The 2000s was a fun, exciting time to be alive, especially if you loved rap, hip hop, viral dances, and exciting artist collaborations. This article will discuss the best 2000s hip-hop rappers, share why they stand out, and list some of their top songs.
Here are some of the best 2000s hip hop rappers and rap groups.
YoungBloodZ is a rap duo from Atlanta, Georgia, consisting of J-Bo, the D.J., and Sean Paul or Sean P, the primary rapper.
They produced albums from 1999 to 2015; their most popular jams include “Damn” and “Presidential.” They also produced a song for the movie “Step Up” called “… I'mma Shine.”
These hits have incredibly rhythmic and catchy beats that are fun to stomp, lean, and 2-step to.
74. Lil Scrappy
Born Darryl Richardson II, Lil Scrappy is an American rapper and songwriter. Lil Scrappy was discovered by producer Lil Jon while performing at a bar in Atlanta, Georgia.
Lil Scrappy's first album, Bred 2 Die Born 2 Live, was released in 2006 and featured the popular single “Money in the Bank.” In 2007, he was featured on the reality television show Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. He has since released several mixtapes and albums.
Some of Lil Scrappy's most popular songs include “No Problem,” “Money In the Bank,” and “What U Gon' Do” with Lil' Jon. No Problem has a particularly appealing crunk instrumental that goes hard in the car and the club.
Savage, born Demetrius Savelio, is a New Zealand rapper, singer, and songwriter. He first gained popularity in 2006 with his hit song “Swing.” He has since released several mixtapes and albums, including the 2017 album Mammoth.
“Swing” is still one of his most popular songs, right behind “Freaks” with Timmy Trumpet. It's a great song to dance to because it's telling listeners to back it up and swing their hips as if they shouldn't have a single care in the world.
72. Baby Bash
Baby Bash, whose real name is Ronnie Ray Bryant, is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter. His first hit album Super Saucy was released in 2005, but he had a few albums in the earlier 2000s as well, including The Smokin’ Nephew with the hit song “Suga Suga.”
“Suga Suga” was a popular slow r&b rap song, but his best hip hop rap song is “Cyclone,” which features popular rapper T-Pain. Like Savage's “Swing” mentioned above, “Cyclone” is one of those jams that get you in the mood to move your body round and round.
71. Shop Boyz
Shop Boyz was an American hip hop group from Atlanta, Georgia, that consisted of members Demetrius Hardin (a.k.a. Meany), Richard Stevens (a.k.a. Fat), and Rasheed Hightower (a.k.a. Sheed). The first two are cousins, while the third is their best friend.
Atlanta had a huge crunk scene at the time, but Shop Boyz switched it up by producing what they called “hood rock.” Rapping over drums and electric guitars was novel and made their song “Party Like A Rockstar” an instant hit.
It's by far Shop Boyz' most popular song, and people still enjoy it at clubs and parties worldwide.
70. Mike Jones
Michael Allen Jones, or Mike Jones for short, is an American rapper who got big with his 2005 album Who Is Mike Jones? He had five albums before this one and grew his name over the early 2000s.
By the time he dropped Who Is Mike Jones? he was already relatively well known, but this album put him on the map.
The album's single “Back Then” is, of course, Mike Jones' most popular song. It's catchy, cheeky, and easy to reference. Other popular songs include “Flossin'” and “Still Tippin'.”
Chamillionaire, born Hakeem Seriki, is an American rapper and entrepreneur. His first mixtape was released in 2004, but his hit album The Sound of Revenge wasn't released until 2005. It includes his most popular song, “Ridin',” which people still quote to this day.
Although the song is fun to sing along to, it has serious lyrics that portray the injustices and prejudices of police in America.
Birdman, born Bryan Williams, is an American rapper, record executive, and entrepreneur. He is one of the co-founders of Cash Money Records, which started in 1992.
He is a major collaborator, primarily with fellow rapper Mannie Fresh in a rap duo called Big Tymers. Their most famous song from the 2000s is “Still Fly.” Beyond that, he is responsible for bringing up famous artist Lil Wayne, who brought up Drake.
Popular songs from Birdman include “Stuntin’' Like My Daddy” and “Pop Bottles,” both with Lil Wayne, and “Money To Blow” with Lil Wayne and Drake.”
67. Three 6 Mafia
Big Tymers made “Still Fly” a hit, while Three 6 Mafia made “Stay Fly” a hit! Three 6 Mafia is a 1990s and 2000s rap group from Memphis, Tennessee, with varying members throughout the year, but the main, consistent members include Juicy J and DJ Paul.
Although they released their first major album in 2001, they have been on the scene since the early 90s, originally called Triple Six Mafia.
Besides “Stay Fly,” in which popular rapper Young Buck was included in the group, they had other hits like “Sippin On Some Syrup,” “Side 2 Side,” “Slob On My Nob,” and “Poppin' My Collar.”
MiMs is a Jamaican-American, New York-based rapper that some may call a one-hit-wonder. His main track was “This Is Why I'm Hot.”
