rappin 4-Tay
    B Real
    Lil Fame of M.O.P.
    Big Stretch
    Mos Def
    Talib Kweli
    Pimp C
    Prodigy (90′s P)
    Sean Price…

    Damn I could go on forever with this list…of course its mostly the voice but if you aint saying much and aint worth a shit lyrically I Cant even fuck with you dont care how good your voice is!!!

  • mrLex

    If you guys do Illest Lyricist, it should be:

    1. Nas
    2. Rakim
    3. Gza
    4. Raekwon
    5. Prodigy

    Other ppl’s list may differ.

  • gaddic

    Word with prodigy
    dude’s voice is crazy

    Method Man,
    Redman(best delivery ever)
    The game
    Dr. dre,
    Andre 3000

  • El Tico Loco

    Majority of your list got lyrics to match especially G Rap, Meth and Scarface. But I got put Jeezy, Jewelz Santana, Ludacris, Big Twinz, Big Daddy Kane, Agallah, Mr Cheeks, Latifah, MC Lyte.

    Worst voices ever Freeway, Lil Boosie,Fame, Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Eon from High and Mighty.

  • allhiphop>xxlmag

    Em’s voice on Relapse

  • Pro9het

    Ol’ Dirty Bastard!

  • Lloyd sedio

    Damn how can u all forget warren g and q-tip

  • latino heat

    i know a lot of people that used to confuse Chali 2na and Lord Have Mercy. they sound very similar. i always hoped Lord Have would blow up, i loved that dudes voice. too bad he ended up in the XXL milk carton hall of fame.

    also on my personal list

    Fiend, on those old No Limit bounce tracks as soon as i heard Fiend or Mystikal i wanted to punch somebody in the face.

    Richie Rich, all my old school Bay heads know what i’m talking about. Rich was “Mr. Raspy” before anybody ever heard of Jadakiss.

    to anybody that said Game, just know that is not his real voice. before he blew up he was out here in the Bay doing mixtapes with JT The Bigga Figga sounding like a fake ass Shyne. he didn’t get that new voice until he signed with Aftermath.

    also Rick Ross uses a fake voice. just listen to any of his old songs with Trick Daddy or Trina before he started doing his terrible Godfather impersonation on every song.

    • Jesus Martinez

      Cosign, I was always hopin Lord would blow up too or at least maintain an underground following instead of completely dissapearing.

      Big Fiend fan too. Another one from No Limit that didn’t get his deserved fame.

    • what

      Double R!

    • KSA1001

      THANK YOU for that!
      Chali 2na is my shit!
      can’t believe i forgot about Fiend and Richie Rich too, my bad.


  • Just Sayin

    Pastor Troy back in his hey day, I may be a little biased but Ive never heard anything that comes close to the passion you heard in his voice on that We Ready, I Declare War album. Troy circa 99-2003 was the rawest nigga in the south.Come On! Well Unh Hah!

  • Brahsef

    Young Buck, ODB, Meth, Wayne, Biggie, DMX, Slick Rick, Andre 3000

    On the real, Chip tha Ripper, got a dope as fuck voice. Don’t sleep on the Cleveland Show.

  • brand-new

    one of my favorites that i didn’t see is r.a. the rugged man

  • http://yea Eazy E

    East Side South Compton
    and I put it on the map

  • mikel

    cant believe nobody even mentioned ghostface

  • nunya


  • sparkcity911

    CANT UNDERSTAND GUCCI,OR O.J.AN IM FROM THE SOUTH(s.c.)timbo king has an ill voice an sha stimuli,its so many but me//raekwon

  • Coldest DDE

    No Mystikal? really?


    All rappers mentioned are nice but their voice nah the people are just unique .

    My choice is Young Zee -The Outsidaz- His whole style is crazy , plus he is forever a part of The Fugees Score album .

    • oskamadison

      Cosign Zee to the fullest, as well as Pacewon, Q-Tip, Nas, Chuck D and Common.

