Rap is an expression of aspirations, injustice, and of these rappers’ street life. And like in any rich culture, some of these urban poets broke the boundaries of the streets and exploded into the world. Here’s our list of the top 40…
R. Kelly (Net Worth: -$2 million)
R. Kelly is a controversial recording artist who has been credited for his massive influence on R&B music. Kelly has sold over 75 million records worldwide making him one of the highest-selling R&B/hip-hop artists ever, but severe allegations against him have led to the decline of his career.
DMX (Net Worth: -$1 million)
Earl Simmons, better known as DMX, began his career as a rapper in the early 1990s. His debut album called It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot was released in 1998, and it gained both critical and commercial acclaim, selling over 250,000 copies within the first week itself.
His best-selling album, …And Then There Was X, came out the following year. DMX also became the first artist to debut his album at number one on Billboard 200 charts five times in a row. Unfortunately, the rapper passed away in April of 2021.
Tupac Shakur (Net Worth: $200, 000)
Tupac Amaru Shakur, better known as 2Pac, is widely considered to be the most poetic lyrical genius in the history of rap. His songs were a voice against the injustices and lack of opportunities faced by the minorities in the US.
With over 75 million in copy sales worldwide, he was inducted into the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame in 2002. His influence in music was so profound that Pac was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame upon the first year of his eligibility. Amazingly, his net worth at the time of his passing was only $200,000, however, his estate is currently valued at over $40 million.
MF Doom (Net Worth: $1 million)
Late Daniel Dumile was known for his enigmatic stage persona, MF Doom, which was inspired by the comic supervillain. The British-American rapper was known for his intricate lyrics and rhyming. Plus, his influence on the underground hip-hop of the 2000s is undeniable.
Doom began his career as part of the KMD in 1988, although the collective was disbanded in 1993. He returned a few years later with his Doom persona and his debut solo album, Operation: Doomsday, gained widespread success.
Royce da 5’9” (Net Worth: $1 million)
Born on July 5th, 1977, Ryan Daniel Montgomery became better known as Royce da 5’9” after starting his American rap career. Royce is currently one half of the duo Bad Meet Evils along with fellow Detroit rapper and legend, Eminem.
He’s also part of the hip-hop duo PRhyme with producer DJ Premier. Royce has also ghostwritten for best rappers like Puff Daddy and Dr. Dre. His seventh studio album, Book of Ryan, is considered to be one of his breakthroughs.
Nate Dogg (Net Worth: $1.5 million)
American rapper Nate Dogg was born Nathaniel Dwayne Hale in 1969 in Long Beach, California. Before his unfortunate passing in 2011, Nate Dogg was widely regarded as the “King of Hooks,” having provided guest vocals to many hit rap songs.
During the early 1990s, Nate Dogg started the collective 213 along with cousin Snoop Dogg and Warren G. Nate’s first rise to fame came when he co-wrote and sang as a featured artist on Warren G’s hit single “Regulate,” which peaked at number two on Billboard Hot 100.
MC Hammer (Net Worth: $2 million)
MC Hammer was a popular rap figure in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Born Stanley Kirk Burrell in Oakland, California, he’s considered one of the OGs of rap music. His meteoric rise to fame was marked by his songs including “U Can’t Touch This” and “2 Legit 2 Quit.”
Widely considered to be one of the most influential figures in pop rap, Hammer was the first hip-hop artist to achieve diamond status. While his decline in the industry was as sudden as his rise, Hammer secured a place on the list.
Joyner Lucas (Net Worth: $2 million)
Joyner Lucas is the stage name of American rapper, Gary Maurice Lucas Jr. Even though his career is still on the rise, Lucas is considered one of the best rappers because of his underground credibility and acclaim. Known for singles like “Ross Capicchioni” and “I’m Not Racist,” Lucas has often gone viral online.
Also known for his remixing skills, Lucas has made a name for his remixes of “Gucci Gang” and “DNA.” Once, while talking about his musical influences, Joyner Lucas admitted to being heavily influenced by Eminem.
Denzel Curry (Net Worth: $2.5 million)
One of the youngest emcees on the list, Denzel Rae Don Curry started rapping when he was in the sixth grade and released his debut album, Nostalgic 64, in September 2013 while he was still in high school. Born in Carol City, Florida, Curry was also part of a rap collective called Raider Klan from 2011 to 2013.
Curry has released four more albums since his debut — 32 Zel/Planet Shrooms, Imperial, Ta13oo, and Zuu — all of which have gained significant acclaim. His latest album is in collaboration with Kenny Beats, and it’s called Unlocked (2020).
Tinie Tempah (Net Worth: $3 million)
When Patrick Chukwuemeka Okogwu adopted the stage name Tinie Tempah and started his British rap career, he probably wasn’t thinking about the fact that he would eventually make it on tons of lists about the best rappers in history. After claiming success with his singles “Written in the Stars” and “Pass Out,” Tinie released Disc-Overy in 2010.