However, he still has almost one million monthly listeners on Spotify and seems to be doing well for himself. Sometimes all it takes is one major track that people can't get enough of!
Additionally, “Like This” and “Move (If You Wanna)” were relatively popular in the 2000s as well.
65. Wiz Khalifa
Wiz Khalifa is a creative rapper with a loyal and excitable fan base that respects his smooth charm and explicit love for a certain recreational activity. His real name is Cameron Thomaz, and he's originally from North Dakota but reps Pittsburg, where he moved in his teenage years.
Although Khalifa didn't blow up to a mainstream audience until Cabin Fever and Rolling Papers albums, both released in 2011, Wiz Khalifa first dropped an album called Show and Prove in 2006 and had a few hits throughout the decade.
One of his 2000s hits includes “Boarding Pass” from his 2009 album Flight School.
64. Flo Rida
Flo Rida, born Tramar Lacel Dillard, is an American rapper and singer from Florida. Although he's most popular for his more recent hits, he got his big break in the 2000s.
He collaborated with T-Pain on “Low,” an international sensation in 2007 and 2008. “Low” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it one of the most popular songs of the 2000s.
Other notable 2000s songs from Flo Rida include “In the Ayer” and “Elevator,” both featuring will.i.am, “Sugar” featuring Wynter Gordon, and of course, “Right Round” featuring Ke$ha.
63. GS Boyz
Beyond crunk music from ATL and hood rap from Memphis and New York, the 2000s saw a huge rise in viral dance hits — way before the viral dances of Tik Tok.
GS Boyz and the next few artists on this list were all known for their viral dance hits.
GS Boyz is a pop-rap group from Arlington, Texas, which included Keithian “Slizz” Cherry and Maus “Mr. Marc D” Dinkins. These two gifted the world with a comical and trendy dance song called “Stanky Legg” in 2009.
62. New Boyz
Next is New Boyz, another rap duo who made a dance hit towards the end of the 2000s.
Dominic “Legacy” Thomas and Earl “Ben J” Benjamin are from California and produced “You're a Jerk,” which became an almost instant viral hit.
However, they were far from one-hit wonders, as they also have popular songs “FM$,” “Better With The Lights Off” with Chris Brown, and “Tie Me Down” with Ray J.
D4L is a rap group from Atlanta, Georgia, composed of four members: Shawty Lo, Mook-B, Fa-bo, and Stoney.
Although D4L were only together for a few years, they made a massive impact in the 2000s with their viral dance song “Laffy Taffy.” “Laffy Taffy” was popular enough to spawn a few remixes.
Unk is an American rapper and D.J. from Atlanta, Georgia, whose real name is Angelo Ellerbee. He's most well-known for his 2006 hit “Walk It Out,” a viral dance craze in the 2000s.
Walk It Out had an incredible remix that featured famous artists Outkast — Andre 3000 opens the song — and Jim Jones.
Another notable 2000s song from Unk is 2 Step, which was arguably just as fun to dance to.
59. Boosie Badazz (formerly Lil Boosie)
Boosie Badazz, a.k.a. Lil Boosie, is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He lived in a challenging neighborhood and didn't have the easiest life, even getting kicked out of school for drugs.
But this diversion got him interested in the rap game, and he eventually released his first album in 2005.
He originally collaborated with the likes of Yung Joc, Pimp C, and Webbie and grew to be able to collaborate with even bigger artists such as Rich Homie Quran, T.I., and Chris Brown.
“Wipe Me Down” was his viral dance song, but he had other popular hits like “Set It Off” and “Mop With It.”
58. Dem Franchize Boyz
From Atlanta, Georgia, comes Dem Franchize Boyz, a rap group of four members: Buddie, Parlae, Pimpin, and Jizzal Man.
Undoubtedly, their most popular song was “Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It,” which was incredibly entertaining to dance to in the club because it was relatively easy to learn, so everybody would do it.
“I Think They Like Me” Remix — with So So Def members Jermaine Dupree, Bow Wow, and Da Brat — was also a major hit, along with “White Tee.”
Huey, from St. Louis, Missouri, was only 18 when he released his first album in 2006. It went platinum and contained his most popular 2000s song, “Pop, Lock, & Drop It.”
The dance for the song enables listeners to either pop their hips from side to side and drop (common for girls) or pop their collar, lock their knees, and bend down a bit (common for guys).
56. Soulja Boy
DeAndre Cortez Way, professionally known as Soulja Boy, is from Atlanta, Georgia. He's most popular for his 2007 hit, “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” which was a global phenomenon.
It was the first song to achieve one billion streams on Spotify and was nominated for a Grammy. It even has its own dance, which people still do today, more than ten years after he released “Crank That.”
55. Lil Mama
Lil Mama, whose real name is Niatia Kirkland, started her career as early as 17 years old. She grew up in Brooklyn and Harlem, which is responsible for her New York-inspired beats and rap style.
Although her biggest tracks were all in the 2000s, such as “Lip Gloss” and “Shawty Get Loose” with Chris Brown and T-Pain, she is still making music up to this day.