  • George Clooney

    Wackest rapper with the best voice = Jim Jones

    Wackest rappers with the wackest voices = Lil Dap and Malachi The Nutcracker of Group Home. One sounded like a duck and the other the sounded like he just learned how to talk.

    Some other good ones I forgot to mention before:

    Pusha T
    Kid Cudi

    On the female tip, I always thought Amil had a good voice.

  • Just Sayin

    I almost forgot bout Cee-lo and Bigg Gipp of the Goodie Mob, them niggas could rap the “begats” from Genesis and it would sound cool. By the way the absolute worst voice belongs to Talib Kweli, dont get me wrong “Eardrum” was ridin’ but even Magoo could have made it sound better.

  • idgf

    Tony Yayo on you dont know and dont push me! He sound hype as fuck!

  • HU

    “Fiend, on those old No Limit bounce tracks as soon as i heard Fiend or Mystikal i wanted to punch somebody in the face.” – Latino Heat

    Classic comment due to its accuracy and hilarity.

  • PHD

    Lord Have Mercy had the illest not the best voice but the illest. And he could actually rhyme when the beat was right…

    It sounded like the world was coming to an end.

    But BIG was unbelievable!

    don’t forget he kilt Bone Thugs with they own flow…

    (flow, breath control, lyrics, styles)

  • Incilin

    2pac has the greatest voice in the history of hip hop.


    I have to say Big Syke had a dope ass voice.

  • Anonymous

    Eminems voice isnt annoying unless he uses that stupid accent, niether is Bushwick Bill or B-real all three of these dudes have very distinguishing voices.

  • Fireforreal

    Eazy E could draw you into the song on his voice alone. Same thing with Black Rob. Can’t forget Jadakiss.

  • Shawty J

    Notorious B.I.G.
    Bun B
    Ice Cube

  • El Tico Loco

    Gotta shoo in for MCA and Luke since his voice is suited for public indecency.

    • Jamal7Mile

      Ha! Co-sign MCA!

  • Jamal7Mile

    Kurrupt, Heltah Skeltah, ONYX when they’re yelling, Redman, Bahamadia, B-Real, MC Eiht, Yo-Yo (why not?), Tash, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh (beat box)…

    I tried to dig deep in the crates for these, although some are already mentioned.

    • BGZ


      Sticky Fingaz’ voice alone was enough to incite a riot.

      I would listen to whole albums just to hear Rock or Lord Have.

  • Pete from Harlem

    The object of this exercise was to note the best voices,i.e. vocal tone, that either greatly assisted or gave the actual words their power, in conjunction with their style,flow,wordplay,etc. Some of the illest for me would be BIG,Sonny Cheeba from Camp Lo,Prodigy via HNIC 1, of course ‘Kiss (pick a verse),Mystikal, 2Pac via Smile with Scarface,Scarface via Mr. Scarface is Back,early Foxxy Brown and Lil’ Kim,RBX via The Chronic,Ice Cube via Amerikkka’s Most Wanted,Chuck D. via Rebel without a Pause and Shut ‘em Down(that’s powerful), KRS-One (technically, his biggest asset was his clarity and articulation). There are others whom I like for a combination of vocal tone, delivery,flow,style,wordplay and vernacular.
    Case in point,early Juvenile via Ha!I couldn’t catch what he was saying for a minute due to his wordplay,flow, and that heavy nawlin’s accent. That’s what really did it.Same thing for Nicki Minaj. Took me a while to really get into that Barbie thing. But it works for her. Still liked her better before the nose job. The fact that she could spit before the change made the transition go over better. But that’s how I rate MC’s: Vocal tone,Delivery,Flow, Style,Wordplay, and Vernacular.

  • Pete from Harlem

    ….And yes,Freaky Tah’s voice was ill.

  • hiphop15




  • Logan Melissa

    The defense rests, your honor.

  • Kenny D

    Are some people really mention Tony Yayo and Cam’ron? Their voices are wack as fuck.