Both his singles preceding the album had become British number one singles, and the album too charted at number one, and was declared Platinum the next year. In February 2011, he was awarded two Brit awards including the Best British Single.
Juice Wrld (Net Worth: $4 million)
Jarad Anthony Higgins dreamt of taking over the world with his music, much like his idol Tupac Shakur. Higgins adopted the stage name from Tupac’s role in the movie, Juice. His single, “Lucid Dream,” has been played a billion times on Spotify and even peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100.
His debut solo album, Goodbye and Good Riddance, became certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Juice Wrld passed away at the age of 21 in 2019.
Kid Cudi (Net Worth: $5 million)
Kid Cudi was born Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi in Cleveland, Ohio. One of America’s best rappers and recording artists gained prominence when Kanye West signed him to GOOD Music Label by early 2009. Cudi’s influence on alternative hip-hop has changed the popularity of the genre.
Cudi’s commercial debut single, “Day ‘n’ Nite,” became a worldwide success and his debut solo album, Man on the Moon: The End of Day, became a Recording Industry Association of America certified double platinum.
XXXTentacion (Net Worth: $5 million)
Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy became one of American’s best rappers XXXTentacion who was known for his controversial persona and battle with depression. His alienation-themed music was a breath of fresh air in the rap community.
He gained mainstream success with his single “Look At Me,” while his album 17 was certified double platinum in the United States. XXXTentacion passed away in an unfortunate incident in June of 2018. His talent and music continue to live on with his fans.
Joey Bada$$ (Net Worth: $6 million)
Jo-Vaughn Virginie Scott or Joey Bada$$ is an American Rapper known for his hip-hop collective, Pro Era, and numerous other solo projects. His mixtapes — 1999, Rejex, and Summer Nights — gained widespread critical acclaim.
B4.DA.$$ was his first debut album that received underground success. Even though Bada$$ is not as popular as many of the other rappers on the list, his high rank on the list could easily be justified for anyone who would care to hear him out.
Iggy Azalea (Net Worth: $6 million)
Amethyst Amelia Kelly — or Iggy Azalea, as she’s popularly known — is an Australian rapper who moved to the United States at the age of 16. She gained fame with her YouTube music videos, “Pussy” and “Two Times.”
The New Classic, her debut solo album, reached fifth place on many different music charts around the world. Azalea became the first non-American female rapper to top the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.
Machine Gun Kelly (Net Worth: $10 million)
Active since 2006, Colson Baker took the stage name of Machine Gun Kelly. He made five mixtapes from 2006 onwards and was signed by Bad Boy and Interscope Records in 2011. His debut major-label album, Lace Up, was released in 2012 and sold nearly 178,000 records.
Still, Kelly only rose to worldwide prominence after releasing his Eminem diss track, “Rap Devil,” which gained traction online and quickly went viral. The duo has been going back and forth since, but Kelly’s gab, bars, and confrontational poetry earn him this spot on the list.
The Notorious B.I.G (Net Worth: $10 million)
Biggie Smalls or the Notorious B.I.G. was born as Christopher George Latore Wallace. Influenced by New York and its gangster rap traditions, Biggie became known for his laidback style and grim content.
His debut album, Ready to Die, received widespread critical acclaim. Biggie was also named Billboard Music Awards Rapper of the Year in 1995 and became the reason the east coast was able to rise against the popularity of the west coast rap domination.
Childish Gambino (Net Worth: $12 million)
Donald McKinley Glover Jr. is an American rapper, singer, actor, director, producer, stand-up comedian, and writer — better known by his stage name Childish Gambino. Having a successful acting and comedy career along with his rap music, Gambino independently released several mixtapes and singles before signing with Glassnote Records in 2011.
His albums — including Camp, Because the Internet, and Awaken, My Love! — have received widespread adulation from fans. The last one even spawned the single “Redbone,” which topped at #12 on Billboard Hot 100.
Salt-N-Peppa (Net Worth: $14 million)
Signed to Next Plateau Records, Salt-N-Peppa is a three-member American hip-hop group made up of Cheryl James, Sandra Denton, and DJ Spinderella. Their single “Push It” was released in 1987 and reached the top of the music charts in three countries.
They are widely regarded as one of the best rap groups of all time, having sold over 15 million records worldwide. Plus, they’re the first female rap act to get certified gold and platinum records.
Logic (Net Worth: $14 million)
Sir Robert Bryson Hall II is an American rapper popularly known as Logic. While his name might sound like it belongs to an 80-year-old man, Logic is just 31 years old and was born in Rockville, Maryland.