54. Dorrough Music
Dorrough Music, or Darwin Demarcus Dorrough, is from Dallas, Texas. He had a debut single called “Ice Cream Paint Job” that became an international hit and a popular song for remixing. Even Lil Wayne used the beat for his mixtape No Ceilings.
Many people don't know that he was originally a star basketball player and wanted to continue that into college, but his music quickly became his new passion.
53. Jim Jones
Joseph Guillermo Jones III, a.k.a. Jim Jones, was born in Harlem but spent most of his childhood in The Bronx. Jones was one of the original members of the 2000s rap group, The Diplomats.
In 2006, he released an album called Hustler's P.O.M.E. (Product Of My Environment), which contained the popular 2000s song “We Fly High.” A little dance move went along with the song — a simple flick of the wrist when Jones yells, “Ballin'!”
52. Young Dro
D'Juan Hart, known as Young Dro, is from Bankhead Court housing projects in Atlanta. He was discovered by T.I. in 2000 and was signed to his record label, Grand Hustle Records.
He released his debut album Best Thang Smokin in 2006, at an exciting time for Atlanta rap music. “Shoulder Lean,” fearing T.I., became a wildly popular hit, perhaps given the fun dance move to go along with it.
Young Dro is also well known for an explicit 2010s club hit called “FDB.”
51. Bow Wow (formerly Lil' Bow Wow)
Bow Wow, formerly Lil' Bow Wow and born Shad Gregory Moss, is from Columbus, Ohio. As a very young 2000s rapper, he was popular for his songs “Bounce With Me,” “Take Ya Home,” and “Puppy Love,” among others.
Incredibly, he was only 13 years old when he made his first album, Beware Of Dog, which certainly added to his appeal, especially to younger fans.
Additionally, his moniker “Lil Bow Wow” came from his relationship with Snoop Dogg and Death Row Records, but he then crossed over to work with Jermaine Dupri in So So Def.
50. David Banner
David Banner is a grammy-winning rapper, producer, and social activist who has worked with many other successful artists, including Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg, Akon, Chamillionaire, Young Joc, and more.
His most popular 2000s hits were “Get Like Me” and “Like A Pimp.”
49. Murphy Lee
Murphy Lee is another Southern rapper from St. Louis, Missouri, and thus is a part of the “St. Lunatics” rap crew, which includes more popular rapper Nelly.
His most famous songs are “Shake Ya Tailfeather” and “What Da Hook Gon Be” with Jermaine Dupree, but he has featured on a long list of other hit songs such as:
- Salt Shaker by Ying Yang Twins
- Throw Some D's Remix by Rich Boy
- Air Force Ones by Nelly
- and more
48 Paul Wall
Paul Wall, born Paul Michael Slayton, is from Houston, Texas, and a part of the Swishahouse rap crew.
You may remember his grills, a fashion choice that became popular in the 2000s thanks to his and Nelly's song “Grillz,” a song he features in. He featured in many songs with other Houston rappers such as Chamillionaire, Mike Jones, and Slim Thug.
His most famous 2000s song is “Sittin' Sidewayz,” a popular song to bump to in the car — especially if your car has hydraulics.
47. Lloyd Banks
Lloyd Banks is from South Jamaica, Queens, and is a part of the 2000s rap group G-Unit, which also included famous rapper 50 Cent.
He played a significant role in many of their major hits, such as “You Don't Know,” but his hit was called “On Fire.”
“Beamer, Benz, or Bentley” with Juelz Santana was also quite popular as both a dance song and a song to dance to in the car.
Although J-Kwon, born Jerrell C. Jones, had a rough early life in St. Louis, including getting kicked out of his house at 12 years old.
Fortunately, music was able to help him off the streets, and he provided us with a classic club and house party hit called “Tipsy.” “Get XXX'ed” with Petey Pablo was another great party track from J-Kwon in the 2000s.
45. The Game
Jayceon Terrell Taylor, better known by his rap name The Game, is a 2000s rapper from Compton, California.
He was discovered by famed rapper and producer Dr. Dre and then signed to his record label Aftermath Entertainment. He later joined 50 Cent's G-Unit record label.
He had a few 2000s rap hits, such as “Hate It Or Love It,” “Dreams,” “How We Do,” and “Put You On The Game.”
It may seem as if The Game has taken a step back, but he also has a 2022 release with Kanye West called “Eazy.”
44. Juelz Santana
LaRon Louis James, a.k.a Juelz Santana, is a 2000s rapper and actor from New York City.
He was a part of the East Coast Hip Hop group The Diplomats and developed a relationship with Roc-A-Fella Records, which helped him create his 2000s hits.
“There It Go (The Whistle Song)” is one of his most popular 2000s tracks, and rightfully so. It's catchy, creates great party vibes, and is fun to not only rap along to but also whistle to!
Plies, born Algernod Lanier Washington, is a rapper from Fort Myers, Florida. His music is intriguing because it combines a heavy and hard rap style with softer and even sexy instrumentals.
