It's known by many that Brooklyn stands as the hometown of legends like Biggie, Jay-Z, and Big Daddy Kane. That's just the beginning. Brooklyn's also the birthplace of Lil' Kim, AZ, and Mos Def. This historically-packed hotbed of unparalleled talent, this hip hop borough of New York has gifted the world with some of the culture's most influential artists. We're now going to take a quick, yet comprehensive look at 10 of the best rappers to come out of Brooklyn.
1) The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie led a brief, yet undoubtedly high-impact career. With only two albums produced throughout his career, they were enough to skyrocket him to a level of fame and adoration and respect that the genre itself had never seen prior. If you have any doubt in your mind about Biggie's talent or charisma, give "Life After Death" a listen. Suffice to say, it is time well-listened. After Biggie went on to join Puffy (Diddy), doubling down on his unwavering commitment to the craft, the Brooklyn legend continue to soar to heights otherwise untouched within the rap world. It's a complete head trip to ponder - how many more albums of greatness would the world have from Biggie if his life wasn't taken at just 24 years old?
From his debut album where he teamed up with Biggie on the song “Brooklyn’s Finest”, Jay-Z, also known as HOV, has dazzled listeners with his keen word play and lyricism. You simply cannot talk Brooklyn rappers without mentioning Jay-Z. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Jay-Z grew up in the Marcy Housing projects in Bed-Stuy, which he has cited frequently in his music over the years. No other rapper has released as many hit albums and managed to stay relevant for as long has HOV has in his career. Not only has Jay-Z dominated the rap game, but he has also made himself into a business mogul, building an empire worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
3) Mos Def
Much like Biggie, the only kind of possible grievance you might be able to drum up when it comes to assessing the legendary body of work that was created by Mos Def (aka Yasin Bey), is simply that we don’t have more of his work to enjoy. To say that Mos Def possessed a superhuman level of lyrical talent would be an understatement. We can’t forget the classics like Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star, Black on Both Sides, and also The Ecstatic.
4) Big Daddy Kane
Big Daddy Kane might just be the most iconic Brooklyn MC that there ever was. Big Daddy Kane was able to deliver crisp, seemingly flawless punchlines with an effortless flow. His ability to alternate between a raw delivery and a toned down smoothness mad him unique amongst his peers. Of all Big Daddy Kane's highly praised work, his two undeniable classics, titled "Long Live the Kane" and then "It's a Big Daddy Thing" were able to establish him as an iconic Brooklyn rappers.
5) Masta Ace
Eminem has long since claimed that Masta Ace is one of his favorite rappers of all time. Masta Ace has been able to continue to thrive in the industry since the late ‘80s. He gained widespread recognition over his memorable verse on Juice Crew’s “The Symphony,” as he effortlessly displayed his versatility.
El-P jump-started his career in the early ‘90s. He was a founding member of the beloved New York trio, Company Flow. El-P’s solo albums, which include Fantastic Damage and Cancer 4 Cure rightfully secured his position in the upper echelons of the rap industry. El-P currently operates as half of Run The Jewels, where he’s been able to continue honing his craft.
Perhaps one of the biggest pulls when it comes to the work of Fabolous or (Fab) is his easy, relaxed delivery, which he pairs with a the razor-sharp wit (similar to a great like Jay Z). Fabolous has delivered hit after hit for, teaming with everyone from Joe Budden or Lloyd Banks.
Guru established himself as a pioneer, an inspirational leader within the industry back in the '90s. Guru made up one half of Gang Starr, which is viewed as one of the most respected rap duos of all time. Guru and Premo were able to drop a multitude of absolute golden age classics, which included highlights like Step in the Arena, Moment of Truth, and Hard to Earn.
Buckshot Shorty was born and raised in Brooklyn, and has been respected as one of the most enduring Brooklyn rappers. This highly dynamic rapper is respected for his unwavering, energetic delivery. He made a name for himself with his single “Who Got Da Props?”. Buckshot has never failed to represent Duck Down Music.
O.C. was both deeply introspective and unforgettably poetic. Though O.C. isn’t necessarily as flashy as a rapper like Big L, he managed to share enough catchy rhymes over a couple decades to establish himself as one in a league of legends. O.C. was also keen on experimenting with different styles of rap, which included boom-bap, and a more methodical, contemplative cadence later in his career.