Beginning his music career in 2010, he gained fame with the Young Sinatra mixtape series and helped him gain the attention of Def Jam Recordings. His first two studio albums, Under Pressure and The Incredible True Story, were both able to earn a top-five spot on the US Billboard 200.
Tyler, the Creator (Net Worth: $16 million)
West Coast rapper Tyler, the Creator was born Tyler Gregory Okonma and co-founded an alternative hip-hop collective called Odd Future. His influence in the group has been nothing short of instrumental.
However, his solo success reached its peak with Igor in 2019, which became his first number one album on the Billboard 200 and also bagged the Best Rap Album at the Grammy Awards in 2020. Tyler has also won a BRIT Award and an MTV Music Video Award for his body of work.
Ghostface Killah (Net Worth: $17 million)
Dennis Coles — or Ghostface Killah as he’s known in the hip-hop world — is one of the OGs of rap music. Along with being one of the best rappers and a member of the famous rap collective, Wu-Tang Clan, Coles is also a songwriter and an actor.
His albums like Ironman (1996), Supreme Clientele (2000), and Fishscale (2006) have been some of the most critically acclaimed albums in the last three decades.
Busta Rhymes (Net Worth: $20 million)
Trevor George Smith Jr. was given the name Busta Rhymes by Chuck D of Public Enemy — and it was inspired by NFL wide receiver George “Buster” Rhymes. Busta has made it on several best rappers list over the years including About.com, AllMusic, The Source, and MTV.
His first studio album, The Coming (1996), was platinum-selling. Since then, the Brooklyn native has released another nine memorable albums. His last album, Extinction Level Event 2: Wrath of God, featured several other artists including Mariah Carey and Kendrick Lamar.
Chance the Rapper (Net Worth: $25 million)
Born Chancelor Bennett, Chance the Rapper comes from the Chatham neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois. Having gained mainstream popularity with his second mixtape, Acid Rap, Chance followed it up with the massively successful Coloring Book in 2016, which earned him three Grammy Awards.
Coloring Book not only bagged the Best Rap Album Award but was also the first streaming-only album to do so. It topped the Billboard 200 at number eight. He released his debut studio album, The Big Day, was released in 2019.
The Game (Net Worth: $25 million)
Jayceon Terrell Taylor, or The Game, is a West Coast hip-hop rapper and was signed by Dr. Dre under the Aftermath label. He rose to prominence in 2005 after success with his major-label debut album, The Documentary — and proved his skill yet again with the 2006 follow-up album, Doctor’s Advocate.
During the 2000s, Game was credited with bringing back mainstream relevance to the West Coast hip-hop scene. His rap is political, rebellious, and on many occasions, confrontational with other rappers. Nevertheless, his talent for poetry is undisputed and that’s what has earned him his spot!
Big Sean (Net Worth: $26 million)
Born Sean Michael Leonard Anderson, Big Sean is an American singer, rapper, and songwriter. After releasing a few mixtapes and a debut album, Big Sean was considered a rising star in the world of hip-hop.
Sean has received massive success on his albums including his debut, Finally Famous, which went platinum and peaked at number three on the US Billboard 200. His lyrics are confident, brazen, and rebellious — staying true to the streets. On the other hand, though, his lyrics in songs like “Beware” still manage to pull at your heartstrings.
Cardi B (Net Worth: $30 million)
Cardi B or Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar was born in 1992 in New York and became an internet sensation early on in her career, especially on Vine and Instagram. Invasion of Privacy, her debut solo album, reached the first spot on Billboard 200.
It was also certified triple platinum by the RIAA and was named by Billboard as the top female rap album of the 2010’s decade. Cardi B is the only female artist to have won the Grammy for Best Rap Album and was also nominated as album of the year.
Flo Rida (Net Worth: $31 million)
Raised in Carol City, Florida, Tramar Lacel Dillard picked the stage name Flo Rida to mark his rap career. In 2007, his single “Low” broke out and stayed in first place for 10 weeks in the United States while also breaking digital download records during that time.
Flo Rida has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and is one of the highest-selling rap artists of all time. His club music-inspired numbers have been able to capture the audience’s imagination and cement his place on this list.
Wiz Khalifa (Net Worth: $45 million)
Cameron Jibril Thomas a.k.a. Wiz Khalifa released his debut album, Show and Prove, in 2006 and was signed by Warner Bros. Records in 2007. His debut single, “Black and Yellow” — a tribute to his hometown of Pittsburgh — became one of his biggest hits.
It debuted at #100 on the Billboard Hot 100 and eventually went on to top the list. The song influenced popular songs “Roll Up” and “No Sleep.” However, his most famous song till today is “See You Again” featuring Charlie Puth, which topped charts for 12 straight weeks.