He is known to collaborate with singers such as Ne-Yo, T-Pain, and Akon, which adds to this dynamic musical approach.
Top songs from Plies include “Bust It Baby, Part 2” with Ne-Yo, “Shawty” with T-Pain, and “Hypnotized” with Akon.
42. Bubba Sparxxx
Bubba Sparxxx, born Warren Anderson Mathis, is another 2000s rapper from the South — in this case, Georgia. Sparxxx's sound is slightly different from other 2000s rappers, as it fuses country and hip hop.
You can hear the country genre's influence in songs such as “Deliverance,” which has a banjo playing throughout the track.
The most popular 2000s song from Bubba Sparxxx is “Ms. New Booty” with Ying Yang Twins and Mr. Collipark.
41. Petey Pablo
Petey Pablo, born Moses Barrett III, is a 2000s rapper from Greenville, North Carolina. You may remember him from Ciara's “Goodies,” as he was featured in the song.
However, he was far from just a feature artist in the 2000s, with hit songs like “Freek-A-Leek,” known for calling out various women's names, and “Raise Up,” which is a huge shout-out from his home state of North Carolina.
Pablo went on to work with many artists, including but not limited to Lil Jon, J-Keon, Fat Joe, and Lil Wayne.
40. Daddy Yankee
The next two artists combined rap with musical elements from their Latin countries of origin.
First up is Daddy Yankee, born Ramon Ayala in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He played a significant role in putting reggaeton on the map, with hit songs like “Gasolina” and “Rompe” in the 2000s.
He is still making fantastic music incorporating both traditional and modern elements of Latin and rap music.
Pitbull, born Armando Perez, is a rapper from Miami, Florida. He was born to Cuban expatriates, and his music often features both English and Spanish lyrics. It also combines reggaeton, hip hop, Latin hip hop, and EDM.
This Grammy-winning artist has worked with many other top musicians, such as Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Ne-Yo, Kesha, Christina Aguilera, and more.
He has dozens of hit songs, but one of the more popular ones during the 2000s was “The Anthem,” featuring major hype-man Lil Jon.
38. Sean Paul
Sean Paul, born Sean Paul Ryan Francis Henriques, is a 2000s rapper from Kingston, Jamaica.
Just as Pitbull and Daddy Yankee brought their cultural background into their rap sound, Sean Paul helped popularize dancehall music. Paul was one of the first Jamaican artists to gain mainstream attention in the 2000s.
He has worked with many other 2000s rappers and artists, but his most popular songs from the 2000s were all him: “Temperature,” “Get Busy,” “We Be Burning,” and “Gimme The Light,” to name a few.
37. Waka Flocka Flame
Waka Flocka Flame, or just Waka Flocka for short, is another rapper born and bred in Atlanta, Georgia. His real name is Juaquin James Malphurs, but his cousin gave him his stage name.
Waka is best known for his heavy, loud, trap party music that gets the people going. “No Hands” was technically released in 2010, along with his other hits “Hard in Da Paint,” “O Let's Do It,” and “Grove St. Party.”
However, these songs transfer so seamlessly from other later 2000s party songs, and he was inspired by other trap artists from that time, that we figured it made sense to put him on the list. He also began writing and recording in 2009.
36. Fat Joe
Fat Joe is a Puerto Rican-Cuban rapper from South Bronx. His real name is Joe Cartagena, and he also goes by Fat Joe da gangsta and Joey Crack.
Every rapper seemed to have their squad back then, and Fat Joe's squad was called the Terror Squad.
“Lean Back” was the Terror Squad's greatest hit as a collaboration, but Fat Joe made plenty of other hits on his own, such as “What's Luv” with Ashanti in 2001 and “All The Way Up” 16 years later.
He's worked with artists such as LL Cool J, Remy Ma, and Dre, along with producers Scott Storch and Diamond D.
35. Yung Joc
Yung Joc, born Jasiel Robinson, is from College Park, Georgia, outside Atlanta. He was one of the first artists on Sean “Diddy” Combs' Bad Boy South record label.
He is best known for his song “It's Going Down,” but “I Know You See It” and “Stuntin' Is a Habit” were popular hits for him as well. The latter features a series of other great 2000s rappers and artists — Jim Jones, David Banner, and Chris Brown.
Chingy, born Howard Bailey Jr., is from St. Louis, Missouri. He was another 2000s rapper who worked with a range of other artists at the time, including David Banner, Nate Dogg, Lil Wayne, Lil' Flip, and Bun B.
And although he's most popular for his chart-topping song “Right Thurr,” Chingy is far from a one-hit-wonder. Other hits from the time include ‘One Call Away,” “Holidae Inn,” and “Pullin' me Back.”
Chingy continues to make music to this day, with a recent 2022 feature on Santini The Great's “Tini Bop.”
33. Ying Yang Twins
The Ying Yang Twins are a 2000s rap duo from aJEzl31zL-IAtlanta, Georgia, made up of Eric “Kaine” Jackson and D'Angelo “D-Roc” Holmes.
