Hip-hop is a competitive sport. Your favorite rappers lyrically battle it it out (both directly against their opponents and indirectly) for fans, fame and money. The end goal is having their name included in the great debate of who's the best rapper of all time. MCs like The Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac and Rakim, to name a few, arguably lay claim to the title, but as hip-hop grows, the debate continues. As rappers progress in their career, humility sometimes goes out the window and egos grow with each accolade, in hopes to grab the title of the G.O.A.T.
Lil Wayne, who never feared backlash for calling himself the “best rapper alive," has noticed a big difference with the rappers of today compared to MCs of the past. Weezy doesn’t think artists are even trying to be the best to ever do it.
“They settle for what works," he shares. "And it’s working. It works for them. That’s why you don’t hear me knocking them, you don’t hear me hating. I’m just a part of a different culture, a different wave of music. That wave was Jay Z, Nas, Biggie, at that time it was all about being the best. Nowadays they’re not trying to be the best rapper, or the best at anything. They’re just trying be them and to do what other people say is okay.”
Claiming to be the greatest, a rap god or king of the throne is still very common with the heavy hitters of hip-hop. Who thinks they're greatest rapper of all time? From Nicki Minaj to Eminem and more, here are 11 MCs who make their claim at the crown on one of their songs.
Childish Gambino's Freestyle in Australia
During a show in Australia, Childish Gambino decided to flex with a freestyle and lay claim to the throne.
"I'm the best rapper, definitely top five/If these other rappers think they're better, they're fuckin' not alive/I cut their head off, that's every rapper living/That's Kendrick. That's Drake. That's ScHoolboy/That's everyone/I don't give a fuck, I'll kill niggas," he raps
Jay Z on "Dirt Off Your Shoulder"
When it comes to Hov's 2003 track "Dirt Off Your Shoulder," off The Black Album, no one compares.
"I drop that Black Album then I back out it/As the best rapper alive, niggas ask about me," he serves.
Lil Wayne on "The Best Rapper Alive"
Weezy made an entire song claiming to be the best in the business.
"The best rapper alive/The best rapper alive
/The best rapper alive/The best rapper alive
/Swagger right, check, game tight
/And they gon' R-E-S-P-E-C-T me," the Young Money head honcho delivers.
On a 2011 leak of the aptly titled "G.O.A.T.," Slim Shady kills the competition.
"And it's easy just to consider me one of the greatest white rappers there is/Knowin' goddamn well that I'm one of the best motherfuckin' rappers who ever lived, period," Em rhymes.
Nas on "Got Yourself A..."
Nas brags about dropping Illmatic, his very first album, and being crowned the best on this 2001 track.
"My first album had no famous guest appearances/The outcome: I'm crowned the best lyricist/Many years on this professional level/Why would you question who's better, the world is still mine," Nast Nas raps.
Kanye West lays some of his best verses down on "Gorgeous" off his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. On the song, Yeezy lays Muhammed Ali-inspired bars, calling himself the greatest.
"And these drugs, niggas can't resist it/Remind me of when they tried to have Ali enlisted/If I ever wasn't the greatest nigga, I must have missed it!"
Kendrick Lamar Dubs Himself the King of the West Coast and East Coast on "Control"
Kendrick Lamar turns hip-hop upside down after he not only claims he's the king of both coasts ("I'm important like the Pope, I'm a Muslim on pork
/I'm Makaveli's offspring, I'm the king of New York
/King of the Coast, one hand, I juggle them both") but public dissing all of his peers ("And that goes for Jermaine Cole, Big K.R.I.T., Wale/Pusha T, Meek Millz, A$AP Rocky, Drake/Big Sean, Jay Electron', Tyler, Mac Miller/I got love for you all but I'm tryna murder you niggas/Tryna make sure your core fans never heard of you niggas/They don't wanna hear not one more noun or verb from you niggas/What is competition? I'm tryna raise the bar high").
K.Dot continues to double down on the competition. "I heard the barbershops be in great debates all the time
/Bout who's the best MC? Kendrick, Jigga and Nas
/Eminem, Andre 3000, the rest of y'all/New niggas just new niggas, don't get involved," the West Coast native offers.
"Last name Ever, first name Greatest," Drizzy rhymes. The OVO leader doesn't get much clearer than that on who he thinks is the best to ever do it.
T.I. on "Swagger Like Us"
On T.I.'s all-star banger "Swagger Like Us," featuring Kanye West, Jay Z and Lil Wayne, he makes it clear who's the hottest MC in the game.
"Last thing I'm worried about is what another rapper do/Ain't nobody hot as me/Even if they rap they ass off, blast off and have outstanding quality/Sell a lot of records, I'll respect it and salute that/But spitting real life on hot beats I'm the truth at," Tip delivers.
Nicki Minaj on "I'm the Best"
Off of her 2010 album, Pink Friday, the Queen of the Barbs makes her claim as the one sitting on hip-hop's throne on "I'm the Best."
"I hear they comin' for me/Because the top is lonely/What the fuck they gon' say/What the fuck they gon' say/I'm the best bitch doing it," Nicki Minaj claims.
J. Cole on "January 28th"
On "January 28th," which is also his birthday, J.Cole calls himself the rap god.
"Like the great Rakim, when I make my notes/You niggas might be L or you might be Kane/Or you might be Slick Rick with 19 chains/Or you might be Drizzy Drake or Kendrick Lamar/But check your birth date nigga, you ain't the God/Nah you ain't the God/Nigga, Cole the God," he rhymes.