  • no hate

    Where’s Snoop? Where’s Pimp C? Where’s Juvenile? Where’s Mystikal? I’m talking about the character of their voices alone. MC Lyte. Yo-Yo. B-Legit. Tupac!!! Just to name a few. Brother J. Chuck D!!!

    • no hate

      KRS-1. Guru. Hold on haters… Gucci Mane’s voice is one of a kind too, you gotta admit. Lord 3-2. Fiend. D.O.C. The whole Goodie-Mo-B. Yes, Bushwick Bill.

      But overall, I gotta say Big Poppa’s voice was above all distinct (even a lil’ awkward), recognizable, and fit his flow to a T…

  • Thirdegree419

    Eazy E! All yall Trippin!

  • Pete from Harlem

    Yes! Brother J. from X-Clan. How could I forget?

  • Link

    Jadakiss, hands down.

  • Stylistic

    Krs-One and Big Daddy Kane!!!!!

  • Mauritz

    Slick Rick shouldda been there, as should snoop and busta. Honorable mention to Raekwon.

    • kedordu


  • Face Phoenix

    If you made another list geared towards that ill laid back flow I’d vote for Big Daddy Kane.

  • Lord Maximus

    Eazy-E for sure, Definitely Eminem, 50 Cent, Sticky Fingaz, Murda Ma$e, Canibus, LL Cool J, there’s just so many but if anyone ever got on because of their voice and good enough lyrics to make a modern classic, Yung Joc definitely has a voice, and Gucci’s got the voice to go with half decent lyrics

  • ridda

    for real Cee-Lo and Mystikal got some of the craziest voices

  • 3263

    The D.O.C., Richie Rich, Pimp C, Fiend, and MIA X…

  • caino

    Nas, Big L, Biggie, Xzibit, 2Pac, the D.O.C, Bust RHymes, DMX, Young Buck

    hmmmm everyone who’s album l always buy!!

  • Halfbreed

    Sticky Fingaz
    Big Boi
    Dre 3000
    8 Ball

  • kedordu

    this is the worst blogs ive ever read in my life .

    rappers with he best voices

    lauryn hill , andre 3000, snoop , kurupt ,tupac, crooked i , beanie sigel

    • kedordu


  • Anonymous

    Q-tip need to be on this list his MC’ing is like 80% voice.

  • Anonymous

    JAH Bless what up yall i got some new music for your ears. Yo Check this Hip Hop video out this is my brotha Azkia Muhammad aka A 2 DA ZKI. He is a really talented individual at the age of 22 he has been a part of the local Mass underground Hip Hop scene for 4 years strong with 3 cd’s under his belt. Discography in order from old to new- Young and Focused, U.T.N.G VOL #1, MA 2 The BAY. He has recently relocated to San Francisco / the Bay area to pursue his music and see what the hip hop scene in the bay has to offer. so make sure to keep an eye and an ear open for this cat he is a motivated talented up and coming MC with original flow original beats and something to say.

    This song is called SURVIVE DA TRUTH off U.T.N.G VOL#1 check it out on youtube and comment write your opinion about the music

  • Anonymous

    is so many good rappers, that this voting doesnt make sense. Where is Lil Jon?

  • jonesy

    listen to jay-Z coming of age and tell me memphis bleek’s voice doesnt sound dope there

  • Justin

    It’s Good To See Debates Like This, Too Bad It’s So Many Voices That Can Be Mentioned. I Have Been Saying That For Years And Currently, A MC Is Only As Good As His Voice Is. The Consumers Are Only Buying An Album Because Of Their Voice. The Lyrics Become Powerful Only When An Artist Voice Delivers It In That Distinctive Sound.

  • Anonymous

    PIMP C!!!! Hands Down


    no votes for prodigy or eazy e? WOW. how bout too $hort?