They made it big through featuring on Britney Spears' In The Zone album as well as Lil Jon's hit song “Get Low.”
Afterward, they released several hit songs themselves, including “Salt Shaker” with Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz, “Wait (The Whisper Song),” “Badd” with Mike Jones, and “Shake” with Pitbull. These songs were huge party hits that were challenging not to get up and dance to!
32. Gucci Mane
Gucci Mane, born Radric Delantic Davis, is a rapper and executive. He was born in Bessemer, Alabama but started his music career in Atlanta, Georgia.
Gucci Mane might not be as popular to kids now, but he's been in the rap industry for a long time and is still going with many collaborations, including with Lil Baby, Drake, and Migos.
He's also worked with Young Jeezy, the Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Usher, and even less expected artists such as Marilyn Manson and Selena Gomez.
His top songs in the 2000s include “Lemonade,” “I Might Be,” and “Icy.” Additionally, Gucci Mane created his own record label called 1017 Records.\
Will.i.am, born William James Adams Jr., is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, D.J., record producer, and actor. Will.i.am is best known as a founding member of the hip-hop group The Black Eyed Peas.
The Black Eyed Peas have had major hits for decades, but will.i.am shines on his own, with tracks like “I Got It From My Mamma “in the 2000s. He went on to make other major hits such as “Scream & Shout,” “#thatPOWER,” and “I Like To Move It” for the Madagascar movie.
Unsurprisingly, he is known for collaborating with the likes of Fergie, his fellow Black Eyed Peas member, as well as Nicki Minaj in “Check it Out.”
Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam, better known as just Akon, is a singer, rapper, songwriter, businessman, and record producer. Akon was born in St. Louis, Missouri but raised in Senegal until he moved to New Jersey when he was 7.
In the 2000s, his big radio hit was “Smack That,” a fun song to dance to. He also featured in “Get Buck In Here” with Dj Felli Fel, Diddy, Ludacris, and Lil Jon
However, Akon is now likely most remembered for his more meaningful songs like “Locked up,” “Don't Matter,” “Lonely,” and “Mama Africa.” Additionally, Akon is a philanthropist who is trying to build a tourist city in Senegalese by partnering with the government.
29. Ice Cube
Ice Cube, born O'Shea Jackson Sr., is an American rapper and actor. Cube was a member of the hip-hop group N.W.A and later started his solo career in music and acting.
Some of his famous 2000s rap songs are “You Can Do It” and “I Rep That West.”
Many people might immediately be offended to see such a renowned rapper so high on this list.
But it's not because Cube hasn't been wildly talented since N.W.A. in the 80s and when his first solo album dropped in 1990, but because the popular hip hop style music of the time did not cater to his street rap as much as it did in the 80s and 90s.
28. Lil Jon
We've already mentioned Lil Jon numerous times in this article and will continue to do so because he was one of the most, if not the most, popular rappers and D.J.s of the 2000s.
Jonathan Smith, known by his stage name Lil Jon, is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, and D.J. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and started his career in the 90s as a primary member of the East Side Boyz.
Lil Jon is most famous for his 2000s hits “Get Low,” “Put Yo Hood Up,” “Lovers and Friends,” “Snap Yo Fingers,” and “What U Gon' Do.”
As demonstrated in this article, he also collaborated with many artists in the 2000s. Most famously, he features on “Yeah!” by Usher, which also features Ludacris.
To this day, Lil Jon is America's favorite hype man, known for his common scream “Yeaahhh!!”
E-40, born Earl Stevens, is an American rapper and actor. He was born in Vallejo, California, and is a founding member of the rap group The Click.
In the 2000s, E-40 had many solo hits, such as “Tell Me When to Go” and “U and Dat.” He was also featured in songs such as “Snap Your Fingers” by Lil Jon and later “I Don't Fuck With You” by Big Sean.
If you ever think about Bay Area rap, you have to give credit where it's due and recognize E-40's contribution.
DMX, born Earl Simmons in Mount Vernon, New York, is a hardcore rapper that trailed on the legacy and influence of B.I.G. and 2PAC.
He is an intense, gritty rapper that often had highly explicit content, but that didn't stop him from gaining mainstream popularity.
Before the 2000s even began, he dropped hits such as “Ruff Ryders Anthem.”
Then, continued dropping hardcore hits throughout the 2000s, such as “Where The Hood At,” “X Gon' Give It To Ya,” and “Party Up (Up In Here),” which uses whistles and party sounds similar to “Get Low” by Lil Jon but has a more aggressive overall feel and lyrics.
25. Nicki Minaj
You might not have expected to see Nicki Minaj on this list, given most of her hits were released through the 2010s.
However, Nicki Minaj — who was born Onika Tanya Maraj in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago, and grew up in Queens — paved her way into the music industry in the 2000s and released fire mixtapes that got her name out there.
Her most popular mixtape track was “Itty Bitty Piggy,” and she featured in Lil Wayne's Young Money songs such as “Bedrock,” which also propelled her career.