Missy Elliott (Net Worth: $50 million)
Melissa Arnette Elliott, or Missy Elliot, was a member of the Swing Mob, and has unsurprisingly collaborated with Timbaland on several occasions. Her debut solo album, Supa Dupa Fly, reached number three on Billboard 200 and was the highest-ranking album by a female rapper in 1997.
Her popular hit, “Hot Boyz,” also became number one on the US R&B chart. Elliott has four Grammy Awards to her name and has sold over 30 million records in the United States alone.
Nas (Net Worth: $70 million)
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, or Nas, is an American rapper rooted in the rap scene of New York. Widely revered as one of the greatest, seven out of his twelve studio albums are certified platinum and multi-platinum in the United States.
He began his musical career in 1989 and by the time his first album, Illmatic, was released, it became an instant worldwide success. Nas has been featured by MTV and Billboard as one of their top rappers of all time.
Nicki Minaj (Net Worth: $85 million)
Onika Tanya Maraj-Petty became the iconic Nicki Minaj when she started releasing her mixtapes — Playtime Is Over, Beam Me Up Scotty, and Sucka Free. Her bold style is complemented by her larger-than-life stage persona that stands for feminine power.
Her rhythmic flow and use of alter egos in her music make her stand out even in the list of the greatest. Nicki’s maiden studio album, Pink Friday, became a topper on US Billboard 200 and was certified triple platinum by RIAA.
Pitbull (Net Worth: $100 million)
Armando Christian Perez is an American rapper better known by his stage name, Pitbull. He has been a major influence on reggaeton, Latin hip-hop, and crunk music. His debut album, M.I.A.M.I., was released in 2004 under TVT records.
Pitbull received widespread success with his fourth album, Rebelution, which also included his breakthrough hit single, “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho).” He has sold over 7.5 million studio albums and 100 million singles worldwide, staying true to his nickname, Mr. Worldwide.
Lil Wayne (Net Worth: $150 million)
Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., or Lil Wayne, is widely held to be one of the most influential rap artists of his generation. His rap career started at the young age of 12 when he was signed to Cash Money Records by rapper Birdman.
His sixth album, The Carter III, sold a whopping one million copies within its first week in the US. The album received a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, and he has sold over 120 million copies during his entire music career.
Snoop Dogg (Net Worth: $150 million)
Snoop Dogg shot to fame way back in 1992 after his appearance in Dr. Dre’s debut solo single, “Deep Cover,” followed by his debut solo album The Chronic. Snoop’s debut solo album, Doggystyle, received instant success by topping Billboard 200 charts.
His second album, The Doggfather, was also certified double platinum. Dogg’s cultural and musical influences can be felt all over the Hollywood circuit and his chilled laidback gangsta persona has gained him a cult following.
Drake (Net Worth: $180 million)
Audrey Drake Graham is widely held responsible for popularizing the Toronto sound. Known by his stage name Drake, he’s one of the best rappers and most renowned faces of music throughout the world.
Drake’s debut studio album, Thank Me Later, reached the number one spot on the Billboard 200 and became an instant success. He has two multi-platinum certifications in the US for Nothing Was the Same and If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.
Eminem (Net Worth: $230 million)
Having sold 220 million records worldwide, Marshall Bruce Mathers III is considered one of the best rappers of all time and credited with making rap popular in Middle America. His rhyming, flow, talent, and lyrics have helped break racial barriers in hip-hop.
Eminem has had two best-selling albums of the year worldwide — The Eminem Show and Recovery. Since then, he has released four US number one albums. He has also scored the Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Lose Yourself” in the movie, 8 Mile.
Dr. Dre (Net Worth: $800 million)
Popularly known as the mentor to one of the biggest rap legends, Eminem, Dr. Dre himself has a resume worth bragging about. Born Andre Romelle Young, Dr. Dre found fame with Gangsta rap group N.W.A.
He’s also credited for popularizing West Coast G-Funk, a musical style that’s based on the synthesizer with slow heavy beats. His single “Let Me Ride” won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance.
P Diddy (Net Worth: $885 million)
Becoming one of the richest recording artists and hip-hop producers is an achievement in itself, but P Diddy — or Sean Combs — has a lot more to his name than wealth. His debut album, No Way Out, has been certified platinum several times.
He later followed it up with Forever, The Saga Continues…, and Press Play. Diddy is also recognized for having cultivated legends like The Notorious B.I.G. His career is studded with three Grammy Awards and two MTV Video Music Awards.
Jay-Z (Net Worth: $1.4 billion)
By far the richest rapper on this list of greats, Jay Z is one half of the music power couple along with his wife, Queen B. His 1996 debut studio album, Reasonable Doubt, cemented his place as an artist to be reckoned with.
He’s one of the best-selling rap artists of all time, having sold over 50 million albums and 75 million singles. With a total of 23 awards, Jay Z boasts the greatest number of Grammy Awards by any rapper.