JAY-Z has been named the greatest rapper of all time by Billboard and VIBE, and as is usually the case with Hip Hop rankings, it has caused quite a stir.
The publications began rolling out their list of Top 50 Greatest Rappers of All Time last month as part of a collaborative effort to celebrate Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary this year.
After showing love to the likes of Kanye West, André 3000, Lauryn Hill, Ice Cube, Rakim, LL COOL J and Black Thought across its No. 50 to No. 11 picks, Billboard and VIBE unveiled their final 10 selections on Wednesday (February 8).
Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg, Drake, Lil Wayne and The Notorious B.I.G. were ranked No. 10 to No. 6, in that order, while Eminem, 2Pac, Nas and Kendrick Lamar occupied the No. 5 to No. 2 slots.
But coming in at No. 1 on the list was an MC who is no stranger to being hailed as the greatest rapper of all time: JAY-Z.
Billboard argued its case by citing Hov’s commercial success, critical acclaim, cultural impact and entrepreneurial greatness, along with his “regal-scented rhymes that speak to the struggle.”
Aside from his 24 Grammy Awards, 14 No. 1 albums and 140 million record sales, it’s Jigga’s “longevity, the breadth of his accomplishments, and what he’s meant to Hip Hop from a musical, cultural and financial standpoint for the last three decades” that make him the G.O.A.T., according to the publication.
.@sc is Billboard/VIBE’s No. 1 Greatest Rapper of All Time. 🌟
See Nos. 10-1 here: https://t.co/Qp8UuyGJ1f pic.twitter.com/j0gBXlnkBe
— billboard (@billboard) February 9, 2023
The list caused plenty of chatter on social media, and among JAY-Z’s army of loyal fans, it was unsurprisingly welcomed with open arms.
“Absolutely. Nobody has as many consistently amazing hip hop records as HOV,” one fan reacted on Twitter, while another noted: “Wayne himself says jay is the GOAT I don’t know why yall pressed [crying face emojis].”
Not everyone agreed with the ranking, though.
“Em is the most decorated Rapper in history. Em is the best selling rapper of all time. Em as achieved EGOT status. Has achieved the biggest sold out shows in rap history. Lose yourself is the most successful song of all time. Em is the only top selling rapper in top 10 music history,” one Slim Shady stan countered.
There were also plenty of Tupac Shakur fans outraged at the late rap icon not being named the greatest of all time, with one person arguing: “Pac died 2 decades ago but still relavant [sic], to me thats a goat.”
JAY-Z’s latest honor may help to soften the blow of what was another barren night at the Grammys last weekend (in terms of awards, anyway).
The Brooklyn-bred billionaire entered the 65th Annual Grammy Awards with three nominations for his show-stealing verse on DJ Khaled’s “God Did,” which was up for Song of the Year, Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance — but lost out in all three categories.
Nevertheless, Hov still had the last word (literally) as he closed out the ceremony with a Last Supper-inspired performance of “God Did” alongside Khaled, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, John Legend and Fridayy.
Despite his contentious relationship with the Recording Academy, Jay later revealed that he felt compelled to rap his four-minute verse at the Grammys because he “owed” it to Hip Hop.
“I thought about it, I was in my head and I just broke down and said, ‘You know, it’s a four-minute verse.’ Again, for the culture, for Hip Hop, we got to do that,” he said in a rare interview with TIDAL.
“This ain’t your traditional song. … It’s not your traditional structure of what you think a song that would be nominated for Song of the Year would sound like. It’s not what you expect. And for the culture and for Hip Hop, we got to do that.”
He continued: “We owe that. This thing that changed our lives. We got to do that. A four-minute verse performed at the Grammys. We owe it to the culture, and it ain’t even a burden. It’s a blessing. It’s easy and fun.”