Her 2010 album Pink Friday blasted her into international stardom. Minaj has now collaborated with a laundry list of famous names, including her Young Money team, Lil Wayne and Drake, as well as Kanye West, Jay-z, Missy Elliot, and Beyoncé.
24. Busta Rhymes
Busta Rhymes, born Trevor Tahiem Smith Jr., is an American rapper, songwriter, record producer, and actor. He was born in Brooklyn, New York.
Busta Rhymes was one of the most popular rappers of the 2000s with his hits “Get Out,” “Touch It,” “I Know What You Want,” and “Break Ya Neck.”
One of his most well-known verses appears in a Chris Brown feature, on the song “Look At Me Now,” as it demonstrates his ultra-quick and smooth flow.
Timbaland is a producer more than anything else but is also a rapper, singer, executive, and master collaborator.
He was born Timothy Zachery Mosley in Norfolk, Virginia, and his career began when he was featured on the late Aaliyah's 1994 album Age Ain't Nothing But a Number.
He then gained mainstream attention for his work on Ginuwine's 1996 album and Missy Elliot's Supa Dupa Fly in 1997.
In the 2000s, he produced and featured in many artists' songs, such as Keri Hilson's “The Way I Are” and Nelly Furtado's “Promiscuous.”
22. Remy Ma
Remy Ma is a Bronx native, formerly named Reminisce Mackie. Big Pun discovered her, and she went on to work closely with Fat Joe's Terror Squad.
Remy Ma is arguably one of the most underrated artists and has dealt with legal issues that might be responsible for holding her career back at times.
Even still, she made her mark in the 2000s with the hit “Conceited” and dozens of features, including “Lean Back,” “Ante up,” and “All The Way Up.”
21. Jeezy (formally Young Jeezy)
Jeezy, born Jay Wayne Jenkins, is an American rapper from Columbia, South Carolina, but is known as an Atlanta-based rapper.
He was one of the rappers who spearheaded Southern trap rap music, along with Gucci Mane and T.I., and is also known for his gritty, raspy voice.
Popular hits from Jeezy include “Soul Survivor” with Akon, “Put On,” and “I Luv It”
Cam'Ron, born Cameron Ezike Giles, is an American rapper and actor from Harlem, New York.
He was originally a member of the group Children of the Corn before going solo and signing to Roc-A-Fella Records.
He is most well-known in the 2000s for his work with Jay-Z, both in the studio (“Welcome To New York”) and on-screen (Paid In Full), as well as his own solo hits like “Oh Boy” and “Hey Ma,” both featuring Juelz Santana.
Twista, a.k.a. Mista Tung Twista, given his super fast lyricism, is a Chicago rapper. Carl Terrell Mitchell is his real name, and he can rap so fast that he was even in the Guinness World Records for fastest rapping in 1992.
“Slow Jamz” with Kanye West and Jamie Fox was one of his biggest tracks in the 2000s, and
“Overnight Celebrity” was another hit from the same 2004 “Kamikaze” album.
18. Wyclef Jean
Nel Ust Wyclef Jean, who goes simply by Wyclef Jean, is a Haitian-born rapper and musician, as well as an actor and political hopeful.
He was originally a member of the popular group Fugees, who made world-renowned hits in the 90s like “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” “Ready or Not,” and “No Woman, No Cry.”
As a solo artist, he collaborated with other major artists, such as Akon, Lil Wayne, and Niia, in the song “Sweetest Girl.”
Diddy, born Sean John Combs and also going by Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, and Puffy, is an American rapper, songwriter, actor, and record producer. “I Need A Girl” Part 1 and 2 are arguably his biggest mainstream hits of the 2000s.
Diddy was born in Harlem, New York, and got his start as an intern at Uptown Records before creating his own label, Bad Boy Entertainment.
He was and still is one of the most prominent names in rap music since the 90s, with probably the most collaborations and associations of any rapper on this list.
The list of people Diddy has worked with, worked for, collaborated with, brought up, or produced for include but is not limited to:
- The Notorious B.I.G.
- Mary J. Blige
- Craig Mack
- Faith Evans
- Janelle Monae
- French Montana
- Busta Rhymes
- LL Cool J
- Mariah Carey
- Danity Kane
- Murphy Lee
- Yung Joc
- Keyshia Cole
- Mario Winans
- Kanye West
- Nipsey Hustle
- A$AP Rocky
- DJ Felli Fel
- Lil Jon
Nelly, born Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., is an American rapper born in Austin, Texas, and raised in St. Louis. He got his start in the group St. Lunatics before going solo and releasing his 2000 debut studio album “Country Grammar,” which went diamond in the U.S.
What people love about Nelly is that his music is so varied. Looking at his top songs of the 2000s — “Hot In Herre,” “Ride With Me,” “Country Grammar,” “Dilemma,” “Air Force Ones,” and “Grillz” – you'll notice that all of these songs sound so different from each other.
This musical choice was in contrast to this era, when most rappers picked a specific niche, usually aligned with what type of sound their hometown tended to produce.