      HOLD UP….NO PAC? who wrote this?

      cramzy has some good ones too(pimp c, ball, and jeezy)

  • cramzy

    Pimp C, DMX,Rule (diet dmx), Mystikal, Sean Paul from youngbloodz, Big Gipp from Goodie Mob,TIP, Jeezy, 8ball,Memph Bleek,Snoop, Juve, BG, pretty much everybody in No Limit


    1.Hands down, Sonny Black got the sickest voice on the underground tip…Nigga voice is mad deep,kinda like Kane, Rakim, and Prodigy in one, but still different.

    2.Raekwons voice sounds real grungy on Surgical Gloves, real gravel-like. odb voice was a gravel pit too

    3. Immortal Technique on Dance wit the Devil, and Angels of Death. whoa

    4. Prodigy’s voice is Infamous, let’s keep it real, u kno dat nigga voice in ya head!

    5. hon, dmx, meth def made u wanna smoke 18blunts a day

    **most annoyin voice. Sorry Papoose, ill lyrics but damn. o yeah, mos def voice, hate his whole style and delivery. dats just me!

  • r hamilton

    best rap voice bar none:Chuck D. after chuck I would say Kane,Snoop,Sandman(cannon!),Black Thought,Big Pun and Juvenile(“Ha” was crazy!).

  • Jon Dog

    I like Krayzie Bone. And, did any one mention Chali 2Na from Jurassic 5. That dude is so fuckin underrated. He’s sick.

  • Jon Dog

    SHIT. He was mentioned… My bad.

  • Chris S


    hehe no but seriously i’d say either Common or Chamillionaire

  • mav

    what about the homie jada as soon as i hear him on a track i feellike he murdered i voted 4 method man though ice cream and cream nuff said

  • DownSouth

    You forgot Soulja Boy, Wacka Flacka, Shawty Lo, Gucci Mane, and Oj Da Jew Mane.


  • odb


  • Goodfella


  • b

    Funny how, no new artist from the last decade has been mentioned other than Pusha and Nipsey.

    New cats have weak ass voices.

  • Anonymous

    andre 3000
    kanye west
    kid cudi
    rick ross
    trick daddy

  • savge

    what about pac??

  • Jerm

    Joe Budden (his voice has gotten raspier, and it adds more emotion to his tracks)

    Ludacris (he stands out on practically any feature, or remix, his voice just grabs ur attention)

    DMX (he could have a lyrically weak verse, but his emotion and energy put into the verse would make it better than it actually is)

  • Big Push

    What about Quan? The guy can rap better than most and he can sing like R Kelly.


    Billy Danze from M.O.P. has a voice and intensity that makes me want to beat the shit out of someone.

  • Gift

    this list is aight, but niggas forgot alot of people, that I’ve been seeing in other people’s comments. Busta is a lyrical monster, plus his voice is sick, MJG has a helluva voice. I cosign @bigscreech on billy danze from M.O.P. Jeezy has a helluva voice. shit chuck D’s voice was bananas. XXL kind of slipping on this

  • dacoz-iz-beast

    How can y’all leave out the G.O.A.T. himself Slick Rick. He has one of the greatest voices that hip-hop has ever heard. He is one artist thaat should not be slept on, cause look the only reason he is still in America is that New York Gov. David Paterson gave him a pardon. That was for his amazingly unique voice no matter what the governor or any one else says.

  • Anonymous

    RICK ROSS AND YOUNG JEEZY GOT SUM OF THE ILLEST VOICES, HANDS DOWN. WHEN THOSE NIGGAS SPEAK, WE LISTEN LOL if officer ricky was teachin my biology class i’d pay attention more often


    YO HOW WE 4GET ABOUT NAS???!!!!! Even tho I can stand him now that he left kelis for damien marley, he got the ill smoked out voice…o yeah, UGOD!!! Ugod got the voice of a fuckin ANDROID or some shit. dont sleep on his low neither. And I think yall hypin Jeezy voice too much. Just my two cent


    On dat last comment i meant FLOW for ugod. And about Jeezy, Ross, Slick rick etc. just cuz a nigga voice different dont mean its ill. everybody got a unique voice. but hands down GURU voice was top of the top. thats the ONLY cat i can say i listen to just for the voice. rip my dude!