Thought of as the “Golden Age” of Hip Hop, the 1990s was filled to the brim with incredible rappers. On the west coast, the likes of Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, and 2Pac dominated the Hip-Hop game. On the east coast iconic rappers: Nas, Biggie and Jay Z ran the scene. The 90s also produced great groups like Beastie Boys, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and Wu-Tang Clan. For this list, we decided to focus exclusively on the solo rappers who dominated in the 90s. If you would like to see a list of the best 90s Hip-Hop groups send us a message on our Instagram Vibes_ATL.
Biggest Hits: Mind Playing Tricks on Me with Geto Boys (1991), Six Feet Deep (1993), Smile f/ 2Pac, Johnny P (1997)
Arguably the most underrated artist of the 90s era, Scarface released numerous world-renowned albums with the Geto Boys. After developing his craft with the creation of these albums Scarface eventually went on to release his standout solo LP: The Diary. Known for his deep and brawny voice and his willingness to tackle tough topics, such as murder, suicidal thoughts, and nihilistic leanings, Scarface has influenced a generation of MC’s and continues to be a role model for modern artists.
Biggest Hits: The City Is Mine f/ Blackstreet (1997), Can I Get A… f/ Amil, Ja Rule (1998), Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem) (1998)
Now known as one of the best Hip-Hop artists ever, Jay-Z in the 90s was just starting out his reign with his release of Reasonable Doubt. Coming from the bottom, Jay-Z in the 90s was arguably in his most raw and hungry creative years with releasing Reasonable Doubts, In My Lifetime, and Hard Knock Life in the span of only 3 years. These three albums elevated Jay-Z into stardom and made him one of the best artists in the 90s.
Biggest Hits: It Ain’t Hard To Tell (1994), The World Is Yours (1994), “If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)” f/ Lauryn Hill (1996)
Nas stepped onto the 90s Hip-Hop scene with one of the greatest albums of all time: Illmatic. With this Nas went to build a loyal fanbase throughout the 90s and released numerous commercial success. Obviously, Nas was never really able to match the level of quality of Illmatic, but the sheer quality of his debut album is what propelled him to be the third best Hip-Hop artist of the 90s.
Biggest Hits: I Get Around f/ Shock G, Money-B (1993), Dear Mama (1995), California Love f/ Dr. Dre, Roger Troutman (1995)
One of the most highly debated topics of all of Hip-Hop, 2Pac comes in as number 2 on our list. Pac dominated the 90s with his conflicted versions of his everyday struggles: gang wars, drug addiction and everything else that mattered to him. Sadly, we were never able to see him at the peak of his potential due to his tragic death.
1) The Notorious B.I.G.
Biggest Hits: Big Poppa (1994), Hypnotize (1997), Mo Money Mo Problems f/ Ma$e, Puffy Daddy, Kelly Price (1997)
One of the most unlikely success stories of the 90s, Biggie even after his debut album, Ready to Die, in the fall of 1994, still had to juggle rap and hustle to ensure a stable future for his family. Biggie knew that if he wanted to ensure a future for his family he had to deliver a stellar album. Along with the help of Puff Daddy, Biggie created a masterpiece and pioneered the one-part rap, one-part R&B formula that is still widely utilized today. In our opinion, Biggie’s exceptional rhyme schemes were what made him the best Hip-Hop artist of the 90s era.