Ludacris, born Christopher Brian Bridges, is an American rapper and actor from Atlanta, Georgia. Ludacris, a.k.a. “Luda,” was one of the first rappers to break out of the South, and his 2000 album “Back for the First Time” went triple platinum.
But he started very Southernly, with tracks and music videos representing where he came from. His biggest early records include but are not limited to “Saturday,” “Rollout,” “Southern Hospitality,” “Money Maker,” “Number One Spot,” and “Get Back.”
Ludacris is known for his loud, audacious, hyperbolic, and comical approach to music. However, he also made songs on the more serious side, such as “Grew Up A Screw Up.”
And of course, we can't forget his crucial role in one of the decade's most popular songs, Usher's “Yeah!”
T-Pain, born Faheem Najm, is an American rapper, singer, and songwriter from Tallahassee, Florida.
He is best known for using autotune in his music, which has become synonymous with his name. In fact, he even released an album in 2007 called “Epiphany,” which touches on his journey using autotune.
T-Pain first rose to prominence in 2005 with his debut studio album “Rappa Ternt Sanga,” which included the popular single “I'm Sprung.” He then went on to have a string of hits, including “Buy You A Drank” with Yung Joc, “I'm In Love With A Stripper,” and “Church.”
Although he uses autotune, which some artists use when they can't sing, T-Pain actually has a beautiful singing voice without autotune.
13. Pharrell Williams
Pharrell Williams, born Pharrell Lanscilo Williams in Virginia Beach, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and record producer. Pharrell rose to prominence in the early 2000s as part of the duo The Neptunes with Chad Hugo.
The Neptunes and Pharrell produced songs for some of the biggest names in music, including Britney Spears, Nelly, Justin Timberlake, and Snoop Dogg.
They were also responsible for producing some of the biggest songs of the 2000s, including “I'm A Slave 4 U”, “Drop It Like It's Hot,” “Beautiful,” and “Get Lucky.”
Pharrell is known for rapping in a high-pitched, sing-song way, like in his hit song “Frontin',” but he also has a more standard, monotone way of rapping, like in “Drop It Like It's Hot.”
T.I., born Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., is an American rapper and actor from Atlanta, Georgia. Known as the “King of Trap,” T.I. first rose to prominence in the early 2000s with his debut studio album “I'm Serious” and its lead single “I'm Back.”
He then went on to release a string of successful albums, including “Trap Muzik,” “Urban Legend,” “King,” and “Paper Trail.” Some of his most popular songs of the 2000s include “Bring Em Out,” “Whatever You Like,” “What You Know,” and “Live Your Life.”
11. Lil' Kim
Kimberly Denise Jones, known professionally as “Lil' Kim,” is an icon for making the world take female rappers more seriously, especially feminine ones. Many argue that she paved the way for the likes of Nicki Minaj.
She first rose to prominence in the mid-'90s as a member of the hip hop group Junior M.A.F.I.A., with whom she released the gold-certified album “Conspiracy.”
As a solo artist, she released hits like “The Jump Off” and featured in “Lady Marmalade” with Christina Aguilera, Mya, and Pink. Other popular songs she featured in include “Can't Hold Us Down,” also with Christina Aguilera, and “Magic Stick” with 50 Cent.
10. Snoop Dogg
Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr., better known as Snoop Dogg, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, media personality, and actor from Long Beach, California.
Snoop first rose to prominence in the early '90s with his debut album “Doggystyle,” which was certified quadruple platinum.
Although seen as a 90s rapper, with songs like “Who Am I (What's My Name)” and “Gin & Juice,” Snoop Dogg continued making a mark throughout the 2000s, most notably with his collaboration with Pharrell on “Drop It Like It's Hot.”
Eminem, a.k.a. “Slim Shady, born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, is a rapper, songwriter, and producer from Detroit, Michigan. Eminem rose to prominence in the late '90s with his debut album “The Slim Shady LP,” which won him a Grammy for Best Rap Album.
He then created a long list of hits, still making his mark to this day. 2000s hits from Eminem include but aren't limited to “Without Me,” “Just Lose It,” and “The Real Slim Shady.”
These songs were often quite comical, with equally funny music videos to match. However, Eminem was a dynamic character who also made very serious and deep songs, such as “The Way I Am” and “Lose Yourself.”
8. 50 Cent
50 Cent, born Curtis James Jackson III, is an American rapper, actor, producer, and entrepreneur from New York City. He first rose to notable fame in the early 2000s with his debut album “Get Rich or Die Tryin',” certified 9x platinum.
This album featured a string of famous tracks, most notably “In Da Club,” which is still heavily quoted today, and “P.I.M.P.” He followed up that album with The Massacre in 2005, which includes other bangers like “Candy Shop” and “Disco Inferno.”
He hasn't had an album as popular as those two afterward. Still, he went on to various other business and creative ventures, including starring in a movie with the same title as his first album “Get Rich Or Die Tryin'.”
He has a true rags-to-riches story, with the ability to say that he's been shot nine times and survived to tell tales through his music.
7. Andre 3000
Andre Lauren Benjamin, better known as Andre 3000, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor from Atlanta, Georgia. Andre 3000 is best known for being a part of the hip hop duo OutKast alongside Big Boi.
With OutKast, he achieved massive success in the 2000s with hits like “Ms. Jackson,” “Roses,” and “Hey Ya!” As a solo artist, Andre 3000 was also featured in other 2000s hits like “The Way You Move” by OutKast, “Girlfriend” by N*E*R*D, and “Walk It Out Remix” by Unk.
6. Missy Elliott
Melissa Arnette Elliott, better known as Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and philanthropist from Portsmouth, Virginia.
Missy Elliott rose to prominence in the late '90s as a close collaborator of Timbaland, with whom she worked on several hits, including “Cop That Shit,” “Bounce,” and Aaliyah's “One In A Million.”
As a solo artist, she released a string of hits in the 2000s, including “Get Ur Freak On,” “Work It,” and “Lose Control.”
Missy Elliott has a funky, cool, and unmistakable vibe. Along with her talent and persistence, she is hard not to love!
Aubrey Drake Graham, better known as Drake, is a Canadian rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor from Toronto, Ontario.
He starred on a Canadian TV show called “Degrassi,” but in terms of his music, he first got noticed publicly for his mixtapes Room for Improvement in 2006 and Comeback Season in 2007 before releasing his first album (that was originally a mixtape) called So Far Gone in 2009.
Drake is now undoubtedly one of the most popular and well-respected rappers of all time, with a Billboard-topping list too long to share in this article. But before the turn of the decade, some of his popular hits were “Best I Ever Had,” “Successful,” “Congratulations,” and “Uptown.”
4. Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., is an American rapper from New Orleans, Louisiana.
Wayne began his career as a member of the hip hop group Hot Boys in the late '90s with hits like “Bling Bling” and “I Need a Hot Girl.” But in the 2000s, thanks to Birdman, Mannie Fresh, and Cash Money Records in general, Lil Wayne blew up with records like “Go DJ” and “Fireman.”
Lil Wayne — a.k.a. Weezy a.k.a. Weezy F. Baby, a.k.a. Lil Tunechi — is now seen as an iconic rapper who changed the game in terms of flow, style, lyricism, humor, and punchlines in rap.
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, better known as Nas, is an American rapper, songwriter, entrepreneur, and investor from Queensbridge, New York City.
Nas has been in the game much longer than most people on this list, and most of his popular songs, such as N.Y. state of Mind and If I Ruled The World, are from his 90s
Nas started rapping at the age of 9 and released his debut album Illmatic in 1994 to critical acclaim. He is considered by many to be one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time.
In the 2000s, he released a string of other well-received albums like Stillmatic (2001), God's Son (2002), and Street's Disciple (2004), as well as the diss track “Ether” aimed at Jay-Z. Regarding single tracks,” One Mic” is arguably Nas's most popular song from the 2000s.
Shawn Corey Carter, well-known as Jay-Z, is an iconic rapper, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and businessman from Brooklyn, New York City, which he reps vigorously throughout his music.
He is among the most successful rappers of all time, with over 100 million records sold worldwide.
Jay has 14 number one albums on the Billboard 200 chart (no other artist has more) and 23 Grammy Awards, the most by a rapper.
In the 2000s, some of his popular tracks were “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “03 Bonnie & Clyde” with his then-girlfriend (now wife) Beyoncé, “Excuse Me, Miss,” and the anthemic song about New York City with Alicia Keys entitled “Empire State of Mind.”
1. Kanye West
Kanye West, one of the only rappers on this list to go by their birth name but is now often called “Ye” as well, is one of the greatest rappers of all time.
West was born in Atlanta but moved to Chicago at three years old, so he reps Chicago, and his style is very different from the Atlanta-based rappers on this list.
Like Jay-Z, he is a true icon, and deciding who should be number one on the list is challenging. However, we believe Kanye gets the top spot for the 2000s decade specifically, as he dominated the 2000s with a hit album almost every year starting in 2004:
- The College Dropout in 2004
- Late Registration in 2005
- Graduation in 2007
- 808s & Heartbreak in 2008
With these albums came a string of incredible, passionate songs with thoughtful lyrics and creative sampling. Popular Kanye West songs from the 2000s include but are in no way limited to “All Falls Down,” “Through The Wire,” “Never Let Me Down,”
But arguably, his most recognizable mainstream song from the decade is “Gold Digger” from Late Registration.
Top 2000s Hip Hop Rappers, Final Thoughts
That’s our list of the best 2000s hip hop rappers. Of course, rap — and music in general — is subjective, but we feel that these artists not only made a huge impact in the 2000s but have songs that continue to make a lasting impact on music (and parties) today.
Some honorable 2000s rappers did not quite make this list, such as Hurricane Chris and Rich Boy. And if we've missed any of your most loved 2000s rappers, let us know in